Set Design 1

Posted: July 25, 2012 in Film Journey
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“Film is not decorative photography.”  So says Robert McKee in his great book Story.  He’s talking about not using “mood” in exchange for “emotion.”  The emotion has got to be there, and that means interesting characters and a compelling conflict.  He is referring, of course, to having a good starting point: i.e. the story.  He writes, “Undramatized exposition is boring in any light.”

It all starts with the story.  And I am not talking about the screenplay here; but the idea, and the flow of what happens to the characters that we meet on the screen.  What you decide has huge implications for the zero-budget filmmaking experience.  Which means you might not have big explosions, massive armies, or multiple car chases/crashes.  (Notice I said, “might.”  There are ways to “shoot around” these, and successfully.  More on that in a later post…)

A good story need not be pigeonholed into certain locations.  Many times you can take a great scene and change the locale without upsetting the drama of the story (sometimes even enhancing it).  Of course, for some films the location is key (think “127 Hours,” “Jaws”), but for others, the location doesn’t really matter.  (Do they really have to argue on a boat?  How about in a car?  How about on the street?  How about the roof of the house?)  So think about your locations when developing your story.  Or go through the script you are trying to fund, and see if there are scenes where the location could be changed (but not the story).  This could save you some cash.

Another enterprise to do – even is just “for fun” – is to take a favorite film and redo it with different locations, even different characters.  It has been done before, sometimes to much acclaim. (Romeo and Juliet/West Side Story; The Odyssey/O’ Brother, Where Art Thou?; Cinderella/Pretty Woman; King Lear/Ran; The Tempest/Forbidden Planet)  What are some other films that have been old tales done up in new clothing?

  1. Hey you’re right The Big Sleep/The Big Lebowski , could be one

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