When I was first asked to pick an invisible technology and write about it, I was very confused. But as I’m learning, confused isn’t always a bad thing. Essentially, I was asked, “what piece of technology have we taken for granted?”
Interestingly enough, either just before that class or just after it, I watched a short film called Technophobe created by Cyprien, my favourite French YouTuber. In the film, the main character suddenly develops an allergy to ALL technology – he can’t touch phones, computers, ATMs, anything that runs on electricity, and everything that we take for granted today. What I found interesting about the film was that he could touch obsolete technology like rotary phones and non-electric technology like books.
It was a great creative way of showing our generation’s dependence on our screens and gadgets, but there are so many other technological developments that we don’t consciously think about. From mundane things like the ball-point pen to conceptual things like time and language.
The invisible technology that I have chosen is, to me, a phenomenon that compels me to be a screenwriter: the script. Write what you know, as they say.
Most people will never see a script. They’ll see the movie or watch the play, but not many people outside of the ones involved in producing the project will read a script in its original form, nor will they be thinking about the script as they’re watching. If they are, the writer hasn’t done the best job.
By nature, the script is self-effacing, it is made in order to be forgotten or irrelevant. After all, most people will not bother seeking out reading a script if the movie or play can be watched. However, without the script, or some form of story outline, none of the other following stages are possible.
The screenwriter is the director’s director — or at least that’s what we like to think. The director is invisible guiding the scenes, but the writer is invisible guiding the director on the page. Despite the crucial role of the script and its writer, movies are usually attached to the director’s name or a star’s name, but the writer is usually left out of the media in that regard. It does happen of course, but their names are not nearly as well-known as actors and directors.
In terms of technology, a screenplay is the first vehicle for a story, which then climbs up the dimensions in a unique way. Traditional novels will go from two spatial dimensions on a desktop screen to three spatial dimensions — a satisfyingly weighty book in hand. In plays, it goes from two to four dimensions, three spatial dimensions and time. Motion pictures however, have a three step process from two spatial dimensions, to filming in our four dimensional world, and then the final three-dimensional visual medium we know, two spatial dimensions and time. But that’s enough pseudo-astrophysics.
This invisible phenomenon of turning something imaginative into something tangible is one of the biggest thrills of being a writer in the theatrical and cinematic arts. It is human creation and creativity at its peak in that entire universes, worlds, creatures, characters and objects are created — the ultimate converting machine, if you will. Obviously the script is not the only part of this machine, which can include up to thousands of people — but it is no doubt a foundational part in this process.
However even this massive feat of creativity and technology in putting on a production is not where the script’s true impact lies. That honour goes to the story the script conveys, the heart of the production that offers its audience a unique experience found in no other medium. If well written, a script can leave people and society changed. This is its intrinsic value, its power and its impact. A script can evoke tears, laughter, confusion, awe, wonder and a whole range of emotion as though it were the audience’s puppeteer. Surely world building writers must have a god-complex.
Whether or not this is true, I have observed that humanity’s creative capacities, writer or not, aligns quite well with being the “image-bearers of God.” It’s as though we were made to want to be like Him, to create like the invisible world builder Himself. On the other hand, it seems we are more interested in being gods ourselves rather than God’s children; a desire that subtly manifests itself to this day in everything that we do.
Simultaneously, humanity seems to have a historically consistent desire to escape this broken world and return to a better one. Intuitively, we know that the world isn’t what it’s supposed to be. It’s why we feel the need to change it all the time, it’s why every storytelling medium invites us to escape for a little while.
Personally, movies have impacted my life by immersing me in a brand new world for a few hours, and they keep me coming back, instilling in me a yearning for that escape once more. I know the billion dollar film industry is happy to hear it — my attempts to break into it on the other hand…
It took me longer than one would think to realize that writing movies is an actual profession. After all, amidst the awe at an animator’s special effects, a director’s cinematography or an actor’s realism of character, we tend to forget that a writer, this fictional world’s builder who is invisible to its inhabitants, came up with that particular moment at all.
Storytelling is one of my greatest passions and movies are the among the more impressive storytelling media. The problem is that the industry can never keep up with my yearning for escape, that yearning to experience new stories and new worlds. So I began to write the stories I wanted to watch, the worlds I wanted the explore, the characters I wanted to meet. I had been creative writing since I could form a sentence on a page, but it wasn’t until I wrote with the expectation of the story being physically seen that something clicked. The more I wrote, the more I found that this art, this exercise of creativity resonated deeply with my passion for storytelling, my need to share and express my values, and my strengths of writing and imagination.
The script is truly a formidable piece of technology that is taken for granted. Indeed, it is both my calling and my weapon of choice to change the world.