Mise-En-Page - An Introduction To Screenplay Style & Form
Abstract: The purpose of this essay is to establish the screenplay as a valid, and relevant, object for study in the field of film studies in order to stimulate further research within the field and for a more prevalent inclusion of screenplays in the general discourse of film studies. I argue that accounts of the screenplay as either literature or blueprints, which stand in ideological opposition to each other, are lackluster as they overemphasize the virtues of their own side of the spectrum while at the same time undervaluing the other side; neither accounting for their own vices. More importantly however, neither account sufficiently emphasizes the cinematic qualities inherent in the screenplay. Thus, I chose to define the screenplay as a ‘text’, in order to suggest that it can be studied from multiple perspectives and for different ends. To emphasize the point that the screenplay is an object of high relevance to film studies, I have argued for the potential of discussing cinematic style within the screenplay. To do this, I have argued for the concept of reading as image building, which positions the screenplay as a type of text which triggers processess of constucting written narrative into visual images. To further argue that this visualisation process is cinematic in its nature, I appeal to Pasolini’s account of the screenplay as a “structure that wants to become another structure”, this second structure thus being film. Furthermore, elaborate on Pasolini’s thoughts, and suggest in which means the screenplay alludes to a cinematic structure. I thus introduce the concept of the ‘proto-camera’, an alternative way of conceptualizing the process of reading as image building in a less semiotic sense. Further, I suggest that the structure which the screenplay seeks to allude to is the structure of a more liberal account of mise-en-scène which leaves room for sound and editing. This structure I have termed as ‘mise-en-page’. Mise-en-page can essentially be seen as, literally, anything that is on ‘the page’. I describe the elements that comprise mise-en-page and discuss in which ways the interplay of these elements allude to the logic of mise-en-scène and cinematography. I also discuss issues of authorship regarding screenwriting and film. On the topic of auteur theory, I discuss its film political effects on screenwriting and also discuss how come attempts to situate the screenwriter as an ‘auteur’ have been problematic. As it does not pertain to the aim of this essay, I leave the question of whether the screenwriter can, or indeed even should, be seen as an auteur open. Instead, I argue that the screenwriter is a creative collaborator.
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