Sieanna Williams' Capstone


Over the course of Senior Year I have completed a collection of 5 short stories and am half-way completed the accompanying adaptive film. The writing process took a series of several months while production took just over a week. As expected, the production was the most challenging part given the limited time. My final product is compiled onto a website: (which will be published as soon as the editing of the film is complete) which include all capstone required documentation, the writing and filming process and my final products (story, film, poem).

I’ve learned several important things over the course of this project: the complications with text-to-screen adaptations, and the frustrations of the production process. Even though it didn’t even compare to what the film industry is truly like, I endured stressful days of editing, conceptualizing and especially dealing with my actors’ scheduling conflicts and trying to direct them in a way that would result in getting the acting out of them that I desired. I learned how to coach my actors, take them out of the context of being who they were. I told my star actor, Marcus, not to react the way Marcus Burrell would but how Lou Garrison would. How would this paranoid, convicted schizophrenic who lost his family react to this and that? These were the pep talks I gave my actors to make them forget about their real lives and become their characters. It was a painful, but worthy and amazing experience.

Above is a collage of all of the work I have done so far. As you can see, all of the written portions (shown in the bottom two pictures) are complete. The stories and poem are shown in the first picture, while the screenplays are shown in the second picture. The third is a screenshot of the weebly site which contains all of my compiled work. The website will be published as soon as post-production on the film is complete. The film, which I am currently still editing, is shown mid-post-production in the final picture with my lead actor being the natural star he is.

Annotated Bibliography

by Sieanna Williams

  1. Frank Miller's Sin City. Dir. Frank Miller, Quentin Tarantino, and Robert Rodriguez. Prod. Bill Scott, Elizabeth Avellán, Robert Rodriguez, Bob Weinstein, and Harvey Weinstein. By Frank Miller. Perf. Jessica Alba, Benicio Del Toro, Brittany Murphy, and Clive Owen. Miramax Films, 2005. Film.

Frank Miller’s Sin City is the film that inspired my capstone project. This film includes a plethora of diverse shots, angles, lighting decisions, and a unique storyline that drew me in instantly. This film provides me with insight on how to transition between storylines, establish mise-en-scene according to the nature of the settings and time periods as well as upping my editing decisions. Another aspect of Sin City that caught my attention was the way each storyline connected to their themes. Just by watching this film I am educated and reeducated about the unlimited types of styles, design, colors, etc. that I can line up in my film. There are so many ways to bring creativity to a film and I believe this film demonstrates that in ways most films do not.

  1. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Dir. Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez. By Frank Miller. Prod. Elizabeth Avellan. Perf. Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis and Eva Green. Miramax Films, 2014. Film.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is Sin City’s sequel. Even though Tarantino was not apart of this film, his Sin City touch still remained. In ways, I enjoyed part two better than part one. Nearly a decade after the prequel, the performances of Sin City 2 have gotten relatively stronger, which has impacted how I will direct my own actors. Even though I enjoyed this film more than it’s predecessor and it’s lurid cinematography, it often felt redundant, something I am struggling with when writing my own stories. I don’t want any of the stories to be the same, and so watching this repetition play over in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, it’s become a great resource of what to watch out for and how to avoid this.

  1. Slacker. Dir. Richard Linklater. By Richard Linklater. Prod. Richard Linklater. Perf. =Richard Linklater, Rudy Basquez, and Jean Caffeine. Orion Classics, 1991. Film.

The 90’s film. Slacker, is a perfect example of what I am trying to produce. I wouldn’t have known about this film had it not been for a friend. Slacker is set over a period of one day, my film is set over a course of one month. Slacker’s main concept, as my own, is to show snippets of unconnected lives throughout Austin, Texas to show their strong connections and relations despite the fact that they are internally and externally complete strangers to one another. The way Slacker approaches this is by showing each of these characters as slackers yet amazing artists. The point of my project is to show a global connection of people through struggles, morality, etc. So when I watch this film, I hope to take away an idea of how to connect my characters other than their blood relation (which is what I currently have).

  1. "5 Techniques That Create Depth & Make Your Cinematography More Dynamic." No Film School. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.

Lately, I usually have not had any issues getting a great image on the camera before it hits color correction. But then, I never needed to get a great image in areas other than cold outdoors or warm indoors. I realized that by the time I start filming for this project it is going to be hot out, which means I’m going to need to adjust to all different sorts of lightings and temperatures. Not only just for my film but as a cinematographer in general, I’ve needed this. With this source I have learned how to add depth to my shots, enhance depth of field (rack focus is my favorite technique), and even contrast lighting.

  1. 5 Scriptwriting Tips That Will Make Any Story Better." Goins Writer RSS. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.

This source was a huge help for me getting down some of my scripts. It’s more difficult than it sounds to write a script out of a short story. This source told me to not only establish a clear voice, but to have my characters speak in vernacular. This was interesting and immediately inspiring. Since all of my short stories besides the first and last one will have first person narration based on the character driving the current storyline, I was struggling at first with how to keep the audience engaged with each character and keeping each character distinct. Another point that really stood out to me was to show and not tell. I don’t have much experience with scriptwriting, and, often, when I do I spoonfeed the story through lots of narration because of my own bad habit of including so much detail and explanation. But this source explained the importance of letting the audience find out things through dialogue and action. This source has completed the few scripts I have finished already.

  1. "The Compelling Story Technique." , N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.

As I mentioned in my proposal, I’m worried that my stories aren’t compelling enough. This article, however, appoints me to my weak points and issues with story telling while noting the definite dos that will drive one’s story to life. This article speaks briefly about using details and nuances to enhance the quality of my stories. One quote from this article that stuck with me is that one could achieve compulsion by simply “continuously striving to stay personally connected with the interviewer.” Yes, this article is mainly for people getting tips on how to interview, but it has been a great resource for my stories as well. It makes perfect sense to connect with the audience. It is the quickest and most important part of storytelling. If you don’t give your audience anything to relate to, then they’re only observers and they take nothing away from your story.  

  1. "How to Tell Your Story without Boring Your Audience to Tears." Goins Writer RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.

When I read this article, I noticed that the author talked a lot about reflection and not just how my audience and readers would reflect after hearing the stories but how I would reflect on everything. If I can answer every posed or self-posed question about either my text or film or both then I should be okay. Suddenly, this topic translates to not how to tell my story but why I’m telling it. This article really made me think about why any of these stories are important and what exactly do I want my readers to take away from them. I know I want the struggle of deciding between moral and immoral is supposed to be the crux of the stories to show that humans connect through struggle, but why exactly would this be important? Thanks to this article, I’ve figured it out.

  1. "Can You Have Multiple Storylines in Your Novel? | Advanced Fiction Writing." Advanced Fiction Writing. N.p., 21 Feb. 2011. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.

Of course I knew that one could indeed have multiple storylines within their novels, but I knew this article would have more to offer me than just answering the question in the title. The article, at one point, states that it’s important to remember that every one of the multiple characters are the lead character in the novel of their lives. This means that every character’s voice is unique, they should all be active characters (because no one wants to follow someone who is statically moving through live; that’s boring), and each of their storylines’ relationships to the main storyline must be established either totally clearly or totally vaguely, depending on whether I’m doing a mystery, psychological story where I want readers to figure out certain things for themselves. And that is another crucial tactic to writing with multiple storylines, according to the article: leaving the audience hanging. Not only are cliffhangers great (sometimes), butsimply not explaining or giving every skeptical moment in the story a chance to be explained. This is where most of the ability or even desire to analyze stories go to die. I’ve learned it’s important to let readers figure out things for themselves, keeping them in the dark often makes them more interested.

  1. "The Godfather: Part Two." The Godfather: Part Two. Web. 30 Jan. 2015.

I was told the Godfather Part 2 was claimed to be the most amazing screenplay ever written in the world, and as many film screenplays as I’ve read, I could not agree more. Because I still needed guidance when screenplay writing, I often turn to example screenplays written for films I love. I love the films for a reason and I wanted to see just how the writers combated making it sound so great, how the actors took what was given to them and turned it into what they did on screen. This screenplay truly is genius. Even as a simple guide I’ve learned so much. Include camerawork, place it on the left; the structure of the narration referring to characters, sound and action; I’ve also learned that extension on narration is okay, so long as I do not spoonfeed the actors but instead use it as JUST an extension on stage directions. After reading this script, not only am I no longer intimidated by screenplay writing, but I’ve written several screenplays for my short stories and am fairly confident in all of them.

  1. Fitzgerald, F. Scott, and James L. W. West. "Hot and Cold Blood." All the Sad Young Men. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2007. N. pag. Print.

F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite authors. He is a romanticized writer, something I greatly enjoy and have taken to my own story writing. His collection of short stories, All the Sad Young Men is what inspired the short story portion of my capstone. Although F. Scott did not have intertwining storylines, he did have a theme that connects the characters in a more general sense. F. Scott uses grief, sadness and loneliness to connect his characters and I know enough about this book to understand just how to bring out those emotions and more within my own characters.