Tuesday, 14 April 2009

MA Screenwriting - Unit Two

We did this simultaneously with Unit One – a 15-minute film using an interior monologue (IM) but no other dialogue. Actually, the "IM" moved beyond its classic definition (uncensored and unstructured thought, as depicted in Ulysses) and included voiceovers and narrations more generally.

We had a couple of lectures to introduce the unit, which were again illustrated with a load of clips. The focus was on using the IM not to provide commentary on what's going on, but to reveal and reflect the inner life of the character. As with effective dialogue, this can - and probably should - lead to a discrepancy between what we see and what we hear.

The clips demonstrating different approaches to IM/voiceover included: Taxi Driver (narration from diary); Fight Club (wry, cynical observations, reflected visually – eg, furnishing his life with Ikea); Badlands (written in 'True Confessions' style); Million Dollar Baby (narration from letter, though true nature of the IM only revealed at end); Wings of Desire (very lyrical, reflecting angelic perspective).

We also had a good look at various devices to set up the IM. Eg Sunset Boulevard and American Beauty – voices from the dead; Double Indemnity – wounded insurance man confesses to conspiracy on tape; Name of the Father – Emma Thompson listenening to tape-recording on way to meeting; The Man Who Wasn't There – classic laconic style, but true nature again only revealed at end.

The idea for my script came from a bit of video nonsense I'd done a few years earlier with Me Mate Dave. The vague notion for the video thing involved me walking round Croydon and Crystal Palace Park in a crap home-made space suit (trackie covered with foil and gaffer tape, a cardboard box helmet and a pair of old boots sprayed silver) and seeing what happened.

However, along the way we inadvertently came up with a backstory for my 'character' – he was convinced he was an alien who had become trapped on Earth and was waiting for his mothership to return and rescue him. I took that aspect and applied it to the central character in my script – a young man who becomes so alienated by his life that he thinks the same thing.

Unfortunately, I think I lacked the psychological insight to tap the idea's full potential; I guess that's another very useful thing about doing an MA - when you're forced to work in different formats, you learn more about your strengths and weaknesses. It was probably also a bit ambitious to try and fit the character arc I had planned for him into a 15-minute script.

Oh well. Even though I still got a Merit for it, it was nowhere near as successful as my Unit 1 script.

I've uploaded a copy of the script here, along with the reading/viewing list for the unit.

MA - Intro

MA - Unit One

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