Aug 08
SCRIPTING BLUES by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Aug 8, 2008

As the backbone of the movie, the script is the primary basis in the shooting of the movie. The so-called “working script” is the version written by the scriptwriter which probably contains revisions as discussed in the script analysis during
the pre-production phase. In most productions, an on-the-spot scriptwriter is hired to infuse needed modifications. Depending on the mood of the director and considering the environmental conditions like weather and the uncontrolled crowd, it is normal for a working script to be changed from time to time.

First in the list of possible changes in the script is the movement. A short walk can be lengthened to showcase the panorama like those scenes shot with nature as backdrop. Or a long walk can be shortened to minimize technical problems like a pouring rain which was not in the script. Also, there are times that not only the director changes the dialogue but also some actors complain of buckling due to impractical or mis-phrased speaking lines.

“The dialogue separates the pro from the amateurs,” says an insider in the movie industry, regarding the sorry state of trite dialogues pervading the TV industry. “Obvious naman ang mga panis na dialogue ng mga baguhang writers. Panis kasi recycled o rehashed.” But trite dialogues are also prevalent regardless if the scriptwriter is a veteran or a beginner. Talk of tight timelines.

Here’s a short list of examples of a trite dialogue:
1. Ang araw ay ginagawa kong gabi at ang gabi ay ginagawa kong araw.
2. Ang hirap ng buhay ngayon.
3. Delikado ang panahon ngayon.
4. Iba na ang panahon ngayon.
5. Ang mahal ng bilihin ngayon.
6. Pagod na pagod na ako.
7. You are not getting any younger.
8. Masusunod (kamahalan).
9. Paumanhin, Ginoo (or Binibini).

“Ginagawang araw ang gabi at ginagawang gabi ang araw” is a very silly dialogue since the element of time was only used in reverse. Some smart alecks would say, “Baka securithy guard siya kaya sa gabi siya nagtatrabaho at sa umaga natutulog.”

The rest in the list are already cliché that should be sparingly used. Especially those pertaining to the times, the audience would ask, “At kelan ba naging mura ang bilihin?” or “Kelan ba naging madali ang buhay?” But with the overflow of cliches in the local movies, some observer think that Filipino moviegoers are downright silly themselves. Or perhaps just passive in nature.

Aside from trite dialogues, there are also the inappropriate dialogues. Here’s an example taken from a TV soap which featured Gina Pareño in a scene with a boy. The boy, presumably playing the son of Gina, says, “Ano? Paaalisin na tayo dito sa tinitirhan natin? Makiusap kaya kayo, Inay, at baka maunawaan din tayo.” In another case which was taken from a TV soap of NBN-4, a groovy teenager says, “May galit pa sa puso ko kaya hindi ko pa siya mapapatawad.”

Like trite dialogues or inappropriate speaking lines tend to insult the sensibilities of the audience. In real life, a child can sometimes speak unimaginable sentences as in the example but only in very rare cases. And since the movie and TV shows are supposed to be mirrors of real life then common occurrences should always be the dominating factor unless otherwise explained. To justify the dialogue of Gina’s son in the example, perhaps there should be a clear explanation that maybe the boy grew up with his grandparents hence he talks like that. In the case of the teenager with the very dramatic speaking lines, it would be appreciated if a rural setting had been previously established or maybe if that particular teenager character happens to be a descendant of Balagtas.

Another irritant is the typifying of names. Jake or Max for a kontrabida and Daniel or Ramon for the good guys make the audience feel silly because people are now named Michael, Stephanie, JR or RJ and so many modern names. Scriptwriters should be creative enough to avoid using archaic or anachronistic names of characters. In the movie Ataul for Rent, the two prostitutes were named Doray and Insiang, the drug pusher was Andoy, the snatcher was named Moises, an old woman was called Tale and Guido was the lead character who owns the funeral parlor. Maybe it’s about time for scriptwriters to overhaul their naming conventions.

If the audience can withstand the archaic name, probably they couldn’t stomach the silly characterization where a kontrabida acts with a volition coming from hell as if he, the kontrabida, was a godson of Satan. There was once an evening TV soap which featured Jackie Lou Blanco as the nemesis of the lead character played by Tanya Garcia. It was really stupid for one to believe that Jackie Lou was so lucky in her evil endeavors and that Tanya was so very unlucky with hers. And with the lead character, one would ask why the lead character is almost always very kind, not only to animals, but also to their tormentors-to-be.

If there’s a cliché in dialogues, there’s also a sort of cliché when it comes to scenes or instances.

Here’s a short list of antiquated scenes.
1. The hero passes by a street where a group is drinking. Expectedly, the leader of the group asks the hero to drink with them. And a melee ensues.
2. Production number – which turns out to be a dream.
3. Family members hug to celebrate good fortune or to grieve on a misfortune.
4. At the start, the hero is always on a disadvantage but wins in the end.
5. A goon holds a kid (or a girl) who gets free by biting the hand of the goon.
6. Time Bomb – the hero escapes exactly a second before the bomb detonates.

As what my high school teacher used to say, the hero sometimes dies and the hero sometimes wins at first because that’s the way it is in real life. And with the silly production number which turns out to be just a dream sequence, it’s plain and simple waste of time. And would you agree that we Filipinos are not that expressive as to hug or embrace a family member?

With comedy movies, it’s best to hear the words of a comedy enthusiast. “Mas maganda kung orig ang jokes. Dyan sumikat si Jon Santos noong araw, di ba? Yang originality rin ang panlaban ni Gary Lising. Eh ngayon naman dumadampot na lang sa internet ang mga scriptwriters ng comedy.” Most of internet jokes were already heard of so many times that it wouldn’t be funny anymore to hear it a hundredth time.

Capitalizing on the handicap of characters should be avoided. There are so many comedy writers who still, up to this day, make fun of fat or dark-colored people. Worse, they use handicapped people like the blind or the deaf for their comedy. It’s not really discrimination but it’s plain corny since those handicap jokes were already used since the era of Pugo and Tugo.

There are also some writers who just capitalize on the actor. Dolphy’s last sitcom, John En Shirley, banked on Dolphy’s natural comedic talent. But the script, especially those gags which hold the punchline in the speaking lines, should be funny and not just reliant on the funny face of Dolphy. As I had predicted, the said sitcom did not last a year, that despite having Susan Roces in the cast.

Some say that one reason why the movie industry was going down is because of the maturity of the moviegoers and the immaturity of scriptwriters. It’s always innovate or stagnate.

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