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story Writing _while_ filming?

We often hear about how this or that big movie was practically written on set, either because only a barebones script existed before filming began, or because changes became so extensive during shooting that there was nothing left from the original script at end of shoots. This happens for both good and bad movies, apparently.
Apart from "is this a good/bad thing?", I have been wondering aboutt it more as the kernel of a different method of moviemaking. Working with animations, I have the advantage of being able to alter most things on the fly, developing the foundation of the finished product fluently alongside script alterations. And I keep wondering, is there anything educational or just inspirational out there on turning this from mess to method? Does anyone 'teach' writing-as-you-film?
 
South Koreans do that for TV series. They start with the ready script but depending on feedback from TV viewers, sometimes have to adjust characters and change even directors (like in recent Netflix movie The King). So they work on script while filming. However, their script is actually still ready. I would not recommend under any circumstances to film with unfinished script, this will lead straight to disaster.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
We often hear about how this or that big movie was practically written on set, either because only a barebones script existed before filming began, or because changes became so extensive during shooting that there was nothing left from the original script at end of shoots. This happens for both good and bad movies, apparently.
Apart from "is this a good/bad thing?", I have been wondering aboutt it more as the kernel of a different method of moviemaking. Working with animations, I have the advantage of being able to alter most things on the fly, developing the foundation of the finished product fluently alongside script alterations. And I keep wondering, is there anything educational or just inspirational out there on turning this from mess to method? Does anyone 'teach' writing-as-you-film?

Well most likely all these things you're altering on the fly are problems that could have been addressed in the script writing stage.
The point of movies being filmed organically or with improv is to capture reality or rather a more genuine appearance of reality. it doesn't really apply to animation.

What youre talking about is more like the previsualization stage of a film.
you previs what you have in the script, realize what doesn't or doesn't work or look good and alter it accordingly.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
indiePRO
Do you have an example of a good movie made this way?
Casablanca.
Apart from "is this a good/bad thing?", I have been wondering aboutt it more as the kernel of a different method of moviemaking. Working with animations, I have the advantage of being able to alter most things on the fly, developing the foundation of the finished product fluently alongside script alterations. And I keep wondering, is there anything educational or just inspirational out there on turning this from mess to method? Does anyone 'teach' writing-as-you-film?
I don't know of anyone teaching writing-as-you-film as a different method
of film making.

Rewriting while filming is very common. And for many different reasons. Some
filmmakers even start with a premise and a bare-bone script and do a lot of
improvising on set.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
indiePRO
I think a great class would be "How to Live with Rewrites".

All screenwriters are horrified to see how often their script is rewritten.
Even seasoned pros are rewritten by the director, the actors and even
the producers girlfriend and/or kids.
And I keep wondering, is there anything educational or just inspirational out there on turning this from mess to method?
Sometimes as scripts are rewritten they get better. I mentioned "Casablanca".
I just finished a book about the making of "Chinatown". Rewriting throughout
the entire production. Some people make their living as "script doctors" - rewriting
scripts for a lot of money but no credit. Carrie Fisher was one of the best. David
Mamet does it. The list is pretty impressive.

Not every rewrite makes a script better. But it's already pretty much a "method"
in that it's always done. Even writer/directors do some major rewrites as they
make their movies.
 
I think a great class would be "How to Live with Rewrites".

All screenwriters are horrified to see how often their script is rewritten.
Even seasoned pros are rewritten by the director, the actors and even
the producers girlfriend and/or kids.

Sometimes as scripts are rewritten they get better. I mentioned "Casablanca".
I just finished a book about the making of "Chinatown". Rewriting throughout
the entire production. Some people make their living as "script doctors" - rewriting
scripts for a lot of money but no credit. Carrie Fisher was one of the best. David
Mamet does it. The list is pretty impressive.

Not every rewrite makes a script better. But it's already pretty much a "method"
in that it's always done. Even writer/directors do some major rewrites as they
make their movies.
One of the BIG reasons I can't stand the Hollywood gigs anymore. As professional screenwriters, we've been programmed to eat our own. LOL. A spec gets written, some executive loves it even though they've never read it... Soon afterward, BUYERS REMORSE sets in and now that kickass spec they bought a year ago needs a little polishing.

Only problem? In Hollywood, you're only as good as your last CREDIT. So your spec gets handed off to a Hollywood PRO who then sets about to change it ENOUGH to get full SCREENPLAY BY credit. 35% change is all it needs to now become YOUR screenplay. The original screenwriter gets knocked down to STORY BY credit and STORY BY credit is often a RED FLAG. It signifies that you've been rewritten even though DAMN NEAR EVERYONE gets rewritten.

Vicious circle.

Many scripts end up going through over 20 such rewrites over the years and in the end? Unrecognizable from the original spec.
 
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One of the BIG reasons I can't stand the Hollywood gigs anymore. As professional screenwriters, we've been programmed to eat our own. LOL. A spec gets written, some executive loves it even though they've never read it... Soon afterward, BUYERS REMORSE sets in and now that kickass spec they bought a year ago needs a little polishing.

Only problem? In Hollywood, you're only as good as your last CREDIT. So your spec gets handed off to a Hollywood PRO who then sets about to change it ENOUGH to get full SCREENPLAY BY credit. 35% change is all it needs to now become YOUR screenplay. The original screenwriter gets knocked down to STORY BY credit and STORY BY credit is often a RED FLAG. It signifies that you've been rewritten even though DAMN NEAR EVERYONE gets rewritten.

Vicious circle.

Many scripts end up going through over 20 such rewrites over the years and in the end? Unrecognizable from the original spec.
Well, then the rewriting is actually done on purpose..sad. Rewriting large portions of the script in my opinion rarely does improve it, rather it leads to the well known development hell when the script is remade so many times so only vague picture of the original idea is left.
 
Still, rewriting during filming and filming without script are two different things.
When you start shooting, bring the actors and crew and you don't know what actors are supposed to say and you don't know what kind of scene you are filming - well, maybe it works for animation cause if there is just one animator, it may work but not for crews with at least 1 more person and actors.
 
Oh wow, much greater amount of feedback than expected, thanks!
Quick roundup (lemme know if I missed you):
Yes, Koreans use this, as do many soap operas and telenovellas. It's a bit chaos still, but it fascinates me.
I can't list examples off my head, I focused on the concept. But I bet there are more bad than good examples, which is why I want to do my due diligence before venturing too far...
Joe Swanberg is noted!
I can only imagine the frustration of having your script gutted. I do ghostwriting so not being cheered is the norm, but at least I EXPECT it. My hope is to make it more a writing room process than a literary butcher shop...
Yes, animation is very much the key, this would be WILDLY irresponsible for live filming! I have for years touted the theory that animation workflows cling too much to live film methods and want to test other options. This seems to hold some interesting promiss, but I need to do my aforementioned due diligence beforehand, or the gnomes will feast on my toes....
 
Oh wow, much greater amount of feedback than expected, thanks!
Quick roundup (lemme know if I missed you):
Yes, Koreans use this, as do many soap operas and telenovellas. It's a bit chaos still, but it fascinates me.
I can't list examples off my head, I focused on the concept. But I bet there are more bad than good examples, which is why I want to do my due diligence before venturing too far...
Joe Swanberg is noted!
I can only imagine the frustration of having your script gutted. I do ghostwriting so not being cheered is the norm, but at least I EXPECT it. My hope is to make it more a writing room process than a literary butcher shop...
Yes, animation is very much the key, this would be WILDLY irresponsible for live filming! I have for years touted the theory that animation workflows cling too much to live film methods and want to test other options. This seems to hold some interesting promiss, but I need to do my aforementioned due diligence beforehand, or the gnomes will feast on my toes....
On the production set, every cameraman and his dog think that they can rewrite your scenes better. And they do rewrite
 
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