Screenwriting

Posted by Dash Shaw on December 12
2 Comments

This is 3 X 4 feet, corkboard and plexiglass with gouache paint behind the first 16 pages of The Social Network script printed onto acetate sheets.

I never used to write scripts for cartoons because I thought film is a visual medium and so only storyboarding made the most sense. Miyazaki does it all in storyboards and someone types a script based on his drawings. Plus, typing something just isn’t as much fun as sitting at a table with a bunch of different colored pens and pencils around. I’d watch interviews with screenwriters on movie “making of” documentaries and they never sounded like writers. They’d say “I loved being rewritten by 16 other people!” or things like that. But my thinking about all this changed after I went to the Sundance Screenwriting Labs.

Now I’ve come to see scripts as one of the great “blueprint” mediums, like storyboards, layouts, and notational drawings. It’s all architecture with no finish product, and that’s where a lot of the magic is, I think. Everything in a notational drawing is a raw idea.

I’d like to see unproduced screenplays published as books, presented as finished objects. Most of the screenwriters I’ve met are genuinely frustrated with the fact that they work in a medium with so much money at stake and people in control. They could strike out on their own and make the blueprint medium not need its execution to give it value– like how people buy books of sketches or maps of imaginary places. The best screenplays actually communicate the spirit and energy of the movie in a raw form. It’s not just the lines for the people to say. Sometimes they’re better than the movie because you get the spirit and it’s so open that you direct and cast it in your mind and it’s a more personal, to you, movie than could be filmed.

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  1. Brett Harder says:

    Dash,
    This is something I’ve thought about from time to time and I think your Duchampish approach really nails it. Sometimes in order to get a true appreciation of something you have to put it in a new context. I feel like a common attitude about screenwriting is that it “generates itself” and is merely a means to an end. Maybe in the future the names of screenwriters will be as valid and well known as the names of directors…

  2. Jamie Moore says:

    They almost look like petals! This reminds me of coming to the work of Chuck Palahniuk through the Film adaptation of his 96 novel ‘Fight Club’. The writing style is minimalist & I recall reading somewhere this decision had been formed in designing literary immediacy for the music video generation. With this, despite differences born from translation, I feel that both the novel & film have a reciprocal relationship while also retaining individual validity, where as for example Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest seems to have lost so much weight in film adaptation tho did gain Jack Nicholson yap.
    the Social Network soundtrack made it for me.
    Love to see your work & thanks for all the rad/interesting stuff you put up.

About
This is a shared production blog for the forthcoming animated feature, "The Ruined Cast," written and directed by Dash Shaw. Produced by John Cameron Mitchell, Howard Gertler, and Biljana Labovic. Contributing artists are Jane Samborski, Frank Santoro, Lily Benson and Ray Sohn. Music by James Lucido.