Lunch And Screenplays

I had lunch today at the cafe with Paul, Claire, Andy R, Sian, Bryn, Ruth, JTA, Liz, Hayley, and Jon, for the first public scrutiny of the script for The Film. As Production Coordinator (and Assistant Director), I’ll be keeping Paul and The Cast from killing one another. Or, at least, keep the former from killing the latter.

The good bits:

  • The script, given a few tweaks, rocks. We’ve got a lesbian sex scene, a body mutilated by a train, a fire, beer, bad movies…
  • With only a few exceptions, the cast and crew are highly motivated, despite (a) a delayed start to this point, which eats away at filming time, and (b) some of them having worked with each other before, and therefore knowing why they wouldn’t want to.
  • The project remains ambitious, but this afternoon’s meeting makes me a little more confident that it can all be done.
  • Did I mention that the script rocks?

The bad bits:

  • I’m concerned by the balance of the complexity of the plot over the projected length of the film – can we realistically express all the things we want to in as short a time as we need to?
  • Some of these characters will be hard to portray in a believable and likable way, particularly by cast members who have little or no experience of the performing arts.
  • We’re still missing some key equipment, we haven’t contacted our proposed sponsors, and I’m only marginally closer to having everything I need to ensure a filming plan gets put together.
  • There’s a particular couple of scenes that I think are vague and wooly, and will need some work.

So; it’s all coming together at last – given some time, space, and weather, we’ll be able to start filming next week, or even this weekend. I’ll be keeping tabs on progress on here, for those who are interested, and giving a couple of hints about what to expect, when… but only Troma Night folks will have access to the film plan and associated discussions. So, if you should have access and you don’t – sort out your Troma Night account now!

Ceefax On Scatmania

Do you remember Ceefax, that wonderful service from the BBC that seemed so cool until you discovered the internet? Well I do. And so does a Dutch consultant who set up a system, on the web, for searching Ceefax pages.

Well; in any case; I thought that his site was fun (in a nostalgic kind-of way) but hard-to-navigate, so I’ve developed a sensible front-end that’s far more reminiscent of the way Ceefax works: Ceefax Browser On Scatmania. Give it a go.

Aarne-Thompson Folktale Classification System

Would you know it: there’s an “opposite number” to the Dewey Decimal System (introduction to the system [PDF]) – which for the most part of a centurey has been used to categorise books according to their topic and content – for categorising folk tales: the Aarne-Thompson Classification System.

It’s horrendously difficult to find information on it online – most of the resources are in German (Germany, apparently, being big fans of both fairy tales and classifying things) – particularly information about the system itself (rather than about given tales classified by it), but here’s what I’ve managed to glean – it consists of about 2500 categories, subcategories, and themes, broadly broken down in a pretty random way. An entire story can be defined by it’s key themes as a series of numbers, for example:

Little Red Riding Hood is a “The Glutton”-class tale in which an animal disguises itself as a human with the intention of killing a child (I. K2011) . It carries a “what makes your ears so big” theme (Z18.1), and a non-fatal swallowing by a person by an animal (F911.3) which leads to their eventual rescue from the animal’s belly (F913). In some variations of the story, the wolf is then sewn up again – having been filled with stones – such that he eventually drowns (Q426).

Here’s another you might be familiar with:

Rapunzel (“the Maiden in the Tower”) is a tale of type 310 (“Magic Tales”), with four key themes: (a) a man promises his unborn daughter to a witch in order to save himself from death (S222), leading to a girl in the service of a witch (G204), (b) the girl is imprisoned in a tower (R41.2) [also, potentially – T381 (“Imprisoned virgin to prevent knowledge of men (marriage, impregnation)”)], and “lets down her hair” to allow the captor to climb (F848.1); a desirable suitor (prince or king) follows this technique and becomes her lover (L162), (c) the witch discovers what the girl has done, cuts off her hair, and abandons her in the desert (S144 – abandonment in desert); the prince comes, saves himself from the witch, but in doing so is blinded (S165), (d) finally, the couple are reunited, and the woman’s tears restore sight to the blinded man (F952.1).

I find this system a little bit scary and overwhelming. As Andy R said to me, “Perhaps Aarne and Thompson should have spent their time… I don’t know… finding a cure for cancer or something.” They’ve certainly spent a lot of time developing this very deep, very complex system for classifying fairy tales.

There’s a good-looking – but expensive – book, “A Guide to Folk Tales in the English Language: Based on the Aarne-Thompson Classification System” by D. L. Ashliman, which, according to Voyager, can be found in the academic library at UWA. I’ve asked Paul to pick up a copy (Paul: it’s published by Greenwood Press in 1987 and can be found on the Arts and Humanities floor (Level F) of the Hugh Owen library – classmark Z5983.F17.A8). Could be interesting.

Anyway; sorry if that bored you. Here’s more information: