Thursday, December 16, 2010

Too Much Dialogue?

lisa gornick new script 
Yes, I’m still working on my novella. And envious of Lisa Gornick, if this image is a self-portrait. It's so much less pleasurable to open Word than it is to open Final Draft. And once Word is open, it's so much easier to get distracted and into another Word file (or two). And I’m much much slower with a novella than a script. Not surprising.

And I'm distracted by a surprising amount of email feedback about the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) statistical update I did for WIFTNZ and also added to the Development Facebook notes, where some overseas correspondents picked it up. The feedback came from women who feel they’ve experienced a (negative) change in attitude towards women’s projects at the NZFC. From women concerned that their feedback from the NZFC (and elsewhere) names “too much dialogue” as a problem. From women all over, who decide to write screenplays about men, not because they feel they should be able to write about anything (of course) but because they’ve learned that those projects are more likely to move forward.

This week, I’m especially interested in “too much dialogue”, because I saw Social Network. And had a useful conversation with the Kid in the Front Row about our different perceptions of the film; always enjoy a chat with him because our responses to movies and other stuff are often very different.

I’d expected to be irritated by Social Network's portrayal of women, but wasn’t really, partly because so much else drew my attention. Including LOTS of dialogue. And I also thought it was more of a television drama, not because of all the dialogue (which might persuade others that it's more television than film) or because most of the (male) secondary characters were very strongly written (and I thought that even the characters played by Rooney Mara and Rashida Jones were very sharp), but because I found Social Network so dull visually, geared to a small screen but not to cinema for the small screen (unlike Sally Potter's RAGE, for example). The Kid doesn’t agree that Social Network is visually dull, and that made me think (again) about about what’s cinematic and what isn’t. But what really really got to me was how Social Network combined what I perceived as television characteristics with extraordinary brand exposure, for beer, for various computers and one notebook particularly, and for GAP. I wished I’d timed Mark Zuckerberg’s long GAP hoodie run  and have asked on Twitter if anyone knows about GAP's relationship with the movie; no response. Interestingly, the Kid in the Front Row didn’t notice the brand exposure because he was so caught up in the story.

So I’m thinking today, as these emails come in about the stats, that Social Network is a fantastic example of media convergence: television, film, advertising (and because it’s about Facebook there’s that element, too). And reflecting on the relationships between media convergence and transmedia. And I’m hoping that people at the NZFC will think about Social Network and explore whether “too much” dialogue in a film is a real issue any more. I'd love to know what others think about all this.

Meanwhile, mother nature does her summer thing outside and I join in when I can. Baby basils growing fast. Beans and courgettes maturing for festive barbie. Roses, daisies, cornflowers, carnations & poppies going for it. When I saw Lisa Gornick's latest drawing, I wanted to gather everything beautiful into a large basket and deliver it to her, far far away. The drawing reminds me to ENJOY.

lisa gornick mother nature does her thing

Sunday, December 12, 2010


lisa gornick intense drawing face 
I'm working on a novella. Up early, 45 minutes on the egg timer, breakfast, another two lots of 45 minutes. And then a bit of gardening, as I think about where and how to go next with the story. A VERY quiet life, because I've never written a novella, and want to see how it differs from a feature screenplay, which has about the same number of words.

And was interrupted by the Wellington NZFC review meeting, and the Fresh Shorts announcement, and rounding up statistics for a wee report about NZFC gender inequity, available here, but without a couple of graphs; I can't load them onto the Development FB notes or onto this blog, but they're included in my PhD thesis.* So far responses to the report are very positive, and I am hopeful (as always) that things may change for New Zealand women filmmakers.

And then have to complete some work for which I was paid before I started my PhD (embarrassing, yes, even though there was also a significant element that was unpaid for), and the new draft of Development-the-movie (plus its one-pager which mates helped me with a while back). And to find some new paid work (all offers welcome!) And to start the Activate course at Grow Wellington (can't wait!), to hone the business model Erica and I have created, for testing with Development. If the model works well, and we believe it will, we'll then offer it to other women who would like to use it, within the charitable trust that Russell McVeagh is generously establishing for Spiral. And Meredith and I are working on a simpler Development website, so that's in flux too. 

Anyway, all this means that I'm not writing much here, just adding interesting stuff on the Development FB site, as it comes in. And I look a bit like Lisa Gornick in the drawing above. Focused. Alert. But not here.

And since it's the end of the year, and I love boots, here's Lisa's boot pic, too, just for fun & pleasure. Many thanks, dear Lisa. Hope you're staying warm.

And many thanks to all of you readers, whether in the Ukraine, Uganda, United States or United Kingdom, down the hill in Courtenay Place, along the road in Oriental Bay, or somewhere else entirely. I love knowing you're there and you're here. And really really love it when you talk to me.

lisa gornick new boots for the cold

* The link says it's a Management thesis, but in fact it's a Creative Writing PhD. There's a long back-story about a library embargo on the thesis, because of the Development script in it, as Chapter 6; the script is not available in the download. Many thanks to Deborah Jones, my original supervisor, for helping to make the rest of the thesis available in the interim, and for ensuring I did a lot of reading I might otherwise have avoided.