Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Rope (Conclusion); Film Project: Day 2

We will screen the rest of Rope today, and then work on our film projects.

HOMEWORK: Keep working on your film project.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Final Film Project: Day 1; Alfred Hitchcock: Rope (Day 1)

This morning during period 1, please complete the following tasks:

1. Gather with your film group. Do the following tasks:
  • Producers: come up with the name of your company. Share that with your editor. Help where needed in your project. Make sure everyone in the group has something to do to help the project move along.
  • Director/Casting Director: Get the names, addresses, contact information for the actors in your film. Share this with your director and producer and editor. Keep track of time. Create a shooting schedule. 
  • Editor(s): Select music/sound effects, etc. for your film. Use a Youtube converter (one that is free, preferably) to capture these files. If you do this job, you are the "sound editor" as well as the editor. You may also create your titles. You will need a title for your film, opening credits, and closing credits. 
  • Cinematographers: find "still shots" of your locations for your film. Save these. You may also use a Youtube converter to steal/borrow any existing clip on Youtube for your film. 
  • Writer(s): Write your script. Or conduct research as necessary. But time is of the essence. Get the job done! Once you are done with a scene, give the scene/script to your director!
  • Actors/Others: help your group members. You have little to do until the script is done. Cooperate with your director/producer. Help your director with the shooting schedule.
View the video hints for film projects:
See jobs above. Work on your film project. The script needs to be done first. Tackle that today in the lab. If you are the director/producer, talk to one another about where the project is: what needs to be completed next? Make a list, organize yourself and your cast/crew. Decide on dates to shoot your film.

2nd period:

As an example of our director film documentary project (as an option for your final film project), we will learn about and begin working with the master of suspense: Alfred Hitchcock.

Alfred Hitchcock is considered the "master of suspense" and his career in film was a long and influential one:

His first full-length film was The Lodger and appeared in 1926. This was followed by Downhill (1927), The Ring (1927), Champagne (1928), The Farmer's Wife (1928), and Easy Virtue (1928), The Manxman (1929), and Blackmail (1929).
These were British silent films (Blackmail was not, as you can hear).

You are free to watch any of these films as extra credit.

In the1930's, Hitchcock made even more films, mostly suspense films for which he became famous. These included: Rich and Strange (1931), The Skin Game (clip, 1931), Number 17 (clip, 1932), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) with Peter Lorre, The 39 Steps (1935), Sabotage (1936), Secret Agent (1936), Young and Innocent (1937), The Lady Vanishes (1938), Jamaica Inn (1939), then Foreign Correspondent (1940).

At this point in his career, Alfred Hitchcock moves to Hollywood to work with producer David O. Selznick. He makes a variety of films for Selznick, although the two approached film from a very different perspective. Hitchcock often felt trapped or restricted by Selznick's contract. The films include: Rebecca (1940) Laurence Olivier, Shadow of a Doubt (1943) Joseph Cotten (from Citizen Kane), Life Boat (1944) Talula Bankhead, Spellbound (1945) with Gregory Peck, Notorious Cary Grant & Ingrid Bergman (1946), The Paradine Case (1947), Rope (1948) with Farley Granger & Jimmy Stewart (you'll see more of this guy), and Under Capricorn (1949) with Ingrid Bergman again (She was seen in Casablanca1942--learn more about how to write a great film scene here).

Today, let's take our first look at the film Rope.

Rope (1948) 

Cast List

James (Jimmy) Stewart  ...      Rupert Cadell, Publisher 
John Dall  ...             Brandon Shaw, Murderer 
Farley Granger  ...     Phillip Morgan, Murderer 
Cedric Hardwicke  ... Mr. Kentley 
Constance Collier  ... Mrs. Atwater, Kentley's Sister-In-Law 
Douglas Dick  ...       Kenneth Lawrence 
Edith Evanson  ...      Mrs. Wilson, the Housekeeper  
Dick Hogan  ...          David Kentley, Murder Victim 
Joan Chandler  ...      Janet Walker, David's Fiancee 

Things to notice:

Rope is Hitchcock’s first film in America where he acted as producer and director. Before this, he worked for producer David O. Selznick. Being his own producer, Hitchcock was able to cast who he wanted, film what he wanted and basically, call all the shots himself. He was in complete control of the film. So many of the following choices came from Hitchcock's own artistic vision:

  • Rope is Hitchcock’s first color film.
  • Rope was originally a play by Patrick Hamilton. The movie has only one set. The camera was moved from room to room. Walls were whisked up into the studio “flies”.  Grips (technicians who move or work with set pieces) stood off-camera removing and replacing furniture when the camera moves forward and backward. 
  • Most shots in movies last only five to fifteen seconds - the shots in Rope last on average 10 minutes (the length of time a “magazine” of a film can be exposed in a camera.)
  • These 10 minute takes each end as the camera is moved closer to an object or a character’s jacket.  The next reel is then filmed focusing on this object and pulling back. As you watch the film, try to notice each “take”. 
  • If any mistakes occurred during the ten-minute take, the complete shot had to be done again.
  • The music Hitchcock selected is Poulenc’s “Mouvement Perpetuel” (perpetual movement).  In the film, the camera is constantly moving (moving perpetually, for instance). 
  • The film is an exercise in suspense. The murder happens within a few seconds of the opening shot.  The tense situation or suspense occurs as the murderers place the body in a chest, invite his parents and fiance over for dinner and serve the meal on the chest itself.
Themes in the movie include: cannibalism, ritual, sexuality, and the difference between theory and practice (book learning versus real experience).

The rope used to kill Dick Hogan is used to tie up his books, presented to his father as a gift.

The play is based on the Leopold and Loeb case. You can learn more about the Leopold and Loeb case here.

As you watch, list the moments in the movie when the shot changes:

1.  Example:  The camera moves from an exterior shot of the street and window to an interior shot of the apartment as Dick Hogan is shown being strangled by Brandon and Phillip.

2. ? Try to locate the various shots. You should find about 7-8 of these. 

HOMEWORK: Please work on your film script projects.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Maltese Falcon (Day 2); Treatments due; The Collaborative Film Project

We will screen the rest of The Maltese Falcon today. Turn in your notes at the end of the film for participation credit. Also, your treatments are due to our Google classroom today. See below.

Option 1: Collaboratively with up to 6 students, work on an original film, using a film script or treatment (which then needs to be turned in as a film script) and create an original short film (typically 3-5 minutes in length). All members of the team should work together in a significant manner to see the completion of the film project. (i.e., each member of the team should have a well-defined role to complete in the making of the film...points will be deducted from groups that string along dead weight--students who do not have a distinct role in helping to bring the film together and finished.)
  • One person should be the director (the most inspired or most organized at task management); this person can double as the producer (or you can have a separate person be the producer to ensure that the film project is scheduled and completed on time.)
  • One person should be the cinematographer (the best photographer & eye for visual design)
  • One person should be the editor (the most computer savvy)
  • One or more persons should work on the script as the screenwriter(s) (this script should be taken from one treatment from the group's choices...the screenwriter does not have to be the same person who wrote the chosen treatment)
  • One or more persons should be actors (the most theatrical--you can also hire parents, siblings, friends, and theater majors or other people from other grades to help you!)
  • One or more persons should help as grips, gaffers, best boys, costume designers, sound designers (music), casting directors (make sure the roles in the film are filled and present at the shooting), producers (someone to keep track of time and resources), and assistants to the other jobs--particularly if someone is absent, etc.
Option 2: You may work alone or with actors outside of this classroom. If this is the case, once you have your script ready, gather who and what you need and begin filming.

Option 3: Choose a director from the American New Wave or from contemporary cinema. Research this director. Watch at least 3 films from this director and in a short documentary that includes at least 3 clips from the films you watched directed by this auteur, explain the director's influence on the film industry. I.E., use the information you research to create a short film documentary (of 3-7 minutes in length) about the director & his/her impact on film. You should also discuss common themes or genres the filmmaker generally practices. You will need to narrate (voice-over) your "script"--scripts should be turned in with the film.
  • Woody Allen
  • Robert Altman
  • Hal Ashby
  • Peter Bogdanovich
  • John Cassavetes
  • Francis Ford Coppola
  • Brian De Palma
  • William Friedkin
  • Dennis Hopper
  • Stanley Kubrick
  • George Lucas
  • Mike Nichols
  • Martin Scorsese
  • Billy Wilder
  • Pedro Amoldovar
  • Wes Anderson
  • Darren Aronofsky
  • Kathryn Bigelow
  • Danny Boyle
  • Mel Brooks
  • Tim Burton
  • Joel & Ethan Coen
  • James Cameron
  • Jane Campion
  • Sofia Coppola
  • David Cronenberg
  • Julie Dash
  • Guillermo Del Toro
  • Claire Denis
  • Ava Duverney
  • Clint Eastwood
  • David Fincher
  • Jean Luc Godard
  • Terry Gilliam
  • Catherine Hardwicke
  • Mary Harron
  • Werner Herzog
  • Ron Howard
  • Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
  • Peter Jackson
  • Ang Lee
  • David Lynch
  • Nancy Meyers
  • Hayao Miyazaki 
  • Christopher Nolan
  • Tyler Perry
  • Roman Polanski
  • Gina Prince-Bythewood
  • Dee Rees
  • Ridley Scott
  • Steven Soderbergh
  • Quentin Tarantino
  • Gus Van Sant
  • Lars Von Trier
Film projects will be completed mostly on your own time (lab time is limited...) but will be due June 11 so we can screen the films on our last week of the course (June 11 or 13). The shooting script for your project should be turned in with your film project--but you'll need it to shoot your film...

HOMEWORK; If you are a screenwriter or your group is ready to begin shooting, do so. Aim to complete your script by Tuesday after Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Maltese Falcon (Day 1); The Treatment

This morning, after bringing the books down to the commons area, we will read a little from the film noir script The Maltese Falcon and take a few minutes to begin preparing our film treatments (due Wednesday!)

Then, we'll begin screening The Maltese Falcon in class. Look for examples/elements of film noir in the film. Take notes, etc. Information on the film can be found in the post below this one.

HOMEWORK: Due Wednesday, May 22 (also our coffeehouse at 7:00): Write a 1-3 page film "treatment" for your final film project. You will pitch your film treatments during class on Wednesday, May 22 to a group of your peers, selecting one idea to develop further and begin organizing yourselves to write, shoot, and edit a short film.

What is a Film Treatment?
A pitch is used to convince a film company to produce your film. The pitch is usually a one page summary of the main action, characters, and setting of the film. Essentially it deals with the idea.

The film treatment is, for us, usually a 1-3 page document that tells the whole story of a film idea focusing on the highlights or important scenes. It is usually more detailed than a pitch. It can include a scene by scene breakdown of a script. It is used BEFORE writing the real script so the author can plan his/her project.

How To Write a Treatment
The treatment should read like a short story and be written in the present tense (like all scripts). It should present the entire story including the ending, and use some key scenes and dialogue from the screenplay it is based on.

What Should Be in the Treatment?

1. A Working title
2. The writer's name
3. Introduction to key characters
4. Answers to who, what, when, why and where.
5. Act 1 in one to three paragraphs. Set the scene, dramatize the main conflicts.
6. Act 2 in two to five paragraphs. Should dramatize how the conflicts introduced in Act 1 lead to a crisis.
7. Act 3 in one to three paragraphs. Dramatize the final conflict and resolution.
The Three Act Structure
Basic screenplay structure for a full-length film usually has three acts.

In The Poetics, Aristotle suggested that all stories should have a beginning, middle, and an end. Well, duh. You know that. But really. You need to remember this advice.

Breaking the plot of a story into three parts gives us a 3-part or act structure. The word "act" means "the action of carrying something out. For our purposes think act one (beginning), act two (middle), and act three (end) of your short film.

Act 1, called the Set-up, The situation and characters and conflict are introduced. This classically is 30 minutes long. For a short film, it can be only a few minutes or 1 minute. Your first act should only be a paragraph or two (and no longer than 1 page of text).

Act 2, called The Conflict, often an hour long, is where the conflict begins and expands until it reaches a crisis. This will be your second page, for example. Or your 3-5 paragraphs.

Act 3, called The Resolution, the conflict rises to one more crisis (the last one called the climax) and then is resolved. This will be your last page or your last paragraph.

How To Write The Treatment
Find A Title
The first contact a prospective producer has with a script is the title. Pick a title that gives a clear idea of what genre the screenplay is written in. Blood House is probably not a romantic comedy. Americans like one or two word titles: Psycho, Saw, Year One, Rocky, Pan's Labyrinth, Animal House, Tangled, Avatar, etc.
After a title, start a logline: a brief one-sentence summary of the movie. For example: And Then Came Love is a character-driven romantic comedy about a high-powered Manhattan single mom who opens Pandora's box when she seeks out the anonymous sperm donor father of her young son.

Your treatment should include a synopsis. Here are some samples to help you get the idea...
Treatment sample #1
Treatment sample #2

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Citizen Kane: Day 2 (Conclusion); Film Noir

We will complete our viewing of Citizen Kane today in class. After viewing, we will press on to Film Noir.

Film Noir:

The Elements of Film Noir (documentary)

Here are a few things to watch for as we screen The Maltese Falcon:

1. A protagonist that is cynical or detached
2. A femme fatale who leads the protagonist astray
3. A mystery, crime, or use of suspense
4. A naive scapegoat to take the rap of some "crime"
5. Goons (hired criminals who give the protagonist a hard time)
6. Razor sharp dialogue
7. Reference and description of low key lighting

The Maltese Falcon, directed and written for the screen by John Huston
Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett
You can read the script here at this link.
Other film noir films of the 1940's:
Now a little technique and advice about making films:
Our next creative assignment will be to write a short film treatment for a film. See homework.  

HOMEWORK: Due Wednesday, May 22 (also our coffeehouse at 7:00): Write a 1-3 page film "treatment" for your final film project. You will pitch your film treatments during class on Wednesday, May 22 to a group of your peers, selecting one idea to develop further and begin organizing yourselves to write, shoot, and edit a short film.

What is a Film Treatment?
A pitch is used to convince a film company to produce your film. The pitch is usually a one page summary of the main action, characters, and setting of the film. Essentially it deals with the idea.

The film treatment is, for us, usually a 1-3 page document that tells the whole story of a film idea focusing on the highlights or important scenes. It is usually more detailed than a pitch. It can include a scene by scene breakdown of a script. It is used BEFORE writing the real script so the author can plan his/her project.

How To Write a Treatment
The treatment should read like a short story and be written in the present tense (like all scripts). It should present the entire story including the ending, and use some key scenes and dialogue from the screenplay it is based on.

What Should Be in the Treatment?

1. A Working title
2. The writer's name
3. Introduction to key characters
4. Answers to who, what, when, why and where.
5. Act 1 in one to three paragraphs. Set the scene, dramatize the main conflicts.
6. Act 2 in two to five paragraphs. Should dramatize how the conflicts introduced in Act 1 lead to a crisis.
7. Act 3 in one to three paragraphs. Dramatize the final conflict and resolution.
The Three Act Structure
Basic screenplay structure for a full-length film usually has three acts.

In The Poetics, Aristotle suggested that all stories should have a beginning, middle, and an end. Well, duh. You know that. But really. You need to remember this advice.

Breaking the plot of a story into three parts gives us a 3-part or act structure. The word "act" means "the action of carrying something out. For our purposes think act one (beginning), act two (middle), and act three (end) of your short film.

Act 1, called the Set-up, The situation and characters and conflict are introduced. This classically is 30 minutes long. For a short film, it can be only a few minutes or 1 minute. Your first act should only be a paragraph or two (and no longer than 1 page of text).

Act 2, called The Conflict, often an hour long, is where the conflict begins and expands until it reaches a crisis. This will be your second page, for example. Or your 3-5 paragraphs.

Act 3, called The Resolution, the conflict rises to one more crisis (the last one called the climax) and then is resolved. This will be your last page or your last paragraph.

How To Write The Treatment
Find A Title
The first contact a prospective producer has with a script is the title. Pick a title that gives a clear idea of what genre the screenplay is written in. Blood House is probably not a romantic comedy. Americans like one or two word titles: Psycho, Saw, Year One, Rocky, Pan's Labyrinth, Animal House, Tangled, Avatar, etc.
After a title, start a logline: a brief one-sentence summary of the movie. For example: And Then Came Love is a character-driven romantic comedy about a high-powered Manhattan single mom who opens Pandora's box when she seeks out the anonymous sperm donor father of her young son.

Your treatment should include a synopsis. Here are some samples to help you get the idea...
Treatment sample #1
Treatment sample #2

Monday, May 13, 2019

Citizen Kane: Day 1

We will screen the film Citizen Kane today in class. Please see previous posts and handouts for further details.

HOMEWORK: None.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Revise; Citizen Kane (intro)

Please revise/rewrite/reformat and correct your screwball comedy film script drafts. Resubmit for higher grades if you turned in your 1st draft and received my feedback. Otherwise, complete and turn your work in late with the typical late policy penalty. 

Citizen Kane (intro)

Topping the best films of all time is the important and influential 1941 film by Orson Welles: Citizen Kane (1941). As we view Citizen Kane, there are a series of important elements that can enrich our understanding of this film.

Orson Welles as Auteur:

Welles directed, wrote (partial), and starred in this film (even though it was thought he wasn't old enough to portray Kane). While Welles had direct control over the film and its look, there were other people who contributed artistically. Some of the invention and creativity of film making includes:

Camera Work:
  • The Deep Focus shot!
  • Low angle shots revealing ceilings!
  • Moving shots used as wipes!
  • Overlapping dialogue! (not original to Welles, but a trend in Screwball Comedies)
  • Long uninterrupted shots!
  • Expressionist lighting and photography!
Narrative/Special techniques:
  • Multiple perspective!
  • Flashbacks!
  • Aging!
Motifs and themes:
  • The American Dream: For all of Kane's "success", he is not happy. He dies lonely, with only his "possessions" around him. Is all our striving to succeed in America an illusion?
  • Perspective: The differing perspectives on Kane's life, especially in the absence of Kane's own point of view, force us to question what was truly important in Kane's life (and by extension what constitutes a life well lived in general.) Judging by Kane's last muttered word: Rosebud, the most important pieces of Kane's life were not the things that made him newsworthy, such as his newspaper successes and political ambitions, nor his friendships and associations. As Thompson interviews different people about Kane, we are given different perspectives on the man (some are unreliable). Odd, though, that we do not see Kane from Kane's POV.
Motifs:
  • Isolation (loneliness...it's lonely at the top...)
  • Materialism/Capitalism
  • Old Age (the end of the line...)
Symbols:
  • The Snowglobe
  • Sleds
  • Statues
Allusions:
Director: Orson Welles
Writers: Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles (screenplay)
Cinematography by Gregg Toland

Orson Welles ... Charles Foster Kane
Joseph Cotten ... Jedediah Leland
Dorothy Comingore ... Susan Alexander Kane
Agnes Moorehead ... Mary Kane
Ruth Warrick ... Emily Monroe Norton Kane
Ray Collins ... James W. Gettys
Erskine Sanford ... Herbert Carter
Everett Sloane ... Mr. Bernstein
William Alland ... Jerry Thompson
Paul Stewart ... Raymond
George Coulouris ... Walter Parks Thatcher
Fortunio Bonanova ... Signor Matiste
Gus Schilling ... The Headwaiter
Philip Van Zandt ... Mr. Rawlston
Georgia Backus ... Bertha Anderson
Harry Shannon ... Kane's Father
Produced by Orson Welles and George Schaefer .... executive producer

Original Music by Bernard Herrmann
Film Editing by Robert Wise
Casting by Rufus Le Maire & Robert Palmer
Art Direction by Van Nest Polglase
Set Decoration by Darrell Silvera
Costume Design by Edward Stevenson
Makeup by Maurice Seiderman

Let's read a little bit of the script together to get you started. Then, we'll screen the scene.

HOMEWORK: Please read the script Citizen Kane and examine the narratology and script writing techniques used in the written script.

Film Script Format & Tips for Effective Writing; RocketJump Examples

This morning, let's start here: How to Write Descriptively (TedED video)

One of the techniques and aspects of screenwriting we want you to learn is to write effective description. Writing plays for the stage, you learned to avoid unnecessary stage directions and focus on the DIALOGUE. In a film script, you want to focus on the VISUAL DESCRIPTION rather than the dialogue. It's the opposite.

Film is a visual medium (art). As such, it is the film writer's job to effectively describe the setting, characters, actions, and create a tone with his/her description using effective diction (word choice) and just plain, good writing that shows a scene rather than tells us.

A well-written script creates in the mind of the reader the experience of watching a movie. To that end, you must describe settings, charactersimages, sounds, actions, and speech (dialogue) in such a way that the scenes appear as they would on a screen. You've got to see the picture in your mind, then describe it!

In the movies, unlike in a novel, we are limited to the physical senses of sight and sound. Refrain from describing what would not be visible or audible to us as we’re watching the movie. For example, don’t describe (tell) a character in terms of their occupation--(He's a banker; she's a lawyer, etc.), as this usually isn’t evident from a character's appearance. Describe (show) props and clothing to give us visual clues, or reveal a character’s identity subtly in dialogue, as you would in a play script.

Before you tell us what actions take place in the scene, it’s a good idea to focus on the setting. The first time we see a particular setting, describe it. Insert a blank line to separate this description from the action that follows.

Make the description kinetic and visual, but succinct and specific. Replace passive verbs (e.g. “is”) with active verbs to make the action more dynamic. Use active verbs! (see the list at the link for examples...and you can use them for your resume as well...) 

Avoid editorializing by using adjectives or adverbs that express personal reactions, such as “hideous,” “amazing,” or “incredible.” Instead: SHOW don't TELL
Ex. Hideous: the man shuffles along the sidewalk, as though one leg is shorter than the other. His fetid breath puffs out in small grey clouds of vapor as his cracked and blood-crusted lips part. A blackened and swollen tongue darts over the dry lips and we see his mouth gape open wide, wider, wider--a string of viscous drool dangles for a moment. Then we see the rows of shark-like teeth, jagged and sharp as he lurches forward to bite a shiny red apple. We hear the crunch and gurgle of the fruit as it slides down his esophagus. 
While I'm overdoing it there, the trick is to describe characters, actions, scenes, etc. visually, aurally, and, if possible, kinetically, or gustatorily or with olfactory imagery. 

Strip your description of any clich├ęs and generic phrases that contribute nothing to our understanding of the characters or situation. Don’t just write that a character is standing in a room, for example, or sitting at a desk. Give them some business that indicates their personality or attitude. Open each scene with the characters in the scene already engaged in some action that relates to the story. This is what screenwriters mean when they mention mise-en-scene or mise-en-shot: literally: what details are included in the shot or scene...!

Such camera directions as “PAN TO,” “DOLLY IN,” and “CRANE UP” should be used sparingly. No director wants the writer to tell him how to move the camera. It’s possible to convey the shot you envision simply by describing the scene in a manner that leads the mind’s eye of the reader. That means describing in details what the camera does: 
ex. We move past the tent flap and into the crowded arena, tracing a jagged path through the party-goers and revelers until we settle on the rosy-cheeked face of our protagonist, Shelley the Elephant Girl. 
It’s not necessary to describe minor gestures and reactions or obvious acting notes. Nor is it necessary to slug out a different camera angle (e.g. “BACK TO JONATHAN”). Such overwritten description tends to distract rather than enhance, especially when it interrupts an exchange of dialogue. Leave it to the actors and the director to interpret the script. Your job is to describe the action, characters, setting, and dialogue using effective diction and imagery. Show us the story in your head by describing what you see in your mind detail after detail. 

Remember to include scene headings or what we'll call SLUG LINES. There are two types you can use at this stage of your education:

Type 1: Slugline: Starts either with EXT (exterior if the shot is outside) or INT (if the shot is inside). This is followed by the actual name of the location, followed by a hyphen and the time of day (or night). 

EX. Slugline: EXT - MOUNTAIN LEDGE - NIGHT

Type 2: Slugline: name a camera shot or angle instead, but this appears in all-caps.

EX. Slugline #2: TRACKING SHOT across the football field as JOHNNY runs for a touchdown.

Sluglines (either type) are separated from other description of characters, setting details, actions, etc. by a single blank line in the script.

Finally, a character's name or CHARACTER CUE should appear about 3" with the typical 1" left margin default (or 4.2" without a margin)
  • NEVER center the character cues! It may look cool, but it actually makes the script harder to read. 
  • Don’t place a colon after a character cue. While some published stage plays may have colons after their cues, this is incorrect in screenplays.
  • It’s not necessary to use both the first and last names. Leads generally go by their first names.
  • Acting notes (use sparingly) usually appear at 2.5" (5 TABS)
  • Dialogue appears at 2" (4 TABS). All dialogue should start or carry over at 2". 
  • Most importantly, keep your spacing/formatting consistent. A little error of .5" (1 standard TAB stroke) will not destroy the world. If your lines and formatting are all over the place, then you appear careless, ignorant, or just plain wrong.

Let's see it in action: We'll read the first 3-4 pages of Video Game High School (a running series of short films from RocketJump), then let's see what it looks like all filmed up. 

Now here's an example of a short film--you'll note they are shorter than feature-length films that you are used to watching. They have a definite beginning, middle, end and are more like short stories than novels. But notice how the film VISUALLY develops character/plot quickly and uses DIALOGUE to tell an interesting story or plot. Ex. from Rocketjump: Jess' Big Date.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Screwball Comedy Script; Gone With the Wind; Golden Age of Film

I am proctoring an AP exam.

This morning, please use period 1 to work on your screwball comedy script draft. At 8:30, you'll watch the first 1/2 hour of Gone With the Wind.

If you finish early, please do one or more of the following:

  • Watch the clips/trailers and take notes on the films from the Golden Age (see post below). There is nothing to turn in for this assignment, but the films and trends mentioned below are likely to be on the exam for this unit.
  • Read the article on "Mr. Welles Comes to Town" about Citizen Kane and Orson Welles.
  • Read the script handout for Citizen Kane. Notice how the script is written (the description of scenes, the use of imagery and detail, as well as the flow of the narrative.) Aim to complete your reading of this script by Friday, May 10.
Turn in your screwball comedy script draft to our Google Classroom.

HOMEWORK: Complete your script if you did not do so already. Complete the bulleted items above.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Golden Age of Film: Part 2

  • The Wizard of Oz (clip)
  • Gone With the Wind (clip)
In case you missed it, the 1930's is considered the Golden Age of Film. Please review and take notes on these following film clips when you get a chance. You should note who is starring in which roles and how certain actors and directors helped shape the genres we now recognize in film today. You will be tested on the material found here, so please watch attentively and make some observations about films in the 1930's.

As for camera work, there are few tricks being used with cameras. Angles are mostly eye-level, with medium, long, and close up shots being used with transitions such as the wipe, the iris, fade to black to indicate scene changes. There is still rear projection, tracking shots, dolly shots, and elaborate sets (particularly for war and epic films), but overall, the feel of 1930's film is like watching a play. With the invention of sound, movies rely on written dialogue to move the plot and develop character (as opposed to using solely a visual medium popularized in silent films). Famous directors and writers such as Frank Capra, Walt Disney, and writer George S. Kaufman to name only a few make their appearance in this era. Since sound is a new invention, the use of music is an important element. See what other details you can observe as you watch the clips:

Hell's Angels (1930) clip with Jean Harlow
Anna Christie (1930) With Greta Garbo
Tarzan, The Ape Man (1932) Johnny Weissmuller
Morocco (1930) with Marlene Dietrich
Grand Hotel (1932) with Joan Crawford & John Barrymore
King Kong (1933) with Faye Wray
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) Clark Gable & Charles Laughton
Captain Blood (1935) with Errol Flynn & Basil Rathbone (documentary clip)

Universal Horror Films:
Dracula (1931) Bela Lugosi (Tod Browning's version)
Dracula (clip 2)
Frankenstein (1931) with Boris Karloff
Frankenstein (2nd clip)
The Bride of Frankenstein (1932) with Boris Karloff
Bride of Frankenstein (2nd clip)
Freaks (1932) Tod Browning director
The White Zombie (1932) Bela Lugosi
The Mummy (1932) Boris Karloff
The Invisible Man (1933) with Claude Rains

Screwball Comedies:
The Thin Man (1934) with Myrna Loy & William Powell
A Night At the Opera (Marx Brothers, cabin scene) (1935)
His Girl Friday (1940), Rosalind Russell & Cary Grant (full film; extra credit option)

Frank Capra films:
It Happened One Night (1934) Claudette Colbert & Clark Gable
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) Gary Cooper
Lost Horizon (1937) and clips from the film...
You Can't Take it With You (1938) with a very young Jimmy Stewart
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) with Jimmy Stewart
It's a Wonderful Life (1946 clips)

Gangster Films:
The Public Enemy (1931)
Scarface (1932)

Westerns:
Cimarron (1930)
Stagecoach (1939) John Wayne (John Ford directing)

War Films:
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

Musicals:
The Gay Divorcee (1934) Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire
Top Hat (1935) Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire
Swing Time (1936) Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire (again)
42 Street (1933)

Animation:
Popeye the Sailor (1933) with Betty Boop (and Popeye, of course)

Warner Bros. Animation:
Porky's Hare Hunt (1938)
Porky Pig & Gabby (1937)
Prest-O Change-O (early Bugs Bunny) (1939)
Daffy Duck & the Dinosaur (1939)

Alfred Hitchcock 1930's films:
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
The 39 Steps (1935)
Sabotage (the suspenseful bomb scene) (1936)
The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Blockbuster Technicolor films:
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Wizard of Oz (1939)
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) with Errol Flynn

Use the rest of class to work on your screwball comedy film script projects. , your homework (see below) or watch and take notes on the clips here on this post.

HOMEWORK: Complete your screwball comedy film script drafts. Please read the article on "Mr. Welles Comes to Town" -- answer the question (due Friday, Monday, May 6 as well) & the script for Citizen Kane (complete by Friday, May 10). If you miss Citizen Kane due to AP testing, please watch the film on your own. 

The Murky Middle (Even More Advice)

Aristotle wrote that stories should have a beginning, middle, and end. Middles can be difficult. You might have a smashing opening to a stor...