By John King Tarpinian: Every two years UC Riverside hosts the Eaton Science Fiction Conference. I’ve had attended in past years when they gave their Lifetime Achievement Awards to Ray Bradbury (2008) and Frederik Pohl (2009).
Conferences over the four days would start at 8:30 a.m. and continue until 8:30 p.m., running in six rooms at once. If one can get Sci-Fi overload this would have been the place to be. A list of topics: “Gods, Monsters in Science Fiction Television,” “Queering the Genre,” “Octavia E. Butler,” “Superhero Controversies in Comics and Television,” and so on and so forth. Larry Niven and David Brin are among the writers in attendance. For a more detailed list of the event meander over to: http://eatonconference.ucr.edu/
This year’s Lifetime Achievement Awards are going to Ursula K. Le Guin (2012), Ray Harryhausen (2013) and Stan Lee (2013). They will be honored at the Saturday evening banquet.
On Friday I took a day trip to hear a lecture by a friend of mine, Phil Nichols, a UK Professor from the University of Wolverhampton. Phil lectured, along with Julian Hoxter & Michael Joseph Klein who gave papers on scripts in Science Fiction. Phil specifically talked about the diverse script writing styles of Ray Bradbury & Harlan Ellison. Ray’s scriptwriting was honed by writing Moby Dick for John Huston but his first official script was for It Came from Outer Space. Harlan’s style was developed in the early 60s with is TV writing from the Alfred Hitchcock Hour through Star Trek and a script for Masters of Science Fiction.
As in books, Ray used metaphors for camera direction (sample scripts were shown on the screen), what today is called a spec-script. Ray’s scripts would allow for more input for the director. Harlan, on the other hand, would number each scene and have very specific directions as to shooting the scene. Harlan would go as far as to specify if a scene was an interior or exterior show.
I was not consulted when they selected the dates for the conference so after having lunch with my friend that was it for the day. She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed was off on a photo safari in Death Valley and guess who had to get home to walk the dogs? Maybe the best end to a good day was getting a souvenir LASFS bookmark.
I’m bemused by the description of the script formats in the fifth paragraph. It suggests mainly that John King Tarpinian is unknowledgeable on standard script formats and terminology. “Spec scripts” are ones written without commission, in the hopes they will be purchased. Scene numbers always appear in production drafts of scripts — for ease of reference by all involved — though sometimes appear in Spec Scripts at the whim of the author. And scripts without scene designations including Interior or Exterior would mark any writer as an amateur. Some writers get away with personal “styles” but they are few and far between.
FYI: All of the artwork from film & TV in the pictures above was courtesy the Art Directors Guild (ADG). The panels (pipe and pegboard) they displayed the art on were from the LASFS. Small world.
Bradbury referred to his contribution to IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE as a “screen treatment,” which is pretty much what it was. He didn’t number the scenes, possibly because he didn’t realize that was customary, but he did provide camera directions and angles. Harry Essex used a great deal of Ray’s work in his shooting script for the movie.