Development Program : Staging as Applied to Presentation of Story and Gag Ideas

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From the collection of Hans Perk at A. Film L.A. and reprinted here with his permission.

[...] surprise her with something they made, and it were something that would be of absolutely no use when she was dead.

Q. The dwarfs had suggested making her a crown. She had been treated so badly by the Queen and denied the queenly raiment she should have had. If they had finished it just in time to put it on her head at the time they brought the flowers, it would have been very effective.

A. If we had only built those touches into "Snow White." we could have had a much better ending.

Q. Staging is so dependant on story development. However, story doesn't solve staging problems. The difference between good staging and bad is very slight, sometimes-- just a subtle difference in the approach in the way you plant the scene.

I think our tendency is not to round out each scene from a climax standpoint. That is something on which Sidney Franklin drums and drills when preparing a story, the rounding out of each individual scene -- not a sequence or a story, but the scene. (I am not referring to a cut, but to a complete scene from the standpoint of the idea involved.) Dialogue, action and everything in the scene swells toward a climax.

That staging is not merely a physical thing -- it may be lighting, or a word, or a sound, or a musical effect, or a running action on the part of one character in the scene, but there should be something that reaches a high point in each scene. I don't think we give enough consideration to where that high spot comes.

Q. We once conducted an experiment in a psychology class, in which we took a little boy into a room and told him his dog had just been run over. He looked at us with wonder and waited a few moments, then started to cry. We then told him his dog was not dead and everything was all right, and he laughed immediately. Then we repeated the same experiment, with the same boy, only we took an old car, ran it down the street and skidded the tires, and had a dog yelp at the same time, so the boy could hear it. We looked out the window and then told him again that his dog had been run over. He burst into tears and rushed for the door, to go see his dog.

I tell this story merely to illustrate that, in the future, story men and directors will study the psychology of human emotions when they are planning the staging of a scene. We are trying to transfer a thought to our audience as forcibly as possible; we would do it the same way we transferred the thought of death and [...]