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Posts Tagged ‘emotions’

Frances Marion on Emotion (Part 1)

“He is indeed the enchanter whose spell operates not upon the senses, but upon the emotions and the heart.”
Author Washington Irving (Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow)

Book update: I’m still pushing for a release of my book this month and think all is on track. In the meantime, I’ll continue to post insights from Oscar-winning screenwriter Frances Marion‘s 1937 book, How to Write and Sell Film Stories. Since I’ve written a lot of posts over the years on emotions, I was glad to see that Frances dedicated a whole chapter on emotions.

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Love & Hate in “The Night of the Hunter” (1955)

The emotions are the most powerful of all agencies that affect human character, and the writer who would make his fictional characters convincing portrayals of life requires a broad understanding of the range and the causes and effects of emotions. 

The emotions of greatest effect are love, the positive force, with the powers of attraction and creation; and fear, the negative force, with the powers of repulsion and destruction. All emotions that induce the more beneficent activities, such as the religious feelings of faith, the moral feeling of self-respect, and the esthete’s feelings for beauty,—may be justly regarded as aspects of love. From love arise courage, joy, happiness, gaiety, satisfaction, beauty and harmony; but the brood of fear includes greed, hate, anger jealousy, revenge, and all the degenerating forces that produce human misery, pain, crime and cruelty. The recognition of the regenerating or destructive effect of powerful emotions has produced the great literature of the world.”
Frances Marion
How to Write and Sell Film Stories

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Love & Hate in “Do the Right Thing” (1989)\

Related Link: 40 Days of Emotions

Scott W. Smith

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This is a good screenwriting/filmmaking follow-up to yesterday’s post on the true life emotional journey and relationship of Taylor & Danielle Morris:

”What people really want to see, whether the character is a bookkeeper or a football player, is an emotional dramatic journey they can relate to. It’s never the fight. Boxing is one part, but it’s the cut-away, to the audience, where you see the wife crying or the sister or the child, that makes you feel engrossed because you can relate to that. If you just see two fighters pounding each other into unconsciousness, it doesn’t pull you in as emotionally as seeing who they are fighting for.”
Writer/director Sylvester Stallone
Deadline interview with Mike Flemming Jr. 

P.S. I believe it’s on the Rocky DVD commentary where Stallone talks about doing a reshoot for that Rocky ending where they gathered a small group of people together to shoot the Adrian! sequence. Stallone said he had doubts it was going to work, but the editing and Bill Conti’s music at the end gave it that emotional ending that Rocky needed. Without that ending I don’t think Rocky wins the Best Picture of 1976. (John G. Avildsen also won the Oscar for Best Director, and Richard Halsey and Scott Conrad also won for Best Film Editing.)

Related posts:
40 Days of Emotions
The Rocky Road to Rocky “It ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”
Writing ‘Rocky’

Scott W. Smith

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The thing I try to instill in students is like the only thing you have to offer is you. Your individual stories, your individual perception, your individual humanity, and figuring out a way to communicate that humanity to humanity at large—that’s the beauty of cinema once again, that you can have a six-year-old Iranian girl, or a 90-year-old British gentleman, and you can have an equal emotional experience if the filmmaker does their job right to it.

For me it would be a ballerina [Black Swan] and a wrestler [The Wrestler]—can I make you feel in their blood and their pain. That’s the goal. Because that’s one of the great things cinema does—is to bring us into other human experiences.”
Screenwriter/Director Darren Aronofsky  (mother!
Podcast interview with Tim Ferriss (At 53 minute mark when Ferriss asked Aronofsky about advice for filmmakers who don’t fit in the widget factory )

Related posts:
The Greatest [Cinematic] Invention of the 2oth Century (According to Darren Aronofsky)
40 Days of Emotions

Scott W. Smith

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“I’m very lucky that I had a movie that allows me to do something as enormous as staging what at that point was the largest sporting event in American history. And at the same time investigate small emotional moments like when Howard loses his son.”  
Seabiscuit writer/director Gary Ross

ScriptSea

Recently I re-watched Seabiscuit (2003) again and found a great interview on the DVD extras where the director/screenwriter Gary Ross explains how he broke down an auto accident scene which becomes a “pivoital point” in the movie.

The movie set-up is about moving forward into the future. Americans at this time have moved into the age of the automobile. A young boy (around age 12) decides to have an adventure and take his father’s car down river to go fishing. The following quotes are all from Gary Ross and the sections in italic are from his notes:

“What I like to do when I develop a shooting plan for the movie is sort of take the early parts of the prep to do it privately.  And at that point I’m sort of pretending that someone else wrote the script and I’m interpreting it. The shooting plan can encompass a lot of things—it can be the way I see the lighting. It can be performance notes. It can be blocking notes. It isn’t just as dry and clinical as a shot list. When I make these notes I’m still connected to the emotional intentions”

(Sc#67.) SERIES OF INSERTS. Fishing pole insert. Rafters. INSERT loading the tackle box. Showing his purpose now- pleasing his father. Getting ready. (All the material that will be scattered across the river bottom later…

“I understand that I’m using these inserts to set up something for later on.”

Last insert is the key in the ignition. His hand fights with the gear shift. It should probably be up shift to emphasize his shortness, craning over the dashboard. 

SeabiscuitCar

(Sc#74.) Whizzing by on the road. His car one way. The Logging truck the other. Yeah. That would work great. 

“(Laughing) I don’t know that it will work great, but I’m sort of talking to myself saying, ‘Yeah, that’s a good idea. Keep going with that.'”

Let’s not show the collision. Let’s allow that to stay in the imagination. Let’s show perspective—into Howard’s perspective at that moment. Getting a phone call [about his son being killed in an accident]. The moment of the accident is not as important as the news of the accident.

SeabiscuitRunning copy

Howard racing toward the camera. The world has gone quiet now.

“I think it’s important to say what you’re going to do with sound before you shoot something. Because the sound and picture are so completely fused. Sometimes the loudest things are a distant or silent scream…Those things obviously turn into a shot list, which is more dry or clinical, but when you have both things they enhance one another. One is almost the emotional roadmap to be able to read the other.

I did find a online version of the clip here but was not able to embed it into this post. Great to watch to understand the whole context. Consider it a solid free five-minute film school lesson that shows the intentionality of an Academy Award-nominated movie and screenplay.

And yet one more reminder of the importance of emotions in filmmaking.

Related posts:
Seabiscuit Revisited in 2008
Writing ‘Seabiscuit’ On writer who also wrote Unbroken.
Shelter from the Storm (‘Unbroken’)
Big’ Emotions (Another Gary Ross written screenplay.)
The Creature from… (Ross’ father—Arthur A. Ross—was also a screenwriter.)
‘It Take Guts To Be a Screenwriter’ (Gary Ross quote.)
40 Days of Emotions
Writing ‘The Godfather’ (Part 3) Includes a video showing the shooting book Coppola put together to shoot The Godfather. 

Scott W. Smith

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“I like dissolves. A dissolve is a film technique, usually a transition from scene to scene where image A begins to fade out, overlapped with the fade in of image B….Nowadays you don’t see too many dissolves in movies. And I never paid attention to when they went out of fashion. And Kevin Tent, my editor, and I think they’re beautiful. I happen to be a big fan of Hal Ashby films in the ’70s and to my mind, he an ex-editor, was a master of dissolves, and particularly long dissolves. For me, they lend emotion to a film and there’s a kind of a melancholy that comes from them….One thing is going away, another thing is coming in. And I can’t explain it, but there’s something poetic and melancholy about it.”
Producer, writer, director Alexander Payne (Sideways, Election)
NPR/Fresh Air Interview with Terry Gross

I think I’ve shown all the clips out there of Payne’s new film Nebraska, so today I think it’s fitting to show a video that’s a nod to Hal Ashby (1929-1988). While Ashby is best known for directing Coming Home (for which Nebraska star Bruce Dern received an Oscar nomination), Being There, The Last Detail and Harold and Maude, his sole Oscar win was for editing the 1967  film In the Heat of the Night.

I’ll have to do a run of posts on Ashby next year after I read Nick Dawson’s (@thatnickdawson) book Being Hal Ashby: Life of a Hollywood Rebel. While his acclaim did not reach the heights of many of his Easy Rider and Raging Bulls fellow filmmakers, Ashby’s influence today may be greater. Not only on Alexander but on Sean Penn, Johnny Depp, Wes Anderson, David O. Russell and I imagine a whole list of others.

P.S. And since I like to point out origins of filmmakers from unlikely places…Hal Ashby was born in Ogden, Utah and raised in a Mormon home where his father was a dairy farmer. Remember the wise words of Anton Ego in Ratatouille, “Not everyone can be a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.” Good ones, too.

Related Post:

Editing for Emotion
40 Days of Emotions ‘I try to set things up so that they pay off in a way I hope evokes a strong reaction.” Eric Roth (Forrest Gump)
Cinematography & Emotions
Cinematography & Emotions (Part 2)

Related Blog:

Check out Oliver Peters’ blog post on a case study of editing Alexander Payne’s film The Descendants.

Scott W. Smith

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“Emotion grows out of conflict.”
Michael Hague

rocky

“The goal of every screenplay, every movie, every novel, every story of any kind (and ultimately, every work of art) is identical: to elicit emotion.

We go to the movies and we read books so we can feel something positive or fulfilling, something we can’t feel as frequently or as intensely in our everyday lives. The storyteller’s job is to create that feeling for the mass audience. 

When you’re pitching your story, you must provide buyers with a positive emotional experience. And you must convince them that when your movie is made, or your novel published or your play produced, your story will create an even stronger emotional experience for people who buy tickets, and books, and DVDs.”
Michael Hague
Selling Your Story in 60 seconds

Related Posts:
Emotional Transportation Biz (Tip #68)
40 Days of Emotions
No Emotions? “Your Screenplay Sucks!”
Michael Hauge (Part 3) 100 percent of screenwriters who are now working at one time weren’t working.”
Everything I Learned in Film School (Tip #1)

Scott W. Smith

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