ESTABLISH SCENE AT TOP
RULE: FOR THE FIRST INTRODUCTION OF A NEW CHARACTER, WE NEED POSITION THREE - THE EQUIVALENT OF A FILM MEDIUM SHOT (head to knees). We need to 'see' that character in (film term) MS = medium shot. In medium shot, the frame cuts across the subject at the knees. Medium long shot is a tight full-length figure. (MS = medium shot, MLS = medium long shot) Scene boundaries - CHART FOR CHOICES - straight cut / fade in / fade out / crossfade / 'Archers' fade / music bridge / FX bridge / montage Top of the scene - signposting & description
SCRIPT REDRAFT - WORKSHOP
HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF THE FIRST SCENE FROM A SHORT 5-MINUTE PLAY CALLED 'MEAT IS MURDER' - THERE ARE PROBLEMS TO BE SOLVED HERE.
MORE RADIO SCRIPT MUST BE ADDED TO ESTABLISH THE DOCTOR (PIERCE).
THIS FIRST DRAFT IS A FILM SCRIPT, REALLY.
DRAFT 2 - ILLOGICALITIES HAVE BEEN CLEARED UP. MOVEMENT IS NOW MATCHED WITH SCRIPT AND 'UMMS' (characters' reactions while scene partners are speaking)
Situation: autopsy room with doctor (Pierce) working. His assistant Sam is just outside the door.
FX. QUICK FADE UP, MORTUARY EFFECTS. A BED IS PUSHED THROUGH SOME SWING DOORS INTO A ROOM.
1. PIERCE (shouts across the room) I'm going to be working on this till late Sam.
2. SAM (voice off) No worries, need a hand with that one?
3. PIERCE (shouting still) If you're free.
4. FX FOOTSTEPS ACROSS THE MORTUARY. SAM ARRIVES.
5. PIERCE His wife found him on the kitchen floor this morning.
6. FX RUBBER GLOVES BEING PUT ON. A BRAIN SAW STARTS UP. FADE OUT.
HERE ARE MY COMMENTS:
I recommend a script change at 2 - 2. SAM (voice off) No worries, need a hand with that one?
A bit more script is needed to establish the doctor in a 'mid' shot, to use a film term.
Then he can shout off to assistant Sam.
Why can the scene not begin with a 'turn' and calling over to Sam, as you have scripted?
You are introducing a new character and we have to be 'with' that character for a little or more to establish them.
And so we can understand who he is, according to radio drama conventions.
FOR THE FIRST INTRODUCTION OF A NEW CHARACTER, WE NEED THAT POSITION THREE 'SHOT'.
Position 4 is too 'fuzzy', or too indistinct a sound picture, without the necessary description for the listeners.
IN THIS REVISED VERSION, THE MOVEMENTS HAVE BEEN MADE MORE LOGICAL, AROUND THE SOUND CENTRE. See SOUND CENTRE
We are now 'with' Docter Pierce. He is the centre of the sound picture, in POSITION THREE.
We have cut out 6. FX RUBBER GLOVES BEING PUT ON.
Why? This is too slow an action for a sound script. And - ILLOGICALITY - Doctor Pierce would be already gloved up.
THERE IS NOW ENOUGH SCRIPT TO COVER SAM'S ENTRANCE , AND SAM'S ACTIVITY.
DRAFT 2 - CORRECTED
1. FX. INTRO MUSIC FADE IN. GENRE MUSIC TO BUILD UP MOOD OF THIS SHORT PLAY. CROSSFADE TO - 2. FX. CROSSFADE UP MORTUARY EFFECTS. WE ARE WITH DOCTOR PIERCE IN THE AUTOPSY ROOM. HE IS PREPARING FOR THE NEW AUTOPSY.
We now specify where the sound centre is. DRAFT 1 cannot begin with words alone. That just does not work for radio drama.
2. PIERCE (position 3 - establishing presence - inbreath of activity - preparing - then shouts across the room) Ready when you are, Sam! You'll have me working till late. Get the new customer in!
We establish the doctor's presence first (PIERCE). That means an inbreath, a little scripted phrase, and then he can call across, with a 'turn'. We 'see' him in 'mid' shot.
3. A TROLLEY IS PUSHED THROUGH THE SWING DOORS INTO THE AUTOPSY ROOM BY SAM We open out the sound picture. Sam is in position 5 (moves off). 4. SAM ('umms' of activity establishing his arrival as he pushes the trolley - gurney) No worries! (Now at autopsy table) I'll need a hand with this one! (heaving) There should be enough text here to satisfy the logic of movement - Sam moves from position 5 to the sound centre, with Pierce (position 3). The moving trolley helps to make this possible. 5. PIERCE (heaving and lifting with him) Our new guest!
The actors, with the director, have to work on the detail of these movements.
6. SAM (continuing to heave) His wife found him on the kitchen floor this morning. (sympathy) Looks a bit like my old Dad. 7. PIERCE Here we go! 8. FX BRAIN SAW STARTS UP. FADE OUT.
In a following scene, because we now know the autopsy room, we will remember the location and Pierce.
And you can begin that later scene with a MLS (medium long shot) of the full autopsy room, in effect (position 4 at the microphone).
SEE Getting PRESENCE into the scene - the sense of a character being 'in'
SEE Radio drama dialogue is much more than the words on the page.
See SOUND CENTRE See Sound centre - see also Perspective explained by film shot analogy See ESTABLISH OUTSIDE SCENE (technique) See Signposting - establishing the location at the beginning of a scene
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