Monday, September 14, 2009

Writing the Impossible

There’s a story about Victor Miller, the guy who wrote Friday the 13th, where he was on set and the special effects man Tom Savini was asking him about an arrow in the face death. “Do you think we should go for a fake arrow and a real face or a real arrow and a fake face?” asked Savini. “I don’t know”, answered Miller, “I just write this stuff!”

I was thinking of this yesterday when I was doing up a props list for the Darklight organisers. This is for my (hopefully-to-be-made) 3-minute Hotel Darklight film.

It’s a pretty odd list, comprising everything from a set of fancy menus, to a frozen rat, to a human hand. They didn’t seem to blanch at any of it and said they’d do their best to produce the rat et al. But it begs the question, should you ever tone down your special effects if achieving them will make the film too expensive to produce (or indeed, impossible to produce)? Savini’s special effects were revolutionary back in 1980, but today no one would think twice about how to produce an arrow in the head. Same with the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park – I still remember how amazing it was when you saw them for the first time. The special effects guys on this no-budget series of short films can digitally change the name of the hotel in post-production, something that would have been impossible even ten years ago.

Are we now in a situation where anything can be depicted on screen? Or are there limits even now about what you can write in your scripts?

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