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Entries in Blueprints (47)

Thursday
Jan032019

Blueprints: Five Expertly Written Scenes of 2018

by Jorge Molina

A screenplay has to accomplish many things to be successful: establish the characters, create and maintain tension, introduce the plotlines and carry them smoothly and compellingly, grasp the audience’s attention and hold it for two plus hours. A good script does it all. A great script makes it all look easy and seamless.

We previously sang the praises of 5 original screenplays and 5 adaptations. This week, we're getting more specific with 5 scenes. While each of the following stories were successfully told overall as one cohesive movie, their writing stood out for making a particular element of screenwriting shine; each unique to the story they were trying to tell.

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Thursday
Dec202018

Blueprints: FYC, Adapted Screenplays

In this week's Blueprints, Jorge Molina looks into five adapted scripts that should be featured n the awards conversation. If you missed the Original Screenplay FYCs, they're here

 

While Original Screenplays tends to be where usually the Academy rewards more unconventional stories, the adapted screenplay category carries with it an air of respectability and prestige. Maybe it’s because it usually involves translation from a literary medium, respected novels or award winning plays. Maybe it’s because adaptations carry a built-in audience, something Hollywood values. Adapted screenplays have the advantage of arriving with an already fully formed and sometimes familiar story. But translating that into a cinematic medium is one of the hardest tasks for a writer: making the verbal into visual, compressing dozens of chapters into a two-hour story, learning what to leave in, what to take out, what to add or change.

Here are five screenplays that each took a previously published piece and turned it into an engaging, engrossing and cinematic experience....

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Friday
Nov232018

Blueprints: "Little Miss Sunshine"

To celebrate the family awkwardness of Thanksgiving weekend, Jorge takes a look at one of cinema’s most memorable dysfunctional families and how they make their entrances.

Look, no family’s perfect. Far from it. And no holiday brings out the imperfections more than Thanksgiving. Every difference of opinion, tightly-held grudge, annoying personality trait, buried secret and imprinted trauma tend to resurface. And while it may be hell for those going through it, these interactions are usually fertile ground for narrative drama.

But most families tend to be dysfunctional year-round, not just during the holidays. Some don’t need a holiday weekend or a glass of wine to bring out their unpleasant side. All you need to see it is a quick first glimpse. So let’s take a look at the Hoovers in 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine, who are precisely that kind of family. Let’s see how they are each individually introduced in the script, as fully flawed human beings...

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Friday
Nov022018

Blueprints: "Coco"

Feliz Día de los Muertos! To celebrate, Jorge looks at how the script for Disney’s “Coco” mixes two languages the same way the movie interconnects cultures.

I’ve written a couple of pieces in this site before about Coco. It was an extremely intimate and touching experience to be able to see my native culture represented to accurately and lovingly. It is a movie that perfectly captures the spirit of Mexicanism, of our fragile and ever-present relationship with death, family, and tradition. 

I saw the movie twice in theaters: once in its original English, and once in its Spanish dub. While I consider the dub to be a better version (but that perhaps has to do with the way I’ve always experienced animated films), the English one made me consider a new aspect of the film: the way it handled Spanish. It’s a movie explicitly set in a different country; one where a different language is spoken (unlike say, Brave). How can the script incorporate this essential cultural element without making it seem unauthentic? It turns out, they do it muy bien.

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Thursday
Oct252018

Blueprints: "Halloween (1978)"

This week Jorge goes back to Haddonfield in 1978 for the 40th anniversary of a horror classic to look at how the original film establishes its point of view.

Every script has a point of view. Even movies with multiple protagonists, or whose perspectives change from scene to scene, we are experiencing the events through someone’s lens at any given moment; even if that person is not a character, but someone behind the camera guiding us to what we’re supposed to perceive.

But there are movies with a more literal point of view, where what we are seeing is exactly what one of the characters is. A literal POV is used sparingly in movies, but it’s a great tool to get the audience in the mindset and subjective state of a film. The opening of the original Halloween is told entirely through a POV shot, and though it is abandoned quickly, this sets up the dangerous mood and tone of a franchise that's continued for generations...

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Friday
Oct192018

Blueprints: "A Simple Favor"

This week Jorge dives into martinis and missing persons, to examine the mythos of a perfect woman in the fall's most delightful surprise.

First impressions are important, and writers usually either build upon or subvert the first thing we see about a character: the clothes that they’re wearing, the setting that they appear in, the way they carry themselves, and the adjectives they use. All of these elements can tell us who a character is before they even say a word. 

A Simple Favor is all about image and perception. The image we present to the world, and the part of ourselves that we keep hidden. The way we are versus the way we are perceived. In particular, the film is about Emily’s image. Not only her physical looks (which are hugely important), but the aura and lore that she has created around her. The idea of Emily...

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