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Melissa Mostyn-Thomas is torn between film-making convention and arthouse / 25 November 2010

Wall of BSL 'visual noise'

Wall of BSL 'visual noise'. Composition by Melissa Mostyn-Thomas

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Writing a script is SO HARD.

Recently I received a report from an independent script editor contracted by Neath Films. While his feedback was great – he thought my idea had a lot of potential for drama and conflict – he had issues with its formatting and the central character’s conflict.

The arc isn’t clear, he was suggesting. Who are we supposed to side with, the CODA (child of deaf adults) who tries to defend her mother at all costs, or is it the mother herself? Isn’t the CODA the focal point of the story?

Apparently, according to Neath’s Jim Tracy, my film runs like a digital installation in an art gallery. I took it as a compliment. I am, after all, drawing inspiration from David Lynch, master of the weird, and British artist-cum-film-maker Steve McQueen.

Glen certainly understood my intention to make an experimental film but, as Jim pointed out the other week, essentially I’m writing for TV watchers. He’s got a point. Who wants to watch drama like Twin Peaks at 7.30am on a weekday?

I am torn. I understand the need for formatting, but once I start following scriptwriting conventions, don’t I run the risk of losing the fun bit – the going-off-the-wall bit? To be fair both Glen and Jim do encourage the use of mood boards and visual references to convey the symbolic mood.

It’s obvious they can see how formatting i.e. avoiding a script (which strictly details only what will be on screen) reading like a film treatment (a written explanation of the action – what we see and hear and what the characters do – that leaves a lot to the imagination) can affect the experimental feel.

I do not suit convention. Or is it vice versa? My life is anything but. Why should my film be an exception to the rule? Is this what it means to be a tortured artist? PLEASE HELP. 

Keywords: film,scriptwriting conventions,zoom 2011,coda