Film School Confidential: YOU TALKING TO ME?

Consulting my notes from last week’s program, I find a lot I missed in the last few posts.

As mentioned earlier/ further down this page, last week at film school we were taught by screenwriter Stefan Jaworski. A lot of constructive lessons in loglines, structure, scenes and dialogue. Here is some of what he wrote on the flipboard concerning the latter (my translation, obviously):

Bad dialogue is:

  • Boring (no project, no obstacles)
  • Incomprehensible (seemingly unmotivated)
  • Ordinary (lack of clarity in character)
  • Soapy (lack of subtext, on-the-nose)
  • Too obvious (badly hidden exposition)
  • Confusing (psychologically inconsistent)
  • Goes on too long (uneven battle of wills)

Good dialogue is:

  • Project-driven
  • Motivated
  • Presents obstacles
  • Reveals character
  • Subtext
  • Psychologically consistent
  • Has rythm (equal battle)
  • Shift(s) in status
  • Turning points
  • Theme
  • “Real vs. reel”

Any and all dialogue scenes should have a will behind the words – to dominate, to split up other characters, to provide a diversion, pass on information or even just to make sure everybody has a good time.

Resistance and obstacles are equally important. Distractions, the will of other characters, inner- and outer obstacles.

And remember subtext, at all times. What are they not saying, but we know they really mean.

Another tip I noted, was hiding exposition in an attack. I.e. : “In the seven years we’ve been together, you never said you wanted a dog/house/kid/whatever”. Exposition is a neccesary evil in storytelling, so any tip on getting it across in a dynamic way is highly appreciated.

Oh, and anyone of you out there who find something of interest and value in the above? Please leave a comment below. Thanks.

Tags: , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Film School Confidential: YOU TALKING TO ME?”

  1. Max Miller 22. October 2012 at 20:39 #

    Hey, Nice tip on hiding exposition in an attack. I've never thought of that, though I can definitely remember coming across that technique in books/movies/etc. It's a nice trick, I'll have to remember. Thanks.

  2. Palle Schmidt 22. October 2012 at 20:52 #

    Thanks for your comment, Max! I can't take credit for the tip though, Stefan Jaworski is the man. I'm glad you found a helpful piece of information in my post though! Thanks again.