Blind man’s point of view

What do you think of a film made from a blind man’s perspective? By that I mean a completely black screen all the way through the film — which means a dialogue heavy film.

Do you believe this would be a good short film or would it be to dull for the viewer?

– Lewis Dickson

Lewis, welcome to the world of experimental film, where you invite mocking simply based on hubris.

Yes, you can make this film — though many would argue it’s simply a radio play. Derek Jarman’s Blue had a similar conceit: “Against a plain, unchanging blue screen, a densely interwoven soundtrack of voices, sound effects and music attempt to convey a portrait of Derek Jarman’s experiences with AIDS, both literally and allegorically, together with an exploration of the meanings associated with the colour blue.” (IMDb)

The real question is how far you want to carry your capital-a Art. I’d argue that the strongest artistic statement would be to have an acclaimed D.P. like Russell Carpenter shoot 70 millimeter film with the lens cap on.

I know Russell. I’d be happy to ask him for you.

Cover page artwork

Is artwork that only appears on the title page of a screenplay frowned upon?

– Darryl McD

Yeah, that’s kind of cheesy. If I had to choose between two scripts in front of me, I’d probably pick the one without the artwork.

That said, if you look in the Downloads section, you’ll see that I used a circle around ‘Go’, largely because the word itself is so small. And the cover page for Prince of Persia has the title in the logo font, but since it’s based on a hugely popular videogame, there’s a good reason for it.

For the other 20 or so scripts I’ve worked on, there hasn’t been any artwork on the cover. I’ll occasionally use a font other than 12pt Courier for title itself, but always something simple.

Avoid clichés

How do you avoid clichés?

– Yirssi

A good place to start is this website, which lists some of the most egregious offenders.

Beyond that, I try to look at every scene and ask myself whether it feels movie-like in the bad way. That is, does it feel like the kind of moment that often happens in movies, and only happens in movies? If so, here are some suggestions if you find yourself staring down a cliché:

  1. Invert expectations. Instead of a gruff police captain, make him well-read and witty. Or prone to crying jags. Or pregnant.
  2. Change locations. If you’re staging a car chase in San Francisco, you’re naturally going to run into the jumping-car syndrome. So why not put the action in Napa vineyards, or omit the car chase altogether?
  3. Call it out. You can sometimes take the sting off a cliché (and get a laugh) by letting a character acknowledge it. But tread lightly; too much self-awareness can destroy any reality within the movie.

New photos up

Charlie RiverCourtesy FilmForce, there are new photos up for two projects. Click on each for a larger version.

The first is from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, showing most of the principal cast in the Chocolate Room.

From left to right, the characters in the photo are Charlie Bucket, Veruca Salt, Grampa Joe (Charlie’s grandfather), Mrs. Gloop, Mr. Salt, Violet Beauregarde, Ms. Beauregarde, Willy Wonka, Mr. Teavee and Mike Teavee. Not pictured is Augustus Gloop. Anyone who’s read the book can probably figure out why.

Charlie RiverThe second photo is from Corpse Bride, and shows Victor Van Dort practicing his wedding vows, while nervous bride-to-be Victoria looks on. The film is in production in London.

Are four scripts better than one?

questionmarkI have finished penning a dramatic quadrilogy (four scripts that interlock) and now that I’m finished, I fear that there isn’t enough action to make this a serious contender for production and that it would not find an audience.

Do you have any advice for making works a little more commerically viable to today’s market?

– Christopher Bishop

First problem: “dramatic quadrilogy.”

I applaud your ambition, but the concept of four interlocking scripts feels better suited to European arthouses, rather than mainstream Hollywood. If the latter is your intention, I’d recommend figuring out which of your four scripts is the strongest, and focussing all your efforts on that one, even if it means ripping stuff out of your other scripts.

You’re much better off with one good screenplay than four noble intentions.