11th March: American Cinematographer

This week I read Jay Holben’s article from the latest issue, focusing on the process of breaking down a script, establishing visual styles and previsualisation. I found this article to be highly relevant to the stage I am currently at with Wee Wild Flowers.

Holben suggests that it can help to use the initial read-through a script to focus on the narrative and character development. At this stage it can be helpful to note any major visual features specified in the script, notes on genre conventions that may be useful, and the narrative subjectivity (which can be used to inform the prevalence of objective or subjective shots).

The second reading can be used to roughly brainstorm ideas and to align sections of the narrative with visual motifs (eg. a journey from one style to another or a distinction between characters or ‘worlds’). At this point it can be helpful to create a lookbook or moodboard to facilitate conversations with the director. The script can be broken down into story beats and annotated using, tramlines, storyboard thumbnails and floorplans. It is important to keep these initial ideas malleable – be open to what works for the project and the director and ask them questions.

After gaining the director’s input, it can be helpful to make a third pass of the script, using the initial ideas and tone set by the lookbook/moodboard to inform individual scene breakdowns. This is a good point to make notes concerning other departments, including sound, lighting and VFX.

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