Today’s example of cinematic storytelling comes directly from Film Crit Hulk. The CAPS LOCK below is intentional, it’s the way the Film Crit Hulk writes his essays. His writing is absolutely brilliant! If you haven’t heard about him, I recommend to visit his wordpress blog. Anyway, here is a sample of his writing, which comes from his masterpiece Screenwriting 101 Vol. 2 of 2.
IN ROBERT TOWNE’S INCREDIBLE SCRIPT FOR CHINATOWN (THOUGH HE ISN’T AFRAID TO GO ON FOR BIG WALLS OF TEXT… IT WAS A DIFFERENT ERA) THERE IS THIS REALLY NEAT LITTLE DETAIL THAT EXEMPLIFIES SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN ENOUGH IN SCREENWRITING.
JAKE GITTES IS A PRIVATE DETECTIVE WHO HAS JUST INFORMED ONE OF HIS CLIENTS THAT, YES, HIS WIFE IS CHEATING ON HIM. TO CONSOLE THE POOR CHAP JAKE DOES THE FOLLOWING:
“Gittes reaches into his desk and pulls out a shot glass, quickly selects a cheaper bottle of bourbon from several fifths of more expensive whiskeys.”
THE IMPLICATION OF THIS MAY SEEM OBVIOUS, THAT GITTES IS “CHEAP” OR SOMETHING, BUT THE FACT THAT HE HAS THEM ALL LINED UP AND READY TO GO IN HIS OFFICE SAYS SOMETHING ELSE… IT IMPLIES THAT JAKE KNOWS THE CLIENTWON’T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.
WHAT MAY SEEM LIKE A SMALL DETAIL IN THE SCRIPT IS ACTUALLY A DETAIL THAT CAN BE SUSSED OUT TO SEVERAL OTHER IMPLICATIONS. IT’S A BRILLIANT LITTLE GESTURE OF WHICH TOWNE IS A MASTER. REALLY, HULK READ A SHIT TON OF SCRIPTS AND THESE OPPORTUNITIES ARE RARELY EXPLORED. SO HULK WANT YOU TO EMBRACE THE KIND OF HIGH-DEGREE STORYTELLING EVIDENT IN THESE TINY DETAILS. EMBRACE THE HIGH STANDARD. ALWAYS TRY TO ALWAYS SAY SOMETHING. EVEN TRY TO SAY MULTIPLE THINGS AT ONCE.
EVERY DETAIL IN YOUR SCRIPT CAN MATTER IF YOU REALLY WANT IT TO. DON’T WASTE OPPORTUNITIES TO SAY SOMETHING!
I want you the read the last sentence again!!
ALWAYS TRY TO ALWAYS SAY SOMETHING. EVEN TRY TO SAY MULTIPLE THINGS AT ONCE.
Saying multiple things at once…does it sound familiar? I hope so!