This panel drew (haha) together a comic book artist (Georgina), a screenwriter (Cam) and a YouTuber (Natalie) to talk about writing for visual forms. The panel started in familiar territory about how each of them get their ideas (Georgina has the visuals of the character first; Cam starts with a ‘dumb idea’, and Nat scripts meticulously by hand before shooting), before delving into some questions that were more specific to their individual practice.
‘Social media – let’s get that one out of the way’
Panelists described their personal experiences of communicating in this image-rich environment. Cam talked about his struggle to come to grips with the emoji, but how he has now embraced our new pictographic overlords with gusto. He also said that Vine was wildly underrated in Australia, and he likes the constraint of the format as a motivator for creativity. Natalie admitted to not being very tech savvy, not knowing how to access emojis.
‘I’m an asshole to collaborate with.’
Visual formats are often very collaborative, but Georgina and Natalie both reported working largely alone, with some late-stage input and feedback from their partners. Both expressed a desire to work collaboratively, but mentioned the difficulty of relinquishing creative control after having been responsible for every aspect of production for so long. Cam, on the other hand, spoke fondly of the mayhem of TV writers rooms, although he said that he generally preferred undertaking the process of screenwriting by himself.
‘If you draw comics, you need to see their feet at least once per page.’
This was a lesson that had been handed down to Georgina from a well-known comic book artist, but she found herself defying this convention a lot. She talked about the art of paneling – laying comic book information out on the page to create a sense of flow – but said that a lot of her paneling time went into spacing her large swathes of dialogue. Natalie also said that the focus of her writing, although mostly for a visual medium, is on the dialogue, which is the form in which she feels most comfortable writing. Cam said that whilst he has always expressed himself in writing, the ideas are always very visual, and he finds himself giving detailed indications of factors like colour. He talked about the discomfort and illogic of trying to reconcile a vivid visual image with the static computer keys and blinking cursor.
‘I look way hotter in my head.’
Natalie was asked about whether her ideas ever get lost in the intricate process of video making. She said that she doesn’t film every script, and of the ones she does film, she’ll find fairly often that the idea doesn’t translate through the edit. She mentioned the ridiculously high turnover of some contemporary YouTubers, and said she didn’t think it was viable to create 1-2 videos per week, when you take into account how many of the videos don’t make it the whole way from script to upload, for a whole range of reasons.
‘I ate a whole two boxes of shapes pizzas [sic] last night.’
Natalie said this and I related to it.