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The liminal role of the screenplay: Pre-production, the screen idea and the visual concept
journal contributionposted on 2023-08-24, 04:42 authored by Juliet John
The screen idea is a scholarly term used to describe the collective idea for a narrative screen project that exists in the minds of the collaborators as their concept for the work is evolving. The term has mostly been related to the script development phase of a project to elucidate the liminal form and function of the screenplay during that period. The screen idea can also be related to subsequent phases of conventional commercial screen production, such as the intensive planning period known as pre-production. One of the central activities during pre-production is the process undertaken by key heads of department – director, production designer and director of photography (DOP) – in conceiving a visual style with which to tell the story. This group is sometimes referred to as the visual triumvirate. The visual concept developed by the triumvirate sets out a plan for how the formal qualities of the work, such as colour, contrast, camera movement and lens choice, will be used to drive and enhance the expression of the narrative. During this phase, the imagery inferred through the words of the script begins to find tangible form, thereby contributing to the evolution of the screen idea as it progresses beyond the script development phase. Through examples taken from creative practice in recent Australian film and television, alongside the author’s own industry experience, this article examines factors influencing the process of negotiation between the triumvirate as they develop a visual style for their screen projects.