Visual Storytelling: From "Sunrise" to "The Artist," Leitmotifs to Visual Characterization (Screenwriting Blue Books)
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Show Don't Tell - But *How* Do You Do That?
Film is a visual medium, and screenwriting is *writing for the screen* - in this Blue Book we look at various techniques to tell your stories visually, using Oscar Winning Films and Oscar Nominated Films as our primary examples: from the first Best Picture Winner "Sunrise" (1927) to the Oscar Nominated "The Artist" (which takes place in 1927) with stops along the way Pixar's "Up" and Best Original Screenplay Winner "Breaking Away" (a small indie style drama - told visually) as well as "Witness".
Our other primary example is "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes" - which creates a thinking and feeling chimpanzee through actions, situations, and many other techniques. Seeing is believing - and this Blue Book is filled with 63,000 words of techniques you can use today to turn your words into pictures... and learn how to tell your stories visually.
About the Author:
William C. Martell has written seventeen produced films for cable and video including three HBO World Premieres, two Made For Showtimes, three CineMax Premieres, two films for USA Network, and many others. Reviewer David Nuttycombe of The Washington Post calls him "The Robert Towne of made for cable movies" and he was the only non-nominated screenwriter mentioned on Siskel & Ebert's 1997 Oscar Special "If We Picked The Winners". He doesn't teach screenwriting, he writes for a living.
The naval warfare action film "Steel Sharks" (HBO) stars Gary Busey and Billy Dee Williams, and was made with the cooperation of the US Navy and Department Of Defense onboard an actual aircraft carrier. "Hard Evidence" (USA) was released to video the same day as Julia Roberts' film "Something To Talk About" and out-rented it, landing at the #7 position nationally while the Roberts' film ended up #8 ("Hard Evidence" was the better reviewed film). Submarine thriller "Crash Dive" (HBO) starred Frederic Forest, and introduced "JAG"s Catherine Bell and Christopher Titus from Fox's sit-com "Titus". "Treacherous" (Cinemax) Starred Tia Carrere, Adam Baldwin and C. Thomas Howell. His family film "Invisible Mom" starring "ET"s Dee Wallace Stone won Best Children's Film at the Santa Clarita Film Festival. Mr. Martell is currently working on several projects for major studios.
and their location. Remember our hard looking man with a Marine crewcut in a five year old suit from chapter 1? Put that guy in a detective squadroom and he fits right in... he becomes invisible. Now let's put him on the beach in Malibu talking to surfers... he's not only visible, he's automatically interesting. We want to know what he's doing there. We try to understand the juxtaposition of character and location... and that gives us story information. What do you think he's doing there? We
emotional component of contrast, we'd just have “monkey sees kid rid bicycle, monkey rides bicycle” - just the physical actions. That allows us to feel Caesar's emotions when he is caught stealing the bike by perpetually angry next door neighbor Hunsiker (David Hewlett) and threatened with a baseball bat as if he's a wild animal rather than a curious boy. Will and Charles must save him, explaining that he just wanted to play... but to Hunsiker Caesar is a *wild animal* who belongs in the
Leachman is stripped naked by the villains... and then they grab a pair of pliers, from “Kiss Me Deadly”. The hat blowing away in the Coen Brother's “Miller's Crossing”. A moth plastered against a window by falling rain in William Goldman's “Marathon Man”. The windmill in “Foreign Correspondent”, with it's massive sails which catch the breeze one way, then move in the opposite direction. In fact, I could fill several pages with strong images and sequences from Hitchcock films.
working together - hidden in the brush behind enemy lines somewhere. More than that - they were friends. Later in the film, Bobby Lee is on the run from just about everybody, accused of attempting to assassinate the President of the United States, and the only one who believes he's innocent is a disgraced FBI Agent played by Michael Pena. The FBI guy becomes his new spotter - his new partner. In a huge action set pieces about 2/3rds of the way through the film, Bobby Lee and the FBI Agent
chimpanzees swinging past! Though this isn't a traditional echo – using the trees on Will's street is a great way to show the arc of Caesar – starting with him out of control, to finding the means to create control, to the revolution in progress – and the quest for freedom. Your Assignment: Describe three scenes that show a marriage falling apart... at the same location. You need to establish the marriage and show it eroding. MORE DECISIONS In “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” there