Mamet: “Now, we have two plans here. Which is simpler? Always do things the least interesting way, and you make a better movie. This is my experience. Always do things the least interesting way, the most blunt way. Because then you will not stand the risk of falling afoul of the objective in the scene by being interesting, which will always bore the audience, who are collectively much smarter than you and me and have already gotten up to the punch line. How do we keep their attention? Certainly not by giving them more information but, on the contrary, by withholding information-- by withholding all information except that information the absence of which would make the progress of the story incomprehensible. This is the kiss rule. K. I. S. S. Keep it simple, stupid.” (p. 20)

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"Bad stories"? Bad. When you have no story!
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Exposition and Dramatic Composition from 200X Files

Story vs. Plot (what is the difference?)



If you read Concept page, you know that there are stories for film and other great stories which are not going to work on the screen. Remember that Aristotle had three categories under STRUCTURE: PLOT, CHARACTER, IDEA. Well, film is about ACTION (plot-oriented). The trick is the plot must be expressed in cinematic ways; the idea of the film is film itself.

Try storyboarding your story right away! Make sure that all your major plot's events are represented visually.

Think about "screen events" -- how to express your story events in stages (shot): visualization = dramatization!

MUST HAVE THE OUTLINE for your story!

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    2003 Playscript Analysis (textbook) Modern Drama
    A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end... but not necessarily in that order. - Jean-Luc Godard

    The Film Structure:

    Plot is the working out of the story of a film, comprising a causally connected series of motivated incidents; structure refers to the way in which the events of the plot are ordered and integrated. The two, therefore, are not quite synonymous; yet depending on whether the film is narrative or documentary, the word "plot" is used to describe the story arrangement of the former, and the word "structure" to describe the idea arrangement of the latter. Most important, the essence of structure is the arrangement of the various story or idea units so that the whole can be effectively understood. Structure is the blueprint, the skeleton, the design, that binds a film together and represents the thought progression of the film-maker. It is found universally in all artistic works, whether it be the physical armature under a modeling, or the progression of movements in a sonata. In the case of the film, it is the skewer that pierces and binds the actions and the ideas into a coherent unit.

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    Plot vs. Story

    Character (Hero)


    You have to have MANY of them, you have to be full of STORIES!

    They, the stories, must compete for their lives in your brain, they should try to make you fall in love with them ...

    But how to know if you got a film idea and not the play idea, or novel, or short-story. I use the silent movies test -- can you tell your story with them talking at all? Or the "foreign movie" test. Will I be able to follow without know the language. The extreme case of this principle -- action movies (or the "karate" one).

    But how come we recognize and value the hero above all? Is the second Aristotle's principle?

    Hero is another film "illusion" -- camera must do the acting for the central character. As a matter of fact, the whole story is the hero's narrative one way or another. POV? The main POV.

    Character page from METHOD Acting directory.

    One-paragraph description (sample): The Fugitive - "I, uh, had an argument with my wife. I went out of the house. I drove around for a while. When I came back, she was dead. There was no way to prove that I wasn't there at the time. Witnesses had heard us arguing. On my way to death row, I managed to get away. The police have been after me ever since. And I've been after the man that murdered my wife."

    Two ways to help yourself with the story development
    1. Number your episodes!

    2. Give each episode your own name!

    3. Several steps: outline, treatment and etc.

    Testing Your Story
    1. On Plot

    2. On Character (main hero)

    3. Idea/Message

    [ hyperlink ]

    Intro, Expo (sample): THE BIG LEBOWSKI by Ethan Coen & Joel Coen

    We are floating up a steep scrubby slope. We hear male voices gently singing "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" and a deep, affable, Western-accented voice--Sam Elliot's, perhaps:

    A way out west there was a fella, fella I want to tell you about, fella by the name of Jeff Lebowski. At least, that was the handle his lovin' parents gave him, but he never had much use for it himself. This Lebowski, he called himself the Dude. Now, Dude, that's a name no one would self-apply where I come from. But then, there was a lot about the Dude that didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. And a lot about where he lived, like- wise. But then again, maybe that's why I found the place s'durned innarestin'.
    We top the rise and the smoggy vastness of Los Angeles at twilight stretches out before us.
    They call Los Angeles the City of Angels. I didn't find it to be that exactly, but I'll allow as there are some nice folks there. 'Course, I can't say I seen London, and I never been to France, and I ain't never seen no queen in her damn undies as the fella says. But I'll tell you what, after seeing Los Angeles and thisahere story I'm about to unfold-- wal, I guess I seen somethin' ever' bit as stupefyin' as ya'd see in any a those other places, and in English too, so I can die with a smile on my face without feelin' like the good Lord gypped me. INTERIOR RALPH'S
    It is late, the supermarket all but deserted. We are tracking in on a fortyish man in Bermuda shorts and sunglasses at the dairy case. He is the Dude. His rumpled look and relaxed manner suggest a man in whom casualness runs deep.

    He is feeling quarts of milk for coldness and examining their expiration dates.

    Now this story I'm about to unfold took place back in the early nineties-- just about the time of our conflict with Sad'm and the Eye-rackies. I only mention it 'cause some- times there's a man--I won't say a hee-ro, 'cause what's a hee-ro?--but sometimes there's a man.
    The Dude glances furtively about and then opens a quart of milk. He sticks his nose in the spout and sniffs.
    And I'm talkin' about the Dude here-- sometimes there's a man who, wal, he's the man for his time'n place, he fits right in there--and that's the Dude, in Los Angeles.
    She waits, arms folded. A small black-and white TV next to her register shows George Bush on the White House lawn with helicopter rotors spinning behind him.
    This aggression will not stand. . . This will not stand!

    The Dude, peeking over his shades, scribbles something at the little customer's lectern. Milk beads his mustache.

    ...and even if he's a lazy man, and the Dude was certainly that--quite possibly the laziest in Los Angeles County.


    Dramatic composition: your story must have 1-2-3 (exposition, climax, resolution).



    Remember the last (6) principle in the Poetics (Spectacle). How it is represented in your story?


    Write one page proposal.


    Post your story in the online class and give earch other feedback.

    TOPICS: drama + comedy + postmodern + time + space + Artistic ID * Style * Story, Form & Genre * Screen Language * Projects * Script * Translation to the Screen * Directing the Frame * Subject Size * Angle * Perspective * Composition * Look * Movement * Continuity * Coverage * mise-en-scene * Casting * Rehearsal * Directing Actors * Audience * Expectation * Suspense * Surprise * Violence * Humor * Dynamic Dialogue Scenes * Static Dialogue Scenes * Group Dialogue Scenes * Tips * Documentaries & Experimental * scripts *
    @2001-2004 film-north * NEXT: Film-Books and Textbooks *

    Story & Character

    Okay, okay, okay... So I had
    this frog. Named him Froggy.
    And I didn't really have friends,
    right, so Froggy was my friend...
    (a little
    ... I used to kiss him.
    Like in the fairy tales, the girl
    kisses the frog, and it turns
    into a prince? Since I was a
    boy, I figured maybe it'd turn
    into a princess. Then she could
    be my... I didn't have a mom
    growing up, y'know? She went,
    y'know, away or whatever. And
    dad was no Crackerjack prize...
    Anyway, Froggy didn't turn into
    anything, just stayed a frog, but
    was still my best friend, and
    one day I was carrying his
    box in my bike basket, and he
    jumped out. My back wheel ran
    over him. And he died... I
    was heartbroken... I'd never
    love another living thing ever
    again... Then, about a year
    later, the mentally slow guy
    in the next apartment, Iggy,
    his dog has puppies, and he has
    to get rid of 'em, and he asks
    me to take the one that didn't
    sell. So I do... Pretty soon,
    it's my new best friend. I
    named him Froggy the Second...
    It wasn't that he was a better
    pet. Just a different one...
    Anyway, I thought maybe it
    was relevant.

    [ Lethal Weapon 4 by Channing Gibson, Story by Jonathan Lemkin and Alfred Gough & Miles Millar, Based on characters created by Shane Black 1998 * ]

    ©2004 *

    (c)2004-2006 Get Site Info

    The PARAMOUNT Logo is presented austerely over a black
    background.  There is a moment's hesitation, and then the
    simple words in white lettering:
    					  THE GODFATHER
    While this remains, we hear: "I believe in America."
    Suddenly we are watching in CLOSE VIEW, AMERIGO BONASERA, a
    man of sixty, dressed in a black suit, on the verge of great
    			America has made my fortune.
    As he speaks, THE VIEW imperceptibly begins to loosen.
    			I raised my daughter in the American
    			fashion; I gave her freedom, but
    			taught her never to dishonor her
    			family.  She found a boy friend,
    			not an Italian.  She went to the
    			movies with him, stayed out late.
    			Two months ago he took her for a
    			drive, with another boy friend.
    			They made her drink whiskey and
    			then they tried to take advantage
    			of her.  She resisted; she kept her
    			honor.  So they beat her like an
    			animal.  When I went to the hospital
    			her nose was broken, her jaw was
    			shattered and held together by
    			wire, and she could not even weep
    			because of the pain.
    He can barely speak; he is weeping now.
    			I went to the Police like a good
    			American.  These two boys were
    			arrested and brought to trial.  The
    			judge sentenced them to three years
    			in prison, and suspended the
    			sentence.  Suspended sentence!
    			They went free that very day.  I
    			stood in the courtroom like a fool,
    			and those bastards, they smiled at
    			me.  Then I said to my wife, for
    			Justice, we must go to The Godfather.
    By now, THE VIEW is full, and we see Don Corleone's office
    in his home.
    The blinds are closed, and so the room is dark, and with
    patterned shadows.  We are watching BONASERA over the
    shoulder of DON CORLEONE.  TOM HAGEN sits near a small
    table, examining some paperwork, and SONNY CORLEONE stands
    impatiently by the window nearest his father, sipping from a
    glass of wine.  We can HEAR music, and the laughter and
    voices of many people outside.
    			Bonasera, we know each other for
    			years, but this is the first time
    			you come to me for help.  I don't
    			remember the last time you invited
    			me to your house for coffee...even
    			though our wives are friends.
    			What do you want of me?  I'll give
    			you anything you want, but do what
    			I ask!
    			And what is that Bonasera?
    BONASERA whispers into the DON's ear.
    			No.  You ask for too much.
    			I ask for Justice.
    			The Court gave you justice.
    			An eye for an eye!
    			But your daughter is still alive.
    			Then make them suffer as she
    			suffers.  How much shall I pay you.
    Both HAGEN and SONNY react.
    			You never think to protect yourself
    			with real friends.  You think it's
    			enough to be an American.  All
    			right, the Police protects you,
    			there are Courts of Law, so you
    			don't need a friend like me.
    			But now you come to me and say Don
    			Corleone, you must give me justice.
    			And you don't ask in respect or
    			friendship.  And you don't think to
    			call me Godfather; instead you come
    			to my house on the day my daughter
    			is to be married and you ask me to
    			do murder...for money.
    			America has been good to me...
    			Then take the justice from the
    			judge, the bitter with the sweet,
    			Bonasera.  But if you come to me
    			with your friendship, your loyalty,
    			then your enemies become my enemies,
    			and then, believe me, they would
    			fear you...
    Slowly, Bonasera bows his head and murmurs.
    			Be my friend.
    			Good.  From me you'll get Justice.
    			Some day, and that day may never
    			come, I would like to call upon you
    			to do me a service in return.
    [ godfather ]
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    ENDing [ One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Bo Goldman, Lawrence Hauben & Ken Kesey 1975 ]

    Bromden is squatting, leaning against the wall near the
    security gate to the visitors' room, when a KEY HITS THE
    LOCK. He looks up expectantly. This time it is McMurphy. Or
    what was McMurphy, for his head is bandaged, and his tongue
    hangs out of his mouth as he is led across the visitors' room
    by an ATTENDANT.
    McMurphy shows Bromden no sign of recognition, which Bromden
    pays no attention to, thinking McMurphy is putting on the
    same act he did when he came back from Electro-Shock Therapy.
    Bromden joyously turns and runs down the hallway to the day
    as Bromden crosses into the day room, gets a seat, and sits
    facing the hallway, bursting with expectation.
    A long beat, then the Attendant appears with McMurphy and
    taps at the side door to the nurses' station.
    The Acutes break off their card game and look at McMurphy;
    their faces hang open at his appearance.
    Big Nurse crosses to the side door, opens it, and steps out
    into the day room. To the Attendant as she takes McMurphy by
    the arm:
    			BIG NURSE
    	Thank you...
    	Yes, ma'am...
    The Attendant exits.
    			BIG NURSE
    		(to McMurphy)
    	Now, let's find you a place to sit,
    	shall we, Mister McMurphy?
    Big Nurse gently guides McMurphy to a seat on the Chronics'
    side of the room.
    Bromden can hardly contain himself as he waits for McMurphy
    to go into his act.
    The Acutes have already absorbed the reality of McMurphy's
    condition as they exchange looks with each other.
    	Yeah, that Gary Blinker is fulla
    The Acutes turn back to their card game as Harding shuffles
    and deals the cards out.
    Bromden keeps his eyes glued to Big Nurse and McMurphy.
    			BIG NURSE
    		(sitting McMurphy down)
    	Here now, you sit here... That's
    Big Nurse pats McMurphy's face and crosses back to the
    nurses' station.
    McMurphy just sits there, his head lolling to one side.
    Bromden waits for McMurphy to go into his routine.
    McMurphy just sits there.
    Bromden snaps his fingers and slaps his thigh, then waits for
    McMurphy to follow suit.
    McMurphy just sits there slobbering.
    Bromden slaps his thigh again.
    No response from McMurphy.
    					DISSOLVE TO:
    as Bromden stands by the window looking out. A long beat,
    then he turns into the room and looks around.
    The patients are all asleep. The new night attendant is fast
    asleep in the nurses' station.
    Bromden quietly takes his pillow and goes to McMurphy's bed,
    where he kneels and puts his head very close to McMurphy's. A
    long beat as Bromden studies McMurphy's face.
    		(whispering in McMurphy's
    	When I first came here I was so
    	scared of being lost I had to
    	holler so they could track me... I
    	figured anything was better than
    	being lost...
    On the last word, Bromden places his pillow over McMurphy's
    face and begins to suffocate him. McMurphy starts thrashing
    and Bromden lies full length on McMurphy. A long beat, then
    the thrashing ends. Bromden gets off McMurphy, replaces his
    pillow, and crosses down the aisle toward the day room.
    The night attendant continues to sleep as Bromden passes the
    nurses' station, heading for the tub room.
    as Bromden crosses to the heavy machine which McMurphy had
    once tried to lift, sizes it up, then bends over and takes
    hold and heaves. The GRINDING WEIGHT is HEARD as Bromden
    exerts all his strength, slowly lifts the machine off the
    floor, balances it above his shoulders, then crosses out of
    the tub room.
    as Bromden comes around the corner and past the sleeping
    night attendant in the nurses' station.
    Bromden lines himself up with the window across the room,
    then starts toward it, picking up speed as he goes. Then, at
    the last moment, he stops and, with an enormous effort, he
    hurls the machine through the security screen and the window.
    In the nurses' station, the night attendant starts awake and
    looks around. Too late as Bromden vaults through the window.
    CAMERA HOLDS on window as Bromden runs across the grounds and
    disappears into the pine trees.
    as the night attendant comes out of the nurses' station and
    looks confusedly around. Then he spots the shattered window.
    Rolling hills, forests and distant mountains, bathed in
    sunlight, as Bromden runs across a far-off meadow.
    			THE END
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