Screen vs. Narrative Writing

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Yesterday I had a minor epiphany for yet another short film. I bang these out constantly. It’s good to have a variety and wealth of material to draw from, in order to find the best ones, should the opportunity arise to actually film one.

This short film (below) is a bit more grandiose and overpopulated than I can handle right now. But after next year’s Sundial Festival (which I’m entering to win), who knows? It’s a black comedy, a satire.

Anyway, I got to thinking why this idea is ONLY useful as an onscreen experience, and certainly wouldn’t work as a short story. It is completely reliant upon the style of the editing, the music, camera flow and visual cliches. This story is not about a character, but is a metaphor about a particular situation that you’ll recognize (hopefully) as it all comes together.

The strengths of screenwriting are not the strengths of narrative writing. They diverge significantly. Music, sound effects, casting, and revealing things in the frame all have much more impact than describing them in words. What would the short story version of the latest music video look like? Pretty dreadful, I’m guessing, and not worth bothering with.

It’s important to assess what sort of experience is intended at the outset. For my latest big project, I’m still unsure if the stand up comedy story is best told as a film, a short story, or a longer novel. I had originally thought of it as a movie, as I nearly always do. It’s been a struggle to find the best approach. I’m leaning toward short story.

Well here’s an obvious audio-visual project. The AV style, the editing, is what will make it work. It changes stylistically over and over again. No main character, and no one to get inside. It’s about breaking the 4th wall, over and over again, a technique that is dangerous, and so it needs a unique take in order to work (to seem fresh).

It’s a first draft.

Shoot the Director

Short Film

J. Giambrone
Copyright 2015


Cliche, bad POP MUSIC, character gliding along on a bicycle in a terrible fucking mainstream manipulative manner, triumphant rom-com, bubble gum, plastic boy toy… right past his own CAMERA CREW…

THE DIRECTOR comes into view. He’s a wussy, sold-out shell of a film school dweeb.

The CAMERA MAN, a grizzled old timer, can’t stand it anymore. Turns and SHOOTS the director dead with a .45 semi-automatic.

Movie transforms into a war picture, SOLDIERS, cliche ARAB TERRORISTS in a battle all over the street.

Camera Man / Director has the bullhorn…


Get in there you bastards!

A couple of CAMERA OPS run into the smoke, bullets and RPG fire.

Beautiful woman, the SCRIPT SUPERVISOR, drops her clipboard, rolls her baby blues, and pulls out a lady nandgun. Caps the Camera Man / Director in the back of his head, kills him.

Script Supervisor / new director, lifts the bullhorn, polishes off the dirt.



She points them to the…


The POOL BOY with the six pack abs, slow motion, as a middle-aged HOUSEWIFE lazes with her wine, lusting for Pool Boy.

Script Supervisor similarly bites her lip, lusting after PB.

The Housewife’s TEENAGE SON marches out of the house, shaking his head, walks up to the Script Supervisor / Director and blasts her with a shotgun.

Cue the ZOMBIES, roaring into the sky…


Action! Mother fuckers!

He cocks his shotgun, but unfortunately a UFO arrives overhead and ZAPS him to oblivion.

The Zombies turn and flee.

UFO bellows a terrifying message to the Crew below.

SPACESHIP (filtered)

What we really want to do is direct.

As we push into a series of other CREW MEMBERS, sizing up their own visions…

LITTLE GIRL in a sandbox shakes her head in exasperation. She pushes a button, and the UFO explodes and crashes on the horizon.

Little Girl puts on her baseball cap and picks up her own colorful script, marching out to shout orders at the Crew…

And the VIDEO IMAGE recedes back into the screen, along with several other Youtube Channels, and then more, and more, and more–

–Cheezy kung fu

–Cop shootouts

–Over the top romance

–Robot battles


–Soft core thriller

–Spandex superheroes

–Talking animals

Crappy, derivative productions, doubling exponentially until the entire world drowns in bad cinema.


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