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expensive words, cheap images: ‘Scripting’ the adapted screenplay

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This article explores ‘scripting’ the adapted screenplay for budget film models, including microbudget features, DIY film-making and creative practice-led research. It highlights the lack of attention given to the adapted screenplay in the field of adaptation studies, and works with notions of intermediality, and transmediality, to privilege the screenplay as the primary site for creative interaction in the adaptation process. In the context of small-scale, budget film-making practices the focus is towards modes of scripting that rely on working with images, both as part of the screenplay form/format and more directly, in ‘writing’ with moving images, with the screenplay situated within production. This article argues that in consideration of the adapted screenplay, for budget film-making, the relationship between words and images is realigned. The impact of digital media culture together with the advance of digital film-making will accelerate this. Two case studies are presented. The first is Mala No he (1985), the debut feature film of Gus Van Sant, based on the novella by Walt Curtis. The second is LBF (2011), the author’s own debut feature film, based on the novel Living Between Fucks (2006) by Cry Bloxsome. This article aims to engage screenwriting researchers, independent/budget film-makers and creative arts practitioners.
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Keywords: Gus Van Sant; adaptation; alternative scriptwriting; digital film-making; digital scripting; microbudget; scripting; transmedial screenplay

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Technology, Sydney

Publication date: August 29, 2012

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  • The Journal of Screenwriting aims to explore the nature of writing for the moving image in the broadest sense, highlighting current academic thinking around scriptwriting whilst also reflecting on this with a truly international perspective and outlook. The journal will encourage the investigation of a broad range of possible methodologies and approaches to studying the scriptwriting form, in particular: the history of the form, contextual analysis, the process of writing for the moving image, the relationship of scriptwriting to the production process and how the form can be considered in terms of culture and society. The journal also aims to encourage research in the field of screenwriting, the linking of scriptwriting practice to academic theory, and to support and promote conferences and networking events on this subject.
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