Moving Narratives – Corrie W

STRUCTURING A SCRIPT

ACT I: The first act of a screenplay is usually 25–35 pages long. The first 10 minutes should present the “normal world” of your film, before everything goes haywire. The end of Act I should be a “point of no return.” Usually something is taken away from your protagonist, and they can never go back to the way things were. They have no choice but to continue into Act II.

ACT II: It can be helpful to think of Act II as two parts – Act 2a and Act 2b. Act 2a is usually about 30 pages long. This is the part of the film where your protagonist is ‘reacting’ to the pressures of their changed world. Act 2b begins when your protagonist’s worst fears nearly come true. After that, they sit up and say “wait a minute! I can handle this!” They stop “reacting” and take control of the situation. Act 2b can be short: Even 15 pages long. It ends when the plot ensnares your protagonist and propels them toward a “mini-climax.” This is a high point for your protagonist. Everything’s working out as sweet as a Sunday ham…

ACT III: Reality returns at the beginning of Act III when your protagonist’s false victory is immediately undone by a huge setback. This is their “all is lost” moment. The Ghostbusters go to jail—their gig is up! But wait, what’s that you say? A call from the mayor? New York needs the boys in grey and their radioactive weaponry? You got it. After “all is lost,” your protagonist will usually receive some new information. They see the light, and will now race toward the resolution of their journey.

http://2012.scriptfrenzy.org/node/402156 (01/02/2013)

Character development:

Knowing how to create characters for film is crucial. All screenplays begin with believable heroes and villains. Without compelling characters, the audience will not care about what happens in the story and there is no film.

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WALL-E

In the distant future, a small waste collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.

I really like Wall-E, I think it’s a really nice film, very enjoyable. We follow a small waste collecter called Wall-E, rummaging around the deserted wasteland looking for anything he can find. He eventually comes across a plant, not knowing its importance, he takes it with him anyway and carries on looking around. Shortly followed by this comes the arrival of Eve, a more polished and futuristic robot that has been sent to earth to look for plants in order to save the human race that are living on a huge ship in space.

When watching we see that Wall-E is alone and looking for love and a partner to share his life with, and when Eve arrives, he instantly falls in love with her, but she, at the beginning shows that she is not interested and is focussed on finding the plant.

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Working title: “INCURSION”

As I’m really interested in extraterrestrial life I want to base a story around this. I’m only really interested in realistic depictions of alien life and their goals if they ever visited earth. I love reading about UFO sightings and abduction stories, I love the mystery behind it, much like Bigfoot, I love that there are photos and video footage of them and that people are still out there to this day determined to find one. I think if I was told everything right now about if aliens are real or whatever I think it would just ruin it, the world needs mystery.
Idea:
I want to do a story following a small town’s experience of worldwide visit from alien life forms. It starts with the small farm town of Garland, where we see the everyday life and get to know the characters that inhabit the town. Then day by day weird things start happening, live stock go missing, people go missing, hospital patients go missing. It soon breaks out all over international news broadcasts about the incidents and we see it is happening all over the world. The town of Garland are in panic, and many think its the end of the world when a large black disc shaped craft hovers above the town. Hundreds more appear all over the world, seeing this the world leaders and governments join together and plan a war to obliterate the so called threat out of the sky.
This is where we see that the live stock and people that went missing start showing up again, all with one thing in common; they had life threatening illnesses but are now cured. The people of Garland and the rest of the world soon realise they are not a threat, they are a miracle.
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In Bucks County, Pennsylvania, a five-hundred-foot crop circle is found on the farm of Graham Hess, the town’s reverend. The circles cause a media frenzy and test Hess’s faith as he journeys to find out the truth behind the crop circles.
I love this film because it’s not your average hollywood alien invasion blockbuster, it’s very limited in what it shows and it’s what you don’t see which is the most powerful and memorable scenes.
Like this scene, Bo can’t sleep and claims there is a monster outside her room, Graham reassures her that there is no monster and whilst taking her back to bed, takes a glimpse out of the window and sees a tall skinny figure on the barn roof  outside. The shot looking through the window lasts a second and on first viewing you may miss it but it is such a creepy scene which sets the film’s tone so perfectly.

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A group of men who were clearing bush for the government arrive back in town, claiming that their friend was abducted by aliens. Nobody believes them, and despite a lack of motive and no evidence of foul play, their friends’ disappearance is treated as murder.
This film recreates the strange events which happened November 5, 1975 in the town Snowflake, Arizona. Travis Walton works as a logger in the woods. When he and his colleagues drive home after work, they encounter an UFO. For the next five days Travis disappears and his colleagues are accused of murder. When he reappears, first he didn’t remember that he was gone, but in time the terrible memories come back…
This is one of my personal favourites when it comes to alien films, apart from the opening and closing of the film, you don’t see any aliens or ufo’s, the film is driven by the group of loggers trying to get the police and people of their small town to believe their story. I really like the character of Mike Rogers played by Robert Patrick in the film, he is the natural leader of the group, very hard and well driven, but also has a soft side when you see him interacting with his two young daughters and wife. His best friend and fellow logger; Travis Walton played by D.B. Sweeney, is in a relationship with his sister, which makes his character very protective, but when Travis is abducted, he shows a different side to him, a caring and worried side towards Travis that we hadn’t seen before. I like this character and would like my main character to possess some of these character traits.
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Mike Rogers (Robert Patrick)
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In 1972, a scale of measurement was established for alien encounters. When a UFO is sighted, it is called an encounter of the first kind. When evidence is collected, it is known as an encounter of the second kind. When contact is made with extraterrestrials, it is the third kind. The next level, abduction, is the fourth kind. Modern-day, Alaska, where-mysteriously since the 1960s-a disproportionate number of the population has been reported missing every year. Despite multiple FBI investigations of the region, the truth has never been discovered. Here in this remote region, psychologist Dr. Abigail Tyler began videotaping sessions with traumatized patients and unwittingly discovered some of the most disturbing evidence of alien abduction ever documented. The Fourth Kind exposes the terrified revelations of multiple witnesses. Their accounts of being visited by alien figures all share disturbingly identical details, the validity of which is investigated throughout the film.
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This is another great film looking at alien encounters in a different way. Although im not really a fan of the style of the film, the way the “real archive footage” ties in with the rest of the film takes me out of believing it because I know it’s not real footage. But it does have some really interesting thoughts on why aliens would abduct and do abduct people, how they use our own brains against us and how we will probably never know the truth behind it all.
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As the Barret family’s peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them.
This is a very new horror/alien abduction film that I recently watched in cinemas so I thought it deserved a little bit of acknowledgement. This was an ok film, I liked little sequences here and there, though the story did fall a little flat, but I am glad people are revisiting alien stories in films, stories that could maybe happen, with realistic depictions of aliens (well, as realistic as they can be), I think that’s why I love films like ‘Signs’ and ‘Fire in the Sky’ so much, because I like believing that it could truly happen.
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This next film “Alien Abduction” or often referred to as “The McPherson Tape”, is a TV movie made in 1998, it is a found footage film, and in my opinion, one of the best out there, it follows a family filming their thanksgiving celebration party at their home when they see strange lights on their farm. They investigate the noises and lights and later find out that it is an alien encounter they are experiencing. Back when this came out in 1998 (a year before The Blair Witch Project), audiences were absolutely terrified by the film and was hoaxed as real footage. Although looking back at it now it is very obvious the aliens are men in suits (much like Close Encounters of the Third Kind), it is still a really powerful piece of film making, the acting is so genuine and believable it makes it that much more terrifying. When talking about alien films I have to get this in there somewhere because, much like ‘Fire in the Sky’, it has become forgotten and not many people have heard of it.
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A music video I made for the ED Media course at PCA was the main source of inspiration for my script idea. The music video I made was for the song “Bigger Than Us” by White Lies. The story follows a young man who sees a news report about strange lights in the woods in his town, he and other people of the town go to the location to find out for themselves what it is. They all join together, total strangers, and share this miraculous experience together; an alien encounter.
I have always been fascinated by the idea of aliens coming to earth to help us, and ever since I made this music video I knew I wanted to create a proper story based on it.

Bigger Than Us from Aden Barwick on Vimeo.

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Here is my film poster, inspired (and totally ripped off) from the “Independence Day” (1996) poster. As I am not really that great using Photoshop, this was pretty much all I could really think to do as I wanted a nice looking poster and if I tried to do this myself it would look horrendous.
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The Dark Knight movie poster
The song and pictures that inspire my script.

The song I chose was “Bigger Than Us” by White Lies, the music video is a re-imagining of the classic scene in “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” where E.T. is dying and the doctors are trying to save him, with Elliot by his side, but in the video they replaced E.T. with a giant chocolate bar with a little girl trapped inside. I love the video being a huge fan of E.T. for obvious reasons, and it’s interesting because the lyrics in the song don’t really have anything to do with aliens or anything like that, but the sound of it really takes you to another place, for me anyway, and it helps me invision my film when I listen to it.

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Also the photographs, all by Gregory Crewdson, showcase the style I want in my film and the sort of look and feel im looking for, they are very similar to the feel of the films I have talked about above such as; “Fire in the Sky” and “The Fourth Kind”.

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Mike Hiller

Mike Hiller is the main protagonist in the film, with the story basing around him and his families’ account and experience of the alien encounters.

6ft tall, medium build, blue eyes, short brown/grey hair.

Mike is a 41 year old widower, and father of two. He works and lives at his farm with his two children; Emily Hiller (7 years old) and Steven Hiller (16 years old). His wife; Jasmine Hiller, died of brain cancer when Emily was 5 and Steven was 14, and he has troubles coming to terms with his loss. He has become a recluse, and has shut himself away emotionally from the outside world.

He had a bumpy marriage with Jasmine, they often disputed because they wanted different things out of life, and it only got worse when she was diagnosed with brain cancer. They both broke down emotionally and he wishes their time together from the lead up to her death was spent differently.

He is a good father, hard-working, but gives no time to himself to relax or have some time to think, he’s always keeping himself busy on the farm because this is the only way he knows how to deal with the loss of his wife and he doesn’t want to be found doing nothing because he knows all he’ll do is think about it.

He didn’t have the best relationship with his father growing up, they never saw eye to eye, mainly because his father was a hard worker and forced him to work with him on his farm at an early age.

IFP Presents The 17th Annual Gotham Awards - Arrivals

Steven Hiller

5ft 9, athletic build, long brown hair, brown eyes.

Steven Hiller is Mike’s 16 year old son. He has an on and off relationship with his father, mainly due to the fact that Steven doesn’t like how Mike has changed because of the loss of Jasmine. He thinks Mike needs to step up and carry on being the father he used to be, especially for Emily’s sake.

He had an amazing relationship with his mother and loved her very much, he has dealt with her death really well and stays strong for his sister.

He has an inseparable bond with his younger sister Emily, and ever since she was born he has made it his duty to look after her and be her friend no matter what, especially as Mike has been in a bad way emotionally ever since Jasmine’s death.

Steven is an aspiring astronomer and plays baseball for his high school team.

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Emily Hiller

4ft 3, small, long blonde hair, blue eyes.

Emily Hiller is Mike’s 7 year old daughter. She is very smart for her age, more so than kids at that age are expected to be. She loves drawing and reading books, and has great knowledge of the world and people’s feelings. She is top of all of her classes in school, Steven and Mike are so proud of her but only Steven shows it. She always talks about wanting to be president of the United States, and Steven always tells her she can be whatever she wants to be.

Emily often shares moments with her father Mike, moments of silent grieving, they just look at each other in silence and they don’t have to say anything, they just embrace each other.

Emily and Jasmine had an unbreakable unity up until her death, Emily wanted to be just like her, she would copy her and play cook when she was cooking everyone dinner, she was attached at the hip to her mother, and when Jasmine died, Emily didn’t shed one tear, she didn’t know how to feel.

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Jasmine Hiller (deceased)

5ft 6, medium build, long brown hair, blue eyes.

 Jasmine Hiller was Mike Hiller’s wife and the mother of Emily and Steven. She was diagnosed with brain cancer when she was 37 and died when she was 39.

She and Mike’s final years together were very rough, almost ending up in divorce, causing Mike to become estranged to their two children.

Although the last years were rough, their previous lives together were spent happily raising their children in a good home, both loving towards each other and Emily and Steven.

Jasmine worked as a chemist and always let Steven and Emily where her long white lab coat when they were growing up. She carried around a gold pocket watch with a picture of Steven and Emily inside which was left behind for them both when she died.

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Blake Walton

6ft, slightly overweight, grey balding hair, green eyes

Blake is an old family friend of the Hiller’s, he is Mike’s old college room mate and long time friend. He is 44 years old, slightly older than Mike. He works as a forklift driver at a building supplier firm called Kelvins. He often comes by the farm and helps Mike with anything he needs. He is a loyal friend of Mike, he is Mike’s only friend that he feels he can talk to.

Blake has no children and was divorced when he was 37 after a 13 year long marriage because Blake developed a drinking problem after the death of his father.

He has a great relationship with Emily and Steven, they refer to him as “Uncle Blake” and he cares for them as if they were his very own.

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STANDARD SCENE LAYOUT

Opening scene:

It opens on a big farm field, the sun is just coming up, we see the house in the distance and see cows grazing. There are around four cows, and there is focus on this certain cow separated from the others, he is not moving and almost completely frozen. The wind picks up and tension builds, trees blow around furiously and the chimes on the outside of the house jingle and jangle. The other cows panic but the lone cow remains frozen. The entire field lights up in a blinding white light, the wind and chimes stop, it is completely silent, the light slowly fades out after about 5 seconds and we see that the lone cow is gone.

Character opening scene:

It’s around 8:30 am the following morning. The opening shot is of a family photo of the Hiller’s, in the photo is Mike, Jasmine, Steven and Emily. We can hear a news report in the background, stating numerous missing animal reports in the Garland area over the past 24 hours, but this is not acknowledged yet. We see Mike in the kitchen alone standing by the kitchen sink with his coat on as he has just prepared cereal for Emily, we see him from behind, and he continues to stare into the sink.

He then walks out the back door to work on the farm.

We then see Emily’s bedroom, pink and girl, and we can hear her talking on a walkie talkie to Steven in his bedroom, establishing his bedroom and all of his astronomy stuff on the walls. They talk about Dad and if he will ever be happy again.

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All of my script writing was done entirely on Adobe Story, which is amazing and it’s free. Writing this script was very challenging, I have never done a proper script before, and naturally I was very excited to write one, but during the process of actually planning it out, I had no idea how much discipline it takes and how much you have to think about when writing a script.

One of the most helpful and most fun aspects of the script writing planning was definitely the character bios. It was really fun making characters completely from scratch and making them exactly who you wanted to be. For my characters, I gave them a lot of character traits from my favourite alien films. For example; I wanted a strong, smart young daughter, I based Emily off of Gert from “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” with her strong personality and adult like wit, and I also based her off of Rachael from “War of the Worlds” with her close bond with her older brother. The Hiller surname and Steven’s name came from Will Smith’s character “Steven Hiller” in “Independence Day”. Blake Walton is named after Travis Walton from “Fire in the Sky”, and I liked the idea of the single father character and how that creates conflict between the family which I based slightly off of Graham Hess in “Signs”.

Writing these character bios allowed me to dig deeper into the story and build a family the audience can relate to and connect emotionally to, and without the character bios I would have found it incredibly difficult to do that.

I wrote the script in one single, as I did re-writes as I was going, which looking back, took a lot longer. The hardest part about writing this script was keeping it interesting and still to the characters that I built in my character bios. I wanted to stick solely to the character bios because I knew if I made up random stuff as i was writing it would confuse the story and create messy plot holes.

As I couldn’t write the full feature length script, I wrote it from the beginning until I got as far in as I felt comfortable with and there was enough for the reader to understand the story, and then I wrote the last few pages for the ending. I did the first 16 pages, and then the last four pages.

I really enjoyed this script writing assignment, it has given a greater knowledge and a greater appreciation for script writers and the work that goes into writing a script, I’m also happy because I can use this script for myself in the future if I ever get stuck and need a film idea, having a full professional script is really handy to have.

Overall I am happy with my script, I think I did alright for my first attempt, it was very challenging but really fun and helpful now that I have the confidence and the knowledge now to be able start scripting my own films properly now. I wish I gave myself more time with developing characters, although I am happy with how it turned out and happy with my characters, I just wish I could of made a couple more to create more diversity.

Looking back at my research I feel I implemented my ideas and the stuff from existing film characters just the way I planned, and on the way I feel I moulded them just right to make them new and interesting, hopefully.

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NOW HERE ARE MY LAST FOUR PAGES – ENDING

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JHGH

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