Monday, March 31, 2008

'Toward a Coherent Comic Dramaturgy' on Wordplay

Here's another great recent find..... a screenwriter's website: Wordplay.

This post in particular is excellent (unfortunately the link goes to a frameless page without navigation.... use the top link to see the site properly). And keep in mind.... though the tone is strictly tongue-in-cheek and written in such a way as to poke fun at intellectual film analysis articles, the information itself is excellent! It was refreshing to run across this after all the pure dramatic story stuff I've been ingesting. In comedy there's no need for a character arc or for strictly adhering to dramatic guidelines.... it can be episodic and the characters can be simple.... in fact it's best done like that. Comic characters generally have one powerful obsession that's responsible for all their problems. So without further ado, read on good folks (oh, and feel free to skip the first three paragraphs if you want.... they're purely psuedointellectual gobbledegook).....

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Kickass Screenwriting Blog

My latest discovery....

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.....

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bruce Bickford delivers fire to the mortals

At long (long) last, the gates to Prometheus' Garden are thrown open.... or rather sort of left askew. I posted some time ago that I had discovered the Store page at the as-yet (still) unfinished site. At that time I felt like I had rather illicitly crept into sacred ground through some hidden back way. And now it still feels that way, because he hasn't made any official announcement at his own blog about it, nor is the new site operational aside from the Store section. Seems like a strange way to sell something if you ask me!!!! But apparently others have also stumbled into this strange paradise, because when I decided to try it out and placed an order, not only did it go through all the way to the obligatory "Thank you for your order" page, but my order # was 4! Which implies that 3 others have ordered before me.

I partook of the combo deal, Prometheus' Garden along with the new Collectors' Edition of Monster Road. I don't mind double-dipping on something as good as Monster Road, especially knowing that some of the money goes to Bickford and Ingram. These guys deserve all the support we can drum up for them!

To help support them, and to have your mind bent in bizarre and probably dangerous ways, here's the link: Hang out with Bruce in the garden

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I still have no email!!!!!!

Hopefully anyone who's been trying to reach me will see this.... (Mark Brown in particular!!!). I haven't been able to send any mail in about 2 weeks. Some mail is coming in..... it doesn't seem like enough to be all my mail, but every now and then a few emails will get through. But I can't send any out!!!!! I feel so cut off and isolated!!!! The problem is with my provider.... SBCglobal/Yahoo. Apparently they made some kind of changes lately and a lot of their customers are just cut off like me. I'll keep trying, but if this continues I guess it's time to switch to somebody else.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

2 great books

I got both of these recently and I'm very impressed with them both. Click the pics to go to Amazon, where you can search inside both books and read reviews to determine if it sounds like something you'd like.

I've read several books on screenwriting, and there's some info that's almost universal to them.... and as I now know, it's essentially the story structure handed down to us by Aristotle. Michael Tierno knows his Aristotle, and is adept at translating his immortal words so we can understand it the way he intended. At one point I intended to buy the Poetics book in translation, but as many people have learned, it's very opaque and difficult to understand. Tierno does an excellent job of explaining exactly what the Stotle-meister meant by each of his mysterious utterances and how they apply to today's drama, which DOESN'T include naked choruses and dithyrhambic chanting!

Apparently a lot of people misunderstand Aristotle's ideas, and a lot of screenwriting books are based on these misunderstandings. Looking around the web a bit I see a lot of hate for the 3-act structure - mostly by people who seem more focused on equal length for each act rather than the actual functions of them. Well this book gets right to the basics.... it doesn't dwell on number of pages per act or length of screen time between turning points. Instead it goes into the drama itself.... how to set it in motion effectively so that people clearly understand what's happening and what needs to be accomplished, and how to resolve it so there are no lingering questions and so it makes a powerful emotional connection with the audience.

I know.... for making short animated films we probably don't need to use Aristotlian story structure! But I believe before you can effectively bend the rules to your own purposes it's good to learn them first, otherwise you're operating from sheer ignorance. When you know the rules, you can manipulate them the way you want - and when you've absorbed Aristotle's awesome wealth of knowledge about what makes drama work you have a much stronger understanding of how to tell a story. I believe even if you want to do more experimental films it's still important to understand how to give an audience what it wants.

The Visual Story is about how to use visual elements to accent the flow of your story. Verticals, horizontals, diagonals, flat space and deep space, color..... these are all powerful visual elements that every filmmaker (every visual artist in fact) uses all the time, whether they think about it or not. And when you DO think about it, they can be used intelligently to make your film affect people the way you want it to, rather than working against you.