Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Online Greenlight Review: Presentation 2



  1. OGR 15/02/2012

    Hey Urvashi,

    Sorry for making you wait... but, in truth, I'm a bit frustrated by this, because you haven't done what you were asked - and the reason why you were asked to present the story idea as premise, logline and step outline etc. is so you could demonstrate clarity in terms of your story - and, I'm going to be honest and say that I don't think you have a story at all. You have a series of events, and those events are surreal, but with the whole sci-fi spin + living restaurant + big bad wolf etc. this feels exactly like someone 'not' dealing with the mechanics of story-making, not dealing with structure and not dealing with the real challenge of the brief. I don't think you're using your story components at all; for example, does the story derive from character? No. Your mannequin could be a robot, or a creature, or a plant-pot for all the real difference it makes to your story.

    Why might a mannequin want to dine in a restaurant? maybe because it has no mouth and dreams of eating wonderful food? That would give you a story (not simply a plot or succession of events). That's just one idea - there are many more that legitimately derive from your story components.

    I suspect, Urvashi, that you think you're being very creative - but really you're just not being creative enough. It's rare that a tutor does this, but I want you to throw out this idea, and go back to your story components and try and do something much more truthful with them; ask the difficult questions, find the relationships between your components. And make your mannequin a mannequin - not an arbitrary character that just looks like one. Stories come from character; how does a mannequin view the world? What might make a mannequin angry enough for it to want to blow something up with a stick of dynamite?

    I mean it could be that another character - maybe a vengeful wife - sets up her cheating husband, by installing a glamorous mannequin in a restaurant as a lure or bait, and then, instead of being served sausages, he's served up dynamite? I suspect there are many more resolutions to the creative challenge of your three components, without defaulting to a pre-existing preference for science-fiction - that just feels like a graft, and it's inhibiting you. Move on, move away - do something difficult.

  2. In regard to your written assignment, it gives me a bad feeling, Urvashi. I suspect you're choosing Star Trek because you like it, and while, yes, it's slickly edited, it's hardly innovative or 'defined' by its structure or by its grammar of editing. If you choose this, I think you're going to run out of interesting things to say quite quickly. In narrative terms, it's highly traditional - and structurally its linear, so....

    Also - though your intro might be a work in progress - you have to get out of the habit of putting bullet points and sub-headings in your intros - indeed, introductions have a very specific structure, which I want you to take on board. Please read and digest the general guidance that follows re. the Unit 4 written assignment - and Urvashi - trust me on this - choose a film that is highly and widely regarded in terms of its structure, editing etc. Star Trek - however enjoyable, really isn't.

  3. 1,500 word written assignment that analyses critically one film in terms of the relationship between story and structure; you should consider camera movement, editing, and order of scenes.

    Okay - so while the challenge of the assignment doesn’t state it explicitly, as soon as you start to discuss narrative, editing or sorts of shots, you’ll be using a technical or specialist language – with specific terms with specific histories and contexts. Therefore, in common with all your assignments so far (and all future assignments!), you need to introduce and define your specialist/technical terms BEFORE you start discussing your specific film or case-study.

    For example, if you were planning to discuss the famous shower scene from Psycho, which is an example of ‘montage editing’ – you would first need to introduce and define the term ‘montage editing’ – and in so doing, refer to its origins and cultural ancestry (i.e. its broadest context). In written assignments you have to ‘show that you know’ – you have to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject area by showing that YOU understand its various components. You couldn’t discuss Psycho’s shower scene effectively WITHOUT referencing Sergei Eisenstein (the ‘father’ of montage editing), and, by extension, the ‘rules’ of Hollywood ‘invisible editing’ (from which Eisensteinian editing was such a departure).

    Likewise, if you were interested in the ‘continuous take’ of ‘Rope’ – then in order to discuss this technique in context, you’d still have to introduce and define ‘editing’ in general terms, in order to prove Rope’s distinctiveness.

    If you’re dealing with narrative structures – i.e. the ‘non-linear’ structures of Christopher Nolan’s Momento or Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, you first need to demonstrate your awareness and understanding of the ideas and uses of ‘non-linearity’ in story more generally.

    Another reoccurring weakness in your assignments is your introductions; remember, there is no actual content in your introduction.

    Your very first line should state plainly and clearly what the investigative thrust is of your assignment – and that’s all. “This assignment analyses critically the use of non-linear narrative in film, with particular reference to Christopher Nolan’s Momento (2000).”

    Job done! That’s it. No more – nothing else.

    Next, you list the KEY research sources you’ve used (i.e. the ones your essay will now go on to reference), and your reasons for consulting them (i.e. their usefulness to your argument). You should be specific here – give titles, authors and publishing date etc. Put your titles in italics. There should be no waffle here at all, so avoid sentences like ‘Sources include websites, books and films…’ Also, you don’t need to give the film you’re studying as a source, because that’s been made obvious by the first line of your introduction. If, however, you’re looking at some associated films, then you should include them here – but always give your reason for their usefulness to your discussion.

    Finally – your intro should offer the reader a summary of points – the logical sequence of subject matter that will take your reader from ‘not knowing’ about your subject to ‘understanding’ your subject. This is where you – the writer – must give this ‘logical sequence’ some proper thought – get this bit right and your assignment will flow from one point to the next in a satisfying way.