cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

TV DRAMA Frozen Sky 2011

Frozen Sky

All 4 – 90 min x 2 part German drama

Frozen Sky 2013


February 4, 2018 Posted by | Frozen Sky 2011, german tv | | Leave a comment

FILM pan and scan

Lawrence of Arabia, David Lean, 1962

Scorsese, Pollack, Mann & Hanson on How “Pan and Scan” Ruined Films for Decades

5′ video ~ short introduction

* Look out for Scorsese mentioning 4:3 increases the size of the frame and so reduces resolution.

November 27, 2017 Posted by | film technique, film [its techniques], pan and scan | , , | Leave a comment

The 15 Basic Elements to Know to Better Your Film’s Mise-en-Scene

Blade Runner 1982

The 15 Basic Elements to Know to Better Your Film’s Mise-en-Scene

Filmmaker Michael Hall of Shohawk, in Mentorless, filmmaking blog.

+ 15 diagrams. Who wants text when you have graphics? It’s a visual medium! Have a thing about mise-en-scene? Don’t even know what it is [but it’s in French and looks interesting..]? This is for you and you.

Michael has done another mise-en-scene:

7 Ways Mise-en-scene Will Make You a Better Filmmaker

which also includes the same 15 diagrams at the bottom.

Pinched the Blade Runner header from this post.

November 25, 2017 Posted by | film, film technique, film techniques, film-making | , | Leave a comment

FILM Ed Wood 1995

‘Ed Wood’: Tim Burton’s Beautiful Ode to a Fascinating Filmmaker, From One Outsider to Another

Cinephilia and Beyond

The ever magnificent C & B presents one of its majestic longforms on Tim Burton’s Ed Wood [1995]

Oozing with images and a handful of YouTubes. Plus a Q & A with Tim Burton

As usual the screenplay is embedded for reading in place, plus a downloadable pdf. If unfamiliar with their downloads, a click opens it in another web-page. But of course being a screenplay person, you want it on your HD. So, once downloaded, Go to File location, right mouse and and then open it with your pdf viewer. Save As [change the file name if you want to here] and Bob’s your uncle.

As I normally do, this screenplay is to be found in the right side bar under screenplays of which there is a small collection.


Cult films to see before you die: Ed Wood

James Oliver, Reader’s Digest

Of course the web is full of Ed wood reviews and essays – but just one extra for good luck.

The DVD can be found pretty cheap.

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Ed Wood [1995], Tim Burton | , , | Leave a comment

SCREENPLAY Christopher Nolan Screenplays

Christopher Nolan Screenplays

Inde Film Hustle, 13 Sept 2017

All downloadable pdfs, not dialogue transcripts

Dunkirk (2017)
Interstellar (2014)
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Inception (2010)
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Prestige (2006)
Batman Begins (2005)
Memento (2000)
Following (1998)
The keys of the Street (1997)

September 16, 2017 Posted by | Christopher Nolan, screenplay, screenwriting | , | Leave a comment

FILM ADAPTATION How not to adapt a novel

How NOT to Adapt a Novel

Christopher Osterndorf, The scriptlab, 7 Sept 2017

Well, it’s the title isn’t it? Buy the book and then find it’s nothing like you imagined between the covers.

Short but for me not so interesting – despite the tips – because the films discussed are not the sort of thing I would watch, but novel to film is something I return to again.

In any case who can resist films about writers trying adapt novels? Plenty? Oh, well they fascinate writers. And that’s what counts. Though of course we’re on writers adapting novels here. Whereas, what happens when the script gets into the hands of the production team is another matter.


The Novel or the Film?

Siobhan Calafiore, The Artifice, 6 Feb 2014

Borrowed her header for my header.

Novel or film is what follows from film adaptation anyway so this is one to stimulate the juices on that topic.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | film adaptation | | Leave a comment

SCREENPLAY: The Myth of the Three-Act Structure

graphic from: A History Of The Three-Act Structure

The Myth Of The Three-Act Structure

Bill Mesce, at ShoreScripts

Chatty. Lot’s of examples.

Well, you’ve done a course or two, got the books, …and you can find as many of these things as there are actual script, but here’s two

Save the Baby! On the Benefits of the Three-Act Screenplay Structure

A History of Three-Act Structure

September 2, 2017 Posted by | 3-act structure | , , | Leave a comment

FILM sound

Having just completed an online film course which included doing some practical exercises on adding soundtrack, and coincidentally watching Takovsky’s The Sacrifice for the first time, it seemed a good time to collect together a few links to film sound. This is both how sound is used in film and films that have sound themes like Coppola’s The Conversation. The links centre on Coppola’s The Conversation and Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice.

* Sound Upon Sound: The Conversation

Clair Norelli, PopOptiq, 10 Jan 2011

This is the work of Walter Murch editor and sound designer. Just re-watched it for about the 8th time and the more you watch it the more you see things, or see things you’ve had pointed out..

* “He’d Kill Us If He Had The Chance”: Coppola’s The Conversation and Film Sound

Post from Phillip Brophy, The Seventh Art, 11 Feb 2008

* The Conversation 1972 Francis Ford Coppola
– under the category of : Distortion and Misperception

He’s done a set of film sound posts on different sound themes, which can be found here:

* Historical Markers of the Modern Soundtrack

* Listening to The Conversation

David C Ryan, Identity Theory, 10 March 2012

An essay on The Conversation which does not deal how sound is used in the film, but here just the same.

* The Sound Film Man

FilmSound.0rg does Walter Murch

* With The Conversation, Walter Murch made the editor the author

Charles Bramesco, The Dissolve, 20 April 2015

Which links to other The Conversation posts and a forum discussion on The conversation’s “…sound, music, timing, and more.”

* The Power of Sound and Editing (The Conversation and Psycho)

Wael Khairy, The Cinephile Fix, 17 Nov 2009

* The Act of Listening #16: Tarkovsky and mystery

Rob Szeliga, Sound designer, 17 December 2016

* Sound in Tarkovsky’s Sacrifice

Interview with Owe Svensson, Swedish Sound mixer

Andrei Tarkovsky’s Musical offering: the law of quotation

Julia Shpinitskaya, Proceedings of the World Congress of International Association for Semiotics, 2014

* Essay by filmmaker Dimitar Kutmanov on how the use of sound creates narrative space

* Compositions of Crisis: Sound and Silence in the Films of Bergman and Tarkovsky
Phoebe Pua, August 2013

Thesis, 145 pp.


This thesis examines seven films from the cinemas of Ingmar Bergman and Andrei
Tarkovsky—Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (1957), Through a Glass Darkly (1961),
Winter Light (1963), and The Silence (1963), and Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979),
Nostalghia (1983), and The Sacrifice (1986).

These films were chosen as they represent the deepest periods of two directors’
engagements with the possible death of God and the subsequent loss of intrinsic
existential meaning—topics with which this thesis is principally concerned.

As a starting point, this thesis argues that the films present the silence of God as the primary indicator of God’s absence from the human world. Becoming aware of this silence thus causes one to interrogate religious certainties which have hitherto been taken to be timeless and true. This thesis then contends that, when faced with this silence and its implications, Bergman desperately sought evidence of God’s existence while Tarkovsky unyieldingly maintained an attitude of faith.

The directors’ progressions toward these contrasting positions are evident through the uses of sound elements in their films. As Bergman unsuccessfully pursued evidence of God’s existence, the soundscapes in his four films become increasingly minimal. The sparse use of sound reveals Bergman’s conception of a Godless void. On the other hand, metaphysical silence in Tarkovsky’s films was not perceived as emptiness. Instead, “silence” in his films was, paradoxically, often depicted through complex layers of sounds. Presented as manifestations of the metaphysical, the sounds of “silence” in Tarkovsky’s films consequently become affirmations of faith.

Through this sound-based approach to film analysis, this thesis sets out to explain why Bergman and Tarkovsky understood metaphysical silence so differently by examining how they portrayed literal silences.

July 16, 2017 Posted by | film sound | | Leave a comment

PHOTOGRAPHY topology meets typology

The Topography of Tears: A Stunning Aerial Tour of the Landscape of Human Emotion Through an Optical Microscope

~ From Blake to biochemistry, “proof that we cannot put our feelings in one place and our thoughts in another.”

* Maria Popova in Brainpickings takes a look at Rose-Lynn Fisher’s The Topography of Tears.

Does a photographic topology come under typology? Topology meets typology?

There are a couple of previous post on typology written when I first came across the subject in 2009: various links. The names to look out for are Karl Blossfedt and Bernd and Hilla Becher, mentioned in Typology {1} Links to their work in there.

July 15, 2017 Posted by | topology | , , | Leave a comment

FILM The Conversation 1974

The Conversation looked ahead to a world without privacy

Scott Tobias, The Disolve, 21 April 2015

Forum: The Conversation

Keith Phipps and Nathan Rabin, The Dissolve, 21 April 2015

Why The Conversation Should Be Required Viewing at the NSA

~ Francis Ford Coppola’s psychological thriller, which turns 40 today, may be the best exploration of the dangers of surveillance that pop culture has ever produced.

Alexander Huls, The Atlantic, 7 April 2014

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Coppola, surveillance cinema, The Conversation | , , | Leave a comment

FILM Fellini La Dolce Vita 1960


La Dolce Vita

The Magic Widow 6 November 2015 ~ film blog by Kristoffer T notable for the quality film stills

the cinematography of la Dolce vita: that’s deep, man

Brandon W. Irvines’ Underplex film blog, 20 June 2013 ~ always plenty of stills

La Dolce Vita: Lessons not learned

Kate Fitzpatrick, Brattle Theatre Film Notes, 24 June 2103

Search Brattle for other La Dolce Vita posts.

February 26, 2017 Posted by | Antonioni, film, film directors, La Dolce Vita [1960] | , | Leave a comment

FILM Tableau shot


The Power of the Tableau Shot

David Goodman, The Beat, 30 November 2015

David Bordwell discusses tableau in these posts starting at the top with Murnau before NOSFERATU

Bit confusing because he doesn’t just use headings tableau or tableau vivant but persevere and it all become clear and where the links are.

Came back to this by accident when this interesting clip from an Estonian film by Martti Helde, In the Crosswind [2014] came into view.

wiki: In the Crosswind

Distributor Pluto Films for all the details

In the Crosswind
8′ 58″

In the Crosswind
1′ 40″ trailer

Risttuules (In the Crosswind) – Through the window
7′ 15″

Risttuules (In the Crosswind) – Winter photo (letter)
5′ 18″ ~ YouTube captions kept just to distinguish the links.

February 26, 2017 Posted by | Estonian films, In the Crosswind [2014], Martti Helde, tableau shot, Tableau vivant | , , , , | Leave a comment


The book is so much better than the film..

The book is so much better than the film..

BRIAN sitting at his desk behind his laptop. Bookshelf behind him. Jar of pens right. untidy papers/books left.

He looks down to type. Clicking of keys. Stops. Looks toward camera blankly. Sound of door opening and shutting. Brian continues to look at camera.

Cut to:

Angled view of BRIAN. Door to right. JENNY enters backwards.

Cut to:

Back to 1st shot.
JENNY stands behind him looking at the screen. Smiles.

Very good. Two sentences..

Brian continues to look forward impassively.

Jenny moves to Brian’s left side. Shows both hands in fists. He touches the right one. She opened her fist. It is a small red tomato. She opens the other fist: it is a grape.
Brian cranes head to look up at Jenny. The looks back. Types.
Jenny moves behind Brian again. Looks over his shoulder.

There you see! It just needed a tomato.


You know I’m right…

Brian starts reads from the screen:

“She opened the door and moved towards him, standing right behind him, bending to look over his left shoulder. That’s one more sentence than at 9 O’clock” She says, smiling. He can’t of course see the smile, but he feels the warmth of it on his neck. He continued to look forwards impassively……

Cut to:

Back to shot 2

………Margaret moved to the side presenting him with two closed fists. “Which one?”. Peter reluctantly chose the right hand. Jenny opened her fist to reveal a small red tomato on her palm. Then the other hand: a green grape. He started typing furiously quite oblivious to her presence. While Brian typed, Jenny has moved silently to the door and left the room. In a corner of his mind, a millions miles from his creative effort, he hears the click of the door shutting.”

Cut to:

Closer view of door. The door is just shutting. Click.

Fade out.

February 6, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FILM Compassion in film in a time of Trump

Nicola Hilliard-Forde

Nicola Hilliard-Forde

Canadian casting director, producer Nicola Hilliard-Forde writes on compassion in film

Hooray, a film and Trump. Well, she says she’s motivated to write because of evenements. Don’t think I’ll be able to slip a Godard in here, but who knows. See what transpires. Oh, I just did.

Her current film, directed by Joey Klein, “a dark romantic drama about a young woman with bipolar disorder and a young man with PTSD who fall in love and struggle to forge a simple life together, is The Other Half, due for release 2 Dec 2016.

In these piece she reviews filmic narrative of compassion, chats to three film chums, Mark Rendell, actor, Mayuran Tiruchelvam, writer/producer, and Natasha Lyonne, actor and filmmaker, about films, suffering, and empathetic storytelling.

At this point, I feel obliged to say as people sit back [or lean forward, suddenly stand up, enraged..] to consider who their next president really is and what he actually might do, is someone somewhere is going to make that movie, In A Time Of Trump. In social media and MSM, the satire, plain old-fashioned mockery and distain being in full swing, where is there else to put one’s creative energy, positive or negative, but film or music….why yes, who is up for the Trumpet Concerto?

One bright spark pointed out Trump – or Fingers von Trumpf [strictly it should be Drumpf..] as I am prone to call him – Finger’s for short – is a man blessed with empathy, but he carefully adds it has little or no emotion attached to it, except where it might impinge on his own hurt about what other people say about him. He susses you but does not feel your hurt. But gets hurt himself very easily. And responds to all slights with full force to defend his fragile ego [presumably]. All complicated by also being in possession of many other features of those who we can terms as living in The Borderlands of Personality. The major current opinion is he’s a narcissist of high order, with possible NPD. I think it’s worse than that. He seems very much a sociopath as well. Though as far as we know not a psychopath. A careful study of DS-5 will help if you can be bothered.

Here, for those who feel at this point that this doesn’t seem like the correct description of what empathy means, some more. First, empathy is too often taken for or thought of, or used as the same as sympathy, which it isn’t. Though the two come together under normal circumstances. One can cause the other? Contingent? It’s a debate.

A recent very interesting medium-form by Ed Young in The Atlantic, 6 Dec 2016, Self-Control Is Just Empathy With Your Future Self, is a quite a good primer for looking back at empathy, or even considering it seriously for the first time. Though he does lead you beyond this basic idea into further fascinating realms.

Empathy is where we get to say TOM. Theory of Mind. Human minds evolved to be able to work out what other minds are think even or might be about to think. Feelings and so forth on the are as well, but you know. That is we pick up on other’s feelings and use these and what we think guess they might be thinking and how it’s all connected as a view of that particular person. Say your life partner for simplicity. You get to know the language of this person’s mind, the emotional machinery, through long years of experience. Some can finish the others sentences. That must be infuriating. How far can you push this before tears or rage appear? Etc., et al.

Anyway, it’s not as easy as big on empathy successful, or massively empathetic, really nice to know. You might have 4/10 empathy which would carry you though life, while you might be 9/10 and be a complete failure though you could clock very easily what they were thinking and feeling. or thinking through what they seemed to be feeling. Etc. Et al. It’s not the only mental equipment you possess. The man with high empathy might essentially be a sociopath. And that is bad news for empathy which so many write about as a positive feature of life which ought to be encouraged. It can be taught, in one sense, just like a sense of fairness or what society regards right or wrong, or the oughts and should. It can be pointed out to anyone, empathetic or not, what being empathetic means. But you’re pretty much born with high or low empathy. The rest are adds ons. That’s called parenting and education.

Thomas Markham in, Why Empathy Hold the Key to Transforming 21st Century Learning, at Mindshift, 16 Nov 2016, gives his take on what empathy is. He says,

‘the feeling of being able to understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.’

But take his piece right through to the end. It’s a very good way to get up to speed on the wider aspects of empathy.

Add in there the autistic spectrum with, say, your Rain Man type totally unable to think about anything but his own thoughts, let alone figure out what might be in the minds of others. In Justin Hoffman’s case he’s an idiot savant. Well, not Justin….That doesn’t mean unable to work out to some degree some things people might be up to, but largely it’s a self-contained world, where things come into the brain, things go out, but they’re not seen in terms of other people. Your upset at a severely autistic person’s behaviour does not register as, I have hurt you, but more this person is annoying me. The severely autistic person is at the end of the spectrum of brain difference, with we might suggested things like dyslexia on the left end and autism on the right. I have no idea id there have been scan studies of autistic people, but I don’t think it is hard even without a detailed understanding of the brain, to see that whatever inputs simply doesn’t get finally channelled to those centres which allow for the ability to read other’s minds [which means form guesses about essentially…]. Certainly not to the frontal lobes where the cognition and the control of impulses lie [epileptics with frontal lobe foci are known to be impulsive, though this does not impair things like creativity. it may enhance it. Then there’s all the writers who were epileptic the famous e.g. being Dostoevsky.

With bipolar we’re in a similar territory, but its a lot more complicated and not understood that well at the brain module interaction level .

So strangely, but understandably, severe autists can get upset when the world impinges on them in a way they can’t cope with. They can get up set but it’s like there is a nasty echo which they can’t get rid of. It’s just they don’t notice when someone else is upset, apart from when it has the effect of making them upset.

And so. So it must go. Ought. Must. Segue to Trump. No one’s saying so far he’s autistic, just lacking in empathy and narcissistic and some other stuff. They’re all working feverishly on what it all amounts to I’m sure. A man who can suss and order and organise his world, manipulate it, but who doesn’t especially feel for the world he so manipulates. A man who has been ruthless, for example in imposing stingy pre-nuptial agreements on all his wives. Treating workers badly. Slinging out tenants from buildings he wishes to re-develop. But just this single thing, empathy, should go a long way tell you what sort of a man he is, before getting on to the rest.


Manic-depression. Bipolar doesn’t really express what it is in the same way. There are not enough films about not famous people bipolar sufferers, I the sense of making it clear that is what this character has. The characteristics of behaviour might be shown, but rarely does anyone inside a movie declare what it is.

Plenty of films about mad composers or artists, though mostly they did not say Van Gogh or Mahler or Munch or Schumann were bipolar. [Amadeus strikes me as showing a bipolar Mozart]. Reckless, self-destructive behaviour, suicidal depression, yes. Though bipolar is a spectrum with many who cycle rapidly or slowly between elation and blackdog, but who are never in need or feel they need medication. Or, from a dramatic way of looking at it, they don’t get into deep enough trouble to merit books or films being written about them. There are quite a few books by bipolars who got into deep trouble but were lucky to escape total disaster and lived to tell the tale. One, I recall a successful British accountant, who suddenly started buying expensive cars which even he couldn’t afford.

Interestingly, there is a wiki listing bipolar suffers, historical and alive, from which one could conclude, knowing little about what bipolar consists of, that there is a strong correlation with creativity. Susan Redfield Jamison herself bipolar, wrote the classic book on bipolar and creativity. There is also: The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb.

That rough territory of human life between mental illness and those borderline personality disorders, seems has always been, a fertile one for the writer. This film, The Other Half, out now [this post was started weeks ago..], is mental illness meets chronic stress.

I’ve a great affinity for the manic-depressive. So many of us could be mildly bipolar and not realise it. No one would question too deeply someone who was intelligent, funny, imaginative, whose behaviour is, unknown to them or even the person himself, rooted in an inherited condition such as manic-depression.

The strangeness is that so many inherited problems like dyslexia, seem to persist in populations when a modest understanding of evolution would suggest they would be selected against. Why would manic-depression come through so many generations – who knows when it first appeared in populations. The advantages that the manic phase gave to groups as a whole rather than the individual may explain why it has persisted. Homosexuality according to some evolutionary psychologists – they of the theories without any real dat to back up their ideas folk – suggest a gay man or women might have been of benefit to the sort of small social group way back in the mists of time, because of their role as additional cares who didn’t have their own to worry about. This is commonly observed in the animal kingdom, where a dog might tend a kitten, say.


I think this essay was wandering towards conservatism low empathy – leftism high empathy, but it didn’t quite get there. Never mind. That’s the beauty of the blog post: it’s not being published and hasn’t got to pass through editorial filters. All there is the blogger’s sense of proprietary, morals and ethics and that dastardly self-censorship. Though we know full well, as is exhibited by all the nasty things that have crept out of the woodwork since Fingers was elected, the last can often be in short supply once the cork pops, the genie’s out of the bottle. Etc. Et al.

December 8, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FILM CINEMATOGRAPHER Raoul Coutard 1924-2016


Raoul Coutard, French New Wave cinematographer, dies at 92

Coutard, who shot more than 75 films, was best known for his work with directors such as Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut and Jacques Demy.

Alan Evans, Guardian, 9 Nov 2016

Web of Stories has a set of 179 short video segments most in which Coutard runs through his life and work. English subtitles.

November 10, 2016 Posted by | cinematographer, New Wave, nouvelle vague, Raoul Coutard | , , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM DIRECTOR Andrzej Wajda 1926-2016


The first Wajda I saw was Danton, when it came out in the 1983. Before I even knew who Wajda was. It made me think that the French Revolution explained all subsequent revolutions, and proceeded to buy books about the events of 1789 onwards to see how the film did the book, as it were. When you’ve read the books you probably feel the same things as watching the film. One of these is that revolutions are plays for power by the middle-classes, who when they find their revolutionary principles of how society ought work don’t work, force them on everyone. In the film, Robespierre was miffed because Danton seemed to be both a man of the people and getting rich off the proceeds.

But Wajda and many others seemed to be saying it was made with more recent event in Poland in mind. Who was Danton meant to represent in that case? Lech Walesa? Don’t know – but he became pretty prosperous, so who knows. It’s complicated.

Poland has always been a devotedly catholic country, though the communist years pressed down on the church, quite naturally, because it was another focus of power and influence. With the rise of Solidarność [‘Solidarity’] eventually led by Walesa, there was this strange combination of worker organisation – with the involvement of the dissident intelligentsia, which one would assume to be Left politically – and the way the church had helped and been at the intellectual core of the movement. Walesa a devote Catholic. The Pope a Pole and the rest.

Then, I’ve just learned, there was Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, Sollicitudo rei socialis, 30 December 1987, in which he “identifies the concept of solidarity with the poor and marginalized as a constitutive element of the Gospel and human participation in the common good.”

Just bought the Artificial Eye DVD of Katin, to watch a late Wajda. The long interview with Wajda on disk is a must. He talks film but also much of the surrounding social and political issues which gives it a context.

Kieslowski has been a specialism of mine. Seen pretty much all his films except the very early documentaries, which I know from reading are really a must if you are looking how a director under communism found he was obliged to turn to drama to film honestly.

The lesser but still worth it, Amator [1979][Camera Buff], is a good way to look at this business of how to get around censorship. There is at least one longform post in COTA on Amator. Probably two. Don’t take them as professional analysis! A mere groping about of an enthusiast. I’m primarily concerned in film with how it presents the story, hence my focus on cinematography in many of these posts.

So I’ve done a bit of Polish Film School cinema: Wajda talks of Katin being perhaps the last of the Polish Film School.

RIP Andrzej Wajda, Humanist Auteur Who Inspired Polanski, Scorsese, and Coppola

Scout Tafoya, No Film School, 10 Oct 2016 ~ longform

Andrzej Wajda’s Ten Best Films

by Michał Oleszczyk, Roger Ebert, 10 Oct 2016

October 26, 2016 Posted by | Andrzej Wajda, Kieslowski, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Polish Film School cinema | , , | Leave a comment

SCREENPLAYS The Best Websites To Download & Read Screenplays


The Best Websites To Download & Read Screenplays

20 sites

October 7, 2016 Posted by | screenplay, screenwriting, script | , , | Leave a comment

FILM SCREENPLAY 20 Incredible Screenwriting Videos!

Paddy Chayefsky's Notes for Network (New York Public Library)

Paddy Chayefsky’s Notes for Network (New York Public Library)

20 Incredible Screenwriting Videos!

Well, that’s some American person getting over-excited. Let’s say, Twenty Famous Screenwriters Talk Turkey. They are all longish videos. Wade through that lot and you’ll get no writing done, but they’re there if you want a break from writing to listen to someone talking about writing.

The Charlie Kaufman one is worth listening to but the German interviewer is dire, and makes you want to give up living. Fight through it. Charlie, bless him, keeps on saying, “like..”, which is almost as irritating as the interviewer’s questions. But he’s the guy, so bear with. He talks about Adaptation. All writers who fancy writing a script about a scriptwriter should listen to that. And of course Google films about scriptwriters.

William Goldman, Robert Towne, all sorts. Not all P2P some lectures and round-tables.

Most of these are readily available elsewhere in buckets, but having a small clutch altogether in one place is handy.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Film script/screenplay | , | Leave a comment

FILM subtitles

La Règle du jeu [1957]

La Règle du jeu [1957]

Decades of Dialogue: 15 Classic French Movies to Develop Your Speaking

From French language and culture blog FluentU

Well any excuse for another film list. It’s good-films-to-learn-French-from with the added French films you might never have come across.

At the beginning, just saying, I feel there must be a chain of COTA post where I say the same thing that is going into this one. And the worry is I have not recollection of these others and there is only a small set of facts and ideas in my brain on film, such as Chinatown is my favourite screenplay.

But anyway, how lucky you are if you can speak French [or Swedish, German, Danish, Polish, or Czech…Russian] well and don’t need subtitles. Some people I know simple won’t watch subtitled film or tv. A great loss – all those Scandi noirs – but there you are.

We all know how terrible subtitles can be [or were]. In most cases it’s just a source of merriment. In that particular section of dialogue we recognised enough [It’d probably have to be French as that the one we have a smattering of..] to see the subtitle completely garbled the punchline the screenwriter so carefully crafted.


A COTA post that never got finished took on Lanzmann’s Shoah as an example of where translation can go wrong and be a source of worry. Shoah’s simultaneous translation involved three stages: Lanzmann asks his translator in English [so the English speaking audience can hear his question…], his translator would translate it into, say Polish, listen to the answer, then translate back to French or English. Here we would be watching the English sub-title version. A notorious example was where the subtitle rendered a reply by a Polish man as Yid, or some equally unpleasant word, when the Polish man had used the Polish for “Jew”. Here, Lanzmann relied on the skill of his simultaneous translator because he would base his next question on that rendering. As an aside, Lanzmann has a very insistent interrogatory style of questioning, which added a further layer of possible misinterpretation of the interviewee. That is to say, through a second language, Lanzmann would understand what he thought the reply was, and respond with a question based on that.

Then there’s Godard [If Godard is mentioned in a COTA post I get 5 extra points..],

godard english cannes: The Reception of Film Socialisme‘s “Navajo English” Subtitles

Samuel Bréan, Senses of Cinema, Issue 60, Oct 2011

Sit back enjoy JLG take on subtitles.

I’ve mentioned before I see subtitles in roughly the same category as the problems of translation in general. Briefly, a poem or novel in one language – especially a poem because it is such a concise expression of language – is pretty much a different poem in another. Though not to everyone’s taste, Douglas Hofstadter’s big conceptually expansive, Le Ton beau de Marot, which takes as his translation task the slight poem [ditty..] by Clement Marot, asking family and friends to translate it. Many of the results are included. The book as usual with Hofstadter, takes a longer complex journey within, beyond, into wider questions than just turning one language into others such AI.

For me, the business of language translation is one starting point for an understanding of film adaptation. Films adapted from novels should be of interest to anyone who loves film and who wants to understand how scripts are made into films.

The one I always mention is Pinter’s Proust. He wrote a screenplay which Joseph Losey was to direct. The money wasn’t raised and so it was never made. Pinter had it published. It was later done on BBC Radio as The Pinter Proust Play. There are posts on this which you can find by using the blog search box, to see exactly what went on.

Pinter’s screenplay is at the extreme edge of adaptation. Those critical of the screenplay say it is Pinter not Proust. How can you ‘translate’ thousands of pages into a 1hour 20 minute screenplay? And how can you leave out all the enormous paragraphs consisting of a single sentence? Film after film has been made of Proust with varying degrees of success. Most have taken a section like Swann’s Way, rather than the whole book. I like the Pinter. Though I haven’t read Proust from cover to cover, and admit it rather than get egg on my face when questioned about it, when I’d listened to the radio adaption – very effective because it relied so much for its effect on repeated sounds – I got the screenplay and with use an e-book of Proust, worked from the script to book, searching the text for the various parts depicted to see what he started with.

I have no plan to adapt a book into a screenplay just yet. Well, never unless it’s my own. But it seems one of the best ways to grasp screenplay writing. What can and can’t be done. or what is done and how it turns out in the film. And of course the lessons it teaches about what can and can’t be done in film per se.

A screenplay is translated into a film.


The Rhetoric of translation

pdf 14 pp.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | film adaptation, Film script/screenplay, Film Socialisme, film subtitles | , , | Leave a comment

FILM SCREENPLAY American Hustle [2013]


American Hustle [2013]

Screenplay from Sony Pictures, written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell

No date.

Mentioned on Plotbot, the online screenwriting site.

In the side bar under screenplays for ease of later access

September 10, 2016 Posted by | Algeria, Eric Warren Singer, screenplay, script | | Leave a comment