Script To Screen: “Carrie”

September 16th, 2016 by

To me, the most interesting relationship in the 1976 movie Carrie, screenplay by Lawrence D. Cohen, novel by Stephen King, is the one between Carrie and her mother Margaret. The latter is one sick, demented soul.

IMDb plot summary: Carrie White, a shy, friendless 17 year-old girl who is sheltered by her domineering, religious mother, unleashes her telekinetic powers after being humiliated by her classmates at her senior prom.

Check out this mother/daughter exchange:

        
As Carrie and Margaret finish dinner. Silence ­ punctuated only by the
slight DRIZZLE outside and occasional flashes of THUNDER and lightning. 
Then:

                        MARGARET
           You haven't touched your pie, Carrie.

                         CARRIE
           It makes me have pimples, Momma.

                         MARGARET
           Your pimples are the Lord's way of 
           chastising you.

                         CARRIE
           Momma?

                         MARGARET
           Yes?

                         CARRIE
           Momma, please see that I have to start to get... 
           to try and get along with people.

                         MARGARET
           Whatever are you going on about? Have you been 
           showering with the other girls again?

                         CARRIE
           I... I've been invited to the prom.

                         MARGARET
                          (a foreign language)
               Prom?

                         CARRIE
           It's next Friday, and ­
                                                                                             
                         MARGARET
           It's that teacher, the one that called. 
           She'll be sorry.

                         CARRIE
           Momma, please see that I'm not like you. 
           I'm funny, I mean, the kids think I'm funny. 
           I don't want to be. I want to try and
           be a whole person before it's too late to-- ­

Margaret throws her cup of tea in Carrie's face. It's cold, wet, sticky. But Carrie 
holds herself in, she's going to be in charge this time. She takes a deep swallow 
and continues:

                        CARRIE
                      (continuing)
           His name is Tommy Ross, and he's a very nice boy. He's ­

                       MARGARET
           No!

                       CARRIE
           -- promised to stop in and meet you before, and ­

                       MARGARET
                        (overlapping)
           -- I said no!

                       CARRIE
           -- have me in by midnight. I've ­

                      MARGARET
                      (shaking her head now; uncontrollable)
           No, no, no ­

                       CARRIE
           -- accepted.

Pause.

Margaret's shaking with fury, trembling.

Carrie wipes the stringy wet hair from her forehead.

                       CARRIE
                       (continuing)
           I've accepted, Momma. I have accepted.
                            
                       MARGARET
           The closet.

                       CARRIE
           No.

                       MARGARET
           After all you've been taught ­

                       CARRIE
           Everyone isn't bad, Momma, everything isn't sinful.

                       MARGARET
           Go to your closet and pray. Ask to be forgiven!

                       CARRIE
           You'll like this boy, he....

And Margaret at this word shifts gears and winds up ­ in the grip of a weird babble.

                      MARGARET
           Boys. Yes, boys come next. After the blood, the 
           boys come. Like sniffing dogs...

                      CARRIE
           Momma... ­

                      MARGARET
           ...grinning and slobbering, trying to find out 
           where the smell comes from, where the smell is. 
           That... smell!

                      CARRIE
           Please stop...

                      MARGARET
           Yes, in cars. Yes. I know where they take you 
           in their cars. Roadhouses. Music. Whiskey. 
           I've seen it, all right. Oh, yes.

                      CARRIE
           Momma, you better stop.

                      MARGARET
           You're not going.
                            
                      CARRIE
           I've already said I would, Momma.

                      MARGARET
           Then say no. Say no. Or we'll move.

                      CARRIE
           No.

                      MARGARET
           We'll move from here and you'll never see 
           that boy again.

A gust of wind causes the window to blow open. Margaret gets up and starts toward 
the window. Carrie is silent, watching herself being shut out.

                      MARGARET
                      (continuing)
           The rain's coming in.

                      CARRIE
           Momma, sit down.

                      MARGARET
           I'm going to close the windows.

                      CARRIE
           I'll get them. Please sit and talk to me.

                      MARGARET
           No.

Margaret continues toward the kitchen window to close it.

Carrie knits her brow, and flex, the window closes.

Margaret whips around, facing Carrie.

                      CARRIE
           I'm going, Momma. And things are going to 
           change around here.

Flex.

The SOUND of a window shutting in another room.
                            
                     MARGARET
           Witch!

Flex.

Another window.
                       MARGARET
           It's Satan's power. First he entered your 
           father, carried him off...

                       CARRIE
           He ran away, Momma. Everyone knows that.

Flex.

A couple of windows.

                       MARGARET
            The devil tempted him.

                       CARRIE
            He ran away with a woman, Momma.

                       MARGARET
            All men are the same. That boy, he's like 
            all the rest, he doesn't-- ­

Flex.

The rest of the windows in the house THUNDER shut.

                        CARRIE
            I don't care. He asked me to go. And I'm 
            going. I'm going, Momma. You can't stop me.

Here is the scene from the movie:

Compare the script to the scene and identify any differences between the two. Why do you think they made the changes they did?

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “The Shining”

September 15th, 2016 by

This notable scene from the 1980 movie The Shining [screenplay by Stanley Kubrick & Diane Johnson, based on a Stephen King novel]:

A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.

Setup: Wendy has growing suspicions about the sanity of her husband Jack…

INT. HOTEL LOUNGE - M.L.S.

WENDY, carrying baseball bat, walks away into Lounge.  As
she goes, she turns and looks about her - CAMERA TRACKS
after her.

                         WENDY
            Jack...?

She looks about and then moves L-R past table, with his
typewriter on it.  She walks L-R behind pillar and appears
again on the other side.  CAMERA TRACKS with her.

                         WENDY
            Jack...?

WENDY stops and looks about.

                                            CUT TO:

M.L.S. WENDY, holding bat, in f.g.  She turns and walks away
to JACK's typewriter on table in b.g.

                                            CUT TO:

M.S. Low Angle - JACK's typewriter in f.g.  WENDY moves
forward into shot.  She looks down at sheet of paper in
typewriter.

                                            CUT TO:

M.C.S. Sheet of paper in typewriter with repetition of line
on it, reading: "ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY."

                                                          108.

Sheet of paper is turned up, showing repetition of line.
Again sheet of paper is turned up showing repetition of line.

                                            CUT TO:

M.S. Low Angle - WENDY looking down at sheet of paper in
typewriter.  She looks cam.R - then moves to cam.R.

                                            CUT TO:

M.S. Sheets of paper, filling cardboard box.  CAMERA TRACKS
IN on top sheet, showing repetition of the line "ALL WORK
AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY." filling sheet.

                                            CUT TO:

M.S. Low Angle WENDY looking down at box of paper in f.g.
She holds up top sheet and looks at it - then puts it down
in box.

                                            CUT TO:

M.C.S. Sheets of paper filling box.  WENDY's hand enters
cam.L.f.g.  She flicks through sheets of paper and sees they
are all filled with repetition of line: "ALL WORK AND NO
PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY."

                                            CUT TO:

M.S. Low Angle - WENDY flicking through sheets of paper in
box.

                                            CUT TO:

M.S. Pillar.  CAMERA TRACKS R-L revealing WENDY, back to
camera, looking through sheets of paper in box on table in
M.L.S.  JACK enters cam.R.f.g.

                         JACK
            How do you like it?

WENDY SCREAMS and turns round to face JACK.

Here is the movie scene:

Questions to ask to analyze the scene:

* What elements in the movie scene are the same as the script?

* What elements in the movie scene are different than the script?

* Regarding the differences, put yourself in the mindset of the filmmakers and speculate: Why did they make the changes they did?

* How did the changes improve the scene?

* Alternatively are there elements in the script, not present in the movie, that are better than the final version of the scene?

* Note each camera shot in the movie version. Which of them does the script suggest via sluglines or scene description?

* How does the script convey a sense of the scene’s tone, feel, and pace through scene description and dialogue?

* What ‘magic’ exists in the movie that is not indicated in the words of the script? How do you suppose that magic emerged?

I’ll see you in comments for a discussion of this scene from The Shining.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “Chinatown”

September 8th, 2016 by

The memorable ending of the classic 1974 movie Chinatown, written by Robert Towne.

Setup: In his investigation, private eye Jake Gittes has uncovered a web of deceit involving the Noah Cross family… and now destiny intervenes.

               EXT. CHINATOWN STREET – NIGHT

               The streets are crowded. Here and there one can see Chinese 
               in traditional dress.

               GITTES

               Driving slowly, spots Katherine with Ramon and luggage, nearly 
               lost in the crowd. They are walking toward a car parked near 
               a laundry truck.

               Gittes sees them, keeps driving.

                                     CROSS
                              (suddenly)
                         Stop the car. Stop the car!

               Mulvihill tries to clobber Gittes. Gittes elbows him. The 
               car jumps the curb and hits a lamppost.

               EXT. STREET – CROSS

               Leaps out of the car shouting:

                                     CROSS
                         Katherine! Katherine! Wait!

               Gittes is after him, grabbing him. Cross tries to swing at 
               Gittes with his cane. Mulvihill comes up behind Gittes and 
               the three of them begin an awkward wrestling match, the crowd 
               scattering, Mulvihill pulling his revolver, trying to hit 
               Gittes on the side of the head. The three men crash to the 
               pavement.

               CURLY

               Starts out of the car toward Gittes. Gittes sees him.

                                     GITTES
                         No, Curly, get 'em out of here! Get 
                         'em out of here!

               He bites Mulvihill's hand and furiously pounds it into the 
               sidewalk, shaking gun loose. Mulvihill and Gittes try for it 
               but someone else has it.

               EVELYN

               Holds the gun. She's shaking but apparently in control of 
               herself.

               GITTES

               Rises to his feet. Mulvihill starts to help Cross up.

                                     EVELYN
                         No, don't help him. Don't do anything.

               Mulvihill doesn't move. Cross rises on his own. Evelyn holds 
               the revolver on him.

                                     EVELYN
                         She's gone. It's no good.

                                     CROSS
                         Where?

                                     GITTES
                              (moving to Evelyn)
                         Let me handle that.

                                     EVELYN
                              (to Gittes)
                         I'm all right.

                                     GITTES
                              (she's not)
                         Sure, but I'd like to handle it.

               Evelyn backs up as her father takes a step toward her.

                                     CROSS
                         You're going to have to kill me, 
                         Evelyn. Either that or tell me where 
                         she is.

               Evelyn is backing up. Cross moving on her. Evelyn cocks the 
               pistol.

                                     CROSS
                         How many years have I got?... she's 
                         mine too.

                                     EVELYN
                         She's never going to know that.

               There's the SOUND of a SIREN. Cross lunges toward her. Gittes 
               grabs Cross.

               Duffy and Walsh are elbowing through the crowd. Gittes sees 
               them.

                                     GITTES
                         Duffy, go over and sit on Mulvihill.
                              (to Walsh)
                         Jesus Christ, I didn't tell you to 
                         bring the police department with 
                         you.

                                     WALSH
                         Jake, it's Chinatown. They're all 
                         over the place. You oughta know 
                         better.

                                     GITTES
                              (to Walsh, meaning 
                              Cross)
                         Gimme your keys. Watch this old fart, 
                         will you?
                              (moving to Evelyn)
                         Take Duffy's car. Curly's boat's in 
                         Pedro, near the Starkist cannery. 
                         It's the Evening Star. He'll be 
                         waiting. I'll take care of this.

               She looks to Gittes. He looks at her. She turns and he looks 
               at her.

               She turns and Escobar is standing between her and it.

                                     ESCOBAR
                         Mrs. Mulwray, you don't want to run 
                         around like that.

                                     GITTES
                         Oh, Christ. Escobar, you don't know 
                         what's going on. Let her go. I'll 
                         explain it later.

                                     ESCOBAR
                         Mrs. Mulwray, it's a very serious 
                         offense pointing that at an officer 
                         of the law. It's a felony.

                                     GITTES
                         Let her go. She didn't kill anybody.

                                     ESCOBAR
                              (starting toward her)
                         I'm sorry, Mrs. Mulwray.

                                     GITTES
                         Lou, she will kill you. Let her go 
                         for now. You don't know.

                                     ESCOBAR
                         Gittes, stay outta this.

               Escobar continues to move toward her. Gittes grabs him.

                                     GITTES
                              (to Evelyn)
                         Now take off.

               Evelyn gets in the car. She starts it. Gittes lets Escobar 
               go.

                                     ESCOBAR
                         I'll just have her followed. She's 
                         not going anywhere.

               There's a single GUNSHOT. Both men look surprised. Down the 
               block a uniformed officer has fired, standing beside his 
               double-parked car.

               Duffy's sedan slows to a stop in the middle of the street. 
               It jerks a couple of times, still in gear, then comes to a 
               halt.

               Gittes rushes to the car. He opens it. Evelyn falls out, 
               inert.

               Blood is pouring from her right eye.

                                     GITTES
                              (yelling)
                         No!

               He holds onto Evelyn as Escobar and others hurry up. Cross 
               himself elbows through.

                                     GITTES
                         Where is he? I'll kill him, I'll 
                         kill the son of a bitch.

               Several officers contain Gittes.

                                     GITTES
                              (to Escobar)
                         Who is he, get his name? I'll kill 
                         him.

                                     ESCOBAR
                              (badly shaken)
                         Take it easy, take it easy, it was 
                         an accident.

                                     GITTES
                         An accident?

               Gittes looks down. What he sees horrifies him. Cross is on 
               the ground, holding Evelyn's body, crying.

                                     GITTES
                         Get him away from her. He's 
                         responsible for everything. Get him 
                         away from her!

                                     ESCOBAR
                              (stunned)
                         Jake, you're very disturbed. You're 
                         crazy. That's her father.

               Walsh and Duffy elbow through the crowd.

                                     ESCOBAR
                              (to them)
                         You wanna do your partner the biggest 
                         favor of his life? Take him home. 
                         Just get him the hell out of here!

               Duffy bear hugs the protesting Gittes, along with Walsh, 
               literally dragging him away from the scene, with Gittes trying 
               to shake free.

               Through the crowd noises, Walsh can be heard saying, "Forget 
               it, Jake. It's Chinatown."

                                         THE END

Here is the movie version of the last half of the scene:

Trivia: Robert Towne originally intended to have a happy ending. However, during pre-production Roman Polanski and Towne argued over it, with Polanski insisting on a tragic ending. Polanski won the argument and, when the picture was re-released in 1999, Towne admitted that he had been wrong.

Can you imagine Chinatown with a happy ending?

Compare the script to the scene and identify any differences between the two. Why do you think they made the changes they did?

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “Blood Simple”

August 26th, 2016 by

The Coen brothers first feature-length film Blood Simple (1984) is arguably one of their best.

Setup: Ray has been having an affair with Abby which hasn’t made her husband Julian too happy. But the tables get reversed as Ray has set about to dispatch Julian.

               EXT. OPEN FIELD

               FULL SHOT  RAY'S CAR

               Sudden quiet at the cut. We are looking at Ray's car in 
               profile, parked in the middle of a deserted field. From 
               offscreen we hear the sound of a shovel biting into earth.

               We track laterally down the car, along the beam of its 
               headlights, to finally frame Ray as he climbs out of the 
               shallow grave he has just finished digging.

               He plants the shovel and walks back to the car.

               VERY WIDE SHOT

               The grave in the middle background; the car's headlights 
               beyond it.

               Ray is dragging Marty toward the grave. He dumps him in.

               HIGH SHOT  THE GRAVE

               As Marty thumps to the bottom, face up.

               CLOSE SHOT  RAY

               As he bends over to pick up the shovel, dripping sweat. We 
               hear the shovel biting into earth.

               HIGH SHOT  THE GRAVE

               Ray, in the foreground, pitches the first shovelful of earth 
               onto Marty. Marty moves slightly.

               LOW SHOT  RAY

               As he pauses, looking down into the grave. He stoops down 
               and resumes shoveling, bobbing in and out of frame as he 
               hurls dirt into the grave.

               BACK TO HIGH SHOT

               As Ray shovels, Marty is moving under the loose dirt. A faint, 
               inarticulate noise comes from the grave.

               Almost imperceptibly, Marty's right arm starts to rise.

               LOW SHOT  FROM INSIDE THE GRAVE

               Ray stands on the lip of the grave, hunched over his shovel, 
               crisply illuminated by the headlights. In the shadowy 
               foreground Marty's arm rises, extended toward Ray. He is 
               clutching Abby's gun in his splint-fingered hand.

               CLOSE SHOT  RAY

               As he straightens up and stands motionless, expressionless, 
               watching Marty, making no attempt to get out of the way.

               HIGH SHOT  MARTY

               The gun extended into the foreground. His index finger 
               splinted, he slides his middle finger over the trigger of 
               the gun.

               LOW SHOT  RAY

               Watching.

               HIGH SHOT  MARTY

               The gun trembling in the foreground. His knuckle whitens 
               over the trigger.

               The trigger releases and we hear the dull click of an empty 
               chamber.

               LOW SHOT  RAY

               Staring blankly down at Marty.

               SIDE SHOT

               Of Marty's gun hand as Ray slowly sinks down on the lip of 
               the grave, bracing himself with the shovel. His hand reaches 
               for Marty's. Marty squeezes off two more empty chambers. 
               Ray's hand slowly closes over the barrel of the gun.

               As he pulls, the gun slides from Marty's fingers.

               CLOSE SHOT  THE BLADE OF THE SHOVEL

               Biting into the earth.

               MED SHOT  RAY

               Furiously shoveling dirt into the grave.

               HIGH SHOT  THE GRAVE

               Marty barely visible under the dirt.

               MED SHOT  RAY

               Shoveling, panting.

               HIGH SHOT  THE GRAVE

               Half full.

               MED SHOT  RAY

               Working furiously. His breath comes in short gasps.

               HIGH SHOT  THE GRAVE

               It is filled. Ray is packing down the earth, slamming the 
               shovel furiously against the bare patch of earth.

               CLOSE SHOT  THE BLADE OF THE SHOVEL

               Being slammed down against the earth. Again and again.

Here is the scene from the movie:

Questions to ask to analyze the scene:

* What elements in the movie scene are the same as the script?

* What elements in the movie scene are different than the script?

* Regarding the differences, put yourself in the mindset of the filmmakers and speculate: Why did they make the changes they did?

* How did the changes improve the scene?

* Alternatively are there elements in the script, not present in the movie, that are better than the final version of the scene?

* Note each camera shot in the movie version. Which of them does the script suggest via sluglines or scene description?

* How does the script convey a sense of the scene’s tone, feel, and pace through scene description and dialogue?

* What ‘magic’ exists in the movie that is not indicated in the words of the script? How do you suppose that magic emerged?

I’ll see you in comments for a discussion of this scene from Blood Simple.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script to Screen: “Witness”

August 19th, 2016 by

From the 1985 movie Witness [screenplay by Earl W. Wallace and William Kelley, story by William Kelley and Pamela Wallace & Earl W. Wallace].

Setup: Samuel, a young Amish boy, is traveling with his mother. Needing to use the facilities, he enters the bathroom at a train station in Philadelphia.

               ANGLE IN MEN'S ROOM

               As Samuel enters.

               It's a long row of sinks, urinals, and stalls... Samuel stops 
               before one of the urinals – a long, trough-like affair with 
               water drizzling down the rear porcelain panel.

               It's set a little high for Samuel, and it is making GLUGGING 
               FLUSHING NOISES that are, at least, intimidating. Samuel 
               stares for a moment, then turns, looks toward the stalls, 
               stoops to see which are empty.

               HIS POV – TOILETS

               Beneath the row of doors we can see no feet visible. Samuel 
               is alone in the restroom.

               BACK TO SCENE

               As Samuel proceeds along the row of door, finally selects a 
               stall near the end. He enters. As he does so, a heavily 
               bearded youth in a dirty sweatshirt enters. With some urgency, 
               he removes small notebook from his pocket and places it behind 
               a paper towel dispenser. Suddenly he glances up.

               Two other men have entered the men's room; one is a large 
               BLACK MAN in a three-piece suit under an expensive, overcoat. 
               His PARTNER is a Caucasian in designer jeans, half boots and 
               a short leather jacket.

               They advance on the young man with unmistakable menace.

               The young man whirls in terror; his two assailants lunge for 
               him... a savage, wordless struggle ensues in the close 
               confines of the lavatory.

               ANGLE IN SAMUEL'S STALL

               As the struggling men bounce off the door of his stall... he 
               can see their feet under the edge of the door.

               BACK TO FIGHT

               As the struggle builds to a climax... ends with the young 
               man stiffening with a grunt, his face draining of color.

               The two attackers step away, the blade in the black man's 
               hand bloodstained. His partner stares at what they've 
               accomplished with a stunned expression:

                                     PARTNER
                         Jesus...

               The young man's hand comes away from his belly covered with 
               blood.

               He stares at it, staggers toward the sinks. Finally his 
               bloodied hand reaches to smear at his face in the mirror. 
               Then he collapses to the floor.

               The black man motions for his partner to watch the door, 
               then quickly reaches up and removes the notebook from behind 
               the dispenser.

               ANGLE IN SAMUEL'S STALL

               As he edges open the stall door a crack. Over his shoulder 
               we can see the black man, his BACK TO US, rifling the 
               backpack. But beyond him, in the mirror on the far wall, we 
               catch sight of the black man's face.

               SAMUEL

               As he stares out the narrow crack. A beat, then he closes 
               the stall door.



               ANGLE IN STALL

               Samuel tries to make the latch work, but it's warped and 
               won't fall closed.

               BLACK MAN

               As he checks the notebook before placing it in his pocket. 
               His partner is covering the door, an automatic in his hand.

               The black man makes for the exit, then on second thought, 
               glances at the row of stalls.

               HIS POV – STALLS

               All quiet, but...

               BACK TO SCENE

               The black man whips out a .38 caliber revolver, and, starting 
               at the near end, starts pushing open the stall doors.

               ANGLE IN SAM'S STALL

               As the black man approaches, Samuel working desperately on 
               the latch. At the last minute he finally wedges it in.

               BLACK MAN

               He elbows Samuel's stall... the door won't open.

               ANGLE IN SAM'S STALL

               Fighting back panic, Samuel has retreated as far as he can.

               BLACK MAN

               As he gives the door a kick. It holds. He swears under his 
               breath.

               ANGLE IN SAM'S STALL

               In desperation, Samuel does the only thing he can think of... 
               he slips under the partition into the neighboring stall the 
               black man just checked out. But he loses his hat in the 
               process. His hand snakes back INTO FRAME to snatch it just 
               as the black man gives the door a ferocious kick that 
               splinters the lock and nearly takes it off its hinges. He's 
               framed there, the big muzzle of the .38 revolver looking 
               down our throats.

               ANGLE

               As his partner snaps from the doorway:

                                     PARTNER
                         Will you come on, for Christ's sakes!

               A beat, then the black man holsters his weapon, turns to 
               follow the partner out.

               BACK TO SAMUEL

               As we hear the SOUND OF THE TWO MEN EXITING the lavatory. A 
               long beat, then Samuel opens the stall door a crack.

               HIS POW THROUGH DOOR

               Samuel's own face reflected in the blood-smeared mirror... 
               then PANNING DOWN to the still figure of the young man lying 
               in the crimson pool of his own blood on the floor.

Here is the scene from the movie:

Questions to ask to analyze the scene:

* What elements in the movie scene are the same as the script?

* What elements in the movie scene are different than the script?

* Regarding the differences, put yourself in the mindset of the filmmakers and speculate: Why did they make the changes they did?

* How did the changes improve the scene?

* Alternatively are there elements in the script, not present in the movie, that are better than the final version of the scene?

* Note each camera shot in the movie version. Which of them does the script suggest via sluglines or scene description?

* How does the script convey a sense of the scene’s tone, feel, and pace through scene description and dialogue?

* What ‘magic’ exists in the movie that is not indicated in the words of the script? How do you suppose that magic emerged?

I’ll see you in comments for a discussion of this terrific scene from Witness.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

[Originally posted December 21, 2011]

Script To Screen: “Shakespeare in Love”

June 15th, 2016 by

The final scenes from the 1998 movie Shakespeare in Love, written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard.

IMDb plot summary: A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.

Here Viola, newly married, meets for the last time with her lover Will Shakespeare.

       INT. THE CURTAIN THEATRE. STAGE. DAY.

                           WILL
                     (heartbroken, testing her 
                      name)
                 My Lady Wessex?

       VIOLA nods, heartbroken too. For a long moment they 
       cannot say anything to each other. The she holds up 
       Wessex's purse.

                           VIOLA
                 A hired player no longer. Fifty 
                 pounds, Will, for the poet of true 
                 love.

                           WILL
                 I am done with theatre. The playhouse 
                 is for dreamers. Look where the dream 
                 has brought us.

                           VIOLA
                 It was we ourselves did that. And for 
                 my life to come I would not have it 
                 otherwise.

                           WILL
                 I have hurt you and I am sorry for it.

                           VIOLA
                 If my hurt is to be that you will 
                 write no more, then I shall be the 
                 sorrier.

       WILL looks at her.

                           VIOLA (CONT'D)
                 The Queen commands a comedy, Will for 
                 Twelfth Night.

                           WILL
                     (harshly)
                 A comedy! What will my hero be but the 
                 saddest wretch in the kingdom, sick 
                 with love?

                           VIOLA
                 An excellent beginning
                     (a beat)
                 Let him be…a duke. And your heroine?

                           WILL
                     (bitterly)
                 Sold in marriage and half way to 
                 America.

                           VIOLA
                     (adjusting)
                 At sea, then--a voyage to a new 
                 world?…she lands upon a vast and empty 
                 shore. She is brought to the 
                 duke…Orsino.

                           WILL
                     (despite himself)
                 Orsino…good name

                           VIOLA
                 But fearful of her virtue, she comes 
                 to him dressed as a boy

                           WILL
                     (Catching it)
                 and thus unable to declare her love

       Pause. They look at each other. Suddenly the conversation 
       seems to be about them.

                           VIOLA
                 But all ends well.

                           WILL
                 How does it?

                           VIOLA
                 I don't know. It's a mystery

       WILL half smiles. Then he's serious. They look deeply at 
       each other…and rush into each other's arm.

                           WILL (CONT'D)
                 You will never age for me, nor fade, 
                 nor die.

                           VIOLA
                 Nor you for me.

                           WILL
                 Good bye, my love, a thousand times 
                 good bye.

                           VIOLA
                 Write me well.

       She kisses him with finality. Then turns and runs from 
       him. WILL watches as she goes.

       INT. WILL'S ROOM. DAY.

       A blank page. A hand is writing: TWELFTH NIGHT. We see 
       WILL sitting at his table.

                           WILL (VO)
                 My story starts at sea…a perilous 
                 voyage to an unknown land…a shipwreck

       EXT. UNDERWATER. DAY.

       Two figures plunge into the water

                           WILL (VO)
                 the wild waters roar and heave…the 
                 brave vessel is dashed all to pieces, 
                 and all the helpless souls within her 
                 drowned

       INT. WILL'S ROOM. DAY.

       WILL at his table writing

                           WILL (VO)
                 all save one … a lady

       EXT. UNDERWATER. DAY.

       VIOLA in the water

                           WILL (VO)
                 whose soul is greater than the ocean … 
                 and her spirit stronger than the sea's 
                 embrace … not for her watery end, but 
                 a new life beginning on a stranger 
                 shore

       EXT. BEACH. DAY.

       VIOLA is walking up a vast and empty beach ….

                           WILL (VO CONTINUED)
                 It will be a love story … for she will 
                 be my heroine for all time

       INT. WILL'S ROOM. DAY.

       WILL looks up from the table.

                           WILL (VO CONTINUED)
                 and her name will be … Viola.

       He looks down at the paper, and writes: "Viola" Then: 
       "What country friends is this?"

       EXT. BEACH. DAY.

       DISSOLVE slowly to VIOLA, walking away up the beach 
       towards her brave new world.

                             THE END

Here is the movie version of the scene:

The translation of script to screen is precise, even to the point of shots back and forth between Will and “The Twelfth Night” images with Viola.

One wonderful grace note in the scene: The callback to the line: “I don’t know. It’s a mystery.” It’s the fourth time the line is uttered in the movie, the previous three times by Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush). The three previous iterations are used for comedic purposes. Here it takes on a bittersweet quality due to the reality of what’s transpiring – the final moments of the two being together.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script to Screen: “Three Kings”

June 8th, 2016 by

From the 1999 movie Three Kings, screenplay by David O. Russell, story by John Ridley.

IMDb plot summary: In the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, 4 soldiers set out to steal gold that was stolen from Kuwait, but they discover people who desperately need their help.

     EXT. DESERT - DAY - HIGH WIDE SHOT

     'I Get Around' by The Beach Boys BLASTS as the Humvee speeds
     along. A big American flag flaps in the breeze from a pole at
     the back of the Hummer.

     The Humvee drives fast into the central square of a small
     village of low, sand-colored stucco buildings and shanties.

     Vig drives as the Humvee speeds around the town square,
     zooming past scared Shiites in black robes, a few skinny
     dogs, a few bewildered Iraqi soldiers.

                         VIG
               Where's the bunker?

                         ARCHIE GATES
               It should be right --

     He studies the map and points to a decayed green building.

                         ARCHIE GATES
               There.

     Vig jerks the wheel right.  They drive fast.

                         ARCHIE GATES
               No -- there.

     Archie points left. Vig jerks the wheel left, drives straight
     toward a low cement building with two Iraqi soldiers in front.

     Iraqi soldiers look scared as the Humvee drives up, like it's
     going to hit them, and stops, flag fluttering in the breeze.

     Vig stands and speaks into a megaphone.

                         VIG
               We are the Army of the United
               States of America. We are here to
               protect you. Remain calm.

     Troy and Doc leap from the Humvee with pistols drawn and
     their free hands held up in a 'halt' sign. The TWO IRAQI
     GUARDS look stunned as Troy and Doc simply take their machine
     guns and put the Iraqis face down on the ground. Troy and Doc
     pull out plastic twist hand-cuffs, as used in urban riots.

     Archie bounds forward holding up a thick white document.

                         ARCHIE GATES
               Orders from President Bush, step
               aside.

     Troy finishes handcuffing one of the Iraqi soldiers, as a
     gaunt mother, with a baby in her arms, opens her blouse,
     revealing her small breasts. Other peasants gather.

                         IRAQI MOTHER
               No milk. Baby milk.

     Troy looks shocked until Archie suddenly pushes him past the
     Iraqi mother and to the door of the bunker, which Doc holds.

     INT. BUNKER - DAY

     Five IRAQI SOLDIERS look disoriented and scared as they hold
     their hands up in the air.

                         ARCHIE GATES
               Do not panic.  Step outside --

     EXT. BUNKER - DAY

                         VIG
                      (into the megaphone)
               We are here for your protection
               and safety.

     Iraqi women and children kiss Vig's feet.

     The five Iraqi soldiers exit the bunker with their hands
     raised, and the starved Shiite civilians spit and throw
     stones at them while 'I Get Around' keeps playing.

                         VIG
               Ya'll be cool now, this is the
               U.S. Marines in charge here.

     INT. STAIRWELL - BUNKER

     Archie runs down the narrow stairs of the bunker, followed by
     Troy and Doc.

     INT. BASEMENT OF BUNKER - DAY

     Doc lashes an Iraqi's hands behind his back and cuffs him.

     Troy shoots the door lock with his pistol.  Then backs up and
     gives it a running shoulder. The door doesn't budge.

                         TROY
               Shit.

     He holds his shoulder in pain.  Archie kicks the door
     repeatedly.  Troy joins him, it finally flies open.

                         TROY
               Freeze.

     Troy is embraced by an Iraqi soldier, about 25.

                         FRIENDLY IRAQI
               I am love United States of
               Freedom. I am hate Saddam.

     Troy tries some karate moves, jerking his elbows to dislodge
     the Iraqi from the bear hug --

                         TROY
               Ya -- ya -- ha --

     Doc points his pistol in the Iraqi's face.

                         DOC
               Let him go.

     The Iraqi throws his hands in the air.

                         FRIENDLY IRAQI
               No problem, my friend.

     Archie goes to a series of WOODEN CRATES the size of file
     cabinets, where Doc helps Archie take off his back pack.
     Archie pulls out a bolt cutter and a pneumatic saw, both
     attached to a small air tank - and opens the crate, which is
     filled with hundreds of Kuwaiti passports.

                         FRIENDLY IRAQI
               You look for the chemical weapon?

                         TROY
               No. We look for the gold.

     They use the power tools to open the second crate -- also
     filled with hundreds of passports.

                         ARCHIE GATES
               Where's the gold?

                         FRIENDLY IRAQI
               They move the gold.

     Archie pulls out the infrared map and shows it to the Iraqi,
     who says nothing.

                         DOC
               Kill him.

                         ARCHIE GATES
               Not yet.

                         TROY
               Kill him now.

     They point their guns. It's a show. Archie holds the map.

                         ARCHIE GATES
               Where?

                         FRIENDLY IRAQI
                      (points to map)
               This bunker. I'll take you.

Here is the scene from the movie:

Some differences:

* Approaching the town, Gates has this additional line: “Go in fast, leave the safeties on, give ’em the blinding power of American sunshine.”

* The Iraqi mother does not expose her breasts.

* Archie’s line: “Orders from President Bush. Cease fire agreement.”

* The Iraqis note the soldiers are covered in blood commenting, “They’re butchers covered in blood.”

* An Iraqi with a bullhorn: “The Americans are here, so it’s safe to come out.”

* Iraqis approach: “We can fight Saddam.”

No real substantive changes, the chaos of the moment underscored by the irony of the line, “We are Americans. We are here to make you safe.” That line is delivered multiple times in a number of variations.

One final note: Notice how Russell uses underlines to emphasize dialogue. You can do that. Whatever conveys the moment best, you are free to do that.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Script To Screen: “Wall Street”

May 18th, 2016 by

A scene from the 1987 movie Wall Street.

IMDb plot summary: A young and impatient stockbroker is willing to do anything to get to the top, including trading on illegal inside information taken through a ruthless and greedy corporate raider who takes the youth under his wing.

Here is the scene from the script:

	EXT. GEKKO'S BEACH HOUSE - DAWN

	The sky is still dark, the first rays of light coming up
	over the ocean. Gekko, a lonely figure in a windbreaker,
	restlessly prowls the edge of the beach, waves crashing
	around him. He's been up all night and has an exhausted,
	driven look as he whispers over the wind into the cellular
	phone...

				GEKKO
		Money never sleeps, pal. When I came
		in in '69, they traded six hours a
		day, now the clock don't stop,
		London's deregulated, the Orient is
		hungrier than us. Just let the
		money circle the world, sport,
		buying and selling, and if you're
		smart it comes back paying. I just
		made $800,000 in Hong Kong gold.
		It's been wired to you -- play with
		it. You done good, but you gotta
		keep doing good. I showed you how
		the game works, now school's out.

				BUD
			(protests)
		Mr. Gekko, I'm there for you 110%.

				GEKKO
		You don't understand. I want to be
		surprised...astonish me, sport, new
		info, don't care where or how you
		get it, just get it... My wife
		tells me you put a move on Darien.
		Here's some inside info for you.
		That Euroflash GQ guy she's going
		with's got big bucks but he's
		putting her feet to sleep. Exit
		visas are imminent. So don't lose
		your place in line.
			(gazing at the surf)
		Oh, jeez, I wish you could see this.
		The lights coming up over the water.
		I've never seen a painting that
		captures the beauty of the ocean at
		this moment.
			(suddenly fatigued)
		...an old Russian proverb - "a
		fisherman always sees another
		fisherman from afar." I like you
		sport, I ever tell you that...
		Gordon, call me Gordon from now on.

				BUD
			(off)
		...Gordon.

				GEKKO
		Yeah, I'm gonna make you rich, Bud
		Fox. I'm gonna make you rich enough
		you can afford a girl like Darien.
		Remember, power is the best
		aphrodisiac. This is your wake-up
		call. Go to work.

	He lets the phone drop to his side, staring glazed-eyed at
	the ocean.

Here is the scene from the movie:

A few cuts in dialogue:

* “When I came in in ’69, they traded six hours a day, now the clock don’t stop, London’s deregulated, the Orient is hungrier than us. Just let the money circle the world, sport, buying and selling, and if you’re smart it comes back paying.”

* “…an old Russian proverb – ‘a fisherman always sees another fisherman from afar.” I like you sport, I ever tell you that… Gordon, call me Gordon from now on.”

* “Remember, power is the best aphrodisiac.”

The first cut doesn’t feel necessary, particularly in that Gekko makes the same point about the liquidity of money in a more dramatic way later on.

The second cut – the bonding of Gekko and Bud – is implied in their conversation and the fact Gekko just put $800K into Bud’s account.

The third cut is also extraneous as the point is present in virtually every line of Gekko’s dialogue.

The most interesting thing about the scene is Gekko suddenly stopping himself as he witnesses the sunrise. It is a brief moment, but reflects a layer of his humanity we haven’t seen. This makes him a more complex and interesting Nemesis figure.

Takeaways: (1) Cut dialogue which conveys themes or dynamics already present either through other dialogue or a character’s actions. (2) Find the humanity in your Nemesis characters to make them something more than a stereotype.

If you have any thoughts on Wall Street, head to comments and let’s hear them.

Script To Screen: “Unforgiven”

May 4th, 2016 by

From the 1992 movie Unforgiven [written by David Webb Peoples] the movie’s Final Struggle sequence.

Setup: Retired gunslinger William Munny takes on one last job… and this is the finale.

VIEW on Little Bill in the crowded bar and he is shouting to
make himself heard over the din.

LITTLE BILL
Alright, I'm gonna say just one more
time so it's all clear an' then don't
ask me no more.

The place is packed with tired, dusty men and they are not
really jubilant so much as they are excited by the hysteria
of events.

LITTLE BILL
(continuing)
Now each of you that posse'd today
has got one drink comin' off the
county budget...

THIRSTY
Yahoo.

LITTLE BILL
...an' whoever rode yesterday, gets
one drink for that...

PADDY
Yippee.

EGGS
I told yuh two, I...

LITTLE BILL
Hold it hold it. After them two,
it's outta your own pocket... hear
me, Skinny? ...an' we're pullin' out
early tomorrow an' chase these fellas
clear to Texas so I wouldn't spend
much of your own money.

There is a general whoop and hubbub as Little Bill turns
back to his conversation at the bar with Charley, Fatty,
Clyde, Andy and WW Beauchamp.

LITTLE BILL
Now if we divide up into four parties
an' hit all the farms an' trails in
a circle, we're bound to find some
one who seen them skunks an'...

Little Bill is suddenly conscious of his own loud voice in a
sudden silence that has swept the bar like a brushfire and
turning he sees what everybody is staring at.

Munny, with his ten-gauge shotgun leveled from the shoulder,
is standing thirty feet away in the doorway. Taking a couple
of sideways steps to get the door from behind his back and
sweeping the twin barrels in an ominous arc, he surveys the
scene.

MUNNY
(a little drunk)
Which fucker owns this shithole?

Nobody says a thing. Skinny stares pop-eyed from behind the
bar and the sweat starts on his forehead and Little Bill is
thinking coolly and everybody else is swallowing hard and
looking at the shotgun.

MUNNY
(to Fatty)
You there, fat man, speak up.

Fatty gulps and then Skinny screws up his courage and steps
from behind the bar and gives it every bit of dignity his
fear will permit.

SKINNY
I... I own this establishment. I
bought it from Greely for a thous...

MUNNY
(to the men round
Skinny)
Better step clear, boys.

And Skinny looks from side to side as people step away from
him and he wants to say something desperately, he wants to
live, he wants...

LITTLE BILL
Hold on, mist...

BAH-WHOOM! Munny fires and smoke belches and...

Skinny is blown back against the wall and falls to the floor
a bloody mess and...

Little Bill is reaching for the Spencer which is leaning
against the bar near his leg but he freezes because...

Munny has turned the shotgun on him and Munny sees Ned's
Spencer there and his eyes show how he feels about it.

For a moment while the smoke clears the bar is silent and
there are nervous glances cast at the bloody body of Skinny
but Little Bill keeps his eyes on Munny.

LITTLE BILL
Well sir... You are a cowardly
sonofabitch because you have just
shot down an unarmed man.

It has become a very formal moment and there are, figuratively
speaking, only two people in the room, Munny and Little
Bill... and WW Beauchamp is watching them, scared to death,
but this is it, what all those Easterners dreamed about, the
showdown in the saloon.

MUNNY
(the shotgun pointed
right at Little Bill)
He should have armed himself if he
was gonna decorate his saloon with
the body of my friend.

LITTLE BILL
I guess you are Three-Fingered Jack
out of Missouri, killer of women and
children.

MUNNY
(a little drunkenly)
I have done that... killed women and
children... I have killed most
everything that walks or crawls an'
now I have come to kill you, Little
Bill, for what you done to Ned.
(to the others)
Now step aside. boys.

And as the deputies nervously move aside Little Bill helps
to isolate himself by stepping forward boldly.

LITTLE BILL
He's got one barrel left, gentlemen.
After he has used it, pull your
pistols and shoot him down like the
cowardly, drunken scoundrel he is.

Little Bill looks back at Munny bravely and...

Munny looks down the barrel at Little Bill and after a tense
moment he pulls the trigger.

CLICK. The hammer falls but it is a misfire and what happens
next happens in maybe five seconds as all hell breaks loose.

LITTLE BILL
(drawing)
Misfire! Kill the sonofabitch!

And Little Bill aims carefully and...

Munny hurls the shotgun at him and...

BLAM!... Little Bill fires wildly as the shotgun hits him
and...

Clyde has his pistol out and is pointing it at Munny and...

Munny is pulling the pistol from his own belt and he drops
to one knee and...

BLAM!... Clyde fires and misses and...

Little Bill is about to squeeze the trigger when...

BLAM!... Munny shoots him and...

BLAM!... Little Bill shoots just as he is hit in the chest
and...

BLAM! BLAM!... Fatty fires wildly and...

Munny is aiming too and BLAM!...

Clyde gets it in the face and...

BLAM!... BLAM!... Fatty isn't even aiming while...

Andy aims carefully, he can kill Munny but...

Munny turns and points his weapon at Andy and...

Instead of firing Andy panics and tries to turn his body
sideways to ward off the blow and...

BLAM!... Munny fires and...

Andy gets it high in the rib cage and...

Charley turns and runs for the back and...

BLAM! BLAM!... Fatty is backing up and firing from the hip
and then he turns to run and...

Munny aims deliberately from one knee and BLAM!...

Fatty goes down, shot in the back...

And suddenly... there is a terrible silence that is broken
only by the awful, dying groans of Clyde and the coughing of
the bystanders hiding behind tables and chairs in the thick
black smoke and...

Munny is still down on one knee pointing his pistol and
looking through the thick smoke for someone to shoot but it
seems there are no threats left.

MUNNY
Every asshole that doesn't want to
get shot best clear out the back
quick.

And they scramble over each other dashing toward the Billiard
Room and Munny stands up and looks around and he looks at
Clyde who is groaning, his face covered with blood and
everyone else, Little Bill, Andy and Fatty are still, and
then Fatty seems to move and Munny levels his pistol and
what happens is WW crawls out from half-under Fatty and WW
is covered with blood and he is shaking like a leaf.

WW
I... I... think I'm... shot.

MUNNY
You ain't shot.

WW
(seeing the pistol)
P-p-p-please, I'm not armed.
(as Munny lowers the
pistol, WW looks
around)
M-m-my G-god. You killed... Little
Bill.

MUNNY
(suspicious)
You sure you ain't armed?

WW
I never c-c-carry arms. I'm... a
writer.

MUNNY
A writer? What do you write... letters
an' such?

WW
B-b-books.
(amazed)
You... you killed five men...
singlehanded.

MUNNY
(wearily)
Yeah.

Munny walks over to the bar, keeping his eye suspiciously on
WW, and reaches for a bottle with his left hand. The hand is
shaking like palsy and he tilts the bottle and drinks sloppily
with effort, the pistol still in his right hand.

WW
Wh-wh-who did you kill first?

MUNNY
Huh?

WW
(reciting)
Wh-wh-when confronted by superior
numbers, the experienced gunfighter
will fire on the best shots first.

MUNNY
(drinking)
Yeah?

Unnoticed on the floor, Little Bill is conscious though blood
is coming out of his mouth and he has been written off. One
hand is shifting on his pistol and he can hear Clyde moaning
sporadically.

WW
Little Bill told me that. You killed
him first, didn't you?

On the floor, Little Bill is fighting for consciousness,
fingering his pistol.

MUNNY
I was lucky in the order.
(bitterly)
I always been lucky killin' folks.

WW
Who was next? Clyde? Or was it...?

MUNNY
(suddely ominous,
pistol pointing)
I could tell you who was last, mister.

WW's eyes pop as he gets the idea and he backs up fast, and
then he turns and bolts out the back, and watching him go,
Munny turns his back on the fallen body of Little Bill.

Little Bill, on the floor, raises up his pistol in his shaking
hand and aims at Munny's back maybe six feet away and he is
shaking bad as he draws the hammer back and...

Munny hears the click and he turns and sees Little Bill aiming
but it is too late and...

BLAM! Smoke and fire from Little Bill's pistol and Little
Bill's arm collapses from the effort and the pistol falls
with a bang.

MUNNY
Missed again, asshole.

And Munny steps over to him and kicks the pistol away from
Little Bill's outstretched hand. Little Bill is bleeding
from the mouth having taken a shot in the lung and he is
very weak and all he can do is look up at Munny and speak
weakly.

LITTLE BILL
I don't... deserve this... to die
this way. I was... building a house.

MUNNY
(aiming his pistol
point blank)
"Deserve" don't mean shit, Little
Bill.

LITTLE BILL
(the pistol in his
face)
I'll see you... in hell, you three
fingered asshole.

BLAM! Munny shoots Little Bill and then he looks around and
Clyde is still groaning and that is the only sound. Then,
suddenly, he is all business. He walks quickly over to Clyde
and shoots him once with the Spencer and the groaning stops.

Then he goes to Little Bill's body and pokes around in the
pockets and pulls out some shells for the Spencer.

He shoves those in his pocket and he goes to the bar and
picks up the bottle of whiskey and walks over to the door.

Standing to one side, he kicks it open. Then he sets down
the rifle and the bottle and starts to reload the Schofield
and while he loads it he shouts out the door.

MUNNY
I'm comin' outta here... an' any
fucker I see out there, I'm gonna
kill him... an' any fucker takes a
shot at me, I ain't just gonna kill
him, but I'm gonna kill his wife an'
all his friends an' burn his fucking
house, hear?

The pistol is loaded and Munny sticks it in his belt and he
takes a long pull on the whiskey bottle and wipes the dribble
from his chin. Then he picks up the rifle in the other hand
and looks out the door.

Here is the scene from the movie:


Questions to ask to analyze the scene:

* What elements in the movie scene are the same as the script?

* What elements in the movie scene are different than the script?

* Regarding the differences, put yourself in the mindset of the filmmakers and speculate: Why did they make the changes they did?

* How did the changes improve the scene?

* Alternatively are there elements in the script, not present in the movie, that are better than the final version of the scene?

* Note each camera shot in the movie version. Which of them does the script suggest via sluglines or scene description?

* How does the script convey a sense of the scene’s tone, feel, and pace through scene description and dialogue?

* What ‘magic’ exists in the movie that is not indicated in the words of the script? How do you suppose that magic emerged?

I’ll see you in comments for a discussion of this terrific scene from Unforgiven.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

[Originally posted November 23, 2011]

Script To Screen: “Rushmore”

April 15th, 2016 by

The revenge sequence from Rushmore (written by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson).

Setup: Vying for the affections of Rosemary, Max and Herman decide to go after each other.

INT. HOTEL ROOM. DAY

The living room of Mr. Blume's suite. Mr. Blume is dressed in a 
bathrobe with the Bilbly-Flickenger stitched on the pocket. He 
sits at his table having breakfast and reading the newspaper. 
There is a little basket in front of him with a jar of hone in it. 
A note attached to the jar says, "Enjoy your stay."

A little bug flies around Mr. Blume's head. He swats it away and 
keeps reading.

Two more bugs come buzzing around him. Mr. Blume looks up and 
frowns. They're bees. Mr. Blume slaps at his neck and jumps to his 
feet as he gets stung.

MR. BLUME
Shit!

Bees are circling all over the room. Mr. Blume looks around 
frantically. He sees something at the bottom of the front door. 
It is a little plastic tube with bees crawling out of it and taking 
off.

INT. BASEMENT. DAY

Max comes out of the freight elevator wearing a red room service 
jacket with the Bilby-Flickenger stitched on the pocket. He has a 
wooden box with Rushmore Beekeepers stenciled on it. Max throws the 
jacket in a laundry cart and goes out the back door.

EXT. GROVER CLEVELAND HIGH SCHOOL. DAY

Mr. Blume gets out of his car in the driveway at Grover Cleveland. He 
opens the trunk and takes out a set of steel cable cutters. He goes 
over to the bike racks and cuts the lock off Max's ten-speed.

Mr. Blume lays the bicycle on the ground in front of his car and runs 
over it. Then he throws the car in reverse and goes over it again. He 
picks up the destroyed bicycle and takes it back to the bike racks and 
wraps the lock back around it.

The small Indian groundskeeper we saw earlier on the roof is driving by 
in a Volkswagen Beetle. He frowns at Mr. Blume. Mr. Blume hurries back 
to his car.

EXT. BLUME INTERNATIONAL CONCRETE. DAY

The front gates of the concrete plant. Max rides up on an old 
grandmothers' bicycle with fenders and a handlebar basket. He's got a 
black duffel bag strapped to his back.

Max waves to the SECURITY GUARD. The guard waves back:

Max rides onto the lot and pulls over next to Mr. Blume's Bentley. He 
leans his bike against the car door. He unzips his duffel bag and slides 
underneath the car.

EXT. RUSHMORE. DAY

Mr. Blume pulls into the driveway to pick-up the twins from school. 
There is a lot of traffic and kids are running around everywhere. Mr. 
Blume taps the brakes. Nothing happens. He flies toward the back of a 
parked station wagon.

He jerks the steering wheel and bounces up onto the sidewalk. The car 
pops through a wooden fence and rolls across the grass into the 
quadrangle.

The Indian groundskeeper is raking leaves as the car goes past him. He 
watches as it crunches over some bushes and scrapes against a stone 
wall. It rolls to a stop in the middle of the quad.

Mr. Blume gets out of the car and looks at the damage. He looks over at 
the white-haired Indian groundskeeper.

The groundskeeper goes back to raking.

EXT. PARKING LOT. DAY

Kids watch from classrooms up and down the hall as Max is escorted away 
in handcuffs by the POLICE. Max has a hardened expression on his face.

Here is the sequence from the movie:

Questions to ask to analyze the scene:

* What elements in the movie scene are the same as the script?

* What elements in the movie scene are different than the script?

* Regarding the differences, put yourself in the mindset of the filmmakers and speculate: Why did they make the changes they did?

* How did the changes improve the scene?

* Alternatively are there elements in the script, not present in the movie, that are better than the final version of the scene?

* Note each camera shot in the movie version. Which of them does the script suggest via sluglines or scene description?

* How does the script convey a sense of the scene’s tone, feel, and pace through scene description and dialogue?

* What ‘magic’ exists in the movie that is not indicated in the words of the script? How do you suppose that magic emerged?

I’ll see you in comments for a discussion of this scene from Rushmore.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a series where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

[Originally posted February 15, 2012]