– 4 min –
While I am working on screenwriting, I am still continuing with my other topics of my DIY film school, as part of my diving into my passion for visual storytelling fully. And by no coincidence I am sure, I’m studying Alfred Hitchcock and his work right now and watching other early movies that so happen to be on TV or in the cinema at the film museum. And because your mind is on screenwriting much as well, you start watching those movies with a different eye. How did they do it back then in the good ole days? What do they tell and what don’t they tell or show?
I also happened to watch Quentin Tarantino’s 8th film The Hateful 8 (2015) in the movie theatre in 70 mm. And in this special version, the movie is also longer, Tarantino starts with the old fashion ‘overture’ at the beginning, in old days the screen would remain black and you would hear the soundtrack playing, for about 5 minutes or so. My guess, I haven’t looked it up yet, to get you into the mood of the movie. Music is a very strong medium to get you into the mood of something psychologically. And because modern day audience isn’t used to this anymore, Tarantino displayed a drawn image of the movie with the stage coach and the word ‘overture’ on it, so that the audience wouldn’t get impatient, wondering why there was music but no picture. I remember the first time I saw this with the movie Lawrence Of Arabia (1962), on DVD. Now I’m used to it. And there was an intermission as well and even the movie was anticipating on that, with a voice-over of Quentin himself, explaining what had just happened in the 15 minute break (actually 12 minutes, with again 3 minutes of soundtrack). An interesting thing to think about also in telling the story. I do wonder how it’s done in the normal version, where they had no intermission, my friend tells me. I won’t do a review here, except that I fell in love with the scarf that Samuel L. Jackson wore and one other guy, I also wanted to know the recipe of the yummy looking stew they all ate and I totally fell in love with Minnie’s Haberdashery, where most of the story takes place. Seriously, if I were to ever run a cafe or pub of some kind, I would want it to look like that exactly. I know when you think of screenwriting you might not think of the location where they are, right to the very detail and this will probably be also thought of by the director together with the art direction department, but I do know that that location certainly added to my experience of the movie. I wanted to be there. Well, except for all the blood of course. And I have heard of different reviews of the movie, where they say it’s so long and so much dialogue, but that’s Tarantino. We know this by now, don’t we? I find it very interesting and hats off to you, that you are doing a movie on practically 1 set. Much like a play. It felt like a play to me and coming from writing for the theatre, it felt very home to me. I could relate to it much. Wondering if I should not write the screenplay in one setting or at least very limited settings. I do like that idea, but that’s probably because I’m used to that from writing for the stage.
As I am also watching Hitchcock’s movies now, I have watched Rear Window (1954) and Dial M For Murder (1954) up to this point, I was a newbie until I started studying Hitchcock recently, I find it very interesting how indeed Hitchcock is a very visual filmmaker, he prefers to let the pictures speak for themselves and stay away from too much dialogue. It’s because he is one of the directors who also directed silent films. And I must say, I’m very fond of it. Immediately thinking whether I should make my screenplay with these techniques in mind. Little dialogue, much more leaving it up to the audience to see what is happening. And since my intention is to write the ‘crime-thriller’ story, it would fit right in. Something to think about too.
I do know now that if you’re serious about becoming a filmmaker or screenwriter, not watching or reading old movies is simply dumb. You might say that you want to stay pure and not be influenced or something. But think about it, what if you’re coming up with something that might have already been done exactly the way you’re thinking of. And why not get inspired by those before you and in what way you can bring something across. You can still be pure in your story, but why try to invent the wheel again, when great storytelling tools are right in front of you. And also see what won’t work for you in your mind. I sometimes watch really bad movies as well, you can learn so much from how not to do something. And why not write a remake if you can’t come up with an original idea of your own? Do you know how many remakes there are and done pretty well? I bet you don’t know half of them, I surely didn’t, and most of the originals go back to the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. And all this time I’m thinking that the modern versions are an original. Not so. Even Quentin Tarantino, to stay with him, borrows from older movies, sometimes replicating certain scenes exactly as they were.
Yep, I’m letting the good ole days be my inspiration and teacher as well.