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Scripts as Poetry: Matt Mullins

Poetic screenplays? Not exactly.

Poems that are screenplays, to be precise.

Matt Mullins, assistant professor of English, has written screenplays, playscripts, poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. As a teacher of screenplay writing at Ball State, he is now exploring a concept he calls the "script poem."
For his project, Fade In/Fade Out, he is creating a manuscript featuring a cast of interchangeable characters and scenes. The individual scenes, between 40 and 60, can stand on their own as poems on the page, but the overall document can also be considered as a narrative whole. Because they are written in script format, the individual poems can also be taken out of the context of the manuscript and filmed. Each of these films could stand on its own or be placed with other script poems from the manuscript to tell a larger story. "It's an odd, ambitious monster," Mullins admits, "and I'm still trying to get the choke collar around its neck."

When complete, the end product will be a full manuscript of script poems that may include a compilation DVD featuring filmed versions of the material. Technology permitting, there may also be an online interactive environment featuring a few script poems using a ViziSwap-enabled interface that will allow viewers to choose the versions of a given character that appear in a particular script poem. Viewers may also be able to save their character choices and manipulate the order in which the script poems appear, thereby allowing for a multitude of possible user-generated combinations. (ViziSwap is a media interface developed by Ball State's Institute for Digital Entertainment and Education as a new way to interact with video, image, text, stills, and interactive media.)

Aside from this project, Mullins is also interested in using ViziSwap as a pedagogical tool that can potentially act as an interface that turns film watching into a learning experience. Like a director's commentary on a DVD, the interface would enable someone watching a film to select Mullins' commentary on character development, plot, structure, or other screenwriting techniques as these techniques appear in the film.

To learn more about Mullins' script poetry, contact him at 765-285-8580.