GLOBAL – When you’ve decided to film your own movie using your Nokia N8, you’ll probably find yourself driving the story onwards through interactions between people. The way you film conversations makes a big difference on the final result. Here are some of the ways you can use dialogue to really speak to your viewers.
Writing your dialogue
The way dialogue is written is important. Remember that very few people speak language as it tends to be written. The first thing that happens in conversational speech is that grammar goes out the window, for example. Your different characters will use language differently – some will start and re-start their sentences or use the same sentence fragments multiple times. Others will use a wider vocabulary and bigger words.
Remember that people vary their speech depending on where they are or whom they are talking to. Most people would speak differently to their best mate, their mother, or a police officer on the street.
When you are first starting out writing, cheat. Write your dialogue like people you know well would speak. Where you get your inspiration from is up to you: Create a mix of that guy from the corner shop who always ends his sentences with ‘so’, your neighbour who always uses the phrase ‘well then’ to start a conversation, and your best friend who seems distinctly monosyllabic most of the time, and you have a strong character already!
Performing the dialogue
Directing your movie is probably the most fun part of the process, and instructing your actors is a key element of that.
At the same time, it’s absolutely vital that your characters ‘come to life’ to create the mood you are trying to achieve. To fully understand this, try to look at a pilot episode of a TV series, then at an episode several series down the line. Actors tend to ‘grow into’ their characters, fleshing them out and making them more real as time goes on.
Don’t hesitate to push your actors in the right direction by showing them how you want the characters to sound and act, but remember that your actors will have their own opinions and takes on the material. That’s a good thing: if your actors can’t make the material their own, the characters won’t be believable.
Remember the goal of the dialogue
Writing and performing in front of the camera is a lot of fun, but if the final goal is to create a coherent movie, there has to be a motivation for why someone is talking to somebody else. If the chief goal is to get a joke or two into your movie, for example, it might be that it is better to leave the scene out of your final cut.
When you’re shooting, keep in the back of your mind that every scene should drive the movie forward somehow. A snippet of dialogue can be used to help the viewer turn against or gain sympathy for a character, remind a viewer of something that has happened earlier in the story, it can offer some back story, set in motion a sequence of events, resolve parts of your plot, or foreshadow what’s going to happen later on.
It doesn’t really matter why the characters are talking to each other, or even precisely what they are saying. Every conversation should have enough of an impact on your film that it wouldn’t be quite be the same without.