Eye of the Story

The Evergreen State College

Author: Scott Weedall

First Draft Complete

I finished the first draft of my pilot episode this week. Yay. My goal was to write an episode for this class which I accomplished. Though originally I had envisioned the episode being 50-60 pages and this turned out to be more along the lines of 28. But still. It feels right, and since it is for the internet I’m realizing that not all episodes need to be the same length or fit into a specific time slot or anything. I want to think of an episode as being more like a chapter in a book than a rerun of everyone loves raymond. Perhaps the reason that Netflix series tend to have each episode as about the same length is because they’re trapped thinking like tv. Maybe my goal in life is to break that way of thinking. Ooh lofty.

I’ve not been writing in my journal as much. I’ve been doing the typing thing which is nice but doesn’t have the nostalgia of the written or or my incomprehensible doodles. I’ll still print these out and put them in my notebooks but it won’t look as pretty.

Winter’s Bone – Scott Weedall

I read Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone as I had just come down with nasty cold and I think that it was the perfect condition to read the book. I shivered to my core as Ree was covered in ice and trudged through deep blustery cold.  As Ree lost consciousness I was having difficulty focusing and staying awake. And when the truth about Ree’s father became apparent I was so shocked that I coughed a big veiny oyster out of my lungs. I could hardly put this book down from my engagement but I was forced to many times as I had to blow my nose; or if I ran out of tissues, spit mouthfuls of clear mucus into the bathroom sink.

Independent of my health I think this is a fantastic book. The prose describing the Ozarks is vivid and profound; the Characters are nuanced and multidimensional. The lives of this family are portrayed without judgement and I felt strongly for Ree and her family, and throughout the book I wanted her to find her father.

I’m intrigued by what the film adaptation will be like. A guiding question for this class is what can story accomplish? And I want to explore what a novel can accomplish that isn’t possible in a film medium. I’ve made a point of knowing as little as possible about the film adaptation. I also missed the Tuesday Seminar session due to the illness mentioned in Paragraph one. So my guesses about the movie vs. the book are purely speculative and I am putting myself at risk of being wrong. Let’s get started.

Throughout the book the action Ree engages in and the places she visits are weighted with years of history, personal memory and legend. The reader is not just following the protagonist but experiencing her stream of consciousness and the memories that are evoked within her as she visit each location. An example of this is in pages 64-69, when Ree takes shelter in a cave, we are simultaneously being informed about how the Dolly family has used these caves for generations and the Legend of Haslam. The action of Ree making a camp fire for the night is told simultaneously with the mythology of her family and the Mountains. In the novel this is accomplished by having one paragraph describe Ree, and then another describe Haslam and intermixing the three narratives as necessary.

It’s difficult for me to imagine how a scene like this might be accomplished in the context of a film. Literature tends to be much more like a stream of consciousness, but Film is a painting made of light and sound. In the book the reader has immediate access to the main characters thoughts and memories, but the viewer of the film can only speculate Ree’s thoughts based on the words she says and the emotions expressed by the actor. The film could have a voice over but voice over in film is notorious for being problematic. I personally feel that voiceover in narrative filmmaking needs to be used carefully, since in many cases it can result in  lazy story telling. The viewer should be experiencing the world through sights and sounds, and voice over should only be used if the narrator has a unique perspective or affectation that would not be in the story otherwise.

Another example where Present action is blended with history and mythology is on pages 115-116, where Ree smells her mother’s ‘sweet’ breath and is recalls a childhood memory where her then cogent mother was affectionate and told her stories about the mythical creatures of the Ozarks. This memory is weaved seamlessly into the central narrative. But in a film it would be very difficult to communicate what someone’s breath smelled like without one of the actors describing it. Also that scene would require a flashback which depending on when it was placed in the film could risk interrupting the main story. Also such a flashback might not be necessary since I feel like a flashback of Ree’s mom before she had her breakdown wouldn’t encapsulate the mythology of the Ozarks the way this passage did.

This book beautifully weaves the present actions of Reed with the history of her family and the magic that Woodrell imbues into the mountains. But I doubt that the film will be able to do the same. The purpose of this essay isn’t to say that film is an inferior medium. I think film can accomplish things that cannot be done in literary form, but the stream of consciousness presented in the novel is something that film as a format is not well suited for. I doubt that the legends of the Ozarks will be in the film and if they are it will probably be reduced to some lame contrived monologue at the beginning and end of the film. And I’m sure the actors will say something along the lines of, “blood runs thicker than water,” or some shit like that.

But the present action of the film will primarily be grounded by the scenes preceding them and not the history that precedes the films narrative. I think that if the adaptation is to be successful it shouldn’t worry about the historical and mythological elements I’ve describe, but focus on telling a story grounded in the present moment. I suppose my opinion doesn’t really matter that much since as of currently no one trusts me to make a multi-million dollar film. Still it is my opinion, and even if it’s only as valuable as the paper it’s written on I’m still going to share it with the class.

Hail Caesar Review by Scott Weedall

It stunk. 

Now for the Long Version

This movie was pretty forgettable, it had some mildly amusing moments but it completely lacked a point. It occurred to me while watching the video that the Coen Brothers like to set there movies in the past because it is easier for them to pretend that black people don’t exist. Not that I hate the Coen Brothers. They’ve made some great movies like Fargo, No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man. But this was one of there not good movies. Though the Story did remind me of something Joan Didion talked about.

SPOILER ALERT.

Didion had a section in her book talking about how the point of movies isn’t about creating art so much as it is a process and a game that people are continually involved in. Which forces me to acknowledge how meaningless my complaints are. But the story revolves around communists who kidnap George Clooney in an attempt to advance there cause.  Towards the end of the movie George is in the Movie Producers office sharing the communist ideology he’d been taught when the studio executive grabbed him by the collar and slapped him telling him that the studio has treated him well and that he should go out and act because that’s his job. Then George Clooney makes the movie, it doesn’t really matter what the invariable quality of the movie is, so long as production remains within budget. I haven’t seen many movies that truly encapsulate the meaninglessness and sad economics that govern mainstream filmmaker so well. In a way it’s good that this movie sucks so hard because it means that the Plot and the Story are working together.

I give this movie a Meaningless Universe out of 10.

Headin the Right Way

I was reading Oscar Wao one fine Sunday Evening trying to think of what I would write for my close reading that Tuesday. As intriguing and well written as the novel was I wasn’t sure what my take on it would be be. The perspective of the story teller, the stream of contagiousness mixed with the footnotes and interesting use of brackets and ellipses. The novel was ripe with material to deconstruct but I lacked my own thesis.

I went to bed searching for inspiration in my dreams. Turning my pillow onto the other side of my small twin sized bed, trying to inhabit a different mental space hoping for inspiration.

That night I dreams of climbing to the top of a great mountain where a wise man whose beard inhabited the entire funky galaxy resided and sat cross legged waiting for me..

“What should I write my paper about?”

“Know the truth and it will set you free.”

He anointed my forehead with his index finger and sent me off the edge of the universe, where I fell past all time, history and civilization.

I opened my outer eyes. I awoke staring at the floor.

BANG!

My stomach was clenched, ears wringing. I writhed on the floor moaning. Aaah. 180 lbs of me had fall out and bed and landed four feet down on my forehead at ~6:00 AM. The confusion was unparalleled. 

In the doctor’s office on campus I was examined and told that I was unable to read or watch video or do any strenuous mental activity for the next 24 hours. I asked incredulously what I could do besides stare at a blank wall. She suggested I go walking.

On my walks around campus I met some new people, talked to some girls and then caught up with some people I hadn’t chatted with in a while. I walked to the beach and then to the organic farm and then back to my apartment. I played Frisbee, pet a cat, fed some chickens. The weather was gorgeous and my skin became less pale.

I had a lot of interactions I wouldn’t have had if I was able to do my homework (or play video games). Things were good till sunset. At which point someone came to our apartment and held us as musical hostages while he forced us to listen to his shitty music. It was so bad I chose to stare at a blank wall.

I was like Oscar in more ways than I realized. Preferring the comfort of my fantasy world to the vulnerability of interacting with others.

In my shoken up state of mind this story seemed like a really good way of framing my close reading and talking about the text. But upon hearing that I was too brain scrambled to the assignment Sam decided that I should do a close reading of Winter’s Bone instead- This is probably good since I was unable to read the book. If there was a point to any of this it’s that I should leave my apartment more and maybe worry less about homework.

Medical Note

Thursday Yoga Revelations – Marriage/Love, the Heart and Writing

My feedback was to take it further sometimes, so I shall try.

Today I realized that I am nervous when I approach a girl because in my mind I have the expectation of her being the one. I intellectually knew this was stupid already. But it was profound because I realized it on the level of the heart and the stomach. My penis already knew. Funny how that works. 

I had internalized this cultural expectation without being conscious of it. But still in my mind I assume I’ll do what my parents did, get married, take out at thirty year mortgage and live in mutual contempt of each other. Or [I’ll forge my own path] and get divorced and share custody of a child.

Realizing the burden of monogamy has already made my stomach and heart feel lighter. But I can’t help but wonder. How many other things I have internalized?

As a culture we place a great emphasis on the brain and intellectual understanding. But very little on other forms of understanding.

As a writer this concerns me. I don’t want to live exclusively in the realm of ideas, I want my work to embody more tactile and less tangible modes of understanding. Like the way Joan Didion praised Doris Lessing for being unconcerned with the conventions of language. But also critiqued [her] for being more ideas than art.

This is the dream of making movies for me. Through the combination of sound, light and the raw emotions of the actors . One has the potential to create a painting that presents something incalculable but irreconcilable.

[Name Omitted]’s feedback is basically useless to me for this reason. They are pitching ideas of characters struggling over political ideologies but as far as I can tell that’s not what motivates people.

My former Acting teacher Michael once eloquently said, “There’s two main motivations as an actor, you’re either trying to fuck each other or kill each other.” All things considered I’ll take the fucking.

I want to write simple fiction. Nothing more nothing less.

1/31/2016 – Scott Weedall

Tomorrow I meet with my writing group to provide feedback and advice on each others projects. I’m a ta point with some of the scripts where I need to be careful to discern personal preference from objective criticism which speaks to the quality of my group members writing. In any case that’s been something I’ve enjoyed and I feel that keeping it at just us three should be a good number. Attempts at incorporating others into the group have proved unsuccessful and in my mind unnecessary.

In my own writing I’m amazed at the strange directions the story takes that I would have a lot of trouble conceiving in the outlining process. Among these is how one of central romances unfold. I also think I might finally pass the bechdel test in the script, a first for me as a straight white dude. Does that mean I’m finally not sexist. Probably not, but hey all you can do is try.

In short this has basically been a good week. I’m currently wondering about how to be as honest and truthful as possible. Not just in my work but also in my personal life. I don’t know what kind of effect this will have on my writing but right now I have a good feeling.

Yours Truly

The Magnanimous Scott Weedall

Inspirations for my Screenplay Thus Far – Scott Weedall

Here’s a music video that inspired the style of Animation that I imagine my story looking like.

Birdy Nam Nam “The Parachute Ending”

I’ve also helped cured some of my writers block by getting inspiration from Paintings in the Library. This one let me know what the opening scene for my story needed to be.

Library Basement Painting

This one inspired me today. I wasn’t sure how the next scene should play out but now I’ll know what to write this evening.

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None of these are literary but they do inspire me. So it seems to fit.

Do the Right Thing Analyzed by a White dude named Scott Weedall

The movie 42 represents a genre of civil rights movies that I find to be annoying and tedious. 42 is about Jackie Robinson and his experience of being the first black baseball player in what at the time was a white dominated league. And while his struggle in real life is certainly admirable the way his story is portrayed in the film is heavily lathered in schmaltz. The film presents a cast of black characters who act so saintly that even the late Martin Luther King would shed a tear. They are star dazzlingly talented but unable to play in white league because of some nebulously defined racism. Some white people say that blacks and whites don’t mix, then Harrison Ford says something to the effect of, “I don’t care what color there skin is, if they can play baseball then they can be on my team.” So Jackie Robinson is allowed to play for the Dodgers, some other white people get angry, someone throws a brick through a window, Jackie’s wife says she believes in him, Jackie hits a home run, Racism in baseball is solved; hooray. Movies like 42, as well as Remember the Titans, The Blind Side (all directed by white men) and many other films treat racism as a historical issue that is easily reconcilable and overcome. These films typically have a benevolent white character like Harrison Ford who allows white people to watch the movie and pretend like they are not racist. Do the Right Thing does not provide such a luxury to its viewers.

The world portrayed in Do the Right Thing does not resolve the issue of racism at the end of the film. Instead it creates a world of racial complexity, where people on all sides of the racial divide are subject to their own prejudices. There is steady stream of comments and a low but constant flow of aggression which is more akin to my own experience of racism and what I see in the world around me. A tactic used by the film to illustrate these racial divides is language. The Puerto Ricans, the Koreans, the Italians and the Black people all have their own vernacular they use to communicate amongst themselves. Yet the language fails when communicating to people outside of their group.

A scene that highlights this is towards the beginning of the movie in the pizza shop. The Italian family is opening and Mookie has just gotten hassled by Pino for being late. Da Mayor enters looking for work; Pino says something in Italian which Sal responds to in English by saying, “Take it easy.” It is interesting to note that Spike Lee has chosen not to use any subtitles in his film, so most viewers would be put in the position of Mookie or Da Mayor, aware that something derogatory was said about them yet being unable to defend themselves against it. Even when the subtitles are turned on in the DVD’s option menu it only says, “Speaking Italian.” Sal’s response to Pino helps ease the tension in Da Mayor’s face.  Sal gives him a broom and dollar to sweep the sidewalk. Da Mayor is happy to do a job which everybody else seems to angry or indignant to demean themselves with.

After Da Mayor exits the building Pino continues to give his father grief over what he callously refers to as charity. He lumps Mookie in with Da Mayor (presumably because they’re both black) and calls them a “Azu Peppe.” Or at least that’s what’s I think he said, I don’t speak Italian so I’m not sure what a Azu Peppe is, and I couldn’t find any translations online. Mookie attempts to counter this by assertively asking him what an Azu Peppe is, but Pino does not yield and maintains the privacy of the Italian’s language.

In the following pizza scene where Bug gets evicted from the Pizzeria Mookie then talks to Bug outside where the Italians are unable to hear them. They both mutually agree that the Italians are full of it and form an understanding with each other. It’s important to note that the itallians are not privy to this conversation and can only look through the window. Mookie returns inside. The Itallians are unsure of what transpired between the two black characters which is when Pino accuses Mookie of having “brother talk.” Mookie neither confirms nor denies this, instead choosing to maintain the respective privacy of his own in group.  Language is used in the film to portray different racial group’s inability to communicate with each other, separated by each of their respective cultural biases and vernacular.

Other aspects of the pizza parlor are designed to make it feel obtuse or unwelcoming. The colors in the pizzeria are dull and muted, all the photographs on the wall are black and white and wall paper and molding are brownish.  Also no music plays, only the muted sounds of the kitchen can be heard as well as the faint preaching of Smiley. At one point in this scene he can be heard saying, “pizza, hate.”

By contrast most of the other scenes have warm and bright colors and are accompanied by a vibrant soundtrack. This is intended to reinforce the theme of the Sal’s Pizzeria representing white oppression, by making it so at odds with all the other scenes in the movie.

There is never a reconciliation between these divides, even at the ends when Mookie and Sal are confronting each other after the Pizzeria was destroyed. Mookie has no empathy for Sal, saying that insurance will pay for everything, and also harboring feelings of resentment towards the white people he had to work for. Sal feels disappointed and betrayed by Mookie, he sees himself as providing a service to people in the community and a job for Mookie who he considers ungrateful. Both sides have reasons for feeling the way they do and neither are completely wrong. The film does not make an effort to solve this issue for us.

It’s comforting to pat ourselves on the back for being supposedly progressive and accepting of other cultures. But the reality is that s Americans we are all entrenched in racism. It’s easy to point fingers at other people and chastise them for their attitudes and behaviors but it is much more difficult to look inward and accept the role you play in society. This is what makes Do the Right Thing such an important film.

Writer’s Block Part 1 and 2 – Scott Weedall – 1/13 & 1/14

1/13 Part one:

Last night I was buckling down to write my big screenplay and I had writer’s block. I am currently blocked. I wrote a page last night but I already know it’s crap. It’s because all the openings I’ve conceived of thus far have nothing to do with what the core of Condor is about.

CONDOR IS HEART BROKEN

Condor is torn between multiple lovers. All the space lizard Jazz is almost ancillary. I don;t know how a member of the US Air Force.

INSPIRATION FLASHES IN MY MIND

I just got an idea as I was writing and ruminating and I got an idea for the opening sequence that feels so much smoother than the others. And the pacing it establishes is much more to my liking.

I got the idea while I was looking at the painting Nehemin and Renee by Babara Rogers. They look so elegant. I seems fitting for Carmen and Condor.

Library Basement Painting

1/14 Part Deux:

I was up till like 3:00 AM last night but I wrote a page of my new script and it was correct. It felt right. It;s the beginging that I needed and it so perfectly sets up my story and Tone.

I focused in on the core of the story about love and found the most central and relevant conflict to introduce at the beginning.

Anyway I’m going to continue writing tonight, but without the pressure since I already got the story going on the right foot.

PS, I’m going to have to buy new pens tomorrow. Also hot chicks in yoga class this evening.

1/17

I still haven’t gotten those new pens. Maybe tomorrow. Also Caryn wanted me to put other inspiration in my journal. So here’s a video that inspired me. It’s the music video for THE PARACHUTE ENDING by BIRDY NAM NAM and it’s the style of animation I want for my project when it gets made. So when you’re reading my script try and imagine it looking somewhat like that.

Scott Weedall “Scotty-Botty_Bow_Potty” 1/6/2016

I didn’t do a particularly good job of writing a memory yesterday. Though the question “what can a story accomplish?” Has been making gears in my mind turn.

The way I grew up I feel that stories don’t really accomplish much of anything and if you want to serve humanity you pick up some other profession like a fire fighter or a doctor. However since I want to devote my life to story telling it would behoove me to develop a more positive attitude toward my craft. I deep down believe stories can have an almost (I don’t know why I wrote almost I mean actual) medicinal effect on people but I’m ashamed to admit it. I considered many film, writing and acting programs before finally choosing Evergreen. I chose Evergreen not because it would be the most prestigious but because I think it will make me a better person. Am I a better person since I started coming here(?) That’s debatable but I want to and I want to make something that will resonate with people.

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Further thoughts as the future unfolds.

© 2023 Eye of the Story
The Evergreen State College
Olympia, Washington

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