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Old April 28 2011, 06:59 PM   #103
Ryan Thomas Riddle
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

DS9Sega wrote: View Post
Been a while since I posted. Let's jump into a topic that's related to both writing and shooting...
SHOW, NOT TELL

One thing Star Trek does too much--and fan filmmakers ape to an extreme--is a tendency to have too much talking. Everything is described in dialog rather than portrayed visually. But this is contrary to what film does best: which is communicate story through visuals.

...

Lesson: Don't tell us how your character feels or why they're doing what they do. Show us!
I'll add one more thing that fan filmmakers also tend to ape is having characters tell us who they are rather than showing us who they are.

In other words, having drawn out scenes where the character whines about this that and the other thing, which is often used to pass as characterization. Or having characters with a series of like and dislikes, and calling that characterization. For example, the captain likes poker or the counselor likes chocolate or the executive officer plays the trombone. Those are traits and not real characterization.

Characterization, or who a character is, is shown through the actions that character takes in the story. For instance, Kirk deciding not to save Edith Keeler shows us something about who Kirk is as a person. Same when Kirk destroys the computers of Emininar VI so that its people can truly know the spoils of warfare. Or when Kirk steals the Enterprise to rescue his friend.

And those choices show us how far a character is willing to go for what I tell my creative writing students is the "I want". What choices does a character make to get what he or she truly wants in the story.

Many fan film scripts are fraught with plots that drive the characters along, where they rarely make any choices of consequence. But character choices not only show, but also help drive the plot along.

When characters drive the plot through their choices, then it becomes difficult to interchange those characters with different characters.

Would Kill Bill be the same movie if Beatrice Kiddo wasn't the main character and it had been Bill's brother instead? No, because Beatrice's choices are what drive the story. It probably wouldn't even be called Kill Bill.

Or compare the novel Tapping the Source by Kem Nunn with the movie that was supposedly inspired by it, Point Break. In the book, Ike's choices drive his quest to know what happened to his sister. In the movie, there's FBI agent Johnny Utah (a riff of Johnny Yuma?) instead, and it changes the entire story and its plot.

Choices. Don't be afraid to let your characters make choices, good or bad. Don't strap them to the captain's chair and absolve them of making any difficult decision by allowing others to do so for him.
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