Last Book Club Post

Book club has been going very well this past week, however, I am sad to say that it is coming to an end. This is the one of the last projects that we are all doing together. We are all writing reviews of All the Light We Cannot See to summarize our thoughts on the book before moving on to our final project together. If you want to check out some other blogs that have reviews of All the Light We Cannot See look at the blogs of Sydney, Kaliegh, Vanessa, and Racheal. If you plan on reading the book in the future and do not want to spoil it for yourself, then reading my blog or the blogs of others may not be the best idea, however, here are some reviews with less spoilers if you are considering reading the book.

In this review, I will be looking at all components of the book including plot, character, setting/mood, symbolism, style/voice, and theme to come to a conclusion at the end where I will rate the book on a five-star scale. This post is similar to my first, however, I have a lot more insight on the book now and can draw better conclusions than I could have in my First Impressions blog. I hope that you find this review helpful, if you have any questions about my opinions on the book, comment below!

The plot of the book was very simple but told in great detail. I liked that the action was spread out over the course of many years, it made the story feel like it could have been real. I think that though the story does romanticize war, it does try to show how people on all sides of the war are capable of good and evil. I liked that the story did not just involve the French and German but also the Russian to show that everyone was right and wrong at the same time. The examples used in the story to illustrate theme were used sparingly but powerfully. Werner’s point of view was pretty dark as it followed him going to a Nazi school where his strong sense of morality was broken down and built back up again. He then was forced into the war to track down terrorist broadcasts. Werner is always with other people in his plot, but is very independent from them. He forgets to write his sister. Soon Werner finds out about Marie-Laure through the radio broadcasts she sends and one day he follows her through Saint Malo. The radio broadcasts she sends after the bombing of Saint Malo motivate Volkehmier and Werner to escape from under the rubble and fight to live. Though the meeting between Werner and Marie-Laure is brief it has a big impact on the both of them. Werner dies close to the end of the book by a landmine which was laid out by German soldiers. His death was foreshadowed earlier in the book and it showed that war kills not the enemy, but a fellow human. I liked that Werner’s death had a reason behind it in the book, but it made the end of the book much darker. Soon the plot follows Jutta who is raped by Russian soldiers when they occupy Berlin. She later gets notice that Werner is dead and years later she is given his belongings. Werner’s belongings lead her to find Marie-Laure and they talk, it is a very profound moment in the book where two plots come together again. In Marie-Laure’s plot is more relatable for me and I like that she continues to live life as normally as she can leading up to the war. Marie-Laure flees Paris with her father and ends up in Saint Malo with her uncle Etienne and Madam Manec. Here Marie-Laure learns the wonders of the world around her when she walks the town, goes to the beach, or has imaginary adventures with her uncle. However, throughout her plot, we see her become more independent as she helps in the resistance movement broadcasting information and as the people around her leave. Her father is arrested never to be seen again but for the few letters her writes. Madam Manec dies. Etienne is also arrested but later reunited with Marie-Laure after the siege is over. Soon Marie-Laure finds herself all alone during the war with Von Rumple looking through the house for the Sea of Flames. Werner shots Von Rumple and saves Marie-Laure. They share the last can of peaches madam Manec ever made and talked about their lives. Werner suggested that he hadn’t lived his own life for a long time up until that day. He Admired that Marie-Laure lived life as regularly as she could. Later on Marie-Laure returns to Paris with Etienne in her old home and decides to go to school and soon she works at the museum. She meets with Jutta and finds the key to the grotto where she hid the sea of flames in Werner’s belongings. She hints that she knows it is still where she left it. The book than fast forwards all the way to 2014 the year of its publishing and shows Marie-Laure talking to her grandson imagining all the worlds with in worlds around them as he plays a video game. The plot overall is very poetic, delicate, and intricate. I have deep appreciation for the execution of this book and its success of telling such a brilliantly simple story with such great detail and wonder.

The characters in this book were all very well developed and had a humanity that made them seem very real. The changes of the characters were as subtle as could be, yet all of these small changes added up and it is only now reflecting back on the novel as a whole that I can appreciate the development of the characters. I liked that the book showed characters from all ages, genders, and genders on different sides of the war. Even when describing the Russian soldier who raped Jutta, he is described as he had been mourning for his friends who were fallen soldiers. Doerr was not afraid to show the darkness with in his characters, and I liked that. Werner seems to struggle throughout the book with his morals and the morals imposed on him by the army and by the Nazi school. He seems to have an internal struggle with this throughout the novel and cycles between his own morals and the morals of others. Werner becomes a much smarter character but with new knowledge he seems to loose more of his curiosity and child-like wonder. He becomes a lot more hardened through out the book, but when he is with Marie-Laure and even with Volkehmier in the rubble, he begins to open up. In the scene where Werner is near the ocean, we see he and Marie-Laure both have a fascination with the ocean showing his child-like side again. I found it hard to relate on a personal level with the character as we did not have a lot in common, but it was easy to see his perspective on life through his actions and dialogue. Marie-Laure starts as a very innocent young girl, and though she begins to learn more and faces unthinkable hardships, she continues to have that innocent young girl inside of her. Though Marie-Laure becomes much more mature, wise and self-aware through the book, she stays true to herself and continues to be curious about the world around her. I personally related to Marie-Laure’s better because we both seem to be interested by everything. In the scene where Marie-Laure and Werner talk, it is easy to see that they are both still children at heart. Though the character changes happen slowly and subtly, I now appreciate it looking back at how much the characters have truly changed.

The setting for this book change very often but there were three main time periods, pre-war, war, and post-war. This setting made for a lot of anticipation continuously. The settings were always described very well. The setting was very important to the plot, theme, symbolism, and character. I think that the setting obviously motivates the plot a lot of the time because it is a historical fiction book at a time of war. The setting helped move plot as when the settings changed, the mood of the book did too, changing the characters ever so slightly. For example, when Werner first went to Nazi school, he became more hardened moving the character and plot development forward. All of the different settings showed that people who are different in nationality, gender, culture, class, or whatever else are actually similar as we all have a humanity that unites us. Showing such a wide variety of characters from such different places really emphasized that theme. The mood varied greatly throughout the plot and from character. I don’t usually enjoy historical fiction, but I did enjoy this book a lot and I think I enjoy it partially because of the setting, not in spite of it.

The symbolism in this book was less explicit than I am used to, but I enjoyed that I had to think twice about it. Radios and music, especially ‘Clair de Lune,’ are both symbols of hope in this. An example of this is when Werner and Jutta first listen to the radio as a children and think about a world beyond their own where everything will be okay. Another example was when Werner and Volkehmier listen to the radio underneath the rubble they are buried in, the music from the radio gives them hope and the attempt to and succeed in escaping from underneath the building. Shells, Jules Vern adventure novels, and locks with keys represent the theme of worlds with in worlds. This is shown by the way Marie-Laure lines up shells on her windowsill at home in Paris and in Saint Malo in both of her ‘worlds’. The lock and key represents the pathway to other worlds, for example, in the very beginning when the safe to the Sea of Flames is described in the novel. The Sea of Flames is the last symbol that I discerned from the book and it represents that all that is beautiful may not be good and all that is good may not be beautiful. The diamond has a ‘curse’ on it and it shows the dark sides of the characters as well as the good once they let go of the diamond. This is especially clear in Von Rumple who through his search of the diamond becomes very ill. I liked that throughout the book the symbols stayed the same but had different meanings at different points in the novel; the true importance of the symbols emphasized further into the novel. I liked that I had to look harder for the symbols, it made me appreciate them a lot more.

The style and voice in this novel was my favourite part. It was easy to read because the chapters were so short. I liked that the perspective switched between characters, it helped emphasize the theme that people who are different are actually similar. I liked that the story followed not just Marie-Laure and Werner, but also Daniel LeBlanc, Etienne LeBlanc, Madame Manec, Jutta Pfennig, Frau Elena, Frank Volkheimer, Frederick, Dr. Hauptmann, Reinhold von Rumpel, and Madame Ruelle. The voice changed character to character which made for a diverse pool of characters. The writing was very descriptive but used simple words which made for a very interesting combination. The dialogue was used sparingly, but it was used well. Doerr really showed character traits through action and used dialogue to more explicitly state character motivation. The pacing of the book made it feel very realistic.

All the Light we Cannot See explores the tragedies of war, the idea of worlds with in worlds, free will versus predetermination, moral relativism, and the significance of seemingly insignificant actions. I like how well all of these themes were woven together throughout the book. I thought that the themes were introduced subtly and slowly culminating in the end in scenes that more explicitly explored the themes of the book. I really liked the meeting between Werner and Marie-Laure because the characters talked more explicitly about the themes of moral relativism, free will versus predetermination, and hinted towards the theme of significance of insignificant actions. Werner and Marie-Laure talked about their lives and philosophies while sharing a can of peaches. I think that the tragedies of war was shown very obviously in Jutta’s perspective when she is forced to work from a young age and is raped at a young age because of the war. The idea of worlds within worlds is beautifully showcased through the diamond which is hidden in the city model in Etienne’s house by the small house with in the large house. The whole book is a series of small insignificant events that soon lead to significant changes and I really liked that this theme was gradually shown throughout the book. The themes were incorporated into the book very well and some of the themes are very unique to this book. Many historical fiction novels have similar themes, but All the Light We Cannot See is ingenious in the way the themes are so easily applicable to this day and age.

Considering all of the parts of the book I would give All the Light We Cannot See a 4.5/5 stars because though I really enjoyed the characters, theme, symbolism, and especially the style of the book I sometimes found the plot to be a little slow and even dark towards the end. I also thought that the book did romanticize war but I liked that the writing style was still very realistic in its description and mostly in its pacing. I think that this is a great read for anyone who likes poetic writing, thinking deeply about the meaning behind the book, and historical fiction. I don’t usually like historical fiction, but the setting really adds to the themes, plot, characters, style, and symbolism in this book. It’s a good book to read by the fire in winter as it is a heavier read. Over all I really enjoyed this book and I am very happy that I had the opportunity to read and study All the Light We Cannot See as a part of our book club. I hope that you found this review helpful and that you consider reading All the Light We Cannot See in the future as it is a true delight.

Book Club Letter Assignment

For our second book club assignment, we were supposed to write a letter between two characters in the book. I have chosen to write from the perspective of Werner writing to Jutta. If you want to look at previous posts and refresh on the plot of the book, here is the link.  Since the last post however, there have been new developments in the book. To understand these letters it is important to know that Werner has now joined the army and is using his radio skills to pin-point enemy broadcasts. Werner has also become more aware of himself and his surroundings; he is less susceptible to the ideas the Reich is promoting and has disregarded many of the values of the Reich. Werner is beginning to see the similarities between people on both sides of the war effort, and is once again softening up. I hope that you enjoy the small exchange I created; the first letter from Jutta is from the book and I wrote the second one from Werner.

Jutta’s letter to Werner

Dear Werner,

Why don’t you write. Things seem to be getting worse and worse every day here. The factories run day and night and the stacks never stop smoking and its been cold here so everyone burns everything to stay warm. Sawdust, hard coal, lime, garbage. War widows cry on the streets. So many soldiers have died at war and every day there are more. I’m working at the laundry with the twins, Hannah and Susanne, and Claudia Forster, you remember her, we’re mending tunics and trousers mostly. I am getting better with a needle so at least I’m not pricking myself all the time. Right now I just finished my homework. Do you have homework? There are fabric shortages and people bring slip covers, curtains, old coats. Anything that can be used they say must be used. Just like all of us here. Ha. I found this under your cot. Seems like you could use it.

Love, Jutta

Werner’s letter to Jutta

Dear Jutta,

Sorry I have not written in a long time; I have been very busy. I have left school, they put me in the front lines. A commander called me into his office one night, and said that I had been pretending to be 16 so I would not have to go to war. He said that Dr. Hauptman brought it to his attention. I left very soon after. I am 18 now according to all legal documents. I got a haircut and I met some interesting people here; Neumann and Neumann two, they are nice enough. I miss Fredrick though. He left school when he was beat badly by some boys. I recently visited him and he did not even remember me, it was too sad to bare. Yet I miss you more than anyone else, but I wouldn’t want you to be here. I can’t say where I am, but its very cold here. I’m sorry to hear that it is cold at home as well, but I am happy to know that you are safe with Frau Elena.

I got sick a few weeks ago and I thought of Frau Elena’s stews. Does Frau Elena still make stews for everyone at the orphanage? Are there still enough supplies still for you all to live well? It seems like we too are running out of resources here.

I have found out why they wanted me to learn trigonometry. To triangulate broadcasts. All these triangles, all these numbers, they mean more to me now. They are places, people, lives at stake in the war. They are people like you and me living in places like Schulpforta and Zollverein, struggling to make it through this war. We have both been put into use in this war, like you said in your last letter, but I wonder if it is worth anything.

They want me to look for terrorist broadcasts. Don’t the people we are fighting want the same thing as us; peace?

I know that this letter probably will not reach you, and if it does, I think most of it will be censored. I hope that you understand that it has been hard for me to write to you; it is hard to be truthful. Sometimes writing feels hopeless, but then I remember that you are my hope. The only thing that helps get through this is the thought that one day soon I will see you again. Stay safe, Jutta.

Thank you for sending my journal. It means a lot. It reminds me of when we used to listen to the radio together.

Love, Werner

I really wanted to do the censored letter as well to draw contrast and show the gap  between what is said and what is meant. If you want to check out some more letters, go to these blogs: Sydney, Vanessa, Rachael, Kaleigh!

Book Club First Impression Post

Image result for all the light we cannot see

For our first book club assignment, we were assigned to write a first impressions blog post. I will be covering my thoughts and feelings about the plot, setting/mood, character, style/voice, symbolism, theme. If you want to check out some other first impressions blog posts, go to see these people’s blogs! Sydney, Vanessa, Rachael, Kaleigh. Warning, if you are planning to read this book in the future, there are spoilers about the book in this blog post and in the others I linked above!

For our book club novel, we have begun to read “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. I am very happy with this book choice so far and have enjoyed all aspects of the book greatly. Though I am less than half way through the book, I can tell that this is a good read. The book describes the story of two teenagers during World War II (WWII), one a blind girl in Nazi-occupied France (Marie-Laure), the other a German orphan boy pressed into service by the Nazi army (Werner).

Though the plot was slow to start, I enjoyed that the author took the time to establish the norm of the characters and their lives before breaking the norm; like when Doerr takes the time in the beginning to describe a few regular days in the life of Werner. When the norm was broken and Werner decided to leave the orphanage and go to the Nazi Army, I appreciated the meaning of his actions much more because I got the chance to understand him first and understood that it was a difficult decision to make. The plot is easy to follow, shown from multiple perspectives which makes for a dynamic story, and is illustrated well through the unique writing style.

The style of the book is consistent throughout while the voice changes slightly as the story is told from different character’s perspectives. The style is very descriptive but direct. Doerr is very effective at creating dominant impressions in his writing and his stanza is poetic. I enjoy that there is little dialogue in this book, he shows the characters more through actions and descriptions than by the dialogue. Doerr “shows, not tells” as Mr. Albright might say. The voice however changes slightly as the chapters go back and forth between different points of view. For example, in Werner’s POV, the description is more visually based, however, in Marie-Laure’s POV, the description is more inclined to the other senses since she is blind.  The voice is consistent however with in the different character’s perspectives.

The characters in the book are very dynamic. The two main characters are rather similar in nature, but have different circumstances that soon make the reader see their differences. Both Werner and Marie-Laure young, curious, and impressionable. However, as their circumstances we begin to see their differences. When Marie-Laure flees to St. Malo with her father, we begin to see that she is very dependant her father and that she is innocent and sheltered because of her dependence. We also begin to see that she is very imaginative and often defiant when she begins helping Madame Manec’s efforts against the German’s occupancy in St. Malo. When Werner join the “Hitler’s Youth”, we see that he is independent (as he leaves his only family), kind (when he befriends Fredrick), and smart (when he begins to assist prof. Hauptmann). Though all of these character traits are seen from the beginning of the book, I really noticed them at these sections.

Though I don’t usually enjoy historical fiction books, I do enjoy this one. The setting seems much more realistic and dynamic because both sides of the war are shown in this book through the setting and the characters. The mood varies throughout, but remains melancholy for the bulk of the beginning. I think that the setting is crucial to the story line as it does involve history, so I would recommend to anyone who wants to read this book to pre-read a little bit about the era (From 1934-1944 Germany and France, WWII).

I did not notice a lot of symbolism in this book so far, the author explains very complex ideas more through monologues and comparisons than through symbols. I do think that the Sea of Flames does represent greed of people and that greed is a curse of itself when we see people try to and fail at getting the diamond. I think that the radio is also a symbol of Werner’s way out of poverty, but also his greatest downfall as it leads him to the Nazi School where he may have to use his radio skills for evil.

Since we have not finished the book yet, it is hard to comment on the themes as we don’t know the implications and context of the themes in the second half of the book. The main themes that I see emerging throughout the book are: the tragedies of war, the power we have over our destinies, and the humanity that we all have with in us. I think that the book beautifully illustrates these points through the context of the war, as the characters are forced into less than ideal situations. The two points of view also illustrate how similar two people on opposite sides of the war are actually so similar in so many ways. I really like that the history in this book serves a higher purpose than setting; it contributes to the theme, plot, symbolism and characters development.

I have really enjoyed this book so far and I am excited to continue reading this novel in our book club.

Descriptive Narrative: I Walk

. . .

I walked under the net of stars. Its one of my first memories. I walked from one peak of the hill to the other passing the bonfire in the valley. I walked from the arms of my mother, to the arms of my grandmother. I hardly remember doing this, but I remember the warm feeling of reaching my grandmother and the chilling experience of walking by the fire in the valley alone. I know that the fire was hot, but I felt cold walking by it as I didn’t have the safety of my mum or my grandmother, Buni. The stars made me feel smaller than I had ever felt before, but the prospect of walking by myself made me feel strong and independent. Reaching Buni made me feel proud, and loved. I don’t remember the experience well, but I remember how I felt. What I felt. Why I felt what I did.

2003/04– Actual picture of me.

We were at camp at the time. I remember we gathered in the big amphitheater for arts activities. They put out supplies to make face masks. I made a mask and disguised myself as a black cat, but I quickly got bored. Soon, I glued jewels to my own face and spread glitter on my eyebrows. Paired with the plastic tiara and the red-yellow paper necklace, I looked rather extravagant. Buni still keeps a picture of me dressed like this on her bedside table. She said that she talks to my picture everyday. I was comforted by her love.

. . .

I walked under the canopy of clouds. They were low that day; I felt like I could almost touch the soft gray-white façade of the clouds. I looked down into a puddle and saw my own grinning face and the rest of the vast sky, vast universe, reflected. I stepped into the puddle with my pink Barbie water shoes, breaking the tranquility of the moment. The rain water seeped into my shoes easily, but I didn’t mind because that is the point of water shoes, to wear them in water; that’s the logic I had at the time at least. I forgot where we are walking to, but it was okay because I was with Buni. She kept me safe but let me wear water shoes out on the sidewalk. As we walked, she explained the water cycle to me.  How water is taken up into the atmosphere and comes back down as rain. I could tell that she was tired because she explained the whole process in Romanian, too worn out to think of any words in English. I get the same way when I am tiered, even now.

We arrive at the park, and I remembered why we came. We came to collect leaves for an art project. The weather was not pleasurable, but it made our fieldtrip seem more adventurous. I picked all of the biggest leaves, but she picked the most colourful and beautiful. She told me a saying that roughly translates to, “Less is more.” I learned then that beauty is simple. Beauty is in everything, if you just choose to see it. My grandmother was beautiful.

. . .

I walk under the low door stoop and up the stairs. Buni lives on the fifth floor of a walk up. At the bottom of the stairs, I turn on the timed light in the hallway. To conserve energy, the hall light only stays on for a few minutes. It shut off at the third floor and I walk in the pitch dark the rest of the way. The air smells like concrete, and the hall feels smooth but bare; not even a window lines the walls, no light breaks the darkness. The railing is metallic and cold.

On the fifth floor I am greeted by the smell of fried potatoes and the embrace of Buni. I am also greeted by her new husband, but I don’t pay much attention to him. My family and I spend the weekend with Buni. Friday we eat dinner. We haven’t all seen each other in a long time, but everything seems to come naturally.

Saturday morning, she makes a special chocolate sauce to go over my porridge and I eat it with pleasure, though I’ve long grown out of those eating habits. We go to visit her garden in the afternoon and Larissa comes over for dinner. We go to a traditional orthodox church on Sunday and I have to cover my arms and legs despite the heat wave. Sunday afternoon, we go to Uncue Gicu’s house and talk. He is a clever man, but he’s not fast enough for Buni. I remember her retorts pinged of the popcorn-ed walls and hitting him right in the head, sending him into a daze. We  drink from the fancy glasses that had coloured bottoms and the swirled shades of red mesmerize me. The porcelain dog seemed to keep an eye on me the whole night.

Monday morning, we had to leave. I didn’t want to, but we had to. We had to go home to our lives in Canada. I had to go back to school and my parents back to work. I tried not to cry leaving Buni’s house, but I did anyways. She cried too, once I started to cry, or maybe she cried first. It was all a haze. It was hard to say goodbye, so instead we said see you later.

When I was young I learned that love is what keeps a family together. Once I grew older I saw the beauty in having a family to trust in. Now I see that family is about difficult truths as well.

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.