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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Krevolin’

“I had to tell this story.”
Richard Krevolin
Making Light in Terezin director

One of the most memorable video shoots in my life was one day in the ’90s when I shot two interviews of Holocaust survivors for what was then called the Shoah Foundation that Steven Spielberg helped launch after making Schindler’s List. It’s hard to forget when a man tells you his job at a concentration camp was to collect the bodies of those who died overnight and were placed on the side of the road.

So when I was in the Twin Cities last Sunday and saw that it was the last day of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival I was drawn to the documentary Making Light in Terezin. The story is about a troop of Minneapolis actors who traveled to Terezin, about 40 miles from Prague, to perform plays that were originally written and performed when Nazi’s controlled the city between 1942 and its liberation in 1945.

And it was a bonus that the film’s producer and director Richard Krevolin would be at the screening. I’ve been familiar with Krevolin ever since his book Screenwriting from the Soul came out over a decade ago. And I’ve quoted him a few times over the years. After the film showed Krevolin told the audience that he self-funded the film on his credit cards and spent two years editing down 40 hours of footage down to an 86 minute film.

The ad for the film stated:

“Even in the darkest places on earth, there is always the need for light, for laughter. ‘Making Light in Terezon’ explores the little known role that theater, cabaret and comedy played in improving and even saving the lives of some of the Jews who lived in the Terezin ghetto in WWII.”

It was a chapter in that era that I was unfamiliar with and glad that Krevolin was able to interview survivors who were able to tell their story. Right now Krevolin is looking for distribution and I hope this film finds a larger audience.

Related post:

Cheap Therapy (Quote by Krevolin)
Put Down the Megaphone! (Another Krevolin Quote)
Screenwriting Quote #182 (Richard Krevolin)
After Darkness, Light
“More Light”

Scott W. Smith

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I was in Minneapolis Sunday and saw the debut of the documentary  Making Light In Terezin at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. It was produced and directed by Richard Krevolin who wrote the book Screenwriting from the Soul. I’ll write about his film tomorrow, but here’s a quote of his for today:

“All characters are wounded souls, and the stories we tell are merely an acting out of the healing process. They are the closing of open wounds, the scabbing-over process.”
Richard Krevolin
Screenwriting from the Soul

P.S. Making Light In Terezin tells another chapter of Jewish people during World War II. Though it’s about people who use humor and entertainment to help them survive —it’s still a film about wounded souls.

Scott W. Smith

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“You’ve got to find a way of saying it without saying it.”
Duke Ellington

My message is simple—put down the megaphone! Megaphones have a useful purpose. I used to use one when I took photos of large groups of people. It was the only way to be heard. But when writing screenplays there are more subtle ways to be heard. Often times it’s just a simple action or a single sentence. And the real danger when you pull out the megaphone in a movie theater is it tends keep people out of the theater.

In the post Writing from Theme (Tip #20) I covered the importance of theme and in a later post (More Thoughts on Theme)  found this little nugget :

“Themes in screenwriting can be tricky because in real-life we love to talk about our themes—share our philosophies of life, tell people our beliefs about life’s meaning. But themes we talk about are not our life’s real themes. Out true themes are lived out by our actions. “
Linda Seger
Making a Good Writer Great
page 71-72

And I know this is an area that is a little subjective, but I’m going to tread on that delicate topic of  theme and message. The line for me is really blurred between the differences. (And some say it’s fair to use them interchangeably.)  So let me just say that every film addresses some point of view (yes, even Porkey’s) that the audience receives in one degree or another. (And The Matrix proves that not everyone will agree what that message is.)

Joe Eszterhas has written about how he’s received many letters and heard first hand accounts of people who told them they were motivated to follow their dreams after watching the film Flashdance that he wrote (co-written with Thomas Hedley Jr.) after hearing the simple line ,”When you let go of your dream, you die,” and watching Jennifer Beals follow her dream.

Frank Darabont has heard similar stories about his film The Shawshank Redemption. Who doesn’t get motivated by the message/theme, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” Anyone know if that line is even in the Stephen King short story that Shawshank was based on?

Here are a couple more quotes to throw into the mix as you walk that fine line in your own scripts between subtle theme and overt propaganda.

“If a writer has a genuine story to tell, as opposed to a message to smuggle in, and is faithful to his storytelling and skillful in technique, the audience may get a message. In fact, they may get more and deeper messages than the audience ever intended. But for that to happen, the work must be a  compelling story, not a homily, and the characters must come to life in some real sense. It can’t be a puppet show in which the author simply stands behind his characters with a bullhorn.”
K.L. Billingsley
The Seductive Image

“In life, we lead by example. In storytelling, we make our points by showing the world what’s wrong with it through characters who say and do things that are so very wrong.  Avoid speeches.  Show things going wrong in your protag’s world to make your points and create meaning.  Everything that goes right for your protag goes wrong for the story.”
Mystery Man on Film
Who is John Galt? article at The Story Department

“Didactic screenplays sacrifice character and story to prove the theme correct. This results in propaganda, a story in which the characters are only mouthpieces for the author’s message.”
Robin U. Russin and William Missouri Downs
Screenplay, Writing the Picture

“Don’t have your hero come right out and say what he’s learned. This is obvious and preachy and will turn off you audience. Instead you want to suggest your hero’s insight by the actions he takes leading up to self-revelation.”
John Truby
The Anatomy of Story

If you want to say something important, God bless you, but the world already has enough preachers. What the world needs now (besides love, sweet love) is more storytellers who thrill and entertain; and after you’ve been enthralled by the wonderous tale of the master yarn-spinner, you might find that the good storytelling also includes subtle messages which are covertly hung on the clothesline of compelling story.”
Richard Krevolin
Screenwriting for the Soul
page 75

Scott W. Smith


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