Story Development – Treatment

The Melancholic Wife Loves to Dance Short film treatment

A woman walks on to a white screen and tentatively begins to dance. Floorboards rise from below to meet her steps, making the screen darker until they swallow the woman in total black.

A carpet grows from the black and hands reach down to pull it up, revealing bare floorboards underneath. These are sanded and then varnished. A foot lands on the floor creating reverberations of sound. The sounds travel down and reach the woman who is standing below the floor. As they reach her the woman becomes distressed, she begins to hurry away in agitation, struggling to wrestle out of her coat. It drops to the floor as she hurries away trying to escape the sound. She comes to a door, opens it and steps through into a white room.

As the woman closes the door behind her, ghosts of herself appear and she moves to embrace them. As she does this sinister hands reach out from her shadow and pull her aggressively away into blackness. She manages to bring a ghost with her into the black.

A spotlight comes on in the dark, the light it shines on the floor is in the shape of a house. The woman is lying curled up on the floor. The ghost rises from her arms and she stands, she reaches into her pockets, takes a pair of earphones out and places them in her ears. Different music plays quickly until she selects one song. She grounds her feet, feeling carpet between her toes. The spotlight narrows and centres on the woman, entering into her body making her the only light source. The woman begins to move and first with her fingers then with her whole body she draws a landscape in light that surrounds her in the darkness, strengthening her. The ghost dances through the lines of light disappearing into it. When she brings her movements to a close she strides confidently towards the camera and as she fills the screen we see a representation of her creation on her clothes.

The task to try and tell the comic narrative in short prose form with respect to film is challenging and interesting. In adapting for a different media, different elements of the story naturally come in to focus. For instance the use of black and white on a comic page has to bear in mind not only the composition of a single panel but also the look of the page as a whole as a reader encounters both. The composition for film feels much more related to time. For film I’m discovering the need to respect timing and motion at this initial story stage. A reader is in control of the timing of their reading, while a film viewer is at the mercy of the filmmaker. I think some of the ambiguity of the comic needs to be cleared to create a strong film narrative. Actions and movements that can be suggested in the imagery of the comic have to be definitively nailed down.

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