Here’s a really great video demonstration of how the latest technology is changing cinema. Most of these shots would not be possible five or ten years ago and the ones that were possible would have been prohibitively expensive. While I expect this rig is not cheap, the use of the latest tools and digital cinema allows the camera to go to the places and to show events like nothing before. And that has got to be great for storytelling possibilities.
There was once a time, not so long ago, when the best thing about some movies was often the opening credits. Whether they were fun animated sequences, like in The Pink Panther or Catch Me If You Can, or the long, slow opening outer-space scenes from Alien and The Fifth Element. They always felt an integral and necessary part of the movie. However, recently the tendency is to move away from these elaborate introductions. In fact on many contemporary movies the traditional opening credits have been moved to the end and there are few or no opening credits at all. This is all part of a deepening trend in movie-making and Facebook is to blame.
Of course, if you’re familiar with movies from the 50s and older you’ll know that putting all the credits at the end of the movie is not a new trend. What is new is that this is part of an evolving style to speed up the action, to get the audience involved in the narrative and connected with the characters as quickly as possible.
As a screenwriter you can no longer wait until the 15 minute mark to introduce the initiating action. Your screenplay might even be considered to have a slow opening if you leave it until the 10 minute mark. This is especially true given that in many contemporary movies the first turning point tends to take place around the 20 minute mark and the end of the first act around the 25 minute mark. This cascades down through the movie with the traditional three/four act structure evolving into a five or six act structure. The effect is that there are more crisis and more turning points so that there are few ‘dead zones’ and the audience is constantly on the edge of their seat.
The reason for this increased tension is pretty obvious. Movies are rarely watched in cinemas anymore. Most movies are now consumed in the home. While that has been the case for twenty years or more there is no longer a guarantee that the audience will dedicate their entire attention to a movie. We now consume our video products while searching the web; chatting with our friends, via Facebook, Twitter or other IMs; watching online video, listening to music and reading a book. There is now so much more competition and movie-makers have been forced to adapt.
So, what does this mean for the screenwriter?
Never include a credit sequence in your screenplay. I still see these in the screenplays of novice writers even though they have always been the province of the director and producer and not the writer.
No exposition in the first 15pages. Exposition removes tension, whether it is done through dialogue, flashback or voice-over.
Keep your scenes short: 1-2 pages maximum.
Every scene must multi-task: they must drive the narrative forward and develop the characters at the same time.
Your scenes can’t be static. Two people talking in a room or around a table is static. It’s dead air. It screams look at me I have something important to tell you, and not I have something entertaining to show you. Movies are about movement.
I doubt we’ve seen the end of the entertaining opening credit sequence. These trends are constantly evolving. However, the days of credits over slow, laborious exposition or scene setting shots are thankfully over. That can only be a good thing. What do you think?
Today was the first day of production for our short comedic film based on Chekhov’s The Bear. Written and directed by David Meadows. Produced by Antonio Barimen. Starring Adam T. Perkins, Summer Williams and Kym Bidstrup.
This is an absolutely awesome innovation for machinimators. Those that know me know how much I talk-up machinima and its potential. Usually I’m met with scepticism because so far there’s not a lot of hard-core evidence for my claims. However, I firmly believe that this is the future of film-making. We’re only now just seeing the nascent tools emerging that 10-20years from now will allow this art form to completely dominate the world of movie making. Source Filmmaker and the Cinema version of CryEngine are only the beginning.
Here is a very awesome piece of machinima from the people at Quantic Dream. This was rendered in real time on a Playstation (YES, a Playstation!) and while much of it is motion captured it demonstrates just how far machinima has come in the last few years. It also demonstrates what a terrible opportunity has been missed by virtual worlds like Blue Mars. Blue Mars has superior graphics and would have been at the forefront of machinima had they provided even the basic tools for creating visual stories: free floating camera; facial and extended body animations; lip sync.
Instead the world lies mostly dead the owners focusing on a virtual what’s hot or not. Terribly sad and wasteful when you consider where they could be now had they embraced the concept of becoming the leading machinima platform back in 2009. It appears that the guys at Quantic Dream get it.
This is a very clever, well-made online video for the Dollar Shave Club that today went viral, mainly thanks to the Reddit community. Now if you’re a business owner, especially a startup, you may be wishing that your triumphant video – you know the one that you spent way too much money on and has only generated a handful of views – went viral as well. Afterall, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. But going viral does have one or two downsides that you need to be ready for.
Surviving the Flood
You can never control how or when you go viral. Once you release your campaign you immediately lose control over it, so you need to be ready. As, the folks at the Dollar Shave Club discovered going viral can very quickly bring your servers to their knees. So, while their video has generated a huge amount of interest in their target market they can’t capitalise on it because their site is either down or monumentally slow. If this were to happen to you would your server survive?
Is it optimised for high-levels of traffic?
Do you have backup servers ready to go at a moment’s notice?
Is it automated?
What are your contingencies if everything goes pear-shaped?
You need to take all these issues into consideration during the planning stages of your campaign.
If you’re used to servicing one-hundred clients per month and your video brings in another ten thousand you may be thinking it’s champagne and caviar time. But servicing a hundred-fold increase in business may drive you to the wall.
Do you have the necessary inventory?
How long will it take for your suppliers to fill that order?
Can you obtain the necessary funds?
What do you do if something goes wrong?
Going viral should never be a strategy, it is an outcome, but you need to be prepared for it. Detailed planning for every stage of the campaign needs to identified, costed and implemented. Going viral is not an automatic road to riches. It needs to be carefully managed and controlled. Are you ready to go viral?
As part of the beta test for Perth-based startup, Floq, I’ve created the Digital Media Social Marketing Survey. I am hoping that the information will provide me with a better understanding of a whole range of businesses in different industries.
The survey should take only 5 minutes or so to complete.
All information will remain confidential.
As Floq is still in beta please contact me if you encounter any problems.
I had the pleasure of spending some time with Brendon from The Kill Devil Hills a few days ago and thought I’d share this great track from their albumn The Drought. This music really feels really rich and very Australian to me. It’s deep and mature like the red earth of the centre of our great land.
The Kill Devil Hills are a legendary band in Fremantle, their home town, and for good reason. They’re awesome!