20 September 2009

Manila Times column for 20 Sept 2009: "When your writing comes to life on screen"

this column was inspired by my recent directorial gig for the tv show that i am writing for (at least the first draft, i always say hehe. saka na ang kuwento nun siguro). maybe i'll also write about working as a director again, behind the scenes stuff. may mga incidents kasi akong nais i-blog, lalu na ang mga diskriminasyon sa set and all that. pero saka na nga lang.

eto muna.

original post here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

By Libay Linsangan Cantor
When your writing
comes to life on screen

Scriptwriters must already be used to seeing their works on screen, whether they write for television or film, especially the veterans who have been writing for a long time. Of course this is applicable to those writers whose works actually made it to production. But then again, that’s another discourse altogether.

For this writer, I am not yet used to seeing my works on screen. By “used,” I mean being just blasé about it to the point of not actually caring how the story was visualized at all. Of course it’s exciting to see because you are curious to know how the production team, especially the production designer and the director, visualized the words you just had a mental picture of before. Now that that mental picture is actually a real picture (and a moving picture at that), you sometimes wish you wrote several things differently, or wonder if the production team actually got the things you wanted to say in your script (oh, the wonderful world of subtext, semiotics and symbolisms).

But being on the actual set of a world you just created is another experience altogether. I experienced this weekend when the TV show I write for called me up to ask if I can sub for their absent director. Since I have worked with this TV crew before as a director, I happily obliged and helped.

This show is Happy Land, aired every Saturday at 9:30 a.m. over GMA-7. Since this children’s show began airing in June of this year, I watched it to monitor how my narrative scripts are being audio-visually translated. But visiting the set, looking at the props and meeting the characters I invented (such as the sari-sari store and its proprietor, which I named after my mother), I never thought that it would feel differently. All of a sudden, I am inside the world I created, walking around the places I merely wrote about at the comfort of my home, and scrutinized the characters from a great deal of distance. I actually felt like that writer character from the Cornelia Funke novel Inkheart (which was also turned into a film) as he reacted upon meeting his fictionally written characters in the flesh for the first time. It put a weird but satisfying smile on my face.

But what put an even bigger grin on my face was seeing how the production team labored over making the material I wrote come to life. The props, the costumes and of course directing the scenarios I invented (for this episode, the children protagonists interact with a young Lam-ang who learned how to talk respectfully with elders)—they were all fun, and educational for me, too. Now that I knew how they shot the material, I became conscious of several factors that I never would have considered before just by merely writing from a distance.

Well, let’s see how this episode fares, as it still has to air on October 3. Wish us luck.

Comments? Suggestions? E-mail libay.scribevibe@gmail.com. She is also at libaycantor.multiply.com.

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