(Avant-Garde Vs. Dramatica?)
by Armando Saldaña Mora
Please forgive me for insisting so much, but it was so hard for me to understand Dramatica that I somehow got into a quest to make sure everyone got it clear.
There are three types of movies out there: Realism, Classicism and Formalism. GAS-Stories in Dramatica terms appear mainly in the fiction area of classicism, usually the typical Hollywood mainstream story from the factory line.
No, no, no, Jurgen. This only tells you understood Dramatica only in conventional terms. Perhaps names like "Story Goal" throw you off and you understood it as the stereotypical tragicomedic generic (adventure) "Goal" (like obtaining the plans of a secret weapon). Dramatica's Goal refers to a story item that must be resolved and affects objectively all the characters. For example, in "The Seventh Seal" the goal evidently has to do with "dying" (yes: that's "Obtaining"), yet Bergman did a wonderful job in concealing the goal and subtly exposing how every character is affected by it. (except the Main Character and of course, Death).
Take any avant-garde film and you are in stormy waters with the GAS definition.
Maybe you could understand this by writing with Dramatica, but there's always a part of the Dramatica writing process where it would be easier to write an avant-garde story with what you've done already, than a mainstream story.
I'm gonna quote from my actual work: Here are some Dramatica encodings notes for a Sitcom episode I'm supposed to deliver tomorrow:
Scene # 12: Polo objects the change.
Jim changes and Polo argues with him.
Polo and Jim's obsession turns them into melodrama characters.
Jim's avoids working so the Boss will consider firing him, so he won't have to quit.
Can I write some Kafkian avant-garde scene with those encodings?
Scene 12 - Kitchen - Day
Polo is having breakfast and reading the paper.
Enters Jim. He has turned into a giant bug.
Polo stares. Pause.
Shall we go through the same as always?
Polo ignores him and goes back to his paper.
Jim pulls the paper away from Polo.
He's crying and silently praying.
Jim releases the paper.
You're not going to work?
So the boss will fire you...
Look, he doesn't believe I have problems,okay?
Polo goes back to his paper.
This is, because these type of movies are stylistically flamboyant and express a very subjective view of reality (mostly that of the director).
Do I make my point? Was the above stylistically flamboyant enough to make David Cronenberg's ears bleed? And those encodings are for a Sitcom.
Here's another real life story: Two weeks ago a director asked me for a teleplay. He has just gotten back from some film festival (he won a prize two years ago in Venice) and was in some serious "rule breaking" mood. He spoke to me of breaking almost every single TV rule: spinning dolly shots, surrealistic breaks, characters suddenly talking to the camera... I just laughed under my breath and said "wait and see"
Three days later I gave him the teleplay: It had no time continuity whatsoever (think "Remains of the day" on peyote). Time jumped back and ahead in such a way that I--nor him--couldn't tell which was a flashback and which a flashforward, yet at the end (and only at the end) it make perfect sense and everything became clear. It was pure Dramatica
My only trick was this: Objective Throughline Scenes happened "in real time" from 10:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.; Obstacle Character scenes happened "in real time" from 12:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.; Subjective Throughline Scenes happened "in real time" from 2:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. and Main Character Throughline Scenes happened "in real time" from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. of the next day.
The weave it as I want it.
My point is Dramatica deals nothing in matters of style. That is completely up to you. If you use it to analyze the meaning of the stories (as opposed to the style), you'll find grand argument stories in the best stories.
For example: "8 1/2" is a grand argument story with a "Conceptualizing" goal, the Director (Mastroiani) as Main Character and his own movie as the Obstacle Character. "The Andalucian Dog" is another grand argument story (ever felt that "completion" feeling at the end? as opposed to "The Golden Age" that's more of a series of incomplete grand argument stories) it's just encoded with non-related items for each appreciation and the MC and OC are handed-off throughout all the movie, so the "completion" is more "felt" than "understood".
The task of a great storyteller is concealing that her story is a grand argument story.
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