Match Frame

Thoughts from an American editor and filmmaker in New Zealand about film and video production and post-production. Plus whatever else I feel like talking about.

Location: Balmoral, Auckland, New Zealand

A work in progress.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


So the screenplay for THE SOCIAL NETWORK is now available on its website. It's a must-read for screenwriters, directors, and producers alike. I'm not sure that any read this blog, but I press on, regardless!

One of the interesting things about it, on a first glance, is how minimal it is. Pages and pages of only dialogue. Very few parentheticals. Most descriptions brief as possible. The inter-cutting of the film feels minimized during the script; although it's certainly indicated, it doesn't overwhelm the reader. (I'd have to see it again to see how different it is.)

It's a common mistake for screenwriters to overwrite descriptions, but here's a great illustration of why you don't need to. (I mean, if you're a genius and can write Sorkin-esque dialogue.)

It's also an interesting exercise for directors. Because the script is so minimal, it's quite easy to see, on reading, the TV version of it, filmed by someone much less ambitious (and/or on a more grueling schedule, let's be fair). Fincher makes a lot of interesting choices. I'd have to look again and count, but I'm pretty sure he uses more camera setups to establish a busload of girls coming in to the final club party at the start than he does during the entire multi-page opening dialogue scene between Mark and Erica.

(And read that again! Jesus! What an intricate piece of dialogue writing!)

I'm not mentioning this in particular to advance a thesis; I'm mentioning it because it's not a choice I'd have made, I don't think; yet watching the film, it really works. It would probably make a great master class for any director to read a scene from this screenplay, shot list it, then watch the scene, and repeat for the entire movie.

(We did this for the opening scene in PULP FICTION at South Seas; every single person made the shot list more complicated than Tarantino did.)

As an aside, as well, in a culture that venerates the writer-director, it's great to see the talents of a writer at the top of his game and a director at the top of his game coming together. Usually when you see a script of a film that's not by a writer-director, there's major variations from the final product. But from the first 30-some pages (which, truth in advertising, is all I've read thus far, having scanned the rest), you can see how closely Fincher hewed to the text, whilst putting a directorial signature on it that is unmistakable on a second viewing.

As for producers: the script makes it abundantly clear that, a few rowing scenes aside, the script's basically 162 pages of people talking. Which is supposed to be commercial death, blah blah blah.

And yet: as you may have heard, it's both done well at the box office and garnered heaps of awards.

So maybe talking isn't all bad, huh?


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