non visual sacrifices



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  • non visual sacrifices

    Myriads of things happened to earth in the 2000 years before the story begins. Many more will happen during the story…set far into the future.

    How else can you quickly inform the audience in your spec script about some of these crucial events (non-character related back story) but using derivations of George Lucasâ€TM STAR WARS approach?


    â€Blah blah blah†serves as the backdrop for the MAIN TITLE, which is followed by a ROLL-UP:

    (this is a half-a-page or so summary of the historical events leading to the present situation)

    Back to my point.

    I donâ€TMt think you want to spread these cold historical facts in your already-events-congested present story via dialogue exposition or narrative reminders.

    I know this approach ("followed by a ROLL-UP") is not visual, but the script does have plenty of visual and aural stuff to entertain. So, a little sacrifice here and there should be OK, right?

  • #2
    not sure i have any advice on how to so this effectively, but i would suggest that you consider reducing these "myriads of things" to a few representative events, and then use them for dramatic effect by having them revealed to the audience over the course of the film.

    sprinkled strategically, and in as un-expository way as possible, these could be carrots dangled in front of the reader/viewer.


    • #3
      non visual sacrifices

      Not many sci-fi films since Star Wars have needed the scrolling or the exposition of Flash Gordon. Blade Runner starts with cards that explain the reason Deckard chases androids. Alien just begins. As I remember it, Outland just begins. The Fifth Element goes into the past to lead into the future. Only a few weeks ago I saw The Chronicles of Riddick, and I vaguely remember a little catch up VO.

      What I'm getting at, is what you need to do depends very heavily on what the story is that follows.


      • #4
        While I sort of liked the "Star Wars" beginnings, I also like how they mention things here and there to add a little history to the movie.

        For example, Obi Wan tells Luke that Darth Vader "killed" his father. Then we find out that Darth Vader is in fact his father, but he's changed so much that he resembles nothing like the person Obi Wan knew (explained in ROTJ).

        We also hear Grand Moff Tarkin (the "boss" on the first Death Star, even Darth Vader obeyed him) talk about how "the Emperor has just crushed the last of the old Republic" and has total control of the systems that were under them. We then see in Episode 1 that before Palpatine's rise to Grand Chancellor, he's just a lowly Senator from some backwater planet in the Republic.

        Another Star Wars example is when Obi Wan mentions "the Clone Wars", and then Leia later teases Luke by saying "Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?" While it's hard to get it right away, when you see Episode 2, the stormtroopers are in fact clones of the same guy.

        I guess what I'm saying is, go ahead and give us a little "background information/history", but make it seem relevant to the situation in the movie/script. For instance, a guy gets mad/crazy at the mention/sight of certain things. If this incident that made the guy do that occured 40 years ago, and its still affecting him, have someone who doesn't know the crazy guy talk to someone who does know him and why he does it, and have them briefly tell us why (flashback I guess). Of course, give good reason for the guy to go crazy too (maybe he was a war veteran and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and relives those moments anytime he hears loud noises such as fireworks and then wishes he died with his buddies then), or else people will feel his actions are forced (he just happens to live near an air force base for some reason where they just happen to fly planes low to the ground everyday, which will feel "forced" to me and probably others).


        • #5
          While I think the example of Star Wars is a good one, the operative thing here is that you're writing a spec script. I can't imagine that so much history is really going to improve the chances of your script as a spec. I also can't imagine an instance where that much "recapping" is necessary. Either you are addressing major moments in history, in which case recapping isn't necessary, or you're addressing relatively minor moments in history, in which case recapping them won't add all that much to your story.

          Frankly, my gut instinct says that if that much overview is absolutely critical, write a novel. But that's just my gut.


          • #6
            Thanks so much for your thoughtful inputs.

            The consensus so far is that I should settle for the obvious â€" strategic visual/aural reminders (carrots) - in my storytelling, even when releasing historical info meant only to help understand the setting. Thatâ€TMs hard to swallow (pun intended)! :\

            The consensus is that I should reduce the historical info. Thatâ€TMs understandable. I agree.


            • #7
              I was not aware that this subject had been discussed to death in a previous thread titled "Exposition--Can't it be used moderately?" (1/6/04) by some of the most prolific DD contributors.

              And the 5-page consensus was that "well-done exposition" (what I call here "non visual sacrifices" - meaning, of course, "well done") is perfectly OK.

              Moreover, the consensus was that "all movies - from CASABLANCA to STAR WARS and beyond - have various degrees of exposition - well crafted or not". Our job is to make it look invisible (organic).

              That makes me feel a lot better!