Something my screenwriting prof told us that really stuck with me was “avoid just moving bodies through space”, as in—movement on its own isn’t storytelling. I sometimes get into this habit where I get so caught up in where my characters are spatially that I forget to tell the story in favour of clearing up who is where and what each movement is, ala:
Anna walked over to the kitchen, picked up the pitcher and paused, deciding whether or not she wanted water, before crossing back through the living room and looking out the window, then walked back towards the kitchen yadda yadda yadda, you’re bored, I’m bored, this isn’t a story, this is someone walking around.
As with everything in writing, I’m not saying movement should be cut out entirely, but I am saying that it works best when it’s used intentionally. In any normal scene, other than a quick set up of who is generally where at the start of the scene: (Anna sat in the driver’s seat, staring down at her phone as John fell into the passenger seat beside her), we don’t need to know every little movement they make—readers will assume and fill in the spaces where movement may seem obvious.
Then, the best time to bring up movement again is either for a dramatic motion (Anna leapt from the car window, tumbling across the concrete), or a dramatic shift in emotion/psychology. (John’s brows furrowed tightly. Turning on his heel, he stormed from the room.)
Essentially, if you can take it out, you should. We have to trust our readers that they will fill in all the spaces we leave—we don’t necessarily have to write it out for them.
Since the world was crumbling yesterday it didn’t feel quite right to be at all openly joyous about more new baby steps on a movie of all things, alas we’re getting closer and closer on my secret project!
And lemme just say… the whole film is now a whole f’n MOOD, more than ever.
The Turning Red discourse literally went from "teenage girls are actually way cooler than this" to "𝓌𝑒 𝓈𝒽𝑜𝓊𝓁𝒹𝓃'𝓉 𝓉𝒶𝓁𝓀 𝒶𝒷𝑜𝓊𝓉 𝓅𝑒𝓇𝒾𝑜𝒹𝓈 𝓅𝓊𝒷𝓁𝒾𝒸𝓁𝓎" to "nobody but the director's friends will relate" to "𝕀𝕋 𝔼ℕℂ𝕆𝕌ℝ𝔸𝔾𝔼𝕊 ℂℍ𝕀𝕃𝔻ℝ𝔼ℕ 𝕋𝕆 𝔻𝕀𝕊𝕆𝔹𝔼𝕐 𝕋ℍ𝔼𝕀ℝ ℙ𝔸ℝ𝔼ℕ𝕋𝕊" to "𝚠𝚑𝚢 𝚍𝚒𝚍𝚗'𝚝 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚢 𝚖𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝟿/𝟷𝟷???????"
Has anyone tried turning the men off and then on again? This movie seems to have broken them.
Subtext in writing is everything characters don’t say. If you’ve been following me for a while you know one of my favourite things to say is “Characters never say what they mean” that’s subtext—it’s the implied, the unsaid, the hints picked up by readers, and it’s one of the most important parts of creating meaning in writing.
Let me explain. A parent and their child are talking over the phone, maybe the context is the child moved out after a particularly bad argument and this is the first time they’re speaking since it happened. The kid says, “I really miss you and the rest of the family, I’m sorry for what happened, let’s not fight anymore.”
The scene kind of falls flat. Where’s the conflict? The dynamic? The challenge? Through the child just saying exactly what they mean, we lose out on a lot of meaning—kind of ironically.
Instead, maybe they say, “They have daisies growing in the garden here, I think Clara would like them.” Better—we’re implying this kid is thinking of their sister, that they’re feeling a little homesick, or nostalgic for their old life. We’re saying they miss the family, they’re trying to connect again with Clara so they’re sorry for what happened, they’re calling because they don’t want to fight anymore.
But without saying that, the parent can reply, “She’s into roses now.” A rejection of that connection, the portrayal that whatever that old life was has been tainted forever—it can’t just come back.
That’s a very quick example, but there’s so much subtext you can create with the simplest of scenes. One of my favourite scenes I’ve ever written was two friends walking through a museum talking about the exhibits, but really they were talking about legacy, and their fear of their own mortality, all without ever saying that out loud.
People never say what they mean because saying what you mean is scary. Had the child asked outright for that connection, they would have been opening up to outright rejection. Instead, the relationship can hide behind this implication—words between words. Subtext.
One of the coolest dream movies, along with Waking Life - it’s a mind bending animation of great invention and detail. Legendary manga artist and animator Satoshi Kon gained many admirers during his relatively short life and career (he died right after this film was finished); he carried in his work the tradition of great Japanese artists like Takeshi Honda, Masashi Ando and Cowboy Bebop’s Hiroyuki Okiura.
Actors for a movie are very unlikely to meet for the first time on set, unless their characters barely interact. Especially for couples/family members/friends, you will often do auditions together (to test chemistry), script readings, rehearsals etc. Sometimes you might even travel with a co-star and depending on the movie you might do combat training (or any other type of training) together.
When you get on set, you don't immediately start shooting. You first get your make-up, hair and costume fixed. You probably also warm up your voice first, especially if you are about to do a scene where you talk very loud or even scream. Same if you are about to do an action sequence, you will probably want to warm up your muscles first.
Actors are usually not the first people to get on a set. Technicians, make up artists, costumers and often the director too will be there before actors show up.
A shoot almost never starts with a sex scene. Everyone knows they are some of the hardest (as in "awkward") scenes to film in a production so they usually try to plan these when you've already been shooting for a few weeks.
What is however more likely to be filmed first is a scene that shows a lot of the characters' well... character. You want to make sure as early on as possible that your casting choices were correct. That is why the Live Aid scene was the first one to be shot for Bohemian Rhapsody for instance. You don't want to waste time and money on filming an entire movie only to realise that the actors don't match well for the big (emotional) scene.
A movie can, but is rarely shot in order. What usually happens is that scenes are shot based on location. If you have a scene at the beginning of the movie and another one at the end, but they take place in the same environment, then you will film them at the same time. Shooting a movie in the film's chronological order costs extra time and money because you need to move your crew a lot more. It is usually only done by directors who give a lot of importance to the performance of their actors.
Actors have no say in their character's wardrobe... or at least officially. You may give costumers ideas based on how you perceive your character, but you don't have the final word in what you will wear in front of the camera.
Same goes for make-up.
And everyone wears make-up. Yes. even men. Yes, even characters who don't seem to be wearing any. Unless you are working on a very indie project, you are wearing make-up in front of the camera.
There is this thing called "guerilla filmmaking". It is something done in the indie filmmaking world, where you have micro-budgets and use whatever equipment you have at hand. Because of that budget, it often means filming in real locations and without the proper filming permits, which is obviously illegal. Just thought it could give some people inspiration.
Anyone is free to add to this list. I just really had to make it after reading yet another fanfiction where actors who play love interests meet for the first time on set and the director casually drops "I think we'll start with the sex scene"