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Old 06-07-2018, 10:32 AM   #11
Crayon
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Default Re: Is it acceptable...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Southern_land View Post
I'm currently working on a story with one pivotal scene set in a real world location that needs description. It's something that I've never seen in a movie and I doubt any movie exec/reader will have had any experience in.

in trying to covey the size, shape and threat of this location I've filled a page and it doesn't convey what I'm trying to say as well as opening a Google image results and seeing it first-hand.
Perhaps, just this once, and just for a sentence or two, instead of describing only what's visible and audible, you could dare to write like a novelist - write the sensation of being there - how the place makes us feel, regardless of how 'unfilmable' those words may be.

Maybe it would be fun/interesting if you posted your scene heading and the problematic location so we can all have a go at writing an effective description for the establishing shot - like a mini writing exercise/challenge.
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Old 06-07-2018, 07:39 PM   #12
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Default Re: Is it acceptable...

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Maybe it would be fun/interesting if you posted your scene heading and the problematic location so we can all have a go at writing an effective description for the establishing shot - like a mini writing exercise/challenge.
I second this motion. Perhaps someone will come up with something that you can actually use.
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Old 06-11-2018, 03:17 PM   #13
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Default Re: Is it acceptable...

If you're Deadpool, I'd expect it. If it's used as part of a narration (Like Ryan Gosling did in "The Big Short") then I think it's ok.

It shouldn't be used as something to bridge a failure in the script IMHO.

That's the challenge of screenwriting. To describe something in the most imaginative way without writing a book chapter about it.

I too struggle with being too descriptive.
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Old 06-11-2018, 06:26 PM   #14
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Default Re: Is it acceptable...

FWIW, I wrote a spec that had a recently invented sport with unique equipment. I knew 99% of readers wouldn't have seen it. So I described it, but I also put in as an aside something like "[This is a real thing - if you've never seen it, google SPORT NAME and check it out.]"

The spec sold.
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Old 06-11-2018, 09:42 PM   #15
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Default Re: Is it acceptable...

Found it:

Quote:
A wide stretch of sand with a boardwalk - one of the more commercial stretches. There are numerous vendors advertising boat rentals, parasailing, and the activity that we find Matt, Chloe and Grant at: powerbocking.

(Powerbocks are extreme, spring loaded stilts. It’s a short curved piece of fiberglass with a boot built in that lets you jump five feet straight in the air, run twenty miles an hour, take ten foot strides, jump off a second story and land perfectly, jump or flip over a car... If you’ve never seen it, go to YouTube and search for “freestyle powerizer stilts” or “freestyle powerbock.” Insane.)
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Old 06-12-2018, 12:21 AM   #16
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Default Re: Is it acceptable...

Thanks for your many and varied replies guys... I'm describing a working industrial area and most of all I don't want want it to look like this

I remember watching this movie way back when and this scene just "godzilla raped" the whole movie for me.

I want to get my vision into the brain of the director/set designer/locations peoples...

I'll think on posting my description and or the google images further
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Old 06-15-2018, 04:49 PM   #17
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Default Re: Is it acceptable...

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Originally Posted by Southern_land View Post
to break the forth wall in a screenplay and simply say "Google image this and let your imagination take flight!"

I've been accused (rightfully) of writing too densely, so I'm working on that. However I'm currently working on a story with one pivotal scene set in a real world location that needs description. It's something that I've never seen in a movie and I doubt any movie exec/reader will have had any experience in.

in trying to covey the size, shape and threat of this location I've filled a page and it doesn't convey what I'm trying to say as well as opening a Google image results and seeing it first-hand.

What are your thoughts?
Well, if you're going to tell someone to google a real location and say, in effect -- this scene is talking place right here -- then you're not telling the reader to let their imagination take flight -- you're telling them -- this scene is happening right there -- in that place I just I just told you to google. No imagination required.

It's no different, really, from saying -- this scene takes place with guys climbing around on the outside of the Statue of Liberty -- same deal. We all know, or at least think we know, what that looks like. So very little description required.

But here's the problem -- reader in the middle of the script. He's just read four other scripts. He's got another four scripts to read. You've just asked him to get out of bed, or chair, or couch, and go grab his phone or tablet or computer -- and look something up.

He doesn't want to put down your script and get out of his chair. He doesn't even want to reach across to his phone. What he really wants is an excuse to bluff his way through the rest of the coverage, right "pass" on the cover sheet and move on to another script.

I've actually read a script with footnotes. I suppose a script with a suggestion to go look something up on google isn't quite as bad as that but -- seriously, I wouldn't do it.

The notion that it would violate some rule to use the tools of prose-writing to describe a location is silly. All of the rules of prose-writing are always available to use to convey a sense of place, of character, of mood, of location - and of everything else. And we should always take full advantage of all of those tools -- appropriately.

Using the tools of good-writing doesn't mean over-writing when writing a screenplay any more than it means overwriting when writing anything else. Nothing should be over-written any more than anything should be under-written.

How many times, when you've read a novel does a writer take a full page to describe a location? It generally isn't necessary. It isn't about the number of words but about finding the right words to convey a sense of a location.

Obviously, not knowing exactly what the location is or what you're trying to convey, I can't be any more specific, but here's a brief passage from a script I wrote a number of years ago, a horror movie called DEADER, which was my first big sale:

---------------

The Super steps back and slams his foot against the door. It gives slightly. Another couple kicks and the door pops open.

SUPER
Oh, man...

He and Amy recoil, clutching their faces, from the smell. The Super heads down the hallway, retching.

Amy stands facing away from the door, willing herself to stand where she is. She inhales -- drawing in the smell to acclimate herself -- and almost vomits. She steadies herself, drawing in breaths through her nose, tentative at first, and finally in larger breaths, until she can tolerate it.

She looks back toward the Super, who is staring at her from the far end of the hall, looking vaguely embarassed.

SUPER
I'm sorry...

Amy looks at him, then turns and pushes her way through the broken door.

CUT to:

INT., DAY, MARLA'S APARTMENT

Amy steps in and stops, struggling to keep herself from retching. She hesitates, then reaches up and takes off her sunglasses and slips them into a pocket. This is the first time we see her eyes, as they scan this dim, prosaic place of death.

This is an average east village one bedroom apartment, relatively bare -- some furniture rescued from the garbage, some books, some magazines, some nondescript art posters on the wall. No sign in the living room of anything dead. No sound except the sinister buzzing of flies.

Amy steps cautiously in. She looks toward one side, sees a closet with a double sliding door. She slides open one side, sees nothing that shouldn't be there -- a ragged winter jacket, a green plastic rain coat, a hangar festooned with scarfs, some other garments still obscured beneath cleaning bag plastic. She hesitates, then calmly slides the other side open. More of the same.

She turns in the other direction. There's a little kitchen. Nothing dead there. She starts forward then turns back -- staring at the refrigerator. She goes quickly over and tugs it open. It's empty. Not so much as a ketchup bottle. Curious, she opens the freezer. The same. Empty.

She heads into the living room and down a narrow corridor leading to the bedroom.

She rounds a turn and finds herself looking down the hallway toward the open door to the bathroom some fifteen feet away.

Marla is there.

The door to the bathroom is open and the toilet, on the far wall, faces out the door. Marla, dressed only in bra and panties, is sitting on the closed lid of the john, leaning forward in what seems, at first, to be an impossible angle. Her hands hang forward, almost touching the floor. Her head is cocked back, staring up. Her skin is gray, swollen.

Amy takes a few steps forward, for a better look.

As she approaches, she sees the reason for the odd position of the body.

A long bootlace has been tied around Marla's neck and tied to the wall pipe on the toilet. The flesh of her neck has swollen out, almost burying the bootlace. She has hanged herself in this ghastly way.

Amy takes another step forward. As she does, there's a sudden loud buzzing as the flies that crawl on Marla abruptly rise up, alarmed (or whatever it is flies are) at her approach. But they soon return to the corpse, crawling about the face, around the edges of the glazed, eyes, around the margins of the open mouth, rimmed with dry foam -- around the outthrust tongue.

---------

And the scene goes on from there.

But as you can see, I happily ignore most of these rules that everyone says that writers should follow. I use "we see" -- I have lots of paragraphs that are longer than four lines (or is five lines, or is it three lines?) I comment on the action. And especially, I use all of the tools of prose to create a feeling of suspense and dread in the course of writing this scene.

Always, by the way, in the service of helping the reader to better relate to what an audience member would see, hear and experience while watching the movie in a theater.

If the above is "directing on the page" -- that I happily did and still do it because the above is not a blue print -- it's a selling document. Its goal is to get readers, execs, producers, agents, talent, directors -- pretty much anybody who could help get this movie made, to get excited about the prospect of making it -- and that only happens if the script, as a piece of PROSE, gets them excited.

The work itself, what you write -- not something they have to look up on google -- that's what has to do the job of getting people excited.

Look, a long time ago, I found a POV clip showing some guy climbing up a monumentally take radio tower without a safety line -- just climbing up something like a thousand feet straight up. One of the most terrifying things I ever saw.

And one day, I'm going to figure out how to put that into a movie -- a fight between two guys at the top of that tower -- or somebody's going to try to knock down that tower. I have no idea. I have no story at all involving that tower.

But when I do -- I'm not going to include a link to that footage. It's just going to be describing whatever that scene is and that terrifying vertiginous plunge to certain doom a thousand feet below as desperate fingers grasp at the rain-slippery aluminum rungs of that six-inch wide rattling ladder...

So -- hard though it may be, my best advice to you is -- figure out a way to describe your location.

NMS
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Old 06-15-2018, 08:49 PM   #18
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Default Re: Is it acceptable...

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Thanks for your many and varied replies guys... I'm describing a working industrial area and most of all I don't want it to look like this
Maybe just describe it as “a working industrial area not obviously staged for movie stunts.”*

*Regarding that clip: It was the shipping containers that were open on both ends that gave me a regurgitative reaction.

Or maybe just describe it as “a working industrial area” and then conjure up the bits you need just when you need them (Jersey barriers, shipping containers, cement mixers for the concrete galoshes, et cetera). Maybe check out the Jack Reacher script where Tom Cruise and Robert Duvall have a shootout in “a working industrial area” with the bad guys led by none other than Werner Herzog.

Last edited by TigerFang : 06-17-2018 at 06:56 AM.
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Old 06-17-2018, 12:13 AM   #19
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Maybe just describe it as “a working industrial area not obviously staged for movie stunts.”
LOL. Actually I really like that!
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Old 06-23-2018, 04:11 PM   #20
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Default Re: Is it acceptable...

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Originally Posted by JeffLowell View Post
Found it:
This works b/c the Powerbocks are already accurately described. I get it just fine. And the addition isn't distracting from the script for that very reason. I wouldn't stop reading, but would probably google it later.

What the OP is saying (i thinki) is that he wants "show" or replace his description with an exact image. I think it's far better to let your "imagination fly." JMO.

I write sci-fi and find myself creating things that don't necessarily exist today. I create a kind of "look book" of reference materials that inspire my vision and things that populate my world.

After all, Look Books are an interpretation (or aid) to our world vision. Our film's esthetic. It's tone. It's attitude.

Look books don't negate the responsibility of the writer to "describe" the moment/image/detail to their best ability.

Thing to remember is descriptions provide an impression where you do let the readers imagination fill in the world. Which is how it comes alive to a reader.

As a writer, it's your job to create that world impression.
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