Thought about POV this weekend:

 How do we build a sense of POV, that a particular character is our main character, that it is through that person's eyes that we are seeing the world.

 Take a look at the first 15 minutes of Heavenly Creatures. Pauline doesn't sing while everyone else sings, Pauline makes different eye contact than the other girls. (like Jody foster in Silence of the Lambs - who's also separated). Pauline watches and reacts as Juliette acts. We see the world through her eyes.

 And take a look at the first 30 minutes of Brubaker. Robert Redford appears to be just another inmate, but we keep cutting back to his reaction each time a prisoner is tortured or mistreated. He doesn't really talk or do anything, but he looks, watches, reacts. Right at the 30 minute mark (end of act i / 120 minute movie), he reveals his true identity.

 And Training Day -- Ethan Hawke has a clear motivation: to do well and impress his new boss. He has one day to do it in. We see Denzel Washington through his eyes.

 Speaking of Training Day:

 Ethan Hawke has a very strict set of rules:

I'll do anything you ask me to do (to impress Denzel)

Smiles and tears - (are the things you preserve for yourself; keep off the job)

Don't talk about my family.

And then he proceeds to break each rule.

no, he won't do ANYTHING that Denzel asks him to do. (He hesitates, he does, and then he doesn't)

He ends up crying. (Denzel has gotten into his brain, his emotions, his soul)

He uses his family as leverage against a criminal - please I have a daughter.

So structure/movement.

Also the reason this movie works is because it's not clear that denzel is evil. He might be telling him good advice. So at each moment either Ethan's morality or Denzel's "street smarts" might be the correct path. It keeps going back and forth. Each time Ethan is convinced that Denzel is evil, Denzel says something that sounds wise. In your movies, at each moment - each path should seem possible/logical until it's finally tipped. It's like telling a good argument, we show understanding on each side. It's also a power struggle where the power is equal.

Also other structural devices that give the piece shape:

When Denzel and Ethan meet, Denzel (showing his power) says tell me a story.

About Half way through, Denzel meets the three wise men who tell DeNZEL to tell them a story - showing the power they have over him. it's at this point that the "plot" is revealed - Denzel's need to get a million dollars by midnight or he'll be a dead man and how he's been setting up Ethan.

And as i was watching: i noticed that every place they visited -- all the minority neighborhoods seemed to be filled with nothing but gangbangers and everyone seemed to have a gun. Now is this racist? Or is it a vision - that the volume is turned up and that extraneous elements are gotten rid of ? Or is just that of course these are the neighborhoods that cops visit and this is how the cops see those neighborhoods (again POV)? As an aside, I went to school in South Central LA and I visited Watts - you see just people, living, walking around, going to work, etc. Anyway, thoughts about ethics, truth, vision. No right or wrong answer. just something to think about.

And I noticed that Denzel was connected to Christ imagery. Why? How?

Anyway, POV. Think about why we care about your main character and how we know that your main character is in fact your main character. 




start the story on page 1, make sure there's enough conflict and the conflict builds (don't back away from the conflict), make sure there's a polarity/dichotomy between two activities/ideas, make sure we can see/know your character right away (ie comic book panel, cliche, etc.) but of course that's just the beginning, the character/situation is much more complex, make sure there's a secret and/or sense of DANGER at every moment.  and think about scope. what can you accomplish in 10 pages, not lots of description, what's the ONE detail that locks us in, don't write so much dialogue that energy is expelled/too much info revealed, also make sure your characters speak differently based on their personalities/upbringing/etc (one character speaks in 4 line chunks, the other one speaks  in single sentence fragment, etc.)

This week: Think about the differences between a 10 page movie, 20 page movie, feature.  What changes? What remains the same?  How do you know if your idea is for a 10 page thing or a feature or can one be developed or collapsed (or part of!) the other. 

What line have you written that makes me INTRIGUED to invest 10, 20, 2 hours in your world. So not lots of lines, but the one.



“Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.”  —Margaret Chittenden, author of 100+ romance and mystery novels.



Because if we're holding bread, we're not holding weapons.

Because screenwriting is a spiritual activity and I like the association to churches.

Because if you work for a TV show, they'll feed you.

Because we never know what tangible thing we'll get from a particular class. but being fed - that's tangible and real.

Because while we eat, we get to know one another. And then we feel more comfortable. Vulnerable. Able to write and share vulnerable stories.



I can do anything when I’m creating stories. I can make any miracle. That’s a great thing for me. I can say I deal in magic.

—Haruki Murakami

When I'm writing, it feels like magic - that my characters are alive and speaking to me. . . that I'm not quite in control. . . DT