The visual medium is the essence of “show, don’t tell.” A lot of scripts I’m seeing this year seem to have disregarded the fact that these stories should be a blueprint for something visual.
This reading season has been the season of the chatty dramedy. By dramedy, I mean stories that at their essence aren’t funny, but aren’t dramatic. There are no core dramatic stakes. They fall into the Netherlands of just being blaah, neither here nor there. For some reason, lately I’ve been reading a deluge of scripts about characters sitting, stagnant, in one location, chatting.
They’re boring. They would be boring to watch, and they’re also boring to read.
It is entirely possible to make a tiny little movie about people talking and also to have amazing locations and shots. Crazy Heart would be a good example of just this type of film. The New Mexico landscape is incredibly hopeful – and the spirit of this translated directly into the movie.
Try to keep in mind that movies are something we watch. This means that if you actually went to the theatre and paid your $11, you would probably be disappointed if all you saw was one location and chatting. That’s why we pay to go see movies where people blow up shit. It’s fun to watch.
If you are writing the type of story that does entail people to sit around and chat about stuff, then challenge yourself to come up with the most interesting location for those scenes. Think about how location can have a broader impact upon the material, both in terms of dramatic stakes but also thematically.