Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Plot's The Thing

First, a little business: We’ve been having some computer trouble, so we haven’t gotten second tier letters out as quickly as we like.  If something changes about your movie’s status, feel free to drop us an e-mail.  If nothing else, we’ll be glad to hear the good news.

In the screenings, we’re seeing some non-traditional storytelling films.  By that I mean, surreal, non-linear, in and out of dreams, etc.  Nothing wrong with that when it’s done right – but when it isn’t, these films miss the mark by an extra mile. 

I thought of a nice exercise for filmmakers who want to get into non-traditional structure.  Give your script, or the finished film, to friends, family, screeners, etc.  Don’t tell them anything about it.  Once they’ve read it or screened it, ask them to tell you what the story is about.  Not how it made them feel; not what it reminded them of, just a simple re-telling of the plot.  Remember to listen to them.  They can’t get this wrong, since it’s what they got from your story. 

If they don’t tell you the story you thought you told them, then you’ve failed on the most basic level.

We watched more than one short last night where a room full of people who have watched hundreds, or in some cases thousands, of movies and opinions differed on the plot.  Sure, we might not agree on motivations, moods, emotions, etc. but if we can’t agree on what actually happened, then there’s a big problem.  And it’s not our fault.

In both features and shorts, we’ve had our usual collection of pee scenes.  Last night there was one where it was entirely relevant (and hilarious) and one that wasn’t needed at all.   Do a search on this blog for “pee” to see how creative and edgy it is to have a character pee in your movie.

And finally, I want to give a shout out to the most overlooked aspect of indie film – the Art Department.  I mean, sets, set dressing, props, etc.  Of course, we’re not going to pass on a well-written, well-acted, film with boring set-ups against blank walls, but when the picture is lifeless, your cast has to work so much harder to infuse interest in the scene. 

We see so many restaurants that are nothing but someone’s kitchen table shoved up against a blank wall.  Too many characters live in apartments that look like they belong to a starving artist filmmaker.  Before you roll, take a look at your shot without the cast in it.  Is it interesting?  No?  Then fix it.

Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

RSMellette said...

I just re-read my own blog and found it in desperate need of a re-write. What can I say? I fired this one off quickly and I'm too tired to fix it now.

My apologies to those with a sensitive ear for words.