Saturday, March 29, 2008

Kickass Screenwriting Blog

My latest discovery....

MysteryManOnFilm
I've added it under Blogs - Other in the sidebar. I discovered this while googling for something about Subtext to add to the Storytelling Explained Briefly thread at SMA. Many of the posts don't relate directly to writing as we know it (for animated films that we'll most likely be making and shooting ourselves). But he's got some good stuff in HIS sidebar, in particular under Best Of. Online posts and blogs like this are a great introduction to the art of writing or can add depth and breadth to existing knowledge, but really, anybody interested in becoming a good filmmaker should buy a few good books on screenwriting. I've mentioned a couple already - my latest (both highly recommended) are Story by Robert McKee and The Anatomy of Story by John Truby. I'll go into more detail on them soon, promise.

OH.... and apparently the Bruce Ingram site is NOT functioning, as I stated it was in the last post!!! Sven mentioned under Comments that my link now goes to a password-protected page (and it still does!). So I assume he figured out that people were getting in and ordering (why on earth was the page fully functional and showing up on Google if it wasn't functional???!!!). So.... I wonder what's going to happen with my order? Paypal informs me the money has gone through.... Brett now has it. And yet I've received no confirmation that any DVD's are being sent??!!?? Or any email alert that he was in error to have his store online and working when he isn't actually selling DVDs yet??!!?? I'd try the Contact form if the site was still online.....

6 comments:

Sven Bonnichsen said...

MysteryManOnFilm -- good link, Mike!

I caught your comment on the post about McKee's "story." Well said.

I found it useful to read someone who's actually in the screenwriting world confirming my sense that McKee's indeed been the "Grand Poobah" of story in Hollywood for the past 10 years...

Also useful to know that there are folks who think certain aspects of McKee's philosophy are crap.

With Truby (whom I'm also reading right now), I think the guy provides some useful perspective... But he also shares some of McKee's more rigid/constraining ideas -- and takes them to new extremes.

"Story," "The Anatomy of Story," and "Visual Storytelling" are turning out to be a good package, when taken all together, though...

Darkstrider said...

I couldn't agree more. Though I must say it hit me as a surprise that McKee is considered "controversial". But I can see why. To me, what people are complaining about is just his own personal preferences, to be heeded or not at the reader's discretion. But then, when I read these books, I'm always thinking about the fact that short animated films are very different from Hollywood features, and so I take everything with a grain of salt and try to think outside the box even as I'm reading.

I really like the thread listed under Best Of called Cinematic Storytelling. There's a great quicktime posted of the beginning of a Hitchcock film (sorry, can't remember the name.... heresy, I know!!). With The Visual Story in mind, it's a very exciting little sequence!

Sven Bonnichsen said...

Re how stopmo differs from other forms of film...

There's a rich discussion to be had about what a puppet can convey, versus a live actor...

But from a STORY point of view, I'm thinking the only real difference is that we can't afford to have as many scenes in our films.

The expense in terms of TIME, creating different sets, and filming one-frame-at-a-time... Is prohibitive.

But, y'know, I think "The Godfather" COULD be done in stopmo, by a Henry Selick -- if it were his aesthetic.

"Why do it with puppets?" ...Well, that gets back to the question of when to use puppets vs. live actors... But I could see making an argument about how the characters are "puppets" of fate. (I just rented "Strings," which uses marionettes, because I want to see how the filmmakers are going to work this angle...)

I'd really like to learn more about adult-oriented puppetry... I know Ronnie Burkett has done marionette plays that could just as well have been done as regular stage productions... That's the sort of artist we should be looking to to show us the limits of our form!

Darkstrider said...

What stopmo can do that live action (or live puppetry, or 2D animation) can't (and vise verse).... it's a very slippery subject, and right now I only have vague ideas about it.... but trying to have this discussion anyway might help elucidate them.

Who could be cast in a live action Nightmare B4 Christmas, for example? Just wouldn't be the same. At ALL!!! To me one of the greatest strengths about animation in general is the sheer stylization. Proportions and textures that people don't have. Radke-faced puppets. Mr. Grumpypants.

Also, in the same vein, there's something so freeing about the fact that puppets and sets don't automatically require 'realism' the way live actions almost always does. When you have people in a film, it's almost necessary to create a detailed and 'realistic' social background.... people must have jobs, or go to school, and react to life in a pretty realistic way. But in a cartoonish puppet world, there's none of that dull stuff!!!

I downloaded the HD trailer for Horton Hears a Who, and I'm utterly astonished at the sheer power of it!!!! I believe Blue Sky has surpassed, not only themselves, but Pixar and every other studio. The pure imaginative form and texture and color..... mind-boggling!!!! Of course it helps that the designer (originally anyway) was Dr. Seuss! But I believe the CG designers have perfectly complemented and pushed his designs without screwing them up - a major feat in itself!!!! But even beyond tht, I just get a tingle watching this incredible world..... the gorgeous use of screen space.... movement along all axes, incredible composition (in motion even)..... it's like a textbook example of perfection in animation form!!!! At this moment in time (without having seen the whole movie yet) I firmly believe this might be the finest animated movie ever made - which in a sense makes it the finest movie EVER!!! When animation does things right, there's perfect melding of form and function and sheer stylization that surpasses live action as far as I'm concerned, and I've never felt it as strongly as in this trailer!!!!

And it's absolutely impossible to imagine such a delightful world and such imaginative creatures brought to life in any way other than animation (and only in CGI!)

Darkstrider said...

Oh,, and I meant to say that all these things influence the kind of story you can tell. When there's no need for all that boring social stuff and you can get right to the good stuff, which involves creatures or beings far from human, story can be mutated drastically.

And - the more I read on the Mystery Man blog, the more concentrated McKee-hate I run across! All the contributors seem to be obsessed with it! It's frustrating.... they seem determined to continually misinterpret things he said and then pretend like he somehow forced them to think only in his mold, and then they vent hatred against him for it. This kind of aggression seems to be rampant in the world of the would-be screenwriter (case in point, John Truby's similar misconception/hatred of the 3-act structure!) But I guess that's a very high-pressure wold where you're using your talent and skills to try to break into the old boy's club.... I can see where the anger come from.

Darkstrider said...

Wow, bomb alert!!!! When I said above that Horton could only have been done in CGI, I meant something very specific.... I definitely wasn't implying that an equally great film can't be done in stopmo or 2D!!! Here's what I specifically meant....

Everything has a beautiful illustrational quality thanks to the way they handled color and texture and line.... every frame looks like a fantastic children's book illo! 2D could do that, but could never have the - well - powerful 3D quality as well! And then there's the squash-and-stretch, which you couldn't achieve with stopmo unless it was clay, in which case you'd never get all that beautiful detail. So all I'm saying is that each type of animation has it's specific strengths and weaknesses.