This week I watched a video essay looking at Aaron Sorkin and The Social Network. The video essay focuses on dialogue and the ways in which Sorkin focuses on carefully crafting dialogue that is clever, confusing, and ultimately delivers important information. As an aspiring filmmaker, dialogue can be especially challenging. Watching movies with lots of well written dialogue is impressive and interesting to watch. On the opposite end of the spectrum though, scenes with mediocre dialogue are boring. Finding this balance is especially difficult because a movie balances visual and audial story telling. What I learned from this video essay, is that while crafting dialogue it can be interesting to include written vocal pauses and stutters, or to have characters be talking about different things (not be on the same page). Events like this happen in real life but can be overlooked when writing screenplays. This video essay also focuses on why The Social Network was successful, discussing the fact that Sorkin’s dialogue was combined well with David Fincher’s visual style of story telling. Essentially The video essay points out that while Sorkin is a master at writing “crafty” dialogue, being challenged by another great filmmaker to make changes to the script helped shape The Social Network into the critically acclaimed film that it ended up being.
I have watched a lot of video essays from Michael, creator of Lessons from the Screenplay, and now feel that I have started to develop a deeper familiarity with his style. One thing that is interesting about most of Michael’s work is that like his YouTube channel title suggests, Michael focuses heavily on the screenplays of films as opposed to just the film itself. Michael still shows plenty of clips from the movie to reflect his comments, but he does so while looking at the story through the lens of a script, not necessarily just a film. This is an interesting approach to a video essay because it means that often Michael doesn’t pay particularly close attention to visuals or shot composition. He might still comment on the framing, cutting, lighting, etc. but most of his time is spent analyzing the story/script. Because of this, these video essays contain lots of text on screen. In this video essay about The Social Network the text often displays the script while the characters are saying the dialogue. This is an interesting technique because half of the screen is dedicated to showing the printed version of the dialogue that the viewer is already hearing. I think this technique is effective though because it drew my attention away from the visuals and other audio elements, and helped to isolate the dialogue and script as the elements that were being analyzed.