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Children of Men

This is a real treat: this chap Larry Wright has put together a compilation, in chronological order, of every shot over 45 seconds duration in Children of Men.

It was recently revealed that Alfonso Cuaron's upcoming film, "Gravity", will not only have a 17+ minute opening long take, but also an ASL (average shot length) of 45 seconds. Having been a fan of his previous films, I revisited my favorite one to see just what that type of shot looked and felt like.
I had seen the film a few times before, and couldn't recall more than handful of shots that I thought would work. I was shocked to find there were 16 of them -- heck, there are 6 longer than 90 seconds! They are used in a variety of situations, and to great effect. It was easy to see how I could forget there were so many, as each one simply pulled you further into the story. It made me so excited for 'Gravity' that I felt I just had to share with anyone else who would be interested.

While not obviously a screenwriting issue, it's instructive to think about how one might construct scenes and sequences differently when working with a director such as Alfonso Cuaron.

And it's darned interesting to watch these scenes play out when you're analysing them as single shots.



There's something I've only just noticed about my writing goals — and see if you share any of this — which is that I'm driven to a ridiculous extent to always expand my horizons, in terms of what I'm comfortable working on and developing.

For instance I've just come out of the third draft of an ambitious gothic horror feature that took me roughly 15 months almost full-time to write, the plotting of which nearly broke my brain permanently, and yet before I've even found representation for it, let-alone sold it or recovered from writing it, I'm already well into development on a sprawling and complex time-travel film which has already spawned (in my mind) an epic and potentially long-running TV series.

Sure part of me is focusing on other things and allowing this idea to simmer away quietly at the back of my mind, but it's surprising how often and loudly the pan-lid rattles when I sit down with a notebook and pen. Much more loudly than the projects I "should" be doing.

I've many other things to write — things which, with my producing partner, I have made my priorities for the year ahead — but I just can't help it; I'm inexorably drawn to the most complicated and brain-twisting writing projects on the roster.

Do you experience this? What's going on? Why do I want to leapfrog projects that I could write relatively easily (famous last words) and which could (it has been decreed!) generate an income relatively soon? Is it self-sabotage? Or is it just our natural human curiosity, the need to explore the unknown? I guess it's simply the notion of not being able to pass up a challenge.

So I'll let it simmer a while longer, maybe chuck in a few more ingredients and top up with stock now and again, because however loudly it rattles I know it can't possibly be ready yet, and there are several tasty things bubbling on the table in front of me now. Patience is a virtue, and the unconscious part of my mind can be getting on with this insanely grand endeavour while "I'm" focusing on making a living.

But by god it's going to taste good when it's ready.