Monday, August 7, 2017

TODAY'S NUGGET: Dressed to Kill (1980) - Formatting; A Series of Shots

[Quick Summary: When a woman is murdered by a blonde, the lone witness becomes the blonde's new target.]

YOU: THAT IS NOT "STANDARD" FORMATTING!

ME: Yes, I know.

YOU: Do you care???

ME: Nope.

YOU: Why not?! I don't get it. Everyone is so uppity about formatting.

ME: Because IF the writing shows the story so I can connect the dots...
...and IF I get swept up in the story
...and IF it makes me feel intensely for the characters
...and IF it delivers the punch, the climax, the ending
...then the script works.  I don't notice the formatting.

YOU: So what's the deal with formatting "rules"?*

ME: They are like training wheels. You use them:
- As a fallback.
- When you're unsure what the producers want.
- Until you don't need them as much, i.e., When you're the director and know how to write in a series of cinematic shots.

De Palma is a good example of the last category.

Note below:
- how it is a series of cinematic shots
- how the shots build on each other

ex. "INT. ELEVATOR

When the elevator finally arrives, KATE steps in the car. She hears the sound of footsteps rushing down the hall. She frantically pushes the "close" button. The doors shut before the person coming down the hall can reach her. She is crying openly now and is thankful that no one is in the car to witness her shame. She pushes the lobby button and the car descends. As she pulls her finger off the button she realizes she's left her wedding ring on the bedside table.

KATE: Oh God!"

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Pay closer attention to how the shots build upon each other, because the sum of those shots is what the audience sees.

Dressed to Kill (1980)
by Brian De Palma

* Remember: On this blog, "rules" = guidelines.  They are not etched in stone.

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