Michael Clayton Shooting Script
Billie Mernit may have written a bestselling book on ‘Writing the Romantic Comedy’, but he also has an entertaining, but professional blog covering topical aspects of the Screenwriting Business and Craft.
I found his recent post ‘The Movie on the Page’ on Tony Gilroy and his script for Michael Clayton was particularly insightful.
“The primary thing in a screenplay is to make the reading experience as identical to seeing the movie as possible… I want the prose to match the tone of the movie. I want it to smell as much like the movie as it possibly can.” Tony Gilroy
Cinematic storytelling — the term that’s come to define this particular approach to screenwriting — involves a kind of three-step process (though these steps are often enacted simultaneously):
1) you conceive your story in filmic terms,
2) you see the movie in your head, and
3) you write the story in a language that vividly communicates that movie’s sounds and images.
‘Their writers have put the movie in their minds on the screenplay page — so specifically that any director worth his lens-knowledge could tell what the movie was supposed to look, sound and feel like.
This technique is not new to Screenwriters – and it may surprise you to know that it is certainly not a new concept for writers of Fiction novels.
For Billie, these award winning screenplays ALL benefit from the technical skill and craft of the screenwriter to vividly and passionately transfer the images and scenes played out inside their own heads onto paper.
Three dimensional sensory images, sensations, settings must be accurately and faithfully re-created on the page so that the reader can re-experience them.
Otherwise, how can the reader – or in this case, cinematographer, recreate that emotional experience for themselves, and live through the life of that character?
That’s our job. Want to read the Shooting Script for Michael Clayton – go here.
For other Oscar movie scripts, try here; http://bigscreenlittlescreen.net/2008/01/10/get-your-scripts/
No Country for Old Men: script (PDF). Written and directed by Ethan and Joel Coen. Based on the book by Cormac McCarthy. Starring Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, and Tommy Lee Jones.–
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: script (PDF). Screenplay by Ronald Harwood. Based on the book by Jean-Dominique Bauby. Directed by Julien Schnabel. Starring Mathieu Amalric.
– The Hoax: script (PDF). Screenplay by William Wheeler. Based on the book by Clifford Irving. Directed by Lasse Hallström. Starring Richard Gere, Alfred Molina, Marcia Gay Harden, Hope Davis, Julie Delpy, and Stanley Tucci.
pic = Warner Bros