FILM SCREENPLAY 10 Scripts to Read Before You Die
10 Scripts to Read Before You Die
17 January 2013
Two of my favourite films in there: Chinatown and Network.
I’m not saying I’m going to wade through Forrest Gump as a script. Or even The Godfather. Films are sometime just fine as films. Chinatown’s one joke still stands up in print, but what you don’t get, even with the stage directions, is the wonderful way the 4 characters are framed in the main shot.
I’ve linked to the Network script somewhere. That is well worth reading. The film is so fast and furious, half the clever bits are missed. You saw Network yonks ago, know it’s good and think you might like to watch it again? Do so, then immediately read the script. That’s my advice.
This is the starting point for thinking about one’s favourite scripts. Or rather one’s favourite films. Bear in mind as I have said dozens of times in posts, that most of the scripts you find online thinking they scripts are actually dialogue transcriptions, which are naturally a fraction of what a script it. It is possible to add in one’s own mise en scene and instructions because the film is familiar. Instructive to do so for a transcription and then get the script proper!
This is of course merely the start point for a ramble through the web for similar offerings.
Here’s a starter:
10 Essential Screenplays Every Aspiring Screenwriter Must Read
As becomes immediately apparent: is it scripts because you write scripts or scripts because you are curious to see the undercarriage of films you love? Or scripts of films that didn’t do justice to the subject and you want to pick at like a large scab to help to see where you thought things went badly wrong. Not that you were going to re-write it yourself…
I tweeted a frantic series about The Imitation Game over many weeks leading up to the Awards season, trying to demonstrate with bits of script how it didn’t deserve an award. No one showed any interest whatsoever. It was a popular film and box-office, but no self-respecting member of the filmoscenti was going to be seen wasting time on that!!
Graham Moore’s screenplay had praise heaped upon it in some quarters. I began to see the elements of a Hollywood story about a scriptwriter there. Not that hasn’t been done so often in various ways. The cynic in me quickly imagining someone was already scribbling a synopsis about a young Hollywood newby desperately trying to work up script from a difficut subject, wondering if he’s taken on too much, can he sell the idea, can he deliver (all things Graham had talked about in his 100s of interviews). I could see possibilities myself and started to rough out a few ideas – a riff on Altman’s The Player. Hey, that’s worth a read. The script of The Player, that is.
(How often, scriptwriters explain, the script is not the film and what you write rarely gets to screen…whereas the novel is your work alone.)
I have linked to The Imitation Games script too, which is a real script in facsimile, from the Harvey Weinstein site. (Never can be sure if scripts are final scripts without doing a bit of research..) I thought it had a lot of questions to answer, both in structural terms and in the way it played liberties with the known facts of the life portrayed, which had me scratching my head through the screening. And showed despite research obviouly having been done (in this case Andrew Hodge’s long biography of Turing), obvious elements were left out altogether because it was a Hollywood script. Comparing the various other attempts at Turing films is instructive too.
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