Repository for the projects of Michael McVey, filmmaker.

Film as Art – Writing Exercises

Scene Breakdown: “The Seven Samurai” – Heihachi’s Funeral, from Michael McVey,

Film as Art
Week 09 – Choosing Shots to Tell the Story, Assignment 9
By Michael McVey – April 22, 2010
Bunker Hill Community College – Charlestown, MA

Watch The Seven Samurai. Choose one scene and list each shot in it.
Identify what kind of camera angle was used (such as a wide shot, medium shot, close-up), any camera movements (dolly, pan, zoom, tilt), and a description of the action occurring in the scene (the movement of the actors, and so forth).

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The Seven Samurai – Heihachi’s Funeral

The samurai bury Heihachi after he dies during a raid. The farmers and samurai mourn his loss. The wild Kikuchiyo galvanizes the village with Heihachi’s flag. At that moment, bandits attack that village.

Low-angle, Long shot of the hillside. Encircled by villagers, the samurai bow before Heihachi’s grave mound. The wind blows.

Low-angle, Medium long shot of samurai. This a zoomed shot at the same angle – the samurai perform the burial ritual.

Low-angle, Medium long shot of Kikuchiyo, framed left. This is an even closer view, same angle. The camera tracks Kikuchiyo as he plunges Heihachi’s sword into his grave, then sits, despondent.

Return to Low-angle, Long shot of the hillside. The samurai and farmers kneel before Heihachi’s grave mound.

Medium, Low-angle shot of Kambei and Gorōbei, with Heihachi’s sword in the foreground. The two samurai speak of Heihachi and the hard times to come.

Medium, Low-angle shot of Rikichi and the farmers kneeling at the grave. As the farmers mourn, Rikichi breaks down and hugs the dirt, crying in despair. His actions accidently lead to Heihachi’s death. The camera pans left, following Rikichi as he snaps.

Return to Low-angle, Medium long shot of Kikuchiyo, framed left. Kikuchiyo yells at Rikichi to stop crying. The camera tilts as he stands.

Low-angle, Long shot of the hillside. Kikuchiyo yells at everyone to stop crying. He runs down the hillside.

Medium long shot, panning right to left, tracking Kikuchiyo. Kikuchiyo runs through the village.

Long shot to Medium, tracking the movement of Kikuchiyo run through the village and into the samurai’s quarters. The camera pulls back as Kikuchiyo enters the building and pans left as he grabs Heihachi’s flag, then scrambles outside.

Long shot, low angle. The camera tilts up as Kikuchiyo climbs the thatched roof.

Wide shot with Samurai in the foreground, and Kikuchiyo on the roof in the distance. Kikuchiyo plants the flag in the thatched roof. The samurai see the flag and turn towards it.

Close-up on Heihachi’s flag. The flag stands tall, waving in the fierce wind.

Return to Low-angle, Long shot of the hillside. The farmers and samurai all turn to the flag.

Medium shot of farmers. The male farmers jockey for position, fixing eyes on the flag.

Return to Close-up on Heihachi’s flag. The flag waves.

Medium shot of farmers. The female farmers look on, teary eyed.

Extreme close-up of flag. The camera tilts down on the flag’s symbols.

Medium close-up of farmers. Tears roll down the farmer’s cheeks. One farmer kneels in the foreground, the others stand in the background, mourning.

Return to Low-angle, Long shot of the hillside. The village stands together, staring at the flag.

Return to Extreme close-up of flag. Again, the camera tilts down on the flag’s symbols.

Medium shot of Kikuchiyo on the roof. Kikuchiyo sits, cradling himself under the flag. Something in the distance suddenly alarms him.

Wide shot of the distant hills. Bandits on horseback gallop over the horizon.

Return to Medium shot of Kikuchiyo on the roof. Kikuchiyo alertly stands and runs to the roof’s edge as the camera pans left, tracking him. He announces the bandit arrival to the village. “Goddamn! Here they come!”

A Scene from “Casablanca” – Rick Helps the Bulgarian Couple, from Michael McVey,

Film as Art
Week 08 Logical Storytelling, Assignment 8
By Michael McVey – April 21, 2010
Bunker Hill Community College – Charlestown, MA

Watch Casablanca. Chose a scene and identify what the hero wants. Choose one scene from the movie and describe what it is about by using Mamet’s method of analysis in one short paragraph. (What does the hero do in this scene to try and get what he wants?)

Casablanca: Rick Helps the Young Couple

About an hour into Casablanca, Rick helps a young Bulgarian couple desperate to reach America. Rick’s objective in the scene is to quietly facilitate the young couple. He needs to keep his help secret, to maintain his reputation. Rick does not want to see the newly wed Bulgarian girl forced to trade sexual favors for an exit visa. Rick sympathizes with the couple’s predicament – he does not want them to experience the pain of a compromised relationship. There are a few steps Rick takes to accomplish his objective.

Rick needs to secretly secure money for the couple’s exit visas. Rick enters the room and makes contact with the roulette dealer – a dealer who works for Rick. Rick straddles up to the young Bulgarian man. He advises the man to bet on 22. Rick needs to communicate with the dealer to fix the game. Rick repeats himself so that the dealer hears. The dealer correctly interprets Rick’s tone and look: roll a 22. The dealer rolls 22, and the man collects. Again, Rick advises the man to bet on 22. The dealer understands Rick’s unspoken orders. The man bets and wins. Rick succeeds in getting the Bulgarian couple enough money to exit Casablanca.

Rick’s second objective is to keep the whole affair quiet. Rick tells the man to cash out his chips and leave permanently. The man complies. Rick asks the dealer how they are doing? The dealer replies that they are down a couple thousand, and he winks knowingly. Since the other witnesses and participants work for Rick, the transaction remains secret. The Bulgarian woman approaches Rick and hugs him gratefully. This jeopardizes Rick’s objective of keeping his sentimental actions quiet. Rick coolly ends the hug and tells the woman her husband is “just a lucky guy.” He downplays the potentially emotional scene, keeping the whole affair quiet. Reputation intact, Rick succeeds in both helping the couple and maintaining secrecy. This scene is very efficient in handling Rick’s objectives. His goals are clear without being obvious. Rick’s true character is revealed, and the scene becomes more emotional by having characters conceal their emotions.

A Scene from Danny Boyle’s “Sunshine” – Kaneda’s Decision, from Michael McVey,

Film as Art
Week 07 – Planning the Mise-en-Scene, Assignment 7
Michael McVey
Bunker Hill Community College – April 8, 2010

Watch Sunshine. Choose one scene from the movie and describe the entire mise-en-scene (everything that you can see and hear, including the actors’ movements, costumes, lighting, sound, set, camera angle, and shot-size).


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Scene – Full Sunlight, Kaneda’s Decision

A powerful, low tone sounds as we open on an extremely wide aerial shot of Icarus II’s heat shield. The camera sweeps over the vast field of metallic panels. Yellow, orange, and red fires glimmer on the distant horizon. The looming sunlight slices through the darkness, racing towards our characters, Kaneda and Capa. The electronic crackle and shimmer of the heat interweave with the film’s score. An ethereal chorus sustains an ominous, almost mystical chord.

We cut to Kaneda, Captain of the Icarus II. As he stands in his unwieldy, gold-plated space suit, the camera dollies in from a low medium shot to a close-up. A critical heat shield panel closes slowly on frame left. We see the reflective glow of the approaching sunlight glisten across his helmet. Behind him, there is nothing but the cold, empty void of space. The feminine, computerized voice of Icarus updates the ship’s status: “89% of shield in full sunlight.”

We cut to an extreme close-up of Kaneda’s eyes, the interior of this helmet. His eyes absorb the approaching sunlight. The fiery horizon is reflected across the screen, refracted through his helmet’s small slot. The sunlight intensifies before him, from soft orange to a severe yellow. Kaneda’s eyes widen, his breath quickens. The electronic score sounds like a submarine buckling under the pressure; low-frequency droning underlies the soundtrack.

We cut to an extreme close-up of Capa’s gloved hand. He too dons a gold-lined protective suit. We track Capa’s hand as he installs a mechanical device inside a broken heat panel. The low-frequency soundtrack continues.

We cut to an extreme close-up of the dark interior of Capa’s helmet. His face is strained and sweating on the left of the screen. On the right are small electronic displays – one of Kaneda’s helmet interior and the one of the Icarus’ bridge. We are able to see through the helmet slot to the exterior, where Capa installs the component. Capa breathes heavily. Subtle electronic beeps and whirs complement the droning soundtrack.

We cut to a low, wide shot of the dark exterior. Kaneda is maneuvers in the zero-G over to Capa from screen right to left, and we pan slightly to follow. As Capa toils, the sunlight’s orange aura silhouettes the open heat panel. A work lamp floats in the mid-ground. Kaneda’s static radio communication to Capa punctuates the intense score: “Capa, go back. I can finish this.”

We cut back to the previous interior close-up of Capa’s helmet. Capa responds to Kaneda, and we hear his unfiltered voice echo within the cramped helmet: “Please, I can do this.”

We cut to the interior of Kaneda’s helmet. The shot is a close-up, a mirror shot of Capa’s helmet interior. Kaneda’s face holds the right of the frame. Through his helmet slot, the burning yellow glow strengthens. The in-helmet displays flicker ominously with static as Kaneda broadcasts his final order: “Go.”

We cut to an exterior medium shot. At this moment, John Murphy’s score cues a swelling adagio. Capa and Kaneda slowly pass each other in zero-G, their bulky-suited bodies parallel with the heat shield’s surface. As they pass each other, the soundtrack drops out and lets the score emotionally supplement the fateful decision.

We cut back to the previous interior close-up of Capa’s helmet. “Capa returning to airlock. Do you copy?”

We cut to a grand, sweeping aerial wide shot of the set piece. It is a stark contrast to the dark interior of Capa’s helmet. The frame is filled with the overwhelming orange and yellow glow of the sunlight. Lens flares add to the FX shot’s effectiveness and realism. The sunlight dances like a fire in the distance. The shimmering sounds of an electronic inferno rise as we push past Capa and Kaneda, who are dwarfed by the scale of Icarus’ heat shield. While Capa has covered some distance to the shield’s edge, it is insignificant compared to the distance left to travel. Unheeded by Icarus, Capa restates his question: “Capa returning to airlock. Do you copy?” The camera rotates as it flies by, keeping Capa and Kaneda center frame. As our angle changes, the background becomes the icy emptiness of space, and the sounds of the fire fade. The voice of the ship’s pilot Cassie responds: “Copy, Capa. Hurry.” The shot illustrates the enormous distances between the men, the shield’s edge, and the devastating heat approaching them. The score swells as the camera pulls back, the two men barely visible. The camera begins to shake violently, as we break into the red sunlight’s threshold. The voice of Icarus updates: “91% of shield in full sunlight.”

Film as Art – Week 06 – The Inner Monologue, Assignment 6

Film as Art
Week 06 – The Inner Monologue, Assignment 6
Michael McVey
March 29, 2010

Watch The Piano. Choose one scene and rewrite the scene depicting what the characters may be thinking. (Write the dialogue as you hear it and then use parenthesis for internal dialog in parallel with the dialogue.)

THE PIANO: The First Lesson.


FLORA is at the doorstep. ADA stands in the background.

Mother says she can’t stand to teach piano with it all out of tune. So I’m to do scales. (FLORA: I may be a little kid, but I’m better at this than you’ll ever be, you big lummox. Let me show you how it’s done.)

FLORA enters. ADA remains aloof. FLORA sits at the piano.

I hope you’ve scrubbed your hands. (FLORA: You are a dirty, unsophisticated primate.)

FLORA plays a scale.

Oh, it’s in tune. (FLORA: How can this be? How could this piano still be working after all we’ve been through?)

BAINES looks out the door at ADA. (BAINES: That’s right. You hear that, don’t you woman. Now you have to come in.) ADA skulks about until she hears the piano scales. (ADA: Impossible! This can’t be right.)

A surprised ADA enters the hut and sits at the piano. (ADA: My piano works perfectly? Shove over, kiddo. I need to test this myself.)

It’s in tune. (FLORA: Maybe it’s a miracle!)

ADA plays some more notes to check the piano’s tune. (ADA: This IS in tune. How did he do it?) The usurped FLORA is upset.

I was teaching! (You are undermining my authority! I was demonstrating my superiority to the lummox!)

ADA looks over at BAINES. (BAINES: Surprise, surprise sexy momma. Not quite the ogre you were expecting.)

(ADA: This is not what I expected. You fixed the one thing I love. How did you do this? Could it be that you are not entirely ignorant?) ADA stands with FLORA for a moment, then she signs.

Mother would like to see what you can play. (FLORA: Can you play anything?)

I’d rather not play. I want to listen and learn that way. (BAINES: Oh yeah! While I did say I wanted lessons, the reality is I have no desire to learn the piano. I just want alluring ADA to hang around and exude mystique until I figure out a way to have her.)

Everyone has to practice. (FLORA: Bullshit – If I have to practice scales everyday to learn the piano, so should you.) (ADA: Come on, are you kidding? You obviously need to practice if you want to learn.)

I just want to listen. (BAINES: No, seriously. I’m calling the shots here, and I’m definitely not going to learn this thing. I just want your cute little butt in my hut.)

ADA considers. (ADA: What do I do? I don’t really want to be here. But then again, he did fix my piano. I love my piano so much and I want to play it so much…) She sits at the piano and takes off her ring. She moves the key cover, which pinches BAINES’ thumb. (ADA: I am the master of this domain, buddy.)

ADA plays a simple scale. (ADA: I will play what I want to play. This is a simple statement.)

Lovely. (BAINES: Even if you played this piano like a drunken octopus, I’ll still want to wear your ass like a hat.)

As she plays, she adds chords, changes tempo, and reveals a depth of possibilities within her musical language. (ADA: See how you can build on these notes? This is more than just a piano. This is a beautiful language.)

Film as Art – Week 05 – Modulating Conflict, Assignment 5

Film as Art

Week 05 – Modulating Conflict, Assignment 5

Michael McVey

March 11, 2010

III. Write script – a scene that places three characters in a situation of modulated conflict. Resolve the scene in three pages.

Interior.  Police Interrogation Room.  Night.

Detectives Bobby Milbauer and Meg Cosimano look through a two-way mirror at their suspect, Dr. Terry Turco.  Turco sits handcuffed to a table.

Milbauer: He looks like a f**king golf pro.

He notices Cosimano is occupied with a monitoring camera, she drops the video tape.

Cosimano: Dammit.

Milbauer:  Hey.  The tape goes IN the camera.

Cosimano:  Shut up Bobby.

Milbauer:  Will you hurry up and get that thing rolling?

Milbauer chugs his third cup of coffee, cracks his knuckles, and shadowboxes.

Cosimano:  I’m going to stay out here.

Milbauer:  You sure?  Suit yourself.  How do I look?

Cosimano:  Like you’ve been juicing.

Milbauer:  Like a goddamn BEAST!

Milbauer kicks open the interrogation room door.  Cosimano looks on behind the glass.

Milbauer:  DOCTOR DEATH!  How are you?

Turco:   Lawyer.

Milbauer closes the door.  He throws several pictures across the table.

Milbauer:  My understanding is that your lawyer is on his way.  In the meantime, why don’t we answer a few questions about the three women you murdered in cold blood.

Turco:  Lawyer.

Cosimano watches through the two-way mirror.

Milbauer:  So you’re a headshrink.  That’s not really a doctor.   You do the…uh… ink blots… Roryshards…  Worshacks…   I’m wondering, Doctor…

Milbauer singles out a photo from the strewn pile and holds it up to Turco’s face.

Milbauer:  …Can you tell me what the little blood patterns in this photo look like to you?

Milbauer points to a picture of a young woman, her throat slit.  There is blood everywhere.

Turco:  Third time’s a charm, detective.

Milbauer explodes with rage, right in Turco’s face.

Milbauer:  What the f**k did you just say?

Turco:  That was the third question you asked me.  Call me superstitious, but now I feel obligated to answer you.

Turco cocks his head, examining the photo.  He looks at the mirror from the corner of his eye.  Cosimano holds her breath.  It’s as if he senses her.

Turco:  I see the warm embrace of a lover.  Where’s your partner detective?

Milbauer:  My partner is getting your cage ready, Doctor.  Why don’t you tell me more about this picture?  She sure was a pretty patient.

Turco:  Not as pretty as your partner.  Where is she?

Again, Turco looks at the mirror.

Milbauer: Over here f**k-o.  Let’s try to answer the question, or do I have to ask it a different way?

Turco:  Did she tell you about us?

Cosimano turns off the camera.  She storms into the interrogation room and locks eyes with Turco.

Turco:  Hello Megan.

Milbauer:  How the f**k do you know her name?

Cosimano pulls out her gun.  She stares down Turco as she cautiously walks over to him.

Milbauer:  Megan what are you doing?

Turco and Cosimano stare each other down.

Turco:  She’s about to get rough.  She likes it rou—

Cosimano bludgeons Turco on the head with her gun.  He falls out of the chair, limply hanging by his handcuffed wrists.  Milbauer grabs the gun from her hand.  They struggle, and he restrains her.  He puts the gun down on the table.

Milbauer:  Jesus, Meg what the f**k!  The tape!

Cosimano:  It’s off.

Milbauer checks Turco.

Milbauer:  He’s out cold.  F**k.  f**k…

Cosimano:  I can explain.

Milbauer:  It’s a little f**king late for that!  We’re gonna get burned for this sh*t!  This f**ker is gonna walk Meg!  How the hell are we gonna explain this!  Why the hell did you do that?  This a**hole has a degree in headf**king!  You can’t believe his bullsh*t.

Milbauer props the unconscious Turco up in his chair.  He gets blood on his shirt.

Cosimano:  Listen we have to get him out of here.

Milbauer:  We’re not going anywhere Meg.   This is a f**king murder suspect with ties to all three victims.  And you just f**ked any chance of putting this guy away.

Cosimano:  Just uncuff him Bobby.

Milbauer:  What the hell are you talking about?

Cosimano:  He didn’t kill the third girl.

Milbauer: Great work detective.  And how the f**k do you know this?

Cosimano picks her gun up off the table.  She circles Milbauer and Turco.

Cosimano:  He was with me the night of the third murder.

Milbauer:  Meg—

Cosimano suddenly clobbers Milbauer with her gun.  He drops to the floor, unconscious.  She steps over him to get to Turco.  She slaps him in the face.  He comes to.  Her face comes into focus.

Turco:  Ow.

Cosimano puts the gun to Turco’s head.

Cosimano:  We’re walking out the front door, and you’re going to take me to your friend.

A Scene from “The Terminator” – Sarah Connor Watches Reese’s Interrogation Tape, from

Film as Art – Bunker Hill Community College
Week 04 – Character and Dialogue, Assignment 4
Michael McVey
February 25, 2010

The Terminator
Sarah Connor watches Kyle Reese’s interrogation tape.

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Examine a scene where dialog is used and answer the questions:

1) How is character revealed through the actions they take?

On a television monitor, a tape plays: Kyle Reese sits handcuffed to a chair while Dr. Silberman questions him. The camera pans left to reveal Sarah Connor watching the tape, along with Dr. Silberman, Lieutenant Traxler, and Detective Vukovich.

Silberman sits front and center, amused by Reese’s outlandish tale. He laughs at the tape with Vukovich. Both men seem oblivious to the anxiety-wracked Sarah, who nervously chews her fingernails. Traxler gives them both a look of disgust—Silberman and Vukovich are insensitive to Sarah’s mental state.

We cut back to Reese on the monitor, explaining his circumstances. The handcuffs and questioning agitate Reese. He seethes with frustration—he is not convincing anyone with his bizarre story… except maybe Sarah. We cut to close-up of Traxler, tensely chewing gum. We cut to close-up of Sarah. She looks scared.

As Reese explains, Silberman pauses the tape. He tells everyone in the room how brilliant Reese’s elaborate story is. He clearly does not believe Reese. This inappropriate action demonstrates the Silberman’s egotism. He is too thrilled with career prospects to consider the murders, and their effect on Sarah. He resumes the tape.

Reese reaches his limit Silberman’s questioning. He realizes Silberman is not in any position to help him. Reese silences him and pleads directly to the camera. He warns about the Terminator to anyone who will listen. Officers attempt to subdue Reese. His fervor suggests he truly believes his mission is to protect Sarah. The fear in Sarah’s eyes suggests she may believe him.

The doctor stops the tape and apologizes. He realizes that he should not have exposed Sarah to Reese’s fear-inducing rant. The doctor shows a fleeting moment of responsibility. He is not a very good doctor if he is oblivious to Sarah’s nerves. Sarah asks Dr. Silberman if Reese is crazy. The doctor assures her Reese is insane. Traxler and Vukovich show Sarah some body armor. They explain the Terminator is likely a man wearing such protection. Traxler gives Sarah the armor so she can feel the weight. He is assuring. Vukovich explains how PCP may have been used to inhibit pain, but before he can tell an anecdote, Traxler gives him the armor to put away. Vukovich has clearly had a lot of experience, but Traxler is focused on nurturing Sarah back from her anxiety.

Traxler warmly suggests Sarah lie down and get some rest. He covers her with his jacket. He is protective and paternal. He assures Sarah of her safety, and she falls asleep, completely exhausted from the ordeal.

2) Are large chunks of information spilled out all at once or is it parceled out?

The information is parceled out. The time travel exposition is well handled. It feels natural—Reese responds to questioning because it is his best option to protect Sarah, given his situation. Scene is written to explain back story while revealing character. Protecting Sarah is Reese’s only concern. He tries to be convince Silberman, but his story is just too surreal for the doctor.

By framing the Reese/Silberman conversation as a pre-recorded tape on a monitor, we are able to focus on the reactions of the observing characters. We get the exposition, but we also see Sarah’s emotion state.

Traxler and Vukovich split assurance duties. The perceptive Traxler is clearly the better man for the job, as Vukovich seems insensitive. They divide up the rationalizations between them, helping calm Sarah. The Dr. Silberman’s dismissal of Reese’s story also helps Sarah relax.

3) How does the writer parcel the information? –Are the speakers saying exactly what is on their minds or are they using subtext getting at what they want to say by being indirect?

At first, Kyle Reese answers the line of questioning in an effort to win allies. When he realizes that his efforts are going nowhere, Reese screams exactly what is on his mind—Sarah is going to die unless the Terminator is stopped.

Dr. Silberman explains the intricacies of Reese’s “delusion,” but is more occupied by the possibilities of his career advancement. He sees great personal opportunity, and at one point, he refers to it as a career case.

Vukovich doesn’t say much, but it is clear he is a man of experience. His attempts at anecdotes allude to this. His insensitivity to Sarah’s emotional state is characteristic of a someone used to dealing with death and murder.

Traxler’s measured, collected manner of assuring Sarah reveals sensitivity. He is a thoughtful, empathic man who has her best interests at heart. He understands how traumatic the experience must be, and brings her a few steps closer to tranquility.

Sarah Connor is a nervous wreck. Her face and body language suggest she may believe Reese. She asks questions looking for support. The doctor and police officers assure her of her safety. She is too exhausted to process any more information. She accepts Traxler’s comforting words and falls asleep.

Film as Art – Week 03 Dramatic Action Through Pictures, Assignment 3

Film as Art
Week 03 Dramatic Action Through Pictures, Assignment 3
Michael McVey

February 16, 2010

Glengarry Glen Ross

IV. Pick one scene. Answer the questions:

What does the character want?
What does he or she do to get it?
What prevents him or her from getting it?
List the shots in the scene.

Describe the shots in the scene:

1. Shot size, any camera movement, a description of the action occurring in the shot.
2. Next shot.
3. Next shot.
And so on, describing every shot in the scene.

Glengarry Glen Ross: Ricky Roma (Al Pacino) closes a deal which puts his monthly numbers over the top, winning him a Cadillac. He goes to work the morning after making a decisive deal, only to find his office has been robbed. Essential paperwork is stolen, including the new Glengarry leads, jeopardizing Roma’s livelihood and chances at the prize Cadillac.

What does the character want?

Roma wants the prize Cadillac, which he feels he deserves. He wants assurances from his bosses that he will get it. He wants his commission from the closed deals, and he wants accountability from the company. Finally, he wants new leads, leads that extend his ability to earn.

What does he or she do to get it?

Roma interrupts a police interrogation, prioritizing his concerns over the investigation. He demands to know if the robbers stole his contracts. Office manager Williamson (Kevin Spacey) assures Roma that the critical James Lingk Contract is secure. Roma badgers Williamson; having met the company’s terms, Roma feels he is owed the Cadillac.

Roma attempts contacting Lingk to verify their contract, but can only reach Lingk’s secretary.

Roma consoles his co-worker, George (Alan Arkin). Roma needs to re-close his smaller contracts to secure his standing, but his phone contacts have been stolen. Roma is uncertain how he will continue to work with no leads or contacts.

Williamson provides Roma with older, ineffective leads. Roma rejects one of them as useless. He attempts to go and close his lost contracts, but Williamson assures him it is not necessary. Roma badgers Williamson for new leads.

What prevents him or her from getting it?

The office robbery prevents Roma from securing the Cadillac. His existing contracts have been stolen, and he fears the company won’t reward him the prize. He wants confirmation of his contracts’ security, but the police investigation prevents immediate conversation with Williamson. Roma tries to contact Lingk, but cannot get through. Roma wants to re-close his smaller contracts, but his telephone contacts have been stolen. Roma wants the new Glengarry leads, but they have been stolen too. Roma wants new leads, but Williamson only provides him with “deadbeat” leads.

Describe the shots in the scene:

1. Establishing Shot/Medium Wide Tracking Shot into Two Shot, Exterior: Camera follows Roma’s exit from car into interior of Premiere Properties.

All shots now interior.

2. Wide Tracking Shot, Dolly into Medium Shot: Roma enters office, bursts into Williamson’s room.

3. Two Shot, Medium Close-up: Roma interrupts Williamson.

4. Medium Shot, Dolly out: Williamson walks Roma out of office and closes door.

5. Three Shot, Medium Close-up, Dolly out of office: Williamson, Police investigator and Roma converse. Cut back and forth between shots 4 and 5.

6. Medium Close-up Tracking into a Two Shot: Camera tracks Roma, circles and settles on Williamson and Roma’s conversation, Williamson in foreground.

7. Medium Close-up Two-shot, Static: Williamson converses with Roma, Roma in foreground. Cut back and forth between shots 6 and 7.

8. Wide Shot, Tracking Shot into Medium Close-up: Camera tracks Roma across the room to his desk, small crane up.

9. Medium Close-up, Static: Williamson talks.

10. Medium Wide to Medium, Tracking shot: Roma walks across room.

11. Medium Close-up, Tilt down: Roma tears poster off the wall.

12. Medium Wide Shot, Static: Williamson and Police Investigator observe, Williamson walks away, slight pan left.

13. Medium Close-up: Roma throws out poster while yelling at Williamson.

14. Medium Wide to Medium Close-up, Dolly in: Camera pushes in on Police Investigator.

15. Wide Static Two Shot: Roma in foreground, Police Investigator looms in background.

16. Medium Shot, Static: George sits and observes.

17. Cut back to shot 15, camera tracks Roma Medium Close-up as he calls Lingk. Camera pans right, then tilts down, keeping Roma center frame. Cut back to shot 16, George speaks.

18. Medium Close-up: Roma listens. Cut back to shot 16.

19. Medium Shot, Static: Police Investigator speaks to Roma.

20. Close-up, Static: Roma moves into frame and answers Police Investigator. Cut back and forth between shots 19 and 20.

21. Medium Shot, Dolly into Office: Police Investigator returns to Williamson’s room, camera pushes in and follows, panning left to reveal Moss being questioned. The door closes. Cut back to shot 18 for Roma’s reaction. Cut to shot 16, George stands.

22. Medium Shot, Static: Roma sits at his desk.

23. Two Shot, Static: George in background talks to Roma. Cut back and forth between shots 22 and 23 as Roma and George talk.

24. Medium Shot into Two Shot: George sits next to Roma at his desk. They converse.

25. Close-Up: George talks to Roma.

26. Close-up: Roma talks to George. Cut back and forth between 25 and 26.

27. Wide Tracking Shot into Two Shot, Dolly left: Roma gets up to leave. Williamson stops him.

28. Medium Close-up: Roma responds to Williamson.

29. Wide Two Shot: Roma in foreground, Williamson in background. Cut back and forth between shot 28 and 29. The Wide Two Shot dollies right, tracking Roma and Williamson. Williamson leaves the shot, camera continues tracking Roma.

30. Medium Two Shot: Roma walks over to George at his desk. Roma in foreground. They converse.

31. Reverse Medium Two Shot: George in foreground. They converse. Cut back and forth between shots 30 and 31. Roma walks around desk in shot 30, camera tracks him Medium Close-up.

32. Medium Two Shot, Small Crane up, Dolly left: Roma walks around his desk and sits. Camera tracks him, keeping him center frame.

33. Medium Two Shot: Roma sits, George in background, converses.

34. Reverse Medium Two Shot, slow Dolly in: Roma sits in background, George in foreground. They converse. The camera slowly pushes in.

35. Medium Two Shot, Dolly left: Roma sits, George responds to questioning. Camera in constant motion. Cut back to shot 34, which begins to circle right.

36. Medium Close-up, Static: George responds to Roma.

37. Medium shot, Dolly right: Roma sits conversing with George. Cut back and forth between shots 36 and 37. Shot 37 finally pans left into a two-shot with George in the foreground.

38. Medium Shot, Static: Williamson walks towards Roma’s desk.

39. Medium Wide Shot: Williamson’s arm hands Roma leads while George sits. Cut back to shot 38, Williamson now walking away, pauses, turns. Cut back and forth between 38 and 39.

40. Medium Shot, Dolly in: George leaves shot, camera pushes in on Roma as he badgers Williamson. Cut back and forth between shots 38 and 40. George enters into shot 38, which becomes a Two Shot. Continue cutting between 38 and 40.

End Scene.

Storyboarding a Western Film, from Michael McVey,

Film as Art
Week 02 Direct Conflict, Assignment 2
Michael McVey
February 9, 2010

“Place two characters in a scene of direct conflict. … Use dialogue as needed, and resolve the scene. Minimum length: 2-3 pages” (Hall, 12). All scripts are written in the present tense. Write what you can only see and hear. Post your assignment using EasyEdit (copy and paste from Word, but keep a back-up of your file).

For ease, just use this format:
Description of action in present tense.
Character: dialogue
Character: dialogue
Description of action

Untitled Western – by Michael McVey, Bunker Hill Community College, 2010.

Film as Art – Week 01 Dramatic Action, Assignment 1

Film as Art
Week 01 Dramatic Action, Assignment 1
Michael McVey
February 1, 2010

“”Write a description of an action taking place. Describe only those things that can be seen. Use no dialogue, although you may use other sounds. The scene should take place in one location, …” and in one moment of time. (Hall, 1). All scripts are written in the third person present tense!

“Imagine yourself looking at a one-minute scene on a movie screen. Write down what you see and here on the page. That’s it. Nothing more. What does the audience see and hear? If they can’t see and hear it, then it doesn’t belong in the script.”

The screen is pitch black. A shrill alarm fills our ears. We hear the deafening slam of a metal door. We hear the panting of a woman, running footsteps echo in an unseen space. The screen turns red like a siren, and then we see sweat dripping down a frantic face. It is a woman. She clambers down a vast concrete corridor. Her eyes dart frantically about. She clutches a metal box in her arms, struggling to hold on. We see she is bleeding from the hip – she is wounded. She staggers. The box is too heavy. She stumbles into the wall. Both box and woman crash to the ground.

Red alarm sirens oscillate across her collapsed figure. Her red blood looks black in the light. She struggles to breathe. She turns her head, looking behind her. Her eyes widen in terror. She crawls towards the box. The woman braces herself against the concrete wall and leverages herself upright. Her eyes narrow – she sees a large metal door at the corridor’s end. She is close. The woman forces herself to her feet. Her breathing intensifies. Her face twists in pain. She drops to one knee. She cannot stand. She eyes the door again. The woman braces her back against the wall and kicks the box with her legs. The box moves a few feet towards the door, and the woman scrambles after it. She kicks again. A blood trail marks her progress. She ignores the wound. She kicks and heaves again and again. With a final kick, the box slams against the door. Near collapse, she props herself up. She pulls a card key from her pocket. The woman struggles, hand reaching for the door’s security card reader. Suddenly, the alarm stops. The sirens cease flashing. The screen turns to darkness.

The woman’s breathing reaches fever pitch. The metal door opens in front of the woman, flooding the corridor with light. The woman lays wounded, her body distorted in pain. A silhouetted figure steps through the doorway. The woman makes a desperate attempt to shield the box. The figure hovers for a moment, then kneels down in front of her, calm and collected. The figure moves into focus – the silhouetted figure is the woman’s exact twin. She smiles kindly at her wounded counterpart. The twin gently moves the woman off the box. Exhausted, the woman offers little resistance. The twin savors the moment, and then opens the box. Her calmness evaporates in an instant, replaced with rage. The wounded woman laughs. The box contains a lone cinderblock, a decoy.

“American Beauty” – Identifying the Throughline, from Michael McVey,

Film as Art
Week 10 – Identifying the Throughline, Assignment 10
Michael McVey – Bunker Hill Community College
April 27, 2010

Watch American Beauty. Identify the super-objective of a central character and describe this character’s throughline in detail.

American Beauty tells the story of Lester Burnham, played by Kevin Spacey. Lester is a middle-aged, unhappy suburbanite. He feels his American life is a joyless chore, and sets out to reclaim happiness. Lester’s pursuit of happiness is his super-objective.

The opening scenes establish Lester’s ennui. He has strained, distant relationships with his wife Carolyn and daughter Jane. The gay couple living next door, Jim and Jim are the only “normal” people Lester knows. Lester hates his job. At work, Lester is largely unappreciated, and is in danger of being let go by his undeserving superior Brad. Quitting this job will become one of Lester’s sub-objectives. At home, Carolyn is hypercritical and unsympathetic to Lester’s plight. She perceives him as a loser. Jane hides behind a wall of sarcasm.

Lester attends a local high school basketball game. His daughter Jane cheerleads. Lester sees Jane’s friend Angela, and is immediately smitten. Angela becomes the object of Lester’s desire, and he begins fantasizing about her.

Lester steals Angela’s number from Jane’s bedroom. He calls Angela, but hangs up immediately when Jane exits the shower. This is Lester’s first step towards his super-objective. He awkwardly attempts to contact Angela to begin a relationship – Lester associates having Angela with happiness. Sleeping with Angela becomes a critical sub-objective for Lester’s super-objective.

Later, Lester and Carolyn bicker at a party. When Carolyn flocks over to local real estate magnate Buddy King, Lester makes an awkward, honest comment. This embarrasses Carolyn, and Lester further embarrasses her with a protracted kiss in front of Buddy. Lester starts to cut loose a bit, taking another step towards his super-objective.

Lester’s young neighbor Ricky approaches him at the bar. Ricky and Lester retire outside for some recreational smoking. Lester enjoys himself and makes a connection with Ricky. He admires Ricky’s self-control and perceived freedom. Lester begins defining his super-objective based on some of Ricky’s qualities.

Jane brings Angela over to her house. Aware that Lester is fixated, Angela decides to flirt with him. Lester quickly falls into a semi-erotic fantasy. Later, Lester overhears Angela talking about him with Jane. She playfully teases Jane about her dad’s fixation. Lester hears Angela mention that he would be sexy if he worked out. Later, Lester goes into the garage, finds some weights, and works out in the buff. He is clearly motivated to get fit. Lester equates his fitness with Angela’s attraction. Fitness becomes a sub-objective, as it may result in attracting Angela, culminating with Lester’s super-objective.

Carolyn catches Lester masturbating during a nighttime fantasy. Lester defends his right to masturbate, as his wife does not service him. They argue about their mutual sexual frustration, and Carolyn brings up divorce. Lester quickly turns the tables on her, ending the argument. Lester seizes control from Carolyn and does not back down from her criticisms. This fosters the self-control needed for Lester to achieve his super-objective.

Lester starts running with Jim and Jim. He goes over to Ricky’s to buy weed. Getting high is a new sub-objective for Lester – it helps him to relax and enjoy life. Lester fondly recalls his youth to Ricky: flipping burgers, partying and having sex. Later, Lester smokes a joint in the garage while lifting weights. When Carolyn confronts him on his new social deviance, he retorts, telling her to leave. Lester’s exercise, habitual pot use, and devil-may-care attitude reflect his efforts pursuit of happiness (through irresponsibility).

Lester writes a sarcastic and biting performance review. Brad tries to fire Lester, but Lester counters by threatening blackmail and sexual harassment. Lester refuses to be a victim, turning the tables on his thankless employers. Lester gets a year’s salary as a severance package, and triumphantly leaves. Lester separates himself from the working rabble, gaining a degree of freedom.

Later in the evening, Lester eats dinner with his wife and daughter. Lester and Carolyn bicker, and Jane is forced to listen. When Jane tries to leave, Lester exerts authority, and Jane sits back down. Carolyn rants hysterically, refusing to quit. Again Lester exerts himself, smashing a plate against the wall. This silences Carolyn. Much of Lester’s earlier misery stemmed from his passivity. In this scene, Lester works on the sub-objective of reclaiming his familial authority. Lester exhibits more self-control, and he moves towards his super-objective.

Lester enjoys the spoils of his severance by purchasing a 1970 Pontiac Firebird. He also buys several toys. When Carolyn berates Lester yet again, Lester defuses her through compliments. He makes a move on her, and we sense a happier past. But before he can round second base, Carolyn breaks the mood, afraid Lester might spill beer on the couch. Lester cannot overcome the sub-objective of salvaging his family life. His wife’s obsession with material objects and appearances hurts their relationship. He gets angry with her material worship and chases her away. Despite acquiring material objects for himself, Lester is not happy.

We flash forward to Lester running through the neighborhood. He looks much happier and healthier. While Lester makes a health shake in his kitchen, he learns Angela will be sleeping over. Jane is embarrassed by her father’s obvious attraction to Angela, and shares her disgust. Lester calls his daughter a bitch, just like her mother. This hurts Jane, and she leaves. Lester still struggles with the sub-objective of normalizing his family relationships, which prevent him from obtaining his super-objective.

Later, Lester catches Carolyn having an affair with Buddy King. At the drive-thru Burger joint Lester works, Lester surprises the cheating couple. Carolyn sees Lester has been working a menial job, but Lester finds the work invigorating; there is little responsibility. Lester calmly dismisses Carolyn and Buddy. By cheating on Lester, she has relinquishes any authority over him. From his perspective, Carolyn’s transgression is liberating. Instead of feeling remorse or anger, Lester puts her affair in context of his super-objective. Not able to resolve his sub-objective with Carolyn, Lester is inadvertently given the liberation he needs to continue towards independence and self-control.

After Lester buys more pot from Ricky, Angela and Jane run into him in the kitchen. Angela flirts with Lester. Repulsed, Jane runs from the room. Lester flirts back, but Angela is clearly nervous, and goes to find Jane. Lester’s object of desire, seemingly the key to his super-objective, runs away from him.

Later, while working out in the garage, Lester is confronted by Ricky’s father, Colonel Fitts. The Colonel has mistakenly confused the relationship between his son and Lester. Thinking Lester is a homosexual, the repressed Colonel Fitts kisses Lester. Stunned, Lester gently rebuffs his advances. Overwhelmed, the Colonel stumbles into the rainy night. Lester’s calmly handles the awkward situation, suggesting comfort in his own skin. This grace suggests Lester is ever closer to realizing his super-objective.

Lester goes for a beer in the kitchen, and encounters Angela, sitting alone. She tells him about her fight with Jane, revealing to Lester that she thinks him sexy. Lester and Angela get intimate, and they begin kissing. Lester is within moments of having Angela, the catalyst of his super-objective. Lester takes off her clothes, and as they are about to make love, Angela tells Lester she is a virgin. At first he think she is joking, but he quickly realizes that Angela is sincere. In that moment, Angela stops becoming a fantasy and becomes a person to Lester. He covers her with a blanket and comforts her. In this moment, Lester embraces responsibility.

Throughout the film, Lester sheds the coils of societal expectation. Irresponsibility felt like the key to Lester’s super-objective of happiness. Ultimately, Lester balances out his selfish impulses with genuine care for others. He breaks through his lustful delusions to see an inexperienced, frightened teenager before him, and he gives her comfort and affection. Lester and Angela sit in the kitchen, where Angela eats. Lester asks her about Jane. Angela tells him that Jane is in love. This touches Lester. For the first time in the film, Lester is genuinely interested in his daughter. He is a father reborn. Angela asks how Lester feels. Lester replies “great.” It is this moment that Lester achieves his super-objective. He feels genuine happiness for the first time in ages.

Angela leaves the room for a moment, and Lester is murdered. His body lies on the table, a smile etched on his face. Even though the scene is bloody, there is a poetic beauty in Lester’s smile. Moments before his death, Lester discovers that honest love and affection for others is essential to happiness. Lester recovers from his journey of irresponsibility and realizes that happiness requires balance between selfishness and selflessness. His final moments are happy: Lester attains his super-objective.