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View Full Version : SEX! DRUGS! SCREENPLAY ADVICE!



aheartwell
03-05-2005, 11:08 AM
posted this earlier, got three viewers... maybe a new subject heading will do the trick. c'mon... help out a newbie. any input would be extremely helpful. here's the old post:

i'm currently kicking off pre-production on my first doc (ok, first anything *really) and am trying to put together a first draft of a preliminary screenplay. the way i intend to work it is to write two screenplays; the first will be based on what i want to cover topically and the ppl i know i'll be interviewing etc and will be used to inform the shooting process, while the second will be based on the actual footage i get and will be used to inform the editing process. so i guess my questions are these:
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1) is that generally the way it's done? that seems to be the case from my admittedly rather cursory internet research... any alternatives/modifications/tips?
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2) how detailed should the first screenplay be? how important does it usually prove to be? what have your experiences been in terms of the final product having any resemblance to that first screenplay? would i be better off trying to make it as detailed and true-to-my-vision as possible, or really just aiming for and accepting a rough outline that'll inevitably grow into something rather unexpected?
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thanks! (so glad to be ending my days-of-lurking...!)

uhrgl
03-06-2005, 05:43 PM
I don't think a screenplay is necessarily required to shoot a doc -- screenplays are generally for narrative fiction. I would outline what you want to cover -- be as detailed as possible with locations, interviews, and any stylistic themes you want.

If you're going for a neodoc style, like Morgan Spurlock or Michael Moore, you may have to do some writing to tie together your interviews, but you can always write later to suit your editing, instead of being dogmatic.

While you're shooting, get plenty of B-roll so you always give yourself an opportunity to cut dead parts out of interviews.

You could also keep a video journal of where you're going and what you're doing (a la Spurlock in Supersize Me) -- that may help you shape the film in your head.

Having suggested all of that, I have zero docs to my credit ;)

aheartwell
03-07-2005, 01:16 PM
thanks, uhrgl. i figure it don't get more novice than me, so all advice is much appreciated.

ps. "neodoc", huh. hadn't heard that term before, but i suppose it was inevitable... always kinda bugs me though, that impulse ppl seem to have to slap "neo" or "post" on the frontside of a word, just because the medium or form or school of thought or whatever happens to be evolving... what's the difference between "neodocumentary" a la moore et al and "cinematic essay"...?

pixel
03-08-2005, 02:51 PM
The key is a very thorough outline of what, when, who, and where you're filming. That's the research and scheduling part. Next is, you can NEVER have enough B Roll. The thing about docs is that they tend to open up surprising new subjects as you get into filming. So be prepared to veer off in new directions, but don't let yourself get sidetracked on subjects that don't relate to the spine of your story. BTW, deciding who or what the story is about should be your first decision, and the more detail you have, the better. If your crew has detailed info, it'll be easier to get ALL the shots, rather letting things slide at the end of long miserable days.

I just finished filming & editing a doc (80 min.) about ploygamy and abuse in the southwest. My first feature. Boy, did I learn a few things.
1. Even with 50 hours of film, half being b roll, I still didn't have enough.
2. The spine was going to be this wierd isolated cult and their practices. Turned out, as I went into editing, the story was really about abuse. If I'd figured that out in the beginning, I'd have had better footage.
3. As far as your script and editing, I don't think you can beat the stone age technique of writing an index card for each clip with vital info on it. Post the cards on a giant cork board under "who", "what", and "how", and do the edit on the board before getting on the computer.

Just my two cents.

J.R. Hudson
03-08-2005, 03:08 PM
ps. "neodoc", huh. hadn't heard that term before, but i suppose it was inevitable... always kinda bugs me though, that impulse ppl seem to have to slap "neo" or "post" on the frontside of a word, just because the medium or form or school of thought or whatever happens to be evolving... what's the difference between "neodocumentary" a la moore et al and "cinematic essay"...?

So that's how it's going to be, huh? :thumbsup:

Final Design Studios
03-08-2005, 03:49 PM
I swear I didn't click on this just because it said SEX!!! in the title.:engel017: