Henry Gregor Felsen Emanuel Raff - Essay

Emanuel Raff

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Three Plus Three] is about writing for films as told by the person who does it. Felsen talks directly to the student in a pleasant, conversational manner which is never condescending. "This is an invitation," he says, "to look over my shoulder while I work for a living." His observations are succinct and intriguing.

The design is simple. A short story is presented and problems in turning it into a script are discussed. The author then presents his script followed by questions which direct students to discover the reasons for differences between story and script. The discussions and the questions clarify the problems of translating from print to film. There are three short stories and three scripts presented in this pattern.

The last exercise presents the student with a story written by Felsen. The student is then given the task of turning a small segment into a shooting script. Clear, simple directions are followed by equally clear explanations of film in terms one must know to do the job. Finally, the author presents a suggested beginning to help the student get started….

The questions which follow each script are the type that invite discussion and the explanation which the author gives is distinctive for its clarity and brevity…. Although the approach requires analysis, the author has avoided the major pitfall of such a process: boredom. He permits neither the text nor the apparatus to be dull. We have, consequently, a lively, interesting primer on scriptwriting….

Emanuel Raff, "Teaching Materials: 'Three Plus Three'," in English Journal (copyright © 1972 by the National Council of Teachers of English; reprinted by permission of the publisher and the author), Vol. 61, No. 5, May, 1972, p. 773.