Monday, June 13, 2011

Maybe it all starts with a sentence...

Maybe it all starts with a sentence, maybe with a whole idea in the head, maybe from a book, or maybe from the images of a dream… However it starts, scenario is one of the keystones of a movie production. A scenario should please both the director and the producer, so that it will be accepted as ‘worthy’ to be made a movie out of it.

After the script is chosen to be shot, to me, movie production is roughly based on the agreement between the scenarist and the director and making the movie by filtering this agreement through the producer’s demand.

The scenarist is a writer who draws scenes out of words, who creates the movie characters that make us feel alive, passionate, sentimental, angry, thrilled, happy, frightened…, who decides from which point of view the story is going to be told us, who takes us out from our life and see things from others’ stories…

While it is the same for a fiction book writer, for a scenarist, there is a limited amount of time (1-3 hours) to describe the story and it’s composed of one/two line(s) of dialogues. Therefore, the details that are put to the script should be well-chosen. A taxi passing at the background, a woman wearing a blue mini skirt, a girl disappearing in the dark street, a child crying, a man rushing outside of the house… everything is a clue that is given to the audience who is there to resolve the character/story through the stream of images.

Also, sometimes the movie director will be involved in the movie script himself. Pulp Fiction, Fargo, Léon, Eyes Wide Shut, Amélie, Lost in Translation, Down by Law, Rosemary’s Baby, Yojimbo, Oldboy, Snatch, Babam ve Oglum are some of the examples. In this case, it will be more trivial for the director to shoot the scene, since he has already, for sure, visualized the movie during the script/story writing (camera angles, transitions, decor, light, colors…). In any cases, the audience should not forget that all the scenes are intended to give a message to him; and are not shot for the sake of shooting.

In 1994 cult movie Léon (written&directed by Luc Besson), we will see the main character, the hitman, Léon (Jean Reno) taking care of a plant in several scenes. Luc Besson, for sure, didn’t put these scenes there for no reason. He probably intended to give us more information about the not-talking-much character Léon, that he is gentle and caring beside his job of murdering people. By keeping himself busy with his only friend, the plant, we understand, when Mathilda starts to take care of it, that he is not alone anymore.

In Kill Bill vol.1 (written&directed by Quentin Tarantino (2003)), the movie opens with a scene of a bloody face of the extremely frightened character, The Bride (Uma Thurman). Then, we hear the footsteps of the obviously-bad-guy without seeing his face. Tarantino could have skipped this scene which wouldn’t create a gap in the story-telling, however it will change the perception. By including such an opening scene in the script, he changed the pace of the movie and justified the violence that the Bride will engage for her revenge.

Tarantino knew that the opening scene sets the tone of the entire movie. The screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga was aware of that too. That’s why Amores Perros (directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (2000)) opens with a long, high pace chasing scene.

Another cult movie, Memento (screenplay&directed by Christopher Nolan) creates a sense of confusion at the audience with its distinctly told story which is based on a short story written by Nolan's brother. However, Nolan, aware that the story could be told in a more unique way which will make it much more exciting, wrote the script with an innovative difference in its narrative structure. A series of black-and-white sequences are shown chronologically, while color sequences are in reverse order. Christopher Nolan gives enough clues to his audience to decode the story without being lost. That change in the narrative structure of the film made it unique and a cult movie with praises to its screenwriter Christopher Nolan.

As you will see from the examples, every story has a beginning and an end, but it is the scenarist who makes it unique.

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