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Posts Tagged ‘Peter Marshall’

“IF YOU PRETEND THE CHARACTERS CANT SPEAK, AND WRITE A SILENT MOVIE, YOU WILL BE WRITING GREAT DRAMA.”
David Mamet 

“Storytelling without dialogue. It’s the purest form of cinematic storytelling. It’s the most inclusive approach you can take. It confirmed something I really had a hunch on, is that the audience actually wants to work for their meal. They just don’t want to know that they’re doing that. That’s your job as a storyteller, is to hide the fact that you’re making them work for their meal. We’re born problem solvers. We’re compelled to deduce and to deduct,because that’s what we do in real life. It’s this well-organized absence of information that draws us in. There’s a reason that we’re all attracted to an infant or a puppy. It’s not just that they’re damn cute; it’s because they can’t completely express what they’re thinking and what their intentions are. And it’s like a magnet. We can’t stop ourselves from wanting to complete the sentence and fill it in.

I first started really understanding this storytelling device when I was writing with Bob Peterson on Finding Nemo. And we would call this the unifying theory of two plus two.Make the audience put things together. Don’t give them four, give them two plus two. The elements you provide and the order you place them in is crucial to whether you succeed or fail at engaging the audience. Editors and screenwriters have known this all along. It’s the invisible application that holds our attention to story. I don’t mean to make it sound like this is an actual exact science, it’s not. That’s what’s so special about stories, they’re not a widget, they aren’t exact. Stories are inevitable, if they’re good, but they’re not predictable.”
Two time Oscar-winning writer/director Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, WALL-E)
TED talk The Clues to a Great Story

P.S. I think I first read that 2+2 story concept in an interview with Billy Wilder or Ernst Lubitsch. (I’ll try to track it down.)

Related Posts:
Mr. Silent Films
Emotionally Silent Dialogue
Writing “The Artist” (Part 1) “I thought making a silent film would be a magnificent challenge.”
Show, Don’t Tell (Tip #46) “One of the cardinal sins for a scriptwriter, when he runs into some difficulty, is to say ‘We can cover that by a line of dialogue.”—Hitchcock
Garry Marshall’s Directing Tips (Part 7) “The reaction to the action is critical.”—Blake Edwards via Marshall
Directing Tips from Peter Bogdanovich  “Silent looks between people—to me, that’s what movies are about.”—Peter Bogdanovich
Ken Burns on 1+1=3

Scott W. Smith

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“The original writer [of The Flamingo Kid] Neal Marshall, no relationship to me, had written a solid script based on his youth spent in the Catskills. Neal and I rewrote the script with notes from the producers, then the screenwriter Bo Goldman took a pass at a rewrite but would not ask for screenwriting credit for it. Bo let Neal and me share credit because he said he didn’t change enough to warrant credit. He did however, tell me that while the dialogue was essential, the actors’ reactions to things were even more important. So I never forgot that while directing the movie. Later, when I met director Blake Edwards, he said the same thing. “The reaction to the action is critical.” To have a great line is nice, but to have a strong and memorable reaction is even better.”
Garry Marshall
My Happy Days in Hollywood Days (written with Lori Marshall)
Pages 127-128

Here are a couple of clips I found on You Tube from The Flamingo Kid that feature reaction shots—and very little dialogue:

Note: If you watch Charlie Chaplin’s old silent films, and Robert De Niro in everything from The Godfather to Meet the Parents, right up to through Connie Britton in the Movie/ TV show Friday Night Lights and in the pilot of the TV show Nashville, you will see how powerful reaction shots have been used in the past 100 years of motion picture and television.

Scott W. Smith

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