Saturday, December 10, 2005
Book Review: The Matrix - The Shooting Script
I think just about anybody on earth with access to some form or media knows about this movie. In fact I would almost bet that anybody savvy enough to be on the internet has, and who else would be reading this blog anyhow.
So I’ll skip telling you what this movie is like or about and cut straight to the review of this book, which is in fact the shooting script used to make the movie.
Why review a shooting script? Well, I’ve been working on my script’s first draft now since September (check my Writing Odyssey blogs on the right to see how I’m doing) and reading scripts can really help the script writer understand how to put things together as well as gleam information on how to actually write some of the scenes correctly - or at least coherently.
And the job of your script, if you are writing one or thinking of it (I’m talking Spec Script here, not shooting script), is to get noticed and get sold. And you want the cleanest, sharpest script you can make to pass the slush piles and get bought. Reading through and thinking about The Matrix script will help you with this. It is a perfect example of what to do.
I’m going to say right now that The Matrix is the best action-hero movie I have ever seen in terms of script form. It has ever beat, every nuance, every detail so perfectly executed that once you know what you are looking for in an action-hero script you can see it here - done to near perfection.
And that’s why I like to read it and re-read it, to pick up on those moments and see the pacing of the movie unfold to its ultimate climax when Neo comes back from the dead and does agent Smith.
Strangely enough, once you have watched the movie, reading the script is a fantastic experience. In fact, the best way to enjoy the shooting script is to read a few scenes and then watch them. You relive the scenes and if you study each scene for relevance to the whole, you soon find out the Wachowski brothers had their act very much together.
As a script writer, this shooting script is an absolute jewel. There are a ton of different shots in this movie and it’s informative to know how to write specific types of scenes in script format. Again, you have to be careful writing a Spec script because you don’t number scenes, give directorial directions or camera angles like a shooting script does. What you do need is to be concise.
The Matrix shooting script is very concise. If you ignore the shooting script format and look at it with an eye toward the Spec script you will be fine and learn a lot as I have.
So, with an eye to studying scripts, you can’t go wrong with The Matrix. It has everything you ever want in a script to learn from. And it’s just fun to read anyhow if that is what you are after.
For extras, there is an introduction from William Gibson (Author of Neuromancer) and scene notes by the Phil Oosterhouse (assistant to the brothers during shooting). Both of these extras are well worth the read and a real bonus. I won’t spoil it here by telling you much about either though.
But I have to mention one particular scene note I liked. It is the note about the TV repair shop scene. During one take of that scene, involving Trinity, there was a ghostly figure lurking in the back of the camera shot. Nobody was there. It was later noted that somebody had shot themselves with a handgun in the basement of this shop a few years back. Spooky, but cool. Wish that take had made it to the DVD.
So, if you are a script writer - this is a must book. If you like the Matrix - this is a must book. If you want to know how a great script is put together - this is a must book.
Get it and read it while watching the movie. You may get inspired to write one of your own.