SUBTEXT: THAT PASSIVE/AGGRESSIVE FRIEND YOU HATE, BUT CAN’T DROP or WE’RE GOING TO NEED A BIGGER BOAT


For questions: hcasner@aol.com

First, a word from our sponsors: My short film 8 Conversations in 15 Minutes 58 Seconds will premiere at STUFF, the South Texas Underground Film Festival on January 27th, 2019 http://www.stuftx.org/

Check out my Script Consultation Services at http://ow.ly/HPxKE. I offer several types of service. Testimonials can be found at the blog entry.

Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay?  Check out the second edition of my screenwriting book, More Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader published on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GD1XP9Y

Finally, I have published two collections of short stories, The Starving Artists and other stories, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FS91CKJ and The Five Corporations and the One True Church and other stories, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KY5Z3CF

    This is the second in a series of articles on various screenwriting topics. Further entries will include exposition, voice overs and passive central characters. The previous entry was on diversity in film.

On facebook and a myriad of other places, people put forth various requisites or must haves, do’s and do nots, they claim are needed to write, if not a great screenplay, at least a perfectly serviceable one.

One of the most popular ones is subtext. Now, I prefer writers not worry about things like this, at least at first. I’m on the side of the angels who say, concentrate on writing a good story that is successful on its own terms and if it has subtext, good, if not, good. I mean why tamper when you’ve got a good thing going?

I prefer elements like subtext to grow organically out of the writing, not be foisted upon it. Still, if you are receiving constant feedback that your dialog is too on point, or that the reader feels as if they are being told how to feel, rather than being allowed to feel, you may need subtext, taken four times a day on an empty stomach.

One problem with subtext is that everyone seems to know what it is, but have difficulty coming up with a clear, concise and satisfactory definition that everyone agrees with. It’s like art: no one can define it, but they all know it when they see it. Continue reading

DEAD MAN FARTING: Swiss Army Man and Carnage Park


First, a word from our sponsors: I wanted to say thank you to everyone who contributed to our Indiegogo campaign for 15 Conversations in 10 Minutes. We did very well due to you folks. For those who weren’t able to give, keep us in your thoughts. And if you are able to contribute in the future, contact me and I’ll tell you how. I will even honor the perks on the original campaign.
I am now offering a new consultation service: so much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one. 
 
Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay?  Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013.  Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
 
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
Warning: SPOILERS
rev 2Perhaps the best way to describe Swiss Army Man, the new indie comedy from writer/directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, their first feature film, is that it is an odd duck of a movie. Of course, it’s no insult to say that it’s not quite as odd a duck as The Lobster, but if it quacks like one, etc. You get my drift anyway.
Those of you who watch the previews of coming attractions at their local bijou, or even those who don’t, probably know what the basic premise is. Paul Dano plays Hank, a depressed loner who gets stranded on an island after a boat he rented got lost.
As he is about to do himself in, he sees a dead body washed up on shore. This non-character is played by former Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe, a role I bet never required him to pass wind.
Hank soon discovers that Manny has certain, shall we say, uses. He can fart with the power of an SST and he gets an erection that always tells Hank which way to go to get back to civilization.
And that’s just the beginning of the odd duckiness here. Continue reading

THE OBJECTIVITY OF SUBJECTIVITY: A Defense of Making “Best of…” Lists


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
vertigo
I’ve got a little list…
               The Mikado, Gilbert and Sullivan

 

Every once in a while, or more often than that, a discussion will arise over what are the greatest movies ever made.
You’ve been there, I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. And we weren’t even drunk or high at two in the morning either (well, okay, sometimes, but, you know, not always).
This type of discussion especially comes about every time Cashiers du Cinema and BFI Sight & Sound release their list of the top films of all time.
Though the list isn’t always that controversial, it does raise rankles at times, such as when Vertigo took over the top spot from Citizen Kane in the 2012 Sight & Sound poll, which is carried out every ten years.
But for those who don’t agree with the lists (and I know some people who are obsessed with disagreeing with them while claiming that they, for the fiftieth time in a row, don’t care what these lists say), these naysayers often say the same thing: “Well, it’s all subjective anyway”.
It should be noted, first, though, that whenever somebody says, “It’s all subjective”, nine times out of ten what they’re really saying is, “I don’t agree with them because they haven’t chosen my personal favorites”. They don’t actually ponder the list or give it any real thought. They just look at it, don’t see the films they like (what, no Transformers?), and call it subjective.
Which, of course, is a subjective response in itself, but, in its way, as valid as any subjective response.
But the problem I have is with their conclusion: that these lists are, therefore, useless. And this I’m not so convinced of.
I suggest that the issue is far more complicated than that. Yes, any list begins with a large amount of subjectivity. But tempered with other factors, such lists eventually become more and more objective than subjective. In fact, I suggest that objectivity is time plus distance plus number.

 

Continue reading

ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL: Variations on structural engineering and storytelling when it comes to screenplays PART TWO: FLASHBACKS AND POINTS OF VIEW


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r

 

For the second part of my essay on alternative structures and storytelling choices for screenwriters, rather than writing in ways that may seem, shall we say, a bit formulaic, perhaps a tad predictable, somewhat on the clichéd side, the same as everyone else, etc. (or, as someone said in an essay I just read, a way of telling the story that reveals the ending in the first ten pages)…
In the first essay, I made a list of films that have various variations on the use of multiple story lines.
This time, I am going to focus on films that use flashbacks and differing points of view for their structure and storytelling.
The reason I am combining the two is that flashbacks are often seen from someone’s point of view and, subsequently, a discussion of one is difficult without a discussion of the other. Continue reading