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dramaturgy essentials

part 3. Writing and Story Development (textbook) p.127 - 188.

2004-2006 updated

"photoplay" -- old writing manual

cheklist : the three-act structure p.23 (Aristotle 101)

5 act (Shakespeare)

4 (Chekhov, Ibsen)

2 -- today full-lenth play (Albee)

beats = functions

conflicts = external + internal

situation + character


dramatic units (and -- developmental arch)

Bergman: 1st Dr. Borg's dream clip + text

"400 Blows" on this page -- tracking shot (ending): MS > LS -- what is the purpose of the (long) duration?


film directing 1-1: script notes

Ch. 10. story Development Strategies p.169




(Aristotle. The Poetics)

Development http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filmmaking

This is the stage where an idea is fleshed out into a viable script. The producer of the movie will find a story, which may be from books, other films, true stories, original ideas, etc. Once the theme, or underlying message, has been identified, a synopsis will be prepared.

This is followed by a step outline, which breaks the story down into one-paragraph scenes, concentrating on the dramatic structure.

Next, a treatment is prepared. This is a 25 to 30 page description of the story, its mood and characters, with little dialog and stage direction, often containing drawings to help visualize the key points.

The screenplay is then written over a period of perhaps six months, and will be rewritten several times to improve the dramatization, clarity, structure, characters, dialog, and overall style. However, producers often skip the previous steps and develop submitted screenplays which are assessed through a process called script coverage.

A film distributor should be contacted at an early stage to assess the likely market and hence financial success of the film. Hollywood distributors will adopt a hard-headed business approach and consider factors such as: the film genre, the target audience, the historical success of similar films, the actors who might appear in the film and the potential directors of the film. All these factors imply a certain attaction of the film to a possible audience and hence the number of "bums on seats" during the theatrical release. Films rarely make a profit from the theatrical release alone, therefore DVD sales and worldwide distribution rights need to be taken into account.

The movie pitch is then prepared and presented to potential film financiers. If the pitch is successful and the movie is given the "green light" then financial backing is offered, typically from a major film studio, film council or independent investors. A deal is negotiated and contracts are signed.

Finale from "400 Blows":

[ Analysis ]

Bergman: Wild Strawberries [ video clip ]:

[ In the early morning of Saturday, the first of June, I had a strange and very unpleasant dream. ] I dreamed that I was taking my usual morning stroll through the streets. It was quite early and no human being was in sight. This was a bit surprising to me. I also noted that there were no vehicles parked along the curbs. The city seemed strangely deserted, as if it were a holiday morning in the middle of summer.

The sun was shining brightly and made sharp black shadows, but it gave off no warmth. Even though I walked on the sunny side, I felt chilly. The stillness was also remarkable. I usually stroll along a broad, tree-lined boulevard, and even before sunrise the sparrows and crows are as a rule extremely noisy. Besides, there is always the perpetual roar from the center of the city. But this morning nothing was heard, the silence was absolute, and my footsteps echoed almost anxiously against the walls of the buildings. I began to wonder what had happened.

Just at that moment I passed the shop of a watchmaker-optometrist, whose sign had always been a large clock that gave the exact time. Under this clock hung a picture of a pair of giant eyeglasses with staring eyes. On my morning walks I had always smiled to myself at this slightly grotesque detail in the street scene. To my amazement, the hands of the clock had disappeared. The dial was blank, and below it someone had smashed both of the eyes so that they looked like watery, infected sores.

Instinctively I pulled out my own watch to check the time, but I found that my old reliable gold timepiece had also lost its hands. I held it to my ear to find out if it was still ticking. Then I heard my heart beat. It was pounding very fast and irregularly. I was overwhelmed by an inexplicable feeling of frenzy. I put my watch away and leaned for a few moments against the wall of a building until the feeling had passed. My heart calmed down and I decided to return home.

To my joy, I saw that someone was standing on the street corner. His back was toward me. I rushed up to him and touched his arm. He turned quickly and to my horror I found that the man had no face under his soft felt hat.

I pulled my hand back and in the same moment the entire figure collapsed as if it were made of dust or frail splinters. On the sidewalk lay a pile of clothes. The person himself had disappeared without a trace. I looked around in bewilderment and realized that I must have lost my way. I was in a part of the city where I had never been before. I stood on an open square surrounded by high, ugly apartment buildings. From this narrow square, streets spread out in all directions. Everyone was dead; there was not a sign of a living soul.

High above me the sun shone completely white, and light forced its way down between the houses as if it were the blade of a razor-sharp knife. I was so cold that my entire body shivered. Finally I found the strength to move again and chose one of the narrow streets at random. I walked as quickly as my pounding heart allowed, yet the street seemed to be endless. Then I heard the tolling of bells and suddenly I was standing on another open square near an unattractive little church of red brick. There was no graveyard next to it and the church was surrounded on all sides by gray-walled buildings.

Not far from the church a funeral procession was wending its way slowly through the streets, led by an ancient hearse and followed by some old-fashioned hired carriages. These were pulled by pairs of meager-looking horses, weighed down under enormous black shabracks. I stopped and uncovered my head. It was an intense relief to see living creatures, hear the sound of horses trotting and church bells ringing.

Then everything happened very quickly and so frighteningly that even as I write this I still feel a definite uneasiness. The hearse was just about to turn in front of the church gate when suddenly it began to sway and rock like a ship in a storm. I saw that one of the wheels had come loose and was rolling toward me with a loud clatter. I had to throw myself to one side to avoid being hit. It struck the church wall right behind me and splintered into pieces.

The other carriages stopped at a distance but no one got out or came to help. The huge hearse swayed and teetered on its three wheels. Suddenly the coffin was thrown out and fell into the street. As if relieved, the hearse straightened and rolled on toward a side street, followed by the other carriages.

The tolling of the church bells had stopped and I stood alone with the overturned, partly smashed coffin. Gripped by a fearful curiosity, I approached. A hand stuck out from the pile of splintered boards. When I leaned forward, the dead hand clutched my arm and pulled me down toward the casket with enormous force. I struggled helplessly against it as the corpse slowly rose from the coffin. It was a man dressed in a frock coat.

To my horror, I saw that the corpse was myself. I tried to free my arm, but he held it in a powerful grip. All this time he stared at me without emotion and seemed to be smiling scornfully.


2007 An online course supplement * Film-North * Anatoly Antohin. * eCitations *
2005 by vtheatre.net. Permission to link to this site is granted. Film DIRECTING amazon film-north blog

Script Type : First Draft * Revised Draft * [6/22/98] Draft * Script * 2nd Draft * Shooting Script (how many rewrites?)

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