LIFE | How movie makers are writing fight and love scenes while social distancing

Point Park University

Saturday Night Live “At Home,” a CBS show called “All Rise” and two creators of The Office have done or are getting ready to produce Zoom-based episodes during the pandemic because creativity is not on hold, even though in-person production is.

According to Rick Hawkins, senior teaching artist at Point Park University’s Cinema Arts department, “While there are certain styles and types of stories that can be told via ‘The Brady Bunch’ zoom multiple screen technique, it’s limiting in scope and, for me personally, the process itself tends to pull the viewer out of the story and put the focus more on the mechanics of production.”

Hawkins said the Brady Bunch approach can be “diverting for a limited amount of time but is certainly no substitute for creating a world in which the viewer can believe and get lost in the story.”

Instead, said Hawkins, “We’ll be teaching our screenwriters to find ways to simplify stories, eliminate crowd scenes, and focus on relating the theme of the piece.” He’s encouraging students to look at the challenges of writing fight scenes or love scenes in a new way, how to interpret love, drama, anger without the close-contact, and to look at screenwriting during a pandemic as the ultimate creative challenge.

“In a way, we’re like the silent film makers of the 1920’s discovering a new way of telling stories with sound.  And that turned out pretty well,” said Hawkins.

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