Understanding Film Noir and Applying the Art of Subtext in Your Script

Hosted by Brian Smith

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Brian Smith

Webinar hosted by: Brian Smith

Industry Reader & Educator for DreamWorks at (works with Disney, Universal, Sony, DreamWorks Animation)

An entertainment industry veteran, Brian has been working in the industry since 1999, and he has credits on 23 films and television series for major studios like Disney, Universal, Sony, and DreamWorks Animation. Brian has worked with some of the top story tellers in the animation industry, and has been studying the art and development of storytelling from within for nearly 20 years. While at DreamWorks Animation his work fell under the umbrella of the DreamWorks Education department and Brian taught classes to artists and other staff on story telling, Film Noir, and screenwriting. Brian has been a professional screenplay reader since 2006, and has written coverage for over 1,000 scripts and books for companies such as Walden Media and Scott Free Films. Scripts and books that Brian has read and covered include Twilight, Touristas, Nim’s Island, Hotel for Dogs, and Inkheart. Brian is a life-long fan of good stories and he’s spent years studying the techniques and principles of good storytelling. He believes that great cinema and great storytelling are inseparable. He studied animation and screenwriting at the University of Southern California, receiving an MFA from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in 1999. With that knowledge and his appreciation of good stories, Brian gets real satisfaction in helping writers get the most out of their stories through their screenplays. Brian was born and raised on Cape Cod and currently lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife, three daughters, and two dogs.   Full Bio »

Subtext in your dialogue and in your story can be the difference between a studio picking up your script or passing on it. Subtext adds layers to your story and depth to your characters. Mastering the art of subtext is not only preferable for writers, it is absolutely essential. The writers and creators of Film Noir were experts at the use of subtext because, due to the restrictions of the Production Code, their films could not have been made without it.

The makers of Film Noir mastered the art of not saying what you’re trying to say, and saying it in a way that sounds like you’re saying something completely different. That subtext allowed the audience to fill in the blanks and become more active participants in the story, and that is why subtext is so important. It gets your audience more involved in the story.

Film Noir and the Art of Subtext will show you how to apply the use of subtext in your own scripts in order to add that depth, further engage the audience and take your script to the next level by using examples from some of the great films of that style.

After reading well over 1,000 screenplays over the course of my career, from both professionals and amateurs, I can tell you that I can recognize good subtext. Also, as someone who has been a professional reader, I can show you through a reader’s eyes where subtext is needed, and how subtext can be used to prevent you and your script from getting the dreaded PASS on coverage notes.


What You'll Learn:

  1. Intro: The creation of the Hays Code. 
  2. The History of Film Noir
    • Influences
    • Conventions
    • Themes
    • Styles
  3. Subtext is Not Saying What You’re Saying: Dissecting subtext in dialogue and direction 
    • Double Indemnity vs. Body Heat case study
    • Double Indemnity vs. The Godfather case study
    • Out of the Past vs. Blade Runner case study
  4. Nuvo Noir & how showing and saying everything you want is not really what your audience wants. 
    • Mulholland Falls case study
    • L.A. Confidential case study
    • The Man Who Wasn’t There & Miller’s Crossing case studies (The Coen Brothers)
  5. Other effective examples of subtext & how to incorporate it into your script.
    • A Bug’s Life
    • What is being said, vs what you’re trying to say.
    • Subtext adds a layer to your dialogue that makes it more than conversation. It adds to the drama of your scene.
  6. Questions

About Your Instructor:

An entertainment industry veteran, Brian has been working in the industry since 1999, and he has credits on 23 films and television series for major studios like Disney, Universal, Sony, and DreamWorks Animation. Brian has worked with some of the top story tellers in the animation industry, and has been studying the art and development of storytelling from within for nearly 20 years. While at DreamWorks Animation his work fell under the umbrella of the DreamWorks Education department and Brian taught classes to artists and other staff on story telling, Film Noir, and screenwriting.

Brian has been a professional screenplay reader since 2006, and has written coverage for over 1,000 scripts and books for companies such as Walden Media and Scott Free Films. Scripts and books that Brian has read and covered include Twilight, Touristas, Nim’s Island, Hotel for Dogs, and Inkheart.

Brian is a life-long fan of good stories and he’s spent years studying the techniques and principles of good storytelling. He believes that great cinema and great storytelling are inseparable. He studied animation and screenwriting at the University of Southern California, receiving an MFA from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in 1999. With that knowledge and his appreciation of good stories, Brian gets real satisfaction in helping writers get the most out of their stories through their screenplays.

Brian was born and raised on Cape Cod and currently lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife, three daughters, and two dogs.

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

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