I finally handed in my latest assignment at the beginning of July. I’d already missed my deadline by two weeks – will I ever manage to defeat it during this course? – and I was feeling the pressure. The weekend in the run-up to my second deadline was spent burrowed in course work whilst trying to come up with 3-4 pages of script that would meet the submission date. The following paragraphs are from my Reflective Commentary for Assignment 3.
Project 4: Revealing character is where my script started to come to fruition, most notably from the exercise: A Dramatic Entrance. From there I was conscious, whilst writing this assignment, to construct a script with a main character, one or two secondary characters and one to three minor characters, on reading project 5: Assembling a Cast List. I had to reduce the characters considerably on my final draft, as the assignment submission states 3-4 pages of script, however, this also proved difficult on trying to decide what to keep and who to discard. I resulted in submitting 5 pages of script from a possible 8. I am still over the submission quota.
During this assignment, I tried to pay attention to my tutor’s advice from Assignment 2 on being more specific with description when setting a scene, in order for the viewer to get a sharper image in the mind’s eye. I have to remember the difference between telling a story and writing visually for a screenplay, something I kept drifting into when writing the script for this assignment. Much of my re-draft here was omitting described scenes and adding dialogue whilst trying to maintain a decent screenplay within the allotted timeframe. My aim is to continue to read various scripts on dailyscript.com in order for me to condense an understanding of how screenplays are written.
As I work through each part of the course I try to adhere to what I have learnt from the previous project and/or exercise and continue to incorporate it within each assignment. Setting my script in Ireland enabled me to explore further the use of idiom and idiolect within my script, however, I’m not sure if my use of language was natural and distinguished in its expression amongst my characters, though I did try to maintain an undercurrent of conflict and obstacles between them.
Projects 1 and 2: Connecting with Characters and The Character Lab consecutively, helped in developing my characters, however, I didn’t give it the time it deserved and fell short on a back story for my main character. With this in mind, I continued to write my script whilst thinking about the genesis of how and where Misty Greenacre transpired and building a character arc for her. I would like to continue my journey with her and develop a more complex character.
I have watched The Hurt Locker (2008, dir. Kathryn Bigelow, screenplay Mark Boal), Little Miss Sunshine (2006, dir. Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, screenplay Michael Ardnt) and Django Unchained (2012, dir. Quentin Tarantino, screenplay Quentin Tarantino) and noted reactions of main characters within the first 20 minutes of their introduction. In developing my script further, cultivating flaws to contribute to the storyline, as well as revealing contradictory traits to make my character/s compelling, will be the qualities that define them.
Lastly, on my tutor’s recommendation, I have ordered the following books:
Ashton, Paul (2011) The Calling Card Script. London: A and C Black.
Snyder, Blake (2005) Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need. California, USA: Michael Wiese.
Seger, Linda (2010) Making a Good Script Great. Los Angeles, USA: Silmam-James Press.
These will be my constant companions as I progress with this course.
Whilst deadlines seem to overwhelm me I’m glad that I took extra time with Assignment 3. Judging by the feedback from my tutor it was the right decision: There is a lot that is most successful about this assignment. In particular, I am impressed with the concise characterization, the good use of the regional dialect, the way the scene moves quickly and engagingly. There is more of a sense of discipline in how you have organized and edited this text. The vivid characters, with their evocative dress were most successful, given their detail. The dialogue is witty and engaging. You have clearly worked hard on this.
On my next reflective commentary, I must avoid run-on sentences. Far too many commas stand out on my latest RC!
The next assignment is about the structure of story and scenes. Taking my tutor’s advice I will make careful note of the story arc and the three-act structure and apply my writing to show I understand the basics, rather than being too experimental at this stage.