Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Oscars - from script to screen

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I saw the rough-cut trailer for my short film Tiger last night - the first time I've ever seen a trailer for something I've written!

It was a strange feeling, watching it. What I now realise is that any time you see something you've written on a screen, it will look different in every way to how you imagined. Not in a bad way, just different. Like a little seed you planted has turned into a tree, but not the tree  that was on the packet.

The final trailer will be up on our Fundit site tomorrow so do check it out!

The other thing I watched this week was, of course, the Oscars. I like to do bets on the Best Actor and Actress but the only two awards I'm really watching for are the two screenplay ones - in particular the Original Screenplay category. (Note: spoilers to follow, in the unlikely event that you haven't watched Bridesmaids, The Artist or Midnight in Paris. In which case, where have you been, under a rock? Get down to a video store now and rent 'em!)

Bridesmaids was a very funny script that they made into an even funnier film - it was great to see it get a nod.  I read a 2009 draft of the script shortly before I saw the film and it was interesting to see what got cut and added in the meantime. For example, the bit at the end where Annie and her nemesis go in search of the missing bride. In the original script all five bridesmaids went along for the ride, defeating a nasty, sexist trucker on the way.

Was it better than the final version? It certainly would have given Melissa McCarthy and the other two girls a bit more to do - and would have made the film a bit more "Bridesmaids" and a bit less "The Bridesmaid". That said, I did love Kristen Wiig intentionally breaking the law in a brilliant montage sequence so maybe the best version won...

The Artist is a film - and a script - that's really made me think about screenwriting in a different way. Namely, do we need all that dialogue! We know that George Valentin's career is going down while Peppy Miller's is on the rise simply from a scene where he walks down a flight of stairs just as she ascends them. No words are necessary.

Even apart from screen direction, The Artist uses props really effectively - I'm thinking here of George's vanity painting, which appears at several moments during the film and always in a very different context. The scene where he discovers it at the end in Peppy's house under a sheet is one of the most chilling moments I've seen in a movie - because at that particular moment that painting represents the end! George has totally failed - and the painting is there to prove it.

Lastly, out of the scripts I've read, is Midnight in Paris, the winner on the night. It's Woody Allen's best script since Annie Hall, in my opinion. It has all his trademarks - a love letter to a city, a befuddled hero with a love dilemma , and an underlying Big Question - in this case, modern life versus nostalgia. Was the past ever as good as we imagine, and should we try to live there?

I've seen the movie twice, and I'd watch it five more times. It's that rare thing - a script that makes you think and entertains you and a film that is a perfect interpretation of that script. I may be biased, cos I'm a Woody Allen fan, but I think the best man won. That said, when I win an Oscar I'll show up - the jazz club can wait for one night...

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