Saturday, March 6, 2010

Davies sifu Part Two

How do you make audiences care about your characters? … It’s pictorial. It’s a visual medium, but visuals don’t have to mean landscapes, long lenses, stunts, hundreds of extras; it’s the ordinary pictures, the sheer existence of people on screen, the fact that I’ve chosen to put them there and that you’ve chosen to watch. I realized this on The Second Coming, when we spent a million drafts on Steve and Judith’s backstory… All that work was to establish, simply and fundamentally, an attraction between them. When I watched it back … I realized the most crucial thing: none of that was necessary. The fact that Lesley Sharp and Christopher Eccleston were on screen, at the same time, together -- especially late at night, outside a city centre club – did all the work. You could lose the sound and still realize what was happening between those two. Put a man and a woman of roughly the same age on screen and you're telling a story. That’s a love story. … The choice to put those two characters together on screen, in a story, is the crucial thing. Everything else is just detail.”
On Robert McKee-style "rules" for screenwriting:
The whole formality about structure has really evolved from the movies, and sometimes, I suspect, it just doesn't fit television. Television can ramble, and pause, and deviate, and accelerate. It really is a different art form. With the soap opera we've a brand new form, and it's still evolving. We've had 47 years of Ken Barlow's life . Forty-seven years! [On Coronation Street, Barlow has been played by the same actor continuously since 1960.] Like it or not, no fictional character has ever existed in such everyday detail. Not ever. Brand new form of fiction! And utterly shapeless -- a couple of dozen different production teams, with different agendas, over all those years, with no overall plan -- and yet time is going to impose on Ken Barlow a Beginning, a Middle and an End, as we move from his youth, through his adult life, to his death one day. Fascinating, isn't it? Structure imposes itself, just through the passage of time. There has never been a fictional form like the soap opera before. It's hugely underrated and underconsidered.
-- Russell T Davies, The Writer's Tale.


Tulkinghorn said...

The curious will want to learn more about "The Second Coming" here:

Available on Netflix.

Generic said...

Occurs to me only now that the Ken Barlow effect isn't unique to TV: