Friday, July 07, 2023

Fridays With Hitchcock:
Del Toro Talks Hitchcock.


This interview on CBC’s Studio Q with Guillermo Del Toro on Hitchcock and his influence on his work is great stuff, because Del Toro is as articulate about his work as Hitch was. Though the interviewer’s questions could have been much better, Del Toro wrestles the conversation away to some of the most important elements.

1) The emotional effect on the audience, and this connects to us as writers because our job is to create those emotions of the page so that the director can put them on screen. If we are not writing to create emotions in the reader, the reader will not care and not buy our screenplays in the first place. There’s a great deal of talk about Hitchcock’s control in the interview, from controlling the image to controlling the actors, and when Guillermo talks about the audience all laughing or gasping or screaming at the same time - the control of the viewer/reader. And that’s what wee need to think about as writers. It’s not just telling the story - that’s step one - it’s how we tell the story and how we use storytelling techniques to control the audience’s emotions. We are playing the audience (and the reader) like an orchestra - we know exactly where they are going to gasp, and it’s *how we write the scene* that makes them gasp. The techniques. So the most important thing that we can do as a writer or a director is to use those techniques to create emotions in the audience. What do you want them to feel in this scene? How is *your writing* or *your angle, composition, camera movement, lighting, and editing* creating those emotions. YOU need to be in control of your work.

2) Which gets us to the precision and intricate work of Hitchcock. Though he talks about Renoir (the painter) painting the same tree for his entire life later, the skill of a painter is knowing exactly what color, what texture, what brush stroke and all of the other talents and skills of a painter will create the image that you have in your mind and are trying to put on that canvas. You may work instinctively or technically, but the result is what matters - and you need to know what result you are aiming for... and you need to know the techniques that will bring about that result. I think the problem with that label of being a popular filmmaker that Hitchcock was stuck with detracts from his precision. It’s funny that Kubrick is seen as a genius due to his precision, yet Hitch didn’t need all of those takes to have possible more precision - Kubrick was a chilly filmmaker. One of the things that we need to remember as “artists” is that art is not sloppy. Whether you are Renoir with a brush or Kubrick or Hitchcock with a camera, you are doing something very specific for a very specific reason. Whether your story is summed up by an image, or a story told in a series of images. WHY are you setting this scene at this location? HOW do the specifics of this scene connect to the specifics of the other scenes in the story? One of the interesting things about film stories is that you have a limited time to tell them, so everything need to be the very best way to get this information to the audience.

3) I love the choice of these four Hitchcock films for his lecture: NOTORIOUS, FRENZY, SHADOW OF A DOUBT, and NORTH BY NORTHWEST... and how he chose them because they are all very much Hitchcock films... and completely dissimilar. He talks about MR. & MRS. SMITH - which is also completely a Hitchcock film (I look at all of the Hitchcock storytelling techniques in my old blog entry on that film) and yet a romantic comedy that would be right next to the others from the 1940s. Hitchcock could have kept going with the romantic comedies and had an entirely different (very successful) career. In my EXPERIMENTS IN TERROR book I look at what an experimental director he was - doing all kinds of crazy things that even now we think of as unusual - nobody has beat his ROPE when it comes to single shot films. But part of that experimentation was in stories - and I note that he directed a dialogue driven comedy stageplay... as a silent film. Del Toro talks about that moment at the end of the silent era where we got a ton of filmed stage plays... well, Hitchcock managed to make a *silent* filmed stage play that delivers visual laughs. He was definitely not a “one trick pony”!

4) Del Toro also talks about the primal elements of cinema - and how a director like Hitchcock can connect with the secret desires and fears of the audience in a way that many others could not. I have always said that films are dream fulfillment for the audience. The audience has a secret dream or nightmare, and our job as screenwriters is to give them that dream or nightmare for two hours. We are in the dark, and the images play on the screen - just like a dream. In a dream you can be in one place and then by magic instantly be in another place - just like editing in a film. In a dream things are often fantastic and larger than like and filled with emotions... just like in a film.

We are creating dreams and nightmares for the audience.

PS: Guillermo del Toro did write one of the important books on Hitchcock, and one of the things that ties in to Hitchcock being able to articulate his techniques and methods is that del Toro is also someone who can do that.

- Bill

Of course, I have my own books on Hitchcock...



Alfred Hitchcock, who directed 52 movies, was known as the “Master Of Suspense”; but what exactly is suspense and how can *we* master it? How does suspense work? How can *we* create “Hitchcockian” suspense scenes in our screenplays, novels, stories and films?

This book uses seventeen of Hitchcock’s films to show the difference between suspense and surprise, how to use “focus objects” to create suspense, the 20 iconic suspense scenes and situations, how plot twists work, using secrets for suspense, how to use Dread (the cousin of suspense) in horror stories, and dozens of other amazing storytelling lessons. From classics like “Strangers On A Train” and “The Birds” and “Vertigo” and “To Catch A Thief” to older films from the British period like “The 39 Steps” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much” to his hits from the silent era like “The Lodger” (about Jack The Ripper), we’ll look at all of the techniques to create suspense!


Only 125,000 words!

Price: $5.99

Click here for more info!


UK Folks Click Here.

German Folks Click Here.

French Folks Click Here.

Espania Folks Click Here.

Canadian Folks Click Here.


Click here for more info!


We all know that Alfred Hitchcock was the Master Of Suspense, but did you know he was the most *experimental* filmmaker in history?

Contained Thrillers like “Buried”? Serial Protagonists like “Place Beyond The Pines”? Multiple Connecting Stories like “Pulp Fiction”? Same Story Multiple Times like “Run, Lola, Run”? This book focuses on 18 of Hitchcock’s 52 films with wild cinema and story experiments which paved the way for modern films. Almost one hundred different experiments that you may think are recent cinema or story inventions... but some date back to Hitchcock’s *silent* films! We’ll examine these experiments and how they work. Great for film makers, screenwriters, film fans, producers and directors.

Films Examined: “Rear Window”, “Psycho”, “Family Plot”, “Topaz”, “Rope”, “The Wrong Man”, “Easy Virtue”, “Lifeboat”, “Bon Voyage”, “Aventure Malgache”, “Elstree Calling”, “Dial M for Murder”, “Stage Fright”, “Champagne”, “Spellbound”, “I Confess”, and “The Trouble with Harry”, with glances at “Vertigo” and several others.

Professional screenwriter William C. Martell takes you into the world of The Master Of Suspense and shows you the daring experiments that changed cinema. Over 77,000 words.

UK Folks Click Here.

German Folks Click Here.

French Folks Click Here.

Espania Folks Click Here.

Canadian Folks Click Here.


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