Taking a break from poetry after finishing my latest poetry collection Stance, I am about to embark on a screenwriting course with FutureLearn. I’ve never tried it before and I’m interested to see how it differs from writing prose. Never stop learning.
We were asked to comment on our favourite screenwriters, our most memorable line of dialogue in a film or most memorable silent segment.
As soon as I saw this discussion topic I immediately felt out of my depth. My initial thought went to Tarantino but that also felt like a novice choice. The line of dialogue I was thinking of was in Pulp Fiction when Jules is telling Ringo to get his wallet back out of the bag, he says “it’s the one with bad mother fucker written on it”. I love the line because it seems like he is talking metaphorically, suggesting it should be obvious to anyone because the wallet would have attitude but, when the wallet appears, this is a literal statement. It’s a beautiful play on irony and expectation. But then again, is this relying on the prop to hold up the line? Without the prop the line wouldn’t be as good. So back to the drawing board for me.
The second part of the discussion, most memorable silent segment has left me realising how much I take for granted. I could go really extreme and go for a chunk of Dolls by Tasheki Kitano or Cave of the Yellow Dog by Byambasuren Davaa but that feels like cheating as they both have very little diaologue. The fact that I am searching for something means that it is not “most memorable”. I’m going to sit on it overnight and see if the memory kicks in.
I am surprised at how stripped bare the non dialogue parts of the screen play are. I was expecting more description and scene setting but then I guess that is more up to the director and location services. Some of the non-dialogue bits or stage directions sound as if they could be part of the audio description for visually impaired viewers. I had expected more detail in directing actors. An example of this is in one of the screenplays i looked at it simply states that one character “reacts” to the other delivering his breakfast. I was surprised that it was not stated in detail how they would react.
Yet, another screen play uses phrases such as she was ”as cold as stone” which has a lot more invested in it although if you tried to read it like prose it would be horrible and cliché.
The fast pace of the change of scenes was interesting. This is a very pared back diegesis.