Chapter 2Introduction to the Dramatic Elements Embedded in the Screenplay

We talked in Chapter 1 about elements that appear on the screen, but there are many elements embedded in a screenplay that, if unearthed by the director, will help supply clarity, cohesion, and dramatic power to what appears on the screen.


There are two categories of spines we will deal with. The first is the spine of your film, or its main action. Before we get to the dramatic definition of a film’s spine, an analogy using representational sculpture might be helpful. When working in clay, a sculptor first builds an armature (i.e., a skeleton, usually of metal) to support the clay. This armature determines the parameters of the final work. If the armature is designed ...

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