?

Log in

Jun. 6th, 2007 @ 07:15 pm As if we don't have enough distractions from our wordcounts...
[Crossposted from capriuni]

Okay. So there's a new "Cameo" essay up today on the ScriptFrenzy homepage: How to Make Your Scenes Dance the WADOoGEe. Go there, read it, and then come back and tell me here if you agree with the author that:
There is a one and only purpose for every scene that is placed in your screenplay. Nope. It’s not the one you’re thinking of. No. Not that one either.

Your number one focus is to create a situation in which two characters each have an urgent, immediate need and those needs are in direct opposition to one another. The distance you deviate from this will measure the level of deterioration of your scenes’ health.


In general, I agree this is a good principle. And I definitely think there should be more scenes with some sort of conflict then scenes where everyone's just chillin' (like, 99.7% pf the scenes).

But I'm not sure that every, single scene in an entire two-hour movie must have the protagonist and antagonist squaring off over some life and death issue. What about scenes where a husband and wife are making love? Or a boy is playing tag with his new puppy? Can there be any scenes like these where the audience is just given a chance to breathe, or must there be some underlying conflict and irony under every frame of the film?

I don't go out to watch movies as much as many of the folks on my f'list (like maybe one every three years, or so), so I really don't know. Is it true, what he says, that every single scene in every single movie has conflict?

Or am I misreading what Mr. Ackerman is saying? Is "Scene," here, broader than just a particular interior or exterior location established on screen?

Just wondering...


Also, I made a new icon, today... :-)
About this Entry
Colors of me, Me
capriuni:
[User Picture Icon]
From:subu
Date:June 6th, 2007 11:29 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
I love your icon! :D

I think 'scene' must first be defined and then this could all be a lot clearer. But in the absence of definition, I would have to agree that not every single scene needs to be filled with opposition. I think there needs to be a balance because if every single scene was filled with opposition then it just gets too much to handle. I really don't see how every single scene has conflict. That would be far too overpowering.
[User Picture Icon]
From:capriuni
Date:June 7th, 2007 12:03 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Thanks for the icon praise! I posted the caption idea over on the slogans forum, and I never got any response. But... Cake just makes everything better... Don't you think? ;-)

As for "Dancing the WaDooGee" ... I'm tempted to go onto IMDb.com, and look this Ackerman fellow up, and see which screenplays he's written. If his portfolio is full of Explosion Fests and Car-Chase-o-Ramas, that would expain a lot.

On the other hand, I could/i> simply be reading him incorrectly. His exact words are: "Create a situation in which..." If, by that, he means that each scene should have a little piece of the puzzle that builds up to the urgent need at the climax, then I'm in totsl agreement.

For example, in my script, I have a scene where the waiting maid and the court jester are trading little signs of affection, that the audience sees, but the princess takes for granted... There's no conflict or urgent need right there in that scene ... nor is there conflict between the waiting maid and the king, when the king tells her to keep her promises, and serve the princess.

But both thoses scenes add to the big conflict when the princess makes the maid promise to marry another man...

And also, yeah, like you said: There needs to be balance. To borrow Mister Ackerman's dance metaphor: even the loudest, rockingest dance club offers places to sit down for a minute...
[User Picture Icon]
From:subu
Date:June 7th, 2007 06:50 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Well yes, if he means having some sort of SOMETHING in each scene to build up to the climax, then that makes sense.

I think maybe it's worded a bit weird which is why this is all getting miscommunicated. ^^;
[User Picture Icon]
From:capriuni
Date:June 7th, 2007 02:36 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Yeah. And it's also a brief excerpt from a longer chapter (out of a complete book), so there may be more explanation in the whole than we're getting here.

Still, it's something to think about...

You know, even if I never clean up the rough draft I'm doing this month, what I've learned so far will probably change the way I watch movies, from now on (like checking my watch to see when minute seventeen is coming up).
[User Picture Icon]
From:subu
Date:June 7th, 2007 04:07 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Yeah, very true. When I first writing screenplays, I found myself actually narrating what those scenes would have looked like written. Haha, it's fun. :)
[User Picture Icon]
From:capriuni
Date:June 7th, 2007 05:31 pm (UTC)

uhmmm....

(Permanent Link)
I hope you did that with dvds, or vids, at home, rather than out loud, in a movie theater.

'Cause it might be fun for you, but probably annoying for those around you (unless you're narrating for a blind companion -- then it could be very useful).
[User Picture Icon]
From:subu
Date:June 7th, 2007 05:49 pm (UTC)

Re: uhmmm....

(Permanent Link)
No no, I did it in my head, I was like, "Oh, it probably was written like this." No way, I would never speak out loud, haha. XD
[User Picture Icon]
From:capriuni
Date:June 7th, 2007 11:19 pm (UTC)

Re: uhmmm....

(Permanent Link)
hm. I just had a mental flash of an MST3K-style party for Screnzers, July 1: Choral narration of the script through a cheesy movie...

:-)

:::Squints at your username::: That rings a bell... are you "Raksab" over in ScriptFrenzy! land?
[User Picture Icon]
From:subu
Date:June 7th, 2007 11:21 pm (UTC)

Re: uhmmm....

(Permanent Link)
Haha, that would be hilarious. XD

Nope. :) I'm "Mochan42". ^^
[User Picture Icon]
From:musicpsych
Date:June 7th, 2007 03:13 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
I feel like I'm not explaining myself well, but I'll try...

I'm interpreting this to be about the importance of conflict, and that most scenes will have something to do with either complicating or resolving that main conflict. Otherwise, if they have nothing to do with the conflict, then what's the point of them? If they're not related to the story, some people might get bored with them, or get confused by them. I think it's important to have "breathers" and/or comic relief, but I also think that the "just chillin'" scenes help drive the story. I also wonder, too, if his point is that in every scene, there is conflict of some sorts, which is what brings the characters together.
[User Picture Icon]
From:fenyx
Date:June 7th, 2007 03:24 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
By conflict I think what is meant is that every scene must have the protagonist headed toward his ultimate goal. Otherwise it's a wasted scene. Does he have to be fighting the antagonist, absolutely not. But, should he really be making love to his wife or should be out working on a resolution? Should that boy be playing tag with his new puppy knowing that his old puppy is still missing?

I think it's a broader, more general sense of the word. We, the audience, should always have a sense of being pushed toward the final conflict/climax, at no point should we feel like we're watching filler or that a sense is really just the character's chilling.

My two cents, I've been wrong before. :)
[User Picture Icon]
From:capriuni
Date:June 7th, 2007 03:04 pm (UTC)

Okay, here's a hypothetical movie scenerio:

(Permanent Link)
But, should he really be making love to his wife or should be out working on a resolution?

In the previous scene, a high ranking corporate exec has been called into the office, chewed out, and demoted to second junior mailboy. Like George Bailey, he's feeling broken down and worthless, and the only reason he hasn't killed himself is he can't decide on the best way.

He comes home, opens the door, and there's his wife, fresh out of the shower, glowing, and wearing only a towel. She throws her arms around him, tells him she loves him, and they slide to the sofa in the living room, before a roaring fire...


So, in that scene, as in what-we-see-onscreen-that-moment, there is no conflict at all between the husband and wife. They both want the same things (albeit, almost definitely, for different reasons, but those reasons do not put them at odds with each other). Those few moments are a rejuvenating, life-affirming, respite from the conflict behind us, and the conflict to come, and helps give the movie a sense of rhythm.

However, if we broaden the definition of "Scene" and what it means to be a character in that scene, it totally holds true to Ackerman's premise.

The ogre of a boss is not in the scene physically taking up space, but his pressence and influence are still felt (especially if the audience knows he's still at the office, making high-powered overseas deals over the telephone, and planning to bring in our protagonist's replacement).

It's just that ambiguity in the essay that left me reacting with: "Now, wait a minute! Are you sure about that?"

I need my coffee and get to work... :-)
[User Picture Icon]
From:severity_softly
Date:June 8th, 2007 08:39 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
I disagree that every scene needs to be "urgent" or have conflict, but as an actor I was taught that even in the most mundane scenes, you character still needs something. As a writer, I think you should always give your characters some need to fulfill in each and every scene.
[User Picture Icon]
From:capriuni
Date:June 11th, 2007 08:02 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Yeah. The only people who truly don't need anything are people who are dead (assuming, of course, that you don't believe in ghosts). Even the most Zen of Zen monks need to keep breathing.

It was years and years ago on some PBS self-improvement special, so I forget who the guru-of-the-week was who said this, but it's still a matrix I find helpful:

There's a difference between "urgent" and "important." "Urgent" means you're called upon to do something This Very Minute. "Important" means it is life enhancing. Sometimes, both these things come into play together, but not always. And that everything in life falls into one of these four catagories:

  1. Urgent and Important (as in Calling 911 for an ambulance).


  2. Urgent but not Important (as in a Telemarketer calling during dinner)


  3. Important but not Urgent (as in showing a child you love her)


  4. Neither Urgent nor Important (watching a repeat of That 70's Show)


Now this "Life Coach" was saying that if we want to be happy, we could prioritize #1, first, if we should ever find ourselves in that situation, and we hope it never is), #3, next. And we should cut #2 and #4 out of our lives as much as possible.

I figure the same is true of our stories: Make every scene important, but hold your urgency in reserve until you get to your climaxes.
[User Picture Icon]
From:sirwynai
Date:June 11th, 2007 06:23 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
That part also made me wonder, and then ignore for the fact that I don't have a tangible antagonist. I mean, my guy is in a coma and will try to wake up when he realizes he is, for now he's just trying to rationalize insanity.

The comments on this entry really make sense of the two paragraphs, and makes me feel better because I can see that in my script. I only have a few pointless scenes in my script, and even those need to be there for people to see what's going on. So, I guess that only makes them seem pointless. XD
[User Picture Icon]
From:capriuni
Date:June 11th, 2007 08:08 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Glad this discussion helped.

And yeah, I'd say your MC's two main "atagonists" in this play are Madness and Coma. They may not be people, really. But it might help if you think of them that way...