• The scriptwriter's paradoxes

    A fascination for the tool

    || Understanding new audiovisual media 9

    Until now, we have insisted on the characteristics of different artistic media and on the specificity of the cinematographic or audiovisual medium. It is as though the scriptwriter (or director in general) had to adapt and to limit oneself to a medium in which one works, nothing is less reasonable. It is necessary for one to know the medium in which one works, without eclipsing what happens beyond it. Thus, Rudolf Arnheim warns us of the “fascination for the tool”, referring to technique as such, to which art lovers are inclined, but that can lead them to be limited in their creations: “Any significant technological discovery creates a wave of exploratory interest, which could only be satisfied with the creation of a pretext…

  • The scriptwriter's paradoxes

    Cinema and literature

    Understanding new audiovisual media 5

    The reader can try to transfer this literary text to a cinematographic medium. “I had been walking for half an hour when I saw the house. I rang the bell and nobody answered. I walked in a corridor where walls were covered with walls filled with books and I entered the living room. No one was there. On a table, several bottles. I poured myself a glass and sat down. Someone rang at the door. I opened it. __Hi- __Hi We entered the living room and sat down. It was three o’clock p.m.”   When the reader decides to translate it in a screenplay in which everything that is necessary to its production appears (localisation, actors, accessories), some surprising results are obtained. The…

  • The scriptwriter's paradoxes

    The new audiovisual media

    Understanding new audiovisual media 7

    The development of computers and digital recording systems, editing and reproduction, has brought important changes in the audiovisual field by making accessible things there were until now very expensive or almost impossible to direct. In films such as Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, almost 70% of images were treated digitally. The digital revolution has not only brought changes in technique, but also in narration and,  consequently, it changed dramatically the work of scriptwriters. A noticeable evolution concerns the development of non-linear narrations, which are stories that unfold continuously from the beginning to the end, but that offer many possibilities to the viewer: several evolutions can be chosen, or several outcomes are made possible. When Julio Cortazar wrote Hopscotch, he tried to do something…

  • The scriptwriter's paradoxes

    Cinema and comics

    Understanding new audiovisual media 4

    The dialogue balloons of this comics character are empty, and the reader can try to fill them in to build a story. When this exercise is proposed to students during a lesson on scriptwriting, some very  interesting results emerge: first, students build a narration without noticing it, which shows that telling stories is simpler that what is commonly believed, especially when such an exercise is demystified thanks to Comic Books, a medium which has been largely ignored until now. Also, almost every student makes the same mistake, they do not respect the rules of this medium: They write  outside the lines of the dialogue balloons. A similar mistake in cinema would have a character speaking without moving his lips: indeed, the dialogue balloon is the equivalent to…