I was reading recently that the director of The Hunger Games film did not want to include deleted scenes on the DVD. Whether he was referring to making an extended special edition sometime in the future (not really necessary for a 2h22min film) or whether he was actually referring to just ordinary bonus features was unclear. Yes, I happened to think that The Hunger Games was one of the best adaptations from book to screen that I have seen lately, but that does not mean that the film was perfect, or that the writers and director never changed their minds partway through. (More on that film in a future posting.)
One of the things that I love the most about DVDs is that they usually have deleted scenes included as bonus features. (Well, now those bonus features tend to be restricted to the Blu-Ray format, but the humble “deleted scenes” or “additional scenes” can often still be found on the regular DVD.) I enjoy watching deleted scenes even if I didn’t care for the film that much.
No matter how lame they are, the deleted scenes are part of the story. Whether they are merely scripted or whether they are fully filmed and even included in special editions of the final production, these scenes contribute to the overall experience of the film – even if only to make the audience thank God for editors!
Having been on a blogging hiatus for the past eight months brought my mind to how deleted scenes – far from being something only added to sell DVDs or to appeal to fans – can be used to tell a story as evocatively as a normal scene.
There is a continuum for deleted scenes, ranging from simple bloopers to full acts that are missing from a narrative. As a storyteller, I find it fascinating why writers and directors choose to include certain things and not others. Was the scene just terrible? Did it not work well off the page? Was it just cut for time? Technical malfunction? Massive rewrite? Adaptation issues?
Without further ado:
KATY’S DELETED SCENE TYPE CONTINUUM
1) For Entertainment Only: This type of scene wasn’t really intended to be part of the story, such as bloopers or animated test runs. They might have also been created for marketing purposes. These aren’t usually considered to be deleted scenes proper. They are not a storytelling device.
2) Idiosyncratic Scene: A scene that fits within the narrative, or rather, could fit into narrative, but does not add or detract from the plot, setting, characters, theme, or style. Sometimes, such a scene might be quite different in style or tone than the rest of the film. Perhaps it was based on a more important scene that disappeared, or perhaps it was more of a fun idea that the writer or director (or actor) had. Unlike bloopers, these scenes can be part of the overall narrative. An example would be the scene of Ron and Hermione skipping stones across a lake in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part I.
3) Background/Scenery Clip: A scene that was originally part of the film and shot as part of the film, but was cut for either time or visual appeal. These may or may not contribute to the overall comprehension of the film. If, for example, two characters are filmed talking at a party scene, but subsequently cut from the final sequence, a reference to their conversation later in the film could be problematic. Usually these scenes are cut without any specific agenda. Their inclusion on a DVD usually does not add much to the viewer’s experience.
3b) Extended Scene: A scene that was kept, but elements of it were removed. Often a complicated scene is simplified. Watching an extended scene can add depth to a film, such as a character having a longer and more meaningful monologue or speech than in the final sequence. It is also a great way of showing audiences background shots or scenery clips in a seamless fashion.
4) Ordinary Scene: This is a scene that would not be necessarily out of place in the story, but for some reason or another didn’t make the cut. Perhaps the film was too long; perhaps the scene had too many references to scenes that had previously been removed; perhaps the pacing was wrong. This type of scene is the type that may or may not change a film drastically. A lost scene can create multiple plot holes (sometimes intentionally) and the inclusion on a DVD can radically improve the viewing experience. (“Oh, that’s where she got the necklace from!”) Sometimes a scene is cut because something is a bit off with it – a character was acting unusually, for example. If you want your protagonist to be a hero who loves animals, a scene of them chomping down on a chicken leg at a barbecue could tarnish this, so cutting the scene might seem like a good idea.
4b) Scripted Scene: A scene that was scripted but not filmed; or a scene that was drafted but not written. Would have been an ordinary scene otherwise. Animated films often have these as storyboards.
5) Deleted Sequence: Multiple related scenes that are removed from the final production, often in an attempt to correct issues such as those discussed above. Sometimes an entire character or subplot is removed. These scenes could still be deemed to have “taken place” within the story, just not depicted outright.
6) Alternate Scene or Sequence (Including Alternate Ending): This type of scene cannot be placed into the existing final narrative. For whatever reasons, the director or writer has chosen to disregard this version of a scene and gone with a new one. Alternate scenes can drastically change the story, particularly as they may chance the ending or the overall tone (such as an uplifting ending versus a depressing one). Sometimes, the scene is changed in order to maintain a certain rating or because it was not liked by test audiences.
7) Independent Episodes: These are particularly popular on the Internet for franchises with a loyal fanbase, or for television series with long breaks in between seasons. These are part of the story (usually), but are rarely essential. A secondary character might have his or her own web series with its own plot and characters; the main characters could be having an entirely different adventure than the one they are having in the series; and the setting can be radically different. I especially like the creativity that goes into works like these. If one is a fan of a show or franchise, these can be quite fun. In the rare instance that they add background to a plot or character, they are rather like long deleted scenes.
So what was Katy Konservativ up to for the past eight months?
More on that later.