Friday, August 19, 2011

TODAY'S NUGGET: #67 WGA Script of All Time - E.T. (1982)

[Quick Summary: A 10 yr. old boy strives to return an abandoned alien back home, but must outwit the adults who want to get their hands on it.]

It drives me batty when people say, "The tone of that script is good/bad/not there", but don't explain.  

What the hell is "tone" anyway? 

My unscientific definition: Tone is the mood of a script. 

Why is it important?  You can teach structure or dialogue, but it's harder to explain how to keep a tone/mood consistent.

However, in reading the script for "E.T.", I did find a few clues:  

- This script never violates character.  It's realistic & truthful.

GOOD - The script is realistic when the kids hide their new alien friend & take him food.
BAD - The script would've been false if the kids thought like adults & called a press conference.

- The script doesn't try to be too politically correct & lose the point of view. 

GOOD - From the kids' point of view, the adults who want E.T. are BAD people.
BAD - If the script tried to defend the adults & make everyone happy, the conflict is lost.  The tone is more like a news show than a story.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: If you don't violate character, you probably won't violate tone/mood either.

E.T. (1982)
by Melissa Mathison

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