Action! Writing Better Action Using Cinematic Techniques

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Instead of seeing life through his eyes or inhabiting her thoughts, stories were laced with directorial cues, yet lacked the filmmaking tools necessary to make these visions manifest. For example, before the camera was invented, painters focused on creating realistic portraits. Literature has been equally affected by storytelling technologies such as television and film. Prior to the advent of cinema, novels presented plot-driven narratives through a distant lens, sometimes spending pages describing a sunrise.

Why is that? Why would someone choose to read a book, if she could instead watch a movie? Because film has caused the form to evolve. Anderson coaxes masterful performances from actors. The voice of a film arises from a combination of tools and collaborators.

WHAT FILM CANNOT: How interiority saves fiction.

Novelists and short story writers bring a different set of tools to the arena: language, interactivity, and, most importantly, interiority. For it to be worthwhile, there has to be a reason for it to be in written language. In , that was not one of the demands. But now there are all these others. I could hear a song.

I could watch a film. You have to give me a reason why you have written this down. Viewers need not fill in connective tissue nor imagine people and places in the same sensory detail as they do when reading. When you watch a movie you are watching characters on camera as opposed to looking through their eyes.

That interaction between the inner and the outer is a unique provenance of narrative. No other art form can really grasp the interaction between the external world and the internal world as fiction can. A great book allows me to leap over that wall. If art is the process of revealing ourselves and our connection with one another, literature serves as perhaps the most intimate of arts, bridging the gap between self and other by allowing readers to see themselves in that which is not them.

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By meeting this profound human yearning for connection, and merging, literature assumes its power to facilitate empathy. This has profound social and political implications. And he judged of others by himself, not believing in what he saw, always believing that every man had his real, most interesting life under the cover of secrecy and under the co ver of night. How would readers understand the tension that exists between what Gurov wants to say or do versus what he actually says and does? Gurov learns to become more empathetic as he sees himself in others; readers become increasingly empathetic as we see ourselves, like it or not, in Gurov.

Try this exercise to gain familiarity with exterior versus interior writing :.

Cuts & Transitions 101

Ready to achieve your writing goals? Great article. This was a great article. Featuring guns, cool explosions and amazing set pieces, this movie type first developed in the s in such films as Dirty Harry and The French Connection , and became the exemplar of the Hollywood mega-blockbuster in the s in such works as Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. These films often feature a race against the clock, lots of violence, and a clear—often flamboyantly evil—antagonist. Though they may involve elements of crime or mystery films, those aspects take a back seat to the action.

Examples include Under Siege terrorists take over a ship , Broken Arrow terrorists hijack a nuclear weapon from a B-2 bomber , Snakes on a Plane poisonous snakes take over a passenger plane , Speed terrorist takes over a bus , Under Siege 2: Dark Territory , and Derailed hostages are trapped on trains and buses , Sudden Death terrorists take over an Ice Hockey stadium , Passenger 57 , Executive Decision , and Air Force One hostages are trapped on a plane , Con Air criminals take over a transport plane , and Half Past Dead and The Rock criminals or terrorists take over a prison.

A subgenre that became incredibly popular in the 80's with films such as 48 Hrs. They typically involve two mismatched heroes, who are almost always police officers, whose relationship evolves as they advance the plot. Having elements of thriller and sometimes science fiction films , the main conflict of this genre is some sort of natural or artificial disaster , such as floods , earthquakes , hurricanes , volcanoes , pandemics , etc. A subgenre of the action film, martial arts films contain numerous hand-to-hand combats between characters. They are usually the films' primary appeal and entertainment value and are often the method of storytelling, character expression, and development.

Martial arts films contain many characters who are martial artists.

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These roles are often played by actors who are real martial artists. If not, actors usually fervently train in preparation for their roles.

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Another method of going around this issue is that the action director may rely more on stylized action or filmmaking tricks. Sharing many of the conventions of a science fiction film , science fiction action films emphasize gun-play, space battles, invented weaponry, and other sci-fi elements weaved into action film premises. Examples include G. In which the hero is generally a government agent who must take violent action against agents of a rival government or in recent years terrorists.

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They often revolve around spies who are involved in investigating various events, often on a global scale. It is a significant aspect of British cinema , [36] with leading British directors, such as Alfred Hitchcock and Carol Reed , making notable contributions and many films set in the British Secret Service. The subgenre showcases a combination of exciting escapism, heavy action, stylized fights, technological thrills, and exotic locales. Usually having elements of science fiction and fantasy, they focus on the actions of one or more superheroes, who usually possess superhuman abilities and are dedicated to protecting the public.

These films are almost always action-oriented and the first film of a particular character often includes a focus on the origin of the special powers, including the first fight against the character's most famous supervillain archenemy.

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Some superheroes are often from Marvel and DC , or they can be made-up. An action subgenre featuring adventurous and heroic characters known as swashbucklers.

Important Film Techniques

These films are usually set in the past period and feature swordfighting scenes. The amount of actual violence is usually limited as the bad guys are thrown aside or knocked by the hilt of the swords and not really killed, except for the lead antagonist. Beginning in the mids, actors such as ex-bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone wielded automatic weapons in a number of action films.

Bruce Willis played a Western-inspired hero in the popular Die Hard series of action films. While Keanu Reeves and Harrison Ford both had major roles in action science fiction films The Matrix and Blade Runner , respectively , they later branched out into a number of other action genres, such as action-adventure films. American actor Matt Damon , who was nominated for an Academy Award for his sensitive portrayal of a math genius working as a janitor in Good Will Hunting , later morphed into an action hero with the car-chase-and-gunfire-filled Jason Bourne franchise.

Same thing happened to star Tom Cruise , who turned into a mature action star with the Mission: Impossible series , Jack Reacher , and other films. Leonardo DiCaprio is another good example of it, but without a film franchise as the previous. Increasing numbers of films starring women as the action heroes are being produced. These are celebrated by Artemis Women In Action Film Festival which honours women who work as actors, stuntwomen, and directors in action films. Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media works to document the onscreen time and representation in women in all film types with a view to improving the equality of work for actresses.

Analysis of the lines spoken in action films shows many recent films in this genre are dominated by male dialogue. Some male actors appear to champion the cause of women in action films. Tom Cruise has been honoured with an Artemis Action Rebel Award for his work in championing strong female heroes in film. Notable action film directors from the s and s include Sam Peckinpah , whose Western The Wild Bunch was controversial for its bloody violence and nihilist tone.

For a longer list, see the List of action film directors article. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Film genre. Main article: Hong Kong action cinema. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. January Learn how and when to remove this template message. Main article: List of action film actors. Main article: List of female action heroes and villains.

Archived from the original on Retrieved The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 December The Action Elite". Orient Blackswan. January 10, The New York Times.

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Orlando Sentinel. Under The Gun Review. Archived from the original on 9 June Retrieved 9 May The Numbers. Rotten Tomatoes. Decent Films.