Mary Evans @MaryAliceEvans [email protected]
What is a script?
The text of a play, broadcast or movie.
So… Scripts have another purpose They are a set of directions for a production The reader isn’t (hopefully) the final destination BUT
To get to their final destination…
THEY NEED TO BE A BLOODY GOOD READ!
Who is a novel for? The reader
Who is a script for? Actors Script editors Directors Producers
Broadcasters Agents Costume/Make-up
Set Designers And ultimately…
So always remember
Scripts are the basis for a production in a different medium.
Our job as writers… Give clear instructions for a production Be aware of the specifics of our medium (ie TV = visual, radio = aural)
Give actors clear indication of characters Create the world in which the action takes place Write a compelling plot with fizzing dialogue
Not our job as writers… Camera angles (this is the director’s job, so let him/her do it)
Every movement, unless important to the story (also the director’s job)
How to say every line (give the actors a chance) Soundtrack – unless important to the story
Title sequence (post-production)
TV Scripts TV is a visual medium We need to show, not tell What does everything look like? (characters/setting)
Does it have to be said? Can it be shown? What are people not saying?
Radio Scripts Radio is an aural medium We still need to show, not tell We can’t rely on physical descriptions, so what else is going to put the listener in the world?
What sounds are significant? Far more reliant on the subtleties of speech
How to construct a TV script All scripts are comprised of a series of scenes, which are made up the same way: Scene Heading Action CHARACTER NAME Dialogue
How to construct a radio script Scene no + title F/X (Sound effect)
Character 1 name:
Character 2 name:
Scene headings Scene headings locate the action for audience and production.
We need to know where we are and when: Internal/External [INT/EXT] (ie indoors or outdoors?) Where exactly are we (ie shop/house/field?) What time of day is it? (ie, day or night?)
Scene headings INT. MARY’S KITCHEN. DAY EXT. NUDIST COLONY. NIGHT
INT. THE OLD FIRE STATION. NIGHT EXT. TALBOT CAMPUS BUS STOP. DAY 1
Change of place or time
= change of scene
Action Sets the scene and who is in it Provides excellent opportunities to Show Don’t Tell Allows description – but only write what the audience can see/hear.
A character’s thoughts would need to be expressed another way.
Good Action INT. MARY’S KITCHEN. DAY MARY (24) a svelte brunette with a figure like a baby gazelle, lovingly puts the finishing touches to an Angry Birds birthday cake. The phone rings. She goes to ignore it, but sees the name and sighs. Her fingers covered in icing piggies, she gingerly picks up her mobile and crooks the phone under her ear.
Bad Action INT. MARY’S KITCHEN. DAY MARY (47) is thinking about all the things she wishes she still had – youth, stomach muscles, a pelvic floor. She remembers that magical holiday in Kavos last year where she met Dwaine and they embarked upon a passionate affair aboard a banana boat.
Flashback Action INT. MARY’S KITCHEN. DAY MARY (30s) looks lovingly at the Angry Birds cake she has just completed. She stares out of the window and her mind wanders.
EXT. KAVOS. DAY (FLASHBACK) MARY is charging over the waves on a banana boat, her arms wrapped around DWAINE (25), a burly love-god from Walthamstow. She pulls a Jagermeister from her tankini and the lovers share a lingering swig.
Flashbacks Think absinthe – use with caution Don’t use simply to tell backstory lazily Only use where there’s no other way to impart information: ie secrets from other characters (Lost), expedient exposition (Desperate Housewives), flights of fancy (Miranda), comic effect (My Name is Earl).
As a rule, production companies don’t like flashback (despite its prevalence) – so really justify its existence
Character/Dialogue Character names sit on top of dialogue, which is centre justified: MARY No, Mr Clooney, I’ve told you before. I’m a happily married woman.
Characters as narrators If your character isn’t present in the scene and is narrating, you need to use (V.O.) = Voiceover EXT. KAVOS. DAY MARY frolics in the waves with DWAINE MARY (V.O.) How could I have possibly known then how that summer would change my life? Or just how resistant to antibiotics Chlamydia has become?
Narrators Like flashback – use with caution Needs to be a very good reason for story being told this way (ie In Desperate Housewives Mary Alice is dead, so can bring us innermost thoughts and feelings of characters; Dexter and Nurse Jackie have secrets they can’t share with their world; My Mad Fat Diary is the private diary of a reluctant communicator)
Is your narrator homodiegetic = part of the story (Inbetweeners) or heterodiegetic = absent from the story (Desperate Housewives)?
Make the narrator more than a story cipher – give them a distinct character and voice
Scriptwriting Software There are various dedicated scriptwriting software applications available including Final Draft, Movie Magic Screenwriter, and CeltX. The following open source scriptwriting software applications are currently available for free on the web Celtx - a free media pre-production software designed for creating and organising screenplays, films, stageplays and audio plays and more. Page 2 Stage - screenwriting software designed for people writing screenplays, scripts, and plays. Five Sprockets - provides a range of free screenwriting software resources. Taken from BBC writersroom: http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/send-ascript/formatting-your-script
NB It is not a requirement of this assignment that you use scriptwriting software.
A properly formatted Word doc will more than suffice.
The Assignment Write the opening scenes of an original TV or radio script (max. 1500 words). Remember to specify the targeted broadcast outlet and the intended audience. Also, write a critical evaluation of any broadcast scripted programme in the same medium and genre (max. 1000 words) with reference to the successes or failures of the script, and how those aspects influenced your own creative piece.
Due by 12noon MONDAY 13TH MAY
The First 10 Pages Most important part of a script. Need to establish:
Character – whose story is this? World – where the heck are we?
Genre/Tone/Style – what will this be like? Plot – particularly… INCITING INCIDENT – the moment this world changed
Good Scripts Show don’t tell Have oodles of conflict (internal and external) Give us complex, flawed characters
Create characters who want something… …but are going to have a lot of trouble getting it Use dialogue wisely with much subtext (Dialogue = what a character says; Subtext = what a character means)
Have their own identity – could only have been written by you
Bad Scripts Forget their medium (describing the furniture in radio or a character’s first memory in TV)
Are derivative Have clunky exposition/on-the-nose dialogue Start in the wrong place Leave us feeling ‘so what’?
Channeling your script Every channel has a very different remit and audience so research your options carefully
The channel you choose will dictate the tone (and possibly subject) of your script
Remember the watershed – different subjects must be handled differently (and possibly not at all) pre-9pm http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/editorialguidelines/page/gui delines-harm-watershed/#television-scheduling-and-thewatershed
Radio and online have no watershed, but guidelines still apply
A Very Useful Thing BBC writersroom
A Useful Read Writing Dialogue for Scripts: Rib Davis (808.2/DAV)
Another Useful Read Making a Good Script Great: Linda Seger (808.23/SEG)
Life on Mars: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/scripts/life_on_mars_ep_1.pdf
Desperate Housewives: http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/desperate_housewives_-_the_pilot.pdf
Ripper Street: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/scripts/ripper-street-episode-1.pdf
The Dumping Ground:http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/scripts/the-dumpingground-s1-ep1.pdf
The Wire: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/scripts/the-wire-early-warning.pdf
NB if these links show as gobblydegook, highlight the address in your browser and hit return or copy links into your browser
Clip Links Life on Mars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rND6u6zo13A
Desperate Housewives: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvGNtZ4KGzQ Ripper St: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00wk6ps/Ripper_Street_I_Need_Light/
The Dumping Ground: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01pr6fs/The_Dumping_Ground_Freedo m_(Episodes_1_and_2)/
The Wire: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01qwgjp/The_Wire_Early_Warning/