What’s Not Working

In a recent podcast posted by Network ISA, Gary Goldstein and Jeff York talks story structure and the many pieces that create it–character, plot, arrangement and so on. Specifically, they focus on The Last Word, starring Shirley Maclaine.

It is a film that I have not seen, and probably will not–at least, any time soon. To get some context of what the film looked like, dealt with and etc., I took a look at the trailer, which seems promising on the outside, but I definitely can tell the audience is catered to the above 25 female category–always a tricky quadrant to take on.

One of the earliest questions posed by Goldstein is: “Does your film succeed in what it attempts to do?”

I believe this is one of the most vital questions of all. What is the point in writing a film, getting it shot, if the story and voice one is attempting to capture is completely lost?

I guess if the reviews one filmmaker receives is on the good end of the stick, then possibly just to accept the praise–even though reviewers got it all wrong–might be tempting and a good idea. However, on the other end, if one receives bad reviews, and the reviewers completely miss the mark in the direction the filmmaker is trying to go, it turns into a sad story all around.

Listening to York and Goldstein, missing the direction of the film seems to not be the case, but properly filling in gaps, such as the reason Maclaine’s character is so rigid–her background explanation–and inconsistencies in her character, like worrying about being in a local newspaper when it comes to her obituary, and not a big-shot newspaper, which would have made more sense with her character.

All in all, the podcast serves as a good reminder to be careful, cautiously evaluate all elements of a screenplay before producing it. However, the filmmaker still got lucky this time around–the film was produced.


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