The above piece of advice is not intended to persuade you to become egomaniacs (well, not just for that reason - can't hurt a writer, surely?) but to remind you that when writing your screenplay you should remember than an audience expects to be taken wherever they want and need to go.
In this sense Cinema is more akin to a novel than TV. Inherent in TV is the boundaries of whatever the programme’s format (though this has changed a lot with HBO) but essentially Cinemagoers expect to be shown anything they want to see – and the more cinematic/filmic/spectacular the better.
Even if an audience are aware of the size of a film’s budget it doesn’t affect their enjoyment of a narrative as it's impossible to think in those terms unless a film forces you to (usually by looking cheap). Therefore, in the same way that a film with a massive budget can show everything and sometimes the wrong decisions are made about what to show (e.g. too much), films with a tiny budget sometimes avoid showing a key scene because of cost issues and leave the audience feeling cheated.
For a screenwriter, especially a British screenwriter, this is can be a problem as British productions usually require the writer to have at least half an eye on budget. The trick is to divert attention away from this by making the audience feel as if the decision to show or not show an event is key to their enjoyment and seeing (or not seeing) it would be detrimental to their understanding of character or plot.
I was reminded of this when watching Lynne Ramsay’s gripping adaptation of We Need To Talk About Kevin (warning: spoiler alert!)
To begin with, it's an incredibly effective adaptation because Ramsay transposes the characters and atmosphere of Shriver's novel (that gut-wrenching feeling which escalates as you read) whilst reconfiguring the story so that the film is its own thing – and resolutely in her voice as a film-maker. But she also very cleverly directs your attention away from a scene you expect to see without feeling cheated.
The scene in question is the genocidal denoument in which Kevin peppers his school mates with high velocity arrows. The novel doesn’t use this event for plot purposes but still Shriver knows that we need to see it, and we are eventually left in no doubt as to what happened in that gymnasium.
Ramsay, however, chooses not to show the event. I'm not suggesting that she would definitely have shown the massacre if the budget had been higher but it surely must have been a consideration.The point is that it doesn't matter either way because we are convinced (ot at least I was) that we don't need to see it. By not showing it and just suggesting its consequences (a student pleading at the glass, a hand slipping out from beneath a body bag), the moment in which Swinton's Eva finds her husband and daughter dead in the garden in the glare of their security lights is even more brutal and affecting – and has a greater impact on how we feel about both our protagonist and antagonist - where as the gym genocide would have effectively stolen this moment for characters we neither know nor care about (the high school students).
By not showing the event its also somewhat of a relief; such is the psychological torment we’re subjected to throughout the film!
So, remember you’re a God, and the audience knows this. As with Kevin Katchadourian, you have absolute dominion over who lives and dies, but unlike him, you can control what the audience sees - so you better convince them they're seeing exactly what they need to see.
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