Need to Improve Your Dialogue? Try 'Listen To A Movie'
Do you sometimes find the dialogue in your script isn’t popping? Is it difficult to find the right cadence for your characters? Screenwriters always need to remember that film is a visual medium, but great dialogue is what audiences will remember from a movie that they can directly link back to a script. Let’s face it: great dialogue is what readers remember about a screenplay, too. If you want to focus your attention specifically on a film’s dialogue to help your own writing, why not just listen to a movie instead of watching it?
[Note: This post was edited on July 19 to reflect the astute comments of the NFS community that the original post came across as condoning piracy, something that NFS does not support nor condone. My apologies to the NFS community specifically and filmmaking community at large for this error in judgment - CB.]
Listen To A Movie provides MP3 audio files of several movies (and even DVD commentaries). While this sounds like a good idea initially for writers to focus on dialogue with visuals distracting from the words, posting a film’s soundtrack to the Internet for others to use is essentially a form of piracy. Disclaimer: I haven’t actually tried to listen to a movie via Listen To A Movie. I discovered it via another screenwriting blog and thought I would repost here.
So, how can aspiring screenwriters take advantage of a good idea without running afoul of piracy laws? First, buy a copy of the movie on DVD, Blu-ray or digital download. That would be a good start to support the filmmakers and producers who made the movie and the distributors who made the disc or digital copy for you to enjoy.
Now you could certainly sit in a room, play the movie on a screen, turn your back to it and desperately try not to watch it. Difficult, but theoretically doable. An eye-mask would be a better choice to keep you from peeking.
What if you could make an MP3 audio file of a movie from your own legally purchased copy for your own private use (without distributing it to the public via the Internet or other means)? Another disclaimer: I’ve also never personally done this or tried this. This may fall under fair use, but I’m not an attorney, so you may want to consult one first. I’m sure this is possible because Listen To A Movie exists, but the copy protection on DVDs, Blu-rays and digital download would dissuade many from doing so. The eye-mask is still probably your best bet.
As screenwriters, we spend so much time concerned about how our screenplays will look on the screen, but we also need to understand how they will sound. However you decide to listen to a movie, this can be a valuable exercise for screenwriters to understand the nuances of dialogue, music, sound effects and pacing.
[via Go Into The Story]
- Sorkin on Sorkin: Learn Dialogue Techniques from the Man Himself
- Four Ways to Improve Your Screenplay (from John August)
- Approaching the Movie Inside Your Movie - the Art of Title Design