Marginalia, Graduate Blog

What Would Bubba Do?

Bubba Murray

The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger

As a student in the Film & Video Cinema Directing MFA program at Columbia College Chicago, I make a point to be aware of what’s going on in the entertainment industry. Oh yeah, I’m a mogul. This summer has been a strange one for movies. The sure-fire big budget tent poles (i.e. The Lone Ranger) flopped while smaller films (i.e. The Conjuring) attracted huge audiences. As a film student learning independent film techniques, I should be asking, “Why?”

Let me start by saying, just because the projects I’m working on are on a much smaller scale than Hollywood flicks, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be aware of what is happening on the left coast. And because I’m doing prep work for my independent project and thesis, I want to focus on making a project that not only expresses my unique voice but also is something people want to see. Therefore, I believe the difference between striking out and hitting a home run in film has to do with the audience relating to the main characters.

Mosquito Head

Mosquito Head

If I have script conversations with a classmates and am left thinking “that guy is crazy,” or “why would she do that?” I know they are on to something. The story points bore into my head like a giant mosquito (see how I worked that in with the image?) In order for a script to work, it should have a “what would you do” question. If writers can capture that anxiety, there is no way the audience can become disengaged. This does not require special effects or a large budget. It only requires a compelling conflict.

Pages

Pages

Because of this, I’ve developed a new approach when rewriting scripts. I’ve taken to looking at each page and seeing if I would ask “Oh god, how can he DO that!” “I wouldn’t do that!” or “He should do this instead of that!” That means the theme is clear, the conflict is defined and I’m engaged. That gets eyes on your pages. On your next project give it a try and you may have a great film produced in film school rather than just a great student film.

What Would Bubba Do?

As a student in the Film & Video Cinema Directing MFA program at Columbia College Chicago, I make a point to be aware of what’s going on in the entertainment …

Film & Video - Cinema Directing MFA Bubba Murray, james.murray2@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

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