Scripts Sept. 22nd Writing for Machinima
Movie Scripts • Movie scripts follow a general form. • Has a beginning, middle and an end (what a novel idea) • This layout is called the setup, confrontation, and resolution • Syd Field’s Book Screenplay
Setup • You have only a short time to introduce: • The Scene • The Characters • The Story / Questions or Conflicts • Can judge a movie in 10 minutes • A Machinima in about 1 minute • (Since many are under 10 minutes)
Confrontation • Where most of the story takes place: • Characters are developed • Dramatic effect continually rises • Obstacles are thrown into the story • Here the characters are striving for something.
Resolution • This does not mean the END. • This is where questions and conflicts are answered and rapped up. • NO, the answer don’t need to be explicit • YES, the answer can be, there is none • A big fight at the end of the movie is part of the resolution.
Plot Points • To get from one section to the other. • Plot Points are epiphanies, the “HUH?” and “OH” during a film. • After the setup throws the first questions at the audience. • After the confrontation it gives the audience key pieces of information.
A form not a guarantee • So that’s the layout, the Great movies use it. • But it’s not a formula: • You can’t put in your pieces and get out a great movie. • The audience needs a beginning, drama to occur, and an ending. • Otherwise you are just stating facts and not a story.
Now what? • So you have a layout, but what to actually write about? • You need: • A subject • Characters • Scenes • Direction • This is as much design as it is writing.
Subject • The universal problem: WHAT IS IT ABOUT ? • What do YOU want your machinima to be about?
Subject • Brainstorm • Look through games that you like to play. • Think about songs, shows, movies you would want to parody. • What story genres interest you? • When you get something expand on it • Write a short description. • Write some notes about it.
Research It • Research the subject. • In the past, machinimas would make fun of the game they were made in. • This meant they had to know the game. • It also meant that they had to understand comedy. • For a serious topic make sure you know the facts. • Military drama’s are a lot better when the creator paid attention to detail. Rankings, slang, uniforms, environments, etc.
A Completed Subject • Don’t have a story that is only the setup. • Conflict needs to be brought in. • And resolution needs to occur. • And what characters will you need?
Create a Character • Subject? • Age? • Parents? Who are they? • Married? • Friends? • Important Past Experiences?
Know thy Characters • Know your Subject, KNOW your Characters. • Characters make the story, you need to understand them inside and out. • You need to figure out you’re main character from the start.
Bios • Hidden information: • Character’s past • Relationships, experiences, behaviors • This info may be used in the story but is for the benefit of the writer. • Exposed information: • What is shown to the audience. • And needs to be expressed visually!
Showing the character • Show the characters personality, emotions, needs, wants. • The main character interacts with another character for the first time: • What’s their relationship towards one another? • What from their pasts make them act this way towards one another? • And what of the characters emotional state? • You don’t need to say the make/year/model of their first car.
Show it • So show their needs and wants • It’s easier to show a jackass than a nice guy. • How do they deal with their demons inside? • Separate their public/private/professional lives. • Dialog should come easy if you know these qualities of your characters.
Dialog • Study how you and your friends talk. • Less about the subject but about the structure of conversations you have. • Using Voice actors in machinimas means it’s harder to get good dialog. • Dialog must move the story forward, be informative, and reveal conflict, emotions, personality.
Character recap • What do they need? • What’s their bio? • What is the character? Point of view: House wife? Criminal? • What is their attitude? • What is their personality? • What is their behavior? What actions do they take? Don’t know? What would you do? • Revelation? What will the character figure out? • Identification. Do you know someone who is this character? I hope so.
Direction • Now you have the subject and charcters • How does the story progress? • Conflicts / questions • The story needs an ending. • YES! And ending needs to be known up front. • It doesn’t need to be definite but somewhere that the story can go too. • With the ending in place, YOU choose how to get there.
Scenes • Scenes are in what drives the story forward. • They are what the audience remembers the most • Scenes need place and time • Each scene needs a new CAMERA position • CAMERA is always capitalized in screenplays and in can be thought of the same way as in machinima
Scenes • Each scene is ONE element of the story. • rarely more and is the purpose of the scene. • Dialog and action sometimes mix into one scene • Dialog scenes should achieve their purpose in THREE minutes. • For a full scale movie. • Machinimas it needs to be done faster or must include less dialog scenes.
To make a scene • Take the non-obvious approach. • Have a character smile when angry • Have a Tank go Haywire in the background of a serious conversation. • Don’t use Flashbacks • If you can’t explain something to the audience by why of actions then there is a problem. • Purpose->where->when->context->content
To make a scene • Example: For comedies, your characters must believe what they are doing • Don’t play for laughs. “Exaggerated seriousness” • Scenes don’t need to be complete • With a good transition jumping forward or out of the scene is fine. • regardless there is a beginning, middle and end to every scene.
The rest of it • So you have: • the beginning, ending, initial conflicts, the revilation, and your characters • Now to get the rest. • Use post-it notes • write a scene on each note. • string them together to form the script.
The rest of it • The number of scenes doesn’t matter. • Make sure they have purpose. • Trust your story to tell you how many. • Fit a questionable one in. • It’s easier to do reshoots in a machinima. • But it’s always better to fit a scene in now. • You can edit later.
The rest of it • Have the characters act not react. • put them in a hostel situation, how would they coup. • Each scene needs a place and a purpose • In the layout, needs scenery and time period too. • Spread the post-its out. • Rework them. • Try something new. • Sleep on it and come back. • What ever it takes for you to know your story, characters and how it will best be laid out.
Form • It’s the writers job to tell the director what to shoot, not how to shoot it
Teamwork • Writer, researcher, typist, editor • Need to define roles, need to discuss, need to figure out tasks • Basic teamwork skills apply
Dialog • Dialog must be seen as information that is given to the audience, even though it is between the characters • Can be used for: • Conversation • Info as to time and place • Info on action, what has happened • Actual enactments, confessions • Info about characters