The past weekend was a good weekend and a simultaneously frustrating one. Rather than ending on a sour note however, I’m going to get the bad out of the way first.
The bad is that the Thompson-Neely Gristmill is a no go for a location. After weeks of phoning the people at Washington’s Crossing, they’ve finally gotten back to me and told me that filming there will be impossible due to recent flooding. So it is back to the drawing board with locations.
Without harping on about it, this means my initial plans to start on the construction of the Green Machine this weekend will be postponed at least until next so that I can scout for locations this weekend.
This, however, brings me to the good news, the Green Machine itself. Previously I lacked any real plans by which to build the machine. Thanks to meticulous efforts of Peter Kisner (Dragon) and his recent post, I now have an excellent set of plans to work from. I can’t begin to express just how excited I am to build the Green Machine. I hope I don’t hammer any nails into my feet.
The other good news is that the boxes are done. Currently there are about 45 green boxes in total. While I’d like to paint more, at this point I doubt I will because of transportation and manageability considerations. About the only thing I’ll probably do to them is give them a second coat of paint at some point in the future.
The movie, however, calls for more than 45 boxes. Tim’s suggestion to address this issue was to try digitally compositing some extra boxes into a shot. So over the past weekend, we filmed some boxes and did some tests. You can view our tests here.
In the first part of the clip there are some boxes that aren’t really there (on the left side), while the second half of the clip shows the original shot without the composited boxes.
Neither Tim nor I have done compositing before and the trained eye would most likely label our attempts as clumsy. To my crude-eye though, the composited boxes are completely passable. With some practice, and maybe a book, I think they will look even better.
This weekend I also completed the final draft of the screenplay. As I previously indicated, over the course of the storyboards the script changed considerably. So I decided it was necessary to rewrite the screenplay to address these revisions. Additionally, I to wanted get the script into a more proper screenplay format than I originally had. To do this, I rewrote the screenplay in Celtx, a freeware screenplay writing program.
Celtx is a great freebie. Along with some formatting bugs (I discussed these in a previous post), the biggest drawback of the program in my mind is that it does not add “CONTINUED” on pages of continued scenes, “MORE” when dialogue runs onto the next page and individual scene numbers. This means if you want those things, you have to do it the old fashioned way, manually. Much to my joy however, Tim recommended we run the script through an engineering typesetting program known as TeX and have these things done automatically.
The particular variant of
ran the script through was ScriptTex, developed by Adrian McCarthy. If you are like me and can barely tell time on a face clock, I wouldn’t try to use this program as it is slightly more complicated. Luckily, I’ve got Tim, and with his help I was able to use McCarthy’s program to churn out a really clean looking version of the script, intact with “CONTINUED’s”, “MORE’s” and scene numbers. Best of all, it looks like it was typed on an honest-to-god typewriter.
To round out the formating I did with Celtx and ScriptTex, I used Christopher Riley’s book The Hollywood Standard (2005). Why use a book in addition to programs? Riley answers the question himself best.
To begin with, standard format is about infinitely more than margins. It’s knowing when to add a shot heading and when to leave one out. It’s knowing how to get out of a POV shot and how to set up a montage. It’s knowing what to capitalize and how to control pacing and what belongs in parenthetical character direction and whether those automatic (cont’d)s beside dialogue should be turned on or off. No script typing software is designed to answer those questions. Consequently, too many writers who think they’re turning in professionally formatted scripts are in fact often turning scripts that brand them as amateurs. (xv-xvi)
As Riley contends, scriptwriting programs are more Dr. Sbaitso than they are Collusus, [Dr. Forbin](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064177/?fr=c2l0ZT1kZnx 0dD0xfGZiPXV8a3c9MXxwbj0xfHE9Y29sbG9zdXN8ZnQ9MXxteD0yMHxsbT01MDB8Y289MXxodG1sPTF8bm09MQ__;fc=5;ft=22;fm=1). And let’s face it, even Colossus had Guardian to help him out. Equally scriptwriting programs help the writer out, they don’t write scripts. People still do that. Even with the best software, there are far too many instances when a rule is in the hands of the writer rather than the program and Riley’s books provides an excellent overview of these rules.
If there is a problem with Riley’s book, it is Warner-Brothers-centric. The obvious reason for this being that Riley worked at Warner Brothers, something he is very upfront about. What Riley does not mention are other script standards that might be used. For example, Riley says that all shot headings in standard single-camera film format are spaced 1.7 inches from the margin (4). This is in fact the Warner Brothers’s standard, the more common standard (at least from what I’ve gathered) being 1.5 inches.
But for a small time fry like me, interested more in the DV revolution than writing his ticket to Hollywood, 0.2 inches really isn’t a concern. Ultimately, I just want to understand the rules and have a script that attempts to abide by screenplay format. For others though, it might be a consideration to take into account before turning to Riley’s book.
Photos courtesey of Megan Register