“Black Moment”

by
Donald L. Vasicek

Award-Winning Writer/Filmmaker Donald L. Vasicek/Turkey Creek Canyon in Colorado

The black moment in fiction writing is the moment in the short story, the novel, or the screenplay where the main character is challenged to overcome what has been his/her
Problem throughout the story. He/she either confronts it and beats it, or it defeats him/her.

How does your main character defeat and overcome this fear? Just before the villain (in fiction, a villain represents pure evil with no redeeming characteristics) or the antagonist (represents the opposition to the main character’s goal – can be a person, persons, or any of a million or more inanimate things, objects, or places) is about to defeat your main character, your main character should experience an epiphany. An epiphany is the sudden realization of something your main character has been trying to see throughout the story. This discovery will either push your main character over the top and your main character wins, or it causes your main character to withdraw into defeat.

In your story, you should have your main character striving to accomplish a goal. This goal should be set at about page 10 in the screenplay, and early on in a short story or novel, where you establish the goal of the main character. I call it the dramatic premise. The dramatic premise of the story sets in place what the main character will set out to achieve in the story.

In “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Harper Lee’s scintillating novel, the main character, Scout Finch, is challenged to learn about poking fun at a mentally-challenged neighbor. Her father, Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck in the movie, sets out to defend an African American man from being convicted of rape in a Southern and deeply racist community. Friends and Scout make fun of their mentally-challenged neighbor named Arthur (Boo) Radley even though Atticus tries to teach Scout how to be sympathetic regarding prejudice.

In the highly-charged story, Boo ends up saving Scout and her friends from the rape victim and her father, who are out for revenge, whom Atticus proved were lying during the trial. Even though Scout has a black cook, and she and her friends sit in the “colored balcony” at the trial, it isn’t until the rape victim’s father attacks Scout and her friend (the black moment in the story) and Boo saves them, that Scout realizes what life must be like for Boo.

She experiences an epiphany because of the attack. And she wins because she acquires the realization that that Boo is a human being and that hatred and prejudice should not sully her faith in human goodness.

Scout’s goal throughout the story is to learn and grow with respect to prejudice. And she accomplishes it through the black moment when she and her friend are attacked and Boo saves them. She experiences an epiphany at this point in time that causes her to learn and grow and to overcome the ignorance that held her back from becoming objective about the human condition.

Donald L. Vasicek
The Zen of Writing
http://www.donvasicek.com
dvasicek@earthlink.net

“Writing Movies and Documentaries, 101”

The Sand Creek Massacre Movie Poster

Writing of any form requires
study and research. The strength
of any type of writing resides in
the application of what one learns
and research, and then, applies it
by writing, writing, and more writing.
Each time one writes something, they
become a better writer.

It is rare a writer is hired to write a
documentary film. Many documentary films
do not have a script. Those that do, are
usually written by the director/producer
of the film. If a documentary script is written,
then you must write a double column script.

In a double column script you write the
visuals/images in the left column and the
audio/sound in the right column. While
the double-column script can help nail
down the exact shots blended with the
sound, the downside is that it places the
filmmaker in a corner. This corner is
a place that can limit the filmmaker’s
creativity, and virtually eliminate a cinema
verite approach to making documentaries.

As for feature films, short films, etc., one
can learn how to write screenplays through a
variety of ways. No approach to learning how
to write screenplays is inscribed in marble. It
is dependent upon the individual writer. Some take
screenwriting classes. Others study screenwriting
books. Some work with a script consultant until
they have their screenplay market ready. And others
wing it. And still others, utilize a combination of all
of the above.

You can determine what works best for you by knowing
who you are, how you best learn, why you want to write
documentaries, features, etc., and what audience you
want to attract with your work, and why. Answering
these questions will give you insight into what to
write and the approach to take in order how to learn
to write. That is the Zen of Writing.

The fine point of it is if you want to write movies
and/or documentaries, be sure you utilize more
than your passion for the subject matter unless
you are writing, simply, for the joy of writing.
Study and research Hollywood box hits. Study
and research successful documentary films.
Make certain you know, before you begin
writing, what you need to do in order to
write a successful script. Otherwise, you
will enter the world of writer who jumps
in with both feet without being aware of
what the reality of the business. In turn, this
can cause you to go on a journey into
insanity.

Donald L. Vasicek
Writer/Filmmaker/Consultant
Olympus Films+, LLC
http://www.donvasicek.com
dvasicek@earthlink.net

“The Naked Writer’s How to Get Movement in Talky Scenes”

When you create movement in a scene for the mere sake of moving characters about in talky scenes, it is very likely the scene comes off just as that on the screen, creating movement for the sake of creating movement. Every movement in every scene should orchestrate and expand the character(s), the theme and the story.

For example, instead of having two characters walk in a park and talk to give them movement and us story information, have one of them riding a bicycle and the other using a pogo stick, you see different sides of who they are. Let’s pretend the theme is health. Maybe the bicycle rider is unable to walk or run for distance because of a serious knee injury he sustained in college. This disability will come suspensefully into play later when the character has to save the other character from the villain before he kills him. When his knee fails him, he hops on a bike and saves the day.

Simultaneously, the pogo sticker is pogo sticking because walking doesn’t move him along rapidly enough and riding a bicycle is boring for him. He is a Type A personality. His impatience causes him to be disabled by the villain. He uses pogo sticks to escape unaware that to slow down would save himself because his friend is chasing the villain on a bad knee.

It all culminates when his friend comes to the rescue just as he is slowing his pace because of exhaustion. He learns that speed is not always the quickest way to success.

It is obvious by this example how much the story is embellished and the characters fleshed out by not only giving the characters movement in talky scenes, but giving them dimension as well. In turn, this dimensionalizes the story and makes for more depth in the film.