On Writing for film: Collaboration and the role of the actor in the process…

A writer creates, a director paints, an actor breathes life…

I enjoy writing scripts. I enjoy writing scripts, sans dialogue, even more.

It’s a challenge to create character, pace, mood and plot that carry a visual story with very few words uttered.  The experience is more about what you see, than what you hear. It’s more about what you feel, than what you are told.

It is all about listening with your eyes…

Not that I am against dialogue in screenplays; that would be daft. I am just of the opinion that sometimes, it is not necessary, and at others, it doesn’t always have to come from the writer’s head.

I create the story, the theme, the characters, and pull it altogether into, what is hopefully, a sensuous and compelling visual experience. But sometimes, I feel that my characters need another voice, a POV outside of me, to give them the authenticity that is vital to becoming three-dimensional beings.

Enter, ACTOR, stage right!

If I hand over that character to a savvy actor, they will absorb what I have created within the character, and give him/her voice. Which is why I like the idea of workshopping a script with actors. In fact, I encourage it…setting up the scene and seeing where they take it…enabling a safe space for them to put words into the character’s mouth that perhaps, I, having built that character from inside my own head, may not be distant enough from him/her to let them say what they ought, as opposed to what I think they ought, to be saying…

For what is character after all, but action?.

Quite a few years ago, I workshopped a script of mine, LADY BETH, with a group of wonderful actors from Dublin’s ATTIC studio. And in front of an audience! It was a first draft, and quite frankly, I was more than a tad nervous, to say the least. I got over the fear though, and ended the night on a high, having received some really practical and useful insights from the actors, the feedback and the experience…

“…because cinema is collaboration. I always like to say that collaboration is the sex of art because you take from everyone you’re working with.” Francis Ford Coppola

Featured Image: Director Francis Ford Coppola with Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke on the set of “Rumble Fish” — Image by © Christian Simonpietri/Sygma/Corbis. Sourced from http://theselvedgeyard.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/mickey-rourke-i-thought-talent-would-transcend-my-outspokeness/

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