Monday, 6 December 2010

Screenplay for Short Horror Story

A screenplay is almost like an instruction manual for the production of a film/television programme etc. It gives the producers and in our case animators a foundation for the development of the production. Often screenplays are also adapted from existing novels or book adaptations.

I have had to produce a screenplay from a short story which I would class as Horror/Thriller short story.

This is the short story that I have had to develop into a screenplay using a software called Celtx which is like a digital pre-production software for writing scrips, screenplays e.t.c

I found a few interesting articles on screenplay writing that proved useful and insightful to screenplay writing.

A few things I found quite interesting and helpful in this article from the Guardian.

- 'In a film, you should let the story reveal the character.' I thought of this as a way of not showing that anything was too wrong when the girl first gets in the car however as the story progresses to pulling up outside the house, the plot begins to reveal the hitchhiker's true character. I also decided to add a tension between the relationship of the father and daughter as they go through the story.

- 'Characters tend to be blurry in screenplays, partly because, if you over-define things, you limit the number of actors you can cast from. But just because you can't describe their eyebrows shouldn't stop you understanding thoroughly what makes them tick. When Sam Peckinpah was rewriting scripts, he used to cross out all the characters' names and replace them with the names of people he knew, so he could get a fix on them.' I think this is a very effective way of imagining the personalities of the characters which is something that helped me when I thought of the father and daughter characters by taking certain personality traits from people I know.

- 'The real pleasure of any script is the detail. And a lot gets lost in the process. Put it back in at the last minute.'

Another very interesting link is to an article on the deconstruction of screenplays from existing movies and animations.

This article is about the deconstruction of the Incredibles (2004). The one interesting thing that I read in this article was 'The Hero's Journey is also a study of repeating patterns in successful stories and screenplays. It is compelling that screenwriters have a higher probability of producing quality work when they mirror the recurring patterns found in successful screenplays.'

'To write a successful screenplay it often helps to look at a successful script in the genre you are writing and deconstruct it to find recurring patterns and events in the plot.'

To begin writing the script I first need to outline the vital moments in the story that construct the narrative:

- The setting is a country road. It is not specified where or when which gives me the chance to fill in these gaps.

- The 2 main characters are the Father and Daughter. It is established that they are driving along this country road.

- Father & Daughter pick up a young woman who says she lives five miles down the road.

- They drive up to the farmhouse to find the girl they picked up has disappeared and is no longer in the back of the car.

- Elderly couple tell the Father & Daughter of their daughter that disappeared many years ago.

- Today would have been the young girls birthday.

After identifying the key elements of the short story, the rest is up to me to add in the details and re-write it into a screenplay. Looking at this story it seems to me that it is about the relationship between the Father and the Daughter and how they react together to a situation that makes no logical sense and it leaves them with the experience of something either very coincidental or paranormal.

When writing the screenplay for this short story I decided to add tension between the Father & Daughter. The Daughter can be seen as the archetypal teenager girl who does not quite see eye to eye with her Father . She can sometimes be overly-rude to him and often gives him attitude. The Father is alot more laid back and often likes to innocently tease his Daughter however that often gets her in a strop.

The tension changes from a petty argument to a very uneasy and quite a dark atmosphere when the young woman is picked up. The Daughter feels very uncomfortable about the young woman and tries to express her concerns to her father who is complete denial of the change in atmosphere and remains oblivious to the situation.

A good link for screenplay terminology which came very useful:

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