Monday, June 9, 2014

TODAY'S NUGGET: Mud (2012) - Moving the Reader Along Visually

[Quick Summary: Two 14 y.o. boys discover a murderer hiding out on a small island.]

In a "Conversation with writer-director Jeff Nichols", he says:
[A script is] more about visually moving your reader through the story and on the page.  So every line, other than descriptions for clothes, and possibly the look of a house or a location...[is] brief....
[E]verything else is a shot in the movie. But I use no camera direction. Camera direction bugs the hell out of me. You don't know what the camera is going to do. Just tell me what I'm looking at, and that will get me there much faster than you trying to tell me what the movie's gonna look like. 
A line that you write can give you the point of view that you need, everything you need. 'He looks through the back of the van to see XYZ burning in the distance' .... From that description, you already know where the camera is going to be. And what it's going to be pointed at.  And what it's going to be seeing. And how it's going to be moving.  It's harder to write this way.  It's very easy to say, "We move with him through the parking lot."
Nichols does walk the walk:

ex. "Ellis turns and grabs one end of the cooler. Neckbone slaps back the security latch and opens the door with his free hand.  They walk out."

Here's how this moved me along visually:

- I saw a shot of two boys walking out with a cooler between them.
- But the script never says 'Neckbone takes the other end of the cooler.'
- It's unnecessary to say so. Why?  We infer it from "they walk out".
- A strong POV ('we're leaving' intent) + Movement = The cooperation between Ellis and Neckbone is self-explanatory.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Write more about what I'm looking at, tinged with the character's point of view.

My new unit of writing measurement is the shot.  

Mud (2012)(shooting script)
by Jeff Nichols

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