ZIP, My Process


Below I have some of the little “check-ins” that I wrote throughout the ZIP project to reflect on the process and to explain the process that I am going through to get a richer understanding of visual metaphors in movies, how to better use dialogue in screenplay, and of the long format screenplay as well as how it differs from short-story screenplay. I hope you enjoy my reflection on the process that I went through during ZIP. (Sorry for the wall of words!)

(Day One)

I would like to learn more about using the parts of the screenplay to my advantage; learn to convey more emotion through dialogue and through the visual depictions in the screenplay and learn to rely more on those parts of the screenplay when telling the story. I really want to get better at using this media to share a story. I would also like to learn more about the different screenplay forms as well as the differences between them. In my ZAP project, I specifically looked at short-story screenplays so this time I would like to learn more about the long form specifically. In the Zip project, I would like to learn to write and perform more powerful dialogue. I would also like to learn more from movies how to film and write my own picture so that I convey more emotions through dialogue and visuals but also more about how the screenplay translates visually.

(Day Two)

Questions: What is the difference between the short-story screenplay and the proper long form screenplay? What can I do to have a stronger stage presence and convey more emotion through my dialogue? What makes powerful dialogue? What are some of the key things I should look for in a movie when analyzing it—how can I apply this knowledge to my project? What are some researching strategies that I can use independently and collaboratively? What are some examples of visual metaphors in stories—how can I use them in my writing? What are some things I can do to show more emotion in the dialogue and visuals—how do other movies and screenplays accomplish this? What are some ways that the filming of a movie impact the mood, emotions conveyed, or even the plot?

Exactly what I don’t know: However, I don’t know very much about how the long form is different from the short-story screenplay. I do know that there is a difference and that the long form is split up in to specific parts to follow. I recall that there are at least five different parts in the simplest outline. I know that the different parts could be compared to some of the basic plotlines or Freytag’s pyramid outline.

I rarely watch movies and know very little about visual representation of screenplays. I know that colours, the placement of things, the light and angle can all affect the mood and meaning of the shot. I know the names of many various shots from writing screenplays and how they look like but I do not know exactly how they might affect the viewer as I have only explored how the angles make me perceive the story. I know that colour association is something very tricky to work with when writing or shooting screenplays and that everyone perceives colours differently so it is hard to use it in visual metaphors. I know that bright light may suggest happiness and that dim light may suggest darker emotions but beyond that I do not know much about how light can affect the mood of a film. I am sure that there are many other visual factors that affect the mood of the film, but I know very little about them or how they actually look.

I know very few research strategies, though I can organize the research well, when it comes to actually researching, I have no specific strategies that I use. When doing collaborative research, I usually split the investigation in to parts that we each individually look at, but I would like to find some strategies that are better for small groups to learn together.

I know quite a few pre-writing strategies but I would like to branch out and try some new approaches that may be more helpful to the format that I am using. I know that brainstorming is something that has been very useful for me, but I would like to look at new tactics to generate ideas and experiment with free writes and looping.

I have never filmed anything in my life besides old home videos. I know absolutely nothing about the rules of filming and editing. I do not know about the creative side of filming and editing or what the things I can and cannot experiment with are.

I do not know too much about writing powerful dialogue, but I know that when performing it you must show lots of emotions through voice volume and inflictions as well as through facial expressions coupled with body language. I know that when delivering powerful dialogue, you should keep people intrigued, even if you must play a shy character, use the silence to your advantage. When performing dialogue, make eye contact and be sure to vary in voice, body language, and facial expressions so that you keep people engaged and interested. Commit to the character that you are playing and use the persona to your benefit when delivering dialogue. When we did our eminent speech in character, it really helped me learn about performing powerful dialogue.

(Day 3)

I read some short story screenplays and watched some short films to recap on what I had learned in the previous project and to identify specific traits of the short story. I learned that short stories don’t have to follow Freytag’s diagram and can look very different from each other. I learned that the in the short story, everything is more condensed and leaves little white space at times. The short story doesn’t really have a specific format, but it must have a subject and a conflict at the very least. I learned that many short stories are very simple and that those are often the most enjoyable for the reader. The short films added more depth in the small period of time often by adding metaphors that suggest deeper topics to be explored by using the angle, the lighting, the colours, placement of objects, movement, and so on to hint at bigger ideas that could not be explored in such a short time and leave it up to the viewer to assign meaning.

Where I got the short films and short story screenplays: This is a really fun website to watch short clips on, all of the short movies are so cute! It’s a great time-sucker…

(Day 4/5)

I then read the “Boyhood” screenplay to get a better idea of the long screenplay format. I choose this screenplay because it was a work that took many years to write and has changed so much over the years and is truly unique in the way that it was written though the story continues to parallel many classics. I found that it was stricter when it came to format and had a much more com. It followed the recommended format that most screenplay follow which is varied but mostly similar. The most popular outline is called the “six stage plot structure”, it has three acts and has five different stages which are, in order: the set-up, new situation, progress, complications and higher stakes, the final push, and the after math. It also consists of five turning points which are, in order: opportunity, change of plans, point of no return, major setback, and climax. These stages, acts and turning points do not quite match up. The three acts and the five turning points are distributed evenly throughout the story but the stages are not all the same length as the set-up is very short and the aftermath is also smaller compared to the other stages. I found that as I read the screenplay, it did follow the “Six stage plot”. In the beginning, we were introduced to the boy and his family and got acquainted with his habits and life-style. Then, his living conditions as well as maturity changed, giving us the new situation. As he continued to grow, he dealt with a lot of feelings around his family, the good and the bad. However, when he gets to be a teenager, he becomes more rebellious and sets back a lot of the progress he has made. Before he goes off to college and moves away from his home, he still struggles have a healthy and happy life style, raising the stakes. The climax of the story is when the boy goes off to college and uses all of the lessons he has learned over and over again at different ages in his circumstances.

Here is an image to demonstrate the “Six Stage Plot Structure”

(Just for fun…)

For my long film, I decided to watch the Tree of life, the Grand Budapest Hotel, and Interstellar. I set out to only watch one movie, but as I went along I realized that there were so many different ways to look at this topic. So, I looked from a visually symbolic standpoint and how visuals move plot, then I looked purely at eye pleasing visuals and how they are created, then I looked at stunning visuals that I could not create but helped a lot in setting the stage and mood for the movie though it didn’t move plot very much on its own. Some of the things that I got out of watching these three very different movies are that to make visual metaphors you must often be blunter and have many shots of the metaphor so that viewers clearly understand the meaning behind the shot. I learned that when trying to create a visual metaphor that parallel is extremely important. I learned how different filters or film angles can indicate a different view point to suggest deeper meaning. I learned that to create very pleasing visuals that the elements and principles of design are very important and that a variety of them in a film is very good. As I watched some of these movies I saw emerging colour palates that I must say were very enjoyable and helped set the tone of the movie more. I learned that close up shots are very good to show emotions and that worm’s eye view suggests imbalance. Throughout the movies I saw how amazing many compilations were and how they can fast forward a story with ease and grace. Some of the things I will keep in mind when I begin to film a part from the screenplay is the angle, the elements and principles of design, colour palate, filters on the camera, length of shots/ amount of empty space and implications of all of these things/ how they will affect your viewing of the plot. I also learned that CGI is super cool and that you can do a lot with it. Just because I know that a lot of information about that topic won’t be applicable to me, I won’t expand too much.


Vanessa Lee who helped me pick out the movies to watch and has been a big help in better understanding movies!

(Day 6/7)

My partner and I brainstormed a lot of ideas but decided on one. We decided to do a short movie about those awkward moments that many of can relate to. We wanted to show deeper themes through very arbitrary, everyday things for the most part. We decided to have many smaller stories in one so that we can focus on more than one theme in our short film. We decided to film only one of the smaller stories fully so that we would have a product that is more fully formed. We have only decided on the first two scenes so far and will soon come up with the third. In the first scene we wanted to have a commentary on isolation and community. In the second scene we wanted to show themes that relate to controversial topics as well as the idea of right and wrong.

I think that together we made a much better outline and that all of the ideas became more cohesive as they were subjected to more lenses by more people. I think that setting up a google doc to read and write outlines as well as the screenplay itself was very useful.

(Day 7/8/9)

I think that so far, I have done a good job of sticking to my schedule of learning, however, just like last time, I gave myself too much to write. Doing this with a partner makes it easier, but I still think that reaching a goal of 8,000 words is a bit too much. I think that knowing that I wanted to have a short-story screenplay, I really came up with ideas that could be shown very briefly. I think that to expand the screenplay in to 8,000 words would be overkill since I could tell the same story in less time and in a more direct way. I think that even though I will have a smaller product than expected, I will at least have a fully finished product. I think it’s better to have less work of a higher quality than lots of work that is not as good quality. I think that I am on the right track but need to spend more time talking to my partner in writing about how we want to portray the chosen themes.

I think that in my writing I have gotten good at using visual metaphors, but that my dialogue still isn’t strong. I use it very sparingly and would like to incorporate it more as I edit the screenplay.

(Day 10)

We have also filmed parts of this screenplay just to experiment. I think that the dialogue we filmed from the gas station scene was pretty good and gave me some practice with speaking from a script. The other part that we filmed was the entire cookie scene. It was really rainy, so it was very hard, but I think that it will turn out okay. This product will only be viewed at the presentation because I can’t currently add it in to my DOL.

(Day 11)

I think that I did pretty well with this project. I stuck to all of the timelines, and I definitely challenged myself by actually filming some of the screenplay. I think that the screenplay itself is okay, but could be a lot more cohesive or thematic. I think that having a more thorough outline from the beginning to the end would have been better. I also would have liked to have more time just to edit all of the small issues and to make it more united somehow. However, separately, I think that all three stories stand well on their own. I really enjoyed this project and since it was my second time around doing it, it was much easier to write in the format and I could just focus on the content. Yet, it was hard to write this with another person because they did not know the format and I had to teach as I went and at some points it was hard to explain certain things. All in all, I think that I did a good job though I could have edited to make it more cohesive, I think that the process was still pretty smooth.

(Day 12)

Today I am finished with my project and am heading off to Hawaii! I am really excited that I now have a final product, but also extremely relieved that I am now finished. I really liked doing this type of project and am excited to continue in self directed learning while doing In-Depth.


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