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Free Content Where are you from? Place as a form of scripting in independent cinema

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Large-budget Hollywood studio productions generally prefer a high level of fabrication in creating a film’s setting, either through the building of sets or through special effects, because it gives the production team greater control. Yet that’s often been less true of indie films historically. For a variety of reasons, the setting or location of independent films often becomes a central part of the scripting of a film. It is obviously cheaper to use what already exists in reality rather than to attempt to create a location through set design or art direction. Beyond issues of budget, however, my interest here is in exploring how ‘place’ can actually function as a key element in the scripting process, especially one that is rooted in visual storytelling, by taking into account the myriad ways that a film’s setting can contribute to and enhance the narrative beyond the use of generic, decorative or touristic locations. Using examples drawn from independent cinema, the article argues that place can have an intrinsic, integrative, stylistic, structural, conceptual and thematic function.
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Keywords: Lionel Rogosin; On the Bowery; William Greaves; independent cinema; location; place; scripting

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Publication date: March 1, 2014

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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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