A little bit of background: This is an essay I submitted for an assignment. I was required to remediate a media text, which means I represent this media in other way or medium. I chose to remediate a short movie into a short story. Here is the remediated text. After that, I was also required to write an essay about the process of remediation and how I understand it and its impacts, as well as how I link it to the unit.
Title: Somewhere Like This
Format Producers: WongFu Productions (Written and directed by Wesley Chan, produced with Philip Wang, Christine Chen, and Ted Fu. Production crews: Sam Bay, Andrew Mai, Chris Dinh, Regina Fang. Casts: Julie Zhan as Irene, Robert Ryu as Scott, Ki Hong Lee as Irene’s boyfriend. Music by Kenson and "In Your Arms" by Kina Grannis)
Distributors: WongFu Productions YouTube channel and website
Consumers: Teens - young adults (15-30 years old)
Title: Somewhere Like This
Format: Short story (posted in a blog)
Production: Alfindy Agyputri as the writer (the short movie is from YouTube video (WongFu Productions 2013))
Audience: Teens - young adults (15-30 years old)
The original text is a short movie, which is remediated into a short story. The two have different essentials. Short movie is based on what the audience can see and hear, while in short story, everything is described in words and requires the readers to visualize in their own image. So, basically, this remediation is about representing what the audience can see and hear in words. The first step was to acknowledge the main idea of the movie. Just like before a story is written or created, the writer or creator should know the big picture of what the story is all about.
After watching the movie once or twice and getting the main idea of the story, the next step was to acknowledge the plot and how it would be represented in the short story – outlining the chronological orders and choosing a point of view of the short story. There are some viewpoints that can be used for a fiction story, but the best one for this situation is the detached viewpoint, where the author is just an invisible observers (Knight 1997, 126). The author and readers cannot get into the head of any character (Knight 1997, 126). There is also a narrator viewpoint where there is someone as a narrator who is telling the story (Knight 1997). However, the detached viewpoint is the most relevant, because in a short movie, it is rare to have a narrator. Some movies uses the main character as the narrator, as what is called as “character-narrator” (Bordwell 1997, 61), but this short movie, in particular, does not have any narrator. The audience can directly see and hear what happens as if they are there in the story. That is probably the reason why most movies are holding on to visuals and audios and are very careful in shooting the scenes so that the audience will not notice the camera’s existence. The movie makers aim to pull the audience into the story as if they are experiencing what the characters do.
That is the difference between the detached and narrator viewpoint. In the detached viewpoint, the narrator has disappeared – rather than feeling that the story is being told by someone, the readers would have the impression that they are seeing and hearing the events as they take place, as if they are present but invisible in the story (Knight 1997, 126). With this kind of viewpoint, the next step was to observe and record everything that can be seen and heard in the movie. Firstly, taking notes of the dialogues between characters, which was pretty challenging. The dialogues should be recorded exactly as they are, so there would not be any misunderstandings. It was also to help acknowledging the whole story.
This is where short movie and short story have in common. They are both depending on details, in which each of them has to be built into the story. Everything that is represented should be important and related or relevant to each other. That is why each detail in the short movie should be recorded properly to give the same essence in the short story. So, the next step would be to pay attention on details – describing what happened in chronologically orders, the characters’ appearances, expressions, and behaviours, the settings (time and place), and any other details that could help building the story.
The movie has a back and forth plot, which moves forward in the present time, and also flashes back to past events or memories. In the short movie, the audience can get the idea about the flashback straight away, while in the short story, the way it is represented is to be separated into different scenes. The readers will not notice it straight away, but once they continue reading, they will get the idea eventually. It is one way to avoid the impression that the readers can get into the characters’ head and their flashbacks, because that is not how this story is run.
In the movie, the characters can be seen visually without any detailed descriptions, while in short story, the characters are represented in words, so in order to visualize them in the readers’ mind, description about how the characters look like is important. But since short stories only have limited number of words, the writer cannot put too much details. As long as the readers get the big picture of how the characters look like, or at least the characters can be distinguished from each other based on their common facial features, basic descriptions of body image, and how they represent themselves (their outfits), it would be fine. The characters’ expressions and behaviours are also important, especially on how they react in certain situations and respond in relation to other characters. It is to show their personalities, as well as their chemistries with other characters. It is something the audience can see and observe in short movies, but should be built properly in short stories.
One of the challenges of writing short stories is to avoid putting too much information, but still have a strong main point of the story. When you watch a movie, you will see a lot of details you can describe, but you cannot put them all in a short story, due to the limited number of words. Even though there is no certain limitation of the length, according to Nebula Awards Rules 2013, short story should be less than 7500 words. It is quite a lot, but to describe characters, their appearances, expressions, and behaviours, as well as settings and all other details that can be seen or heard in a movie, it takes a lot of words. 7500 words will not be enough for the writer to get the readers to have the exact picture as in the movie. Therefore, to avoid putting too much information, the last step was to read the written story with a reader’s glasses and edit it based on short story’s essentials – it should have at least one character, a plot, a conflict, and setting (McCarthy 2000, 5). Shorty story also has a dramatic structure. According to Freytag (1863), a drama is divided into five parts: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution, which is not too different with the short movie’s structure.
“Creators of other electronic remediations seem to want to emphasize the difference rather than erase it” (Bolter 1999, 46)). Whether the creator intentionally emphasizes it or not, the difference between one media to the other will always be noticed. The audience can see the differences easily. In one media, they can see and hear every detail, while in the other, they need to visualize it themselves. In short movie, the maker focuses on visuals – the camera angles, lighting, etc., while in short story, all those elements are almost diminished, since there are some things that cannot be described perfectly in words. Short movies also focus on audios – the audience can tell when a voice comes from distance, while in short story, it should be described and told.
This remediation might not be the same as what Bolter is talking about. It is not from an old media to the newer, digital-aged one. But the idea of different experiences the audience get when the media changes is agreeable. “Ideally, there should be no difference between the experience of seeing a painting in person and on the computer screen, but this is never so” (Bolter 1999, 45). Even when a same exact object is represented in a different medium, it brings different experience, let alone when there are a lot of changes made when something is remediated. The main idea of the story, even the plot, the characters, and the settings are all the same, but with these two different mediums, which represent those elements in a complete different way, definitely bring different experiences. Like it is mentioned before, once the movie is remediated into writing, it loses the visuals and audios elements. The audience expects different things when the media changes, not what they can see and hear anymore, but descriptions and narratives that can help them visualizing the story.
Bolter, J.D. 1999. Remediation: Understanding the New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Bordwell, David. 1997. Narration in the Fiction Film. US: Routledge.
Freytag, Gustav. 1863. “Die Technik des Dramas Inhalt.” Y. Preiß / J.Matoni. Accessed May 16, http://www.matoni.de/technik/tec_inh.htm.
Knight, Damon. 1997. Creating Short Fiction. 3rd ed. New York, US: St. Martin’s Griffin.
McCarthy, Tara. 2000. Teaching Literary Elements with Short Stories: Ready-To-Use, High-Interest Stories with Mini-Lessons and Activities That Help Students Understand Literary Elements and Use Them Effectively in Their Writing. US: Scholastic Inc.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. 2013. “Nebula Rules.” Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Accessed May 16, http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-awards/rules/.
WongFu Productions. 2013. Somewhere Like This. YouTube video, 11:06. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83BxayyVcbA.