Dramatic Timing

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  • Dramatic Timing

    We hear about comedic timing often. But is there such thing as dramatic timing and if so what does it mean to you?
    "I ask every producer I meet if they need TV specs they say yeah. They all want a 40 inch display that's 1080p and 120Hz. So, I quit my job at the West Hollywood Best Buy."
    - Screenwriting Friend

  • #2
    Re: Dramatic Timing

    Hmm there'd have to be. I guess to me it means having enough setup, drawing out a moment so that when something happens it's impact is devastating emotionally.

    One example I can think of is from Angels and Demons. (SPOILER ALERT).

    There's a scene where a priest is tied to a chair and drowning in a fountain. Tom is trying to rescue him, doing everything he can, but he can't lift the chair out. He can't do it alone.

    He goes to the surface, yells desperately for someone to help, but no one comes.

    He swims back down, getting more and more desperate, and just when you think it's over, just when you think the priest is going to drown and no one is going to help...

    There's the splash of people jumping in to help save him.

    Stuff where people band together selflessly to save others, act without thought of the consequences to themselves, put aside their differences in the name of something transcendant (we're all in this together), demonstrate a goodness that I sometimes question the existence of...

    Gets me every time.
    Last edited by Anagram; 09-16-2012, 01:56 PM.

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    • #3
      Re: Dramatic Timing

      Originally posted by Anagram View Post
      Hmm there'd have to be. I guess to me it means having enough setup, drawing out a moment so that when something happens it's impact is devastating emotionally.

      One example I can think of is from Angels and Demons. (SPOILER ALERT).

      There's a scene where a priest is tied to a chair and drowning in a fountain. Tom is trying to rescue him, doing everything he can, but he can't lift the chair out. He can't do it alone.

      He goes to the surface, yells desperately for someone to help, but no one comes.

      He swims back down, getting more and more desperate, and just when you think it's over, just when you think the priest is going to drown and no one is going to help...

      There's the splash of people jumping in to help save him.

      Stuff where people band together selflessly to save others, act without thought of the consequences to themselves, put aside their differences in the name of something transcendant (we're all in this together), demonstrate a goodness that I sometimes question the existence of...

      Gets me every time.

      Nope that didn't spoil Angels and Demons for me at all
      I heard the starting gun


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      • #4
        Re: Dramatic Timing

        Dunnnh dunn duuuuuuuun.
        On Twitter @DeadManSkipping

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        • #5
          Re: Dramatic Timing

          Originally posted by Southern_land View Post
          Nope that didn't spoil Angels and Demons for me at all
          Hence why I wrote "SPOILER ALERT"

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          • #6
            Dramatic Timing

            Originally posted by roscoegino View Post
            We hear about comedic timing often. But is there such thing as dramatic timing and if so what does it mean to you?
            Certainly, doesn't the cavalry usually arrive, just in time, (altho, not always to the rescue)? If not the dog, (for example, with Teddy saving Gloria Swanson from Wallace Beery's evil @ 20:25)?

            Probably the most frequent use of dramatic timing, since 1929, has been the use of the "countdown", to build expectations and tension, (first shown in Fritz Lang's THE WOMAN IN THE MOON).
            JEKYLL & CANADA (free .mp4 download @ Vimeo.com)

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            • #7
              Re: Dramatic Timing

              Originally posted by Fortean View Post
              Certainly, doesn't the cavalry usually arrive, just in time, (altho, not always to the rescue)? If not the dog, (for example, with Teddy saving Gloria Swanson from Wallace Beery's evil @ 20:25)?

              Probably the most frequent use of dramatic timing, since 1929, has been the use of the "countdown", to build expectations and tension, (first shown in Fritz Lang's THE WOMAN IN THE MOON).
              The overall principle, whether in comedy, horror, suspense, or in respect to whatever emotion you're trying to produce, is a building tension and release.

              A "gag" -- a term that can be used to describe a construction that's funny or scary or sad, describes a building tension and then a release that's unexpected. It requires some kind of misdirection. The audience knows that something is coming. You may have even directed their expectations in one particular direction -- or maybe they have no idea what's coming. Or maybe they think the business has been paid off and then the real pay off comes when you *top* it.

              Of course, you have another technique, which is simple surprise - and that can work in comedy and horror (although obviously not suspense -- which requires a slowly building situation) -- but also in drama. A sudden dramatic reverse is grounded in a surprise of some kind and can be extremely effective.

              NMS

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              • #8
                Re: Dramatic Timing

                Wait for it ... wait for it ...
                "I am the story itself; its source, its voice, its music."
                - Clive Barker, Galilee

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                • #9
                  Re: Dramatic Timing

                  Originally posted by TwoBrad Bradley View Post
                  Wait for it ... wait for it ...
                  Originally posted by Mr. Earth View Post
                  Dunnnh dunn duuuuuuuun.
                  Exactly.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Dramatic Timing

                    Of course there's dramatic timing.

                    Watch movies. Notice it. If you can't notice it, don't try and write screenplays.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Dramatic Timing

                      I would argue yes, but how it is wrtten and how it eventually translates to film is up for grabs. You definately need to watch successful films, such as 'As Good as it Gets', and 'Crash', and how these 'timings' appear in moving pictures. Then read the screenplay and compare. A lot happens on set that is spontaneous and symbiotic (actor and camera) that is not in the script, and a 'timing' may only work because of the way it was edited.

                      Getting a feel for the difference in the written film and the film itself (or motion picture, as some purists would say) will help you get a solid handle on how to write these 'timings' so they have a good chance of surviving intact through the script interpretaions, deletions and additions, and the final edit. And, equally important, to inspire the production to find and exploit others you didn't even know you 'wrote'.

                      Remember, your screenplay is one small part of the whole.

                      alex

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                      • #12
                        Re: Dramatic Timing

                        Originally posted by roscoegino View Post
                        We hear about comedic timing often. But is there such thing as dramatic timing and if so what does it mean to you?
                        Of course. It's the build up to the pay off. When you don't have good pacing, the story reads like a series of events, instead of a story.
                        STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Dramatic Timing

                          Yes to above. In addition to scenes and sequences, I think most good stories, including dramas and comedys, are based on a foundation of dramatic timing. Setup, buildup, climax.

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