God Is in the Details: The Text Object

  • Ian W. Macdonald
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Screenwriting book series (PSIS)


Alfred Hitchcock always made the film on paper, says the myth, before he shot a foot of film. But Bill Krohn, in his Hitchcock at Work (2000), refines the myth, noting that while Hitchcock certainly used storyboards and his own sketches, he was not beholden to them — they are suggestions. As Krohn points out, storyboards may have been used to ‘sell’ set design or camera angle — a tool as much for the producer as the director or designer — but they are not literally blueprints (2000, 12). Hitchcock improvised with actors on set, he was more experimental than he was credited for, and he left his editor and production designer room to make choices. Topaz (1969) started shooting without a script. In many of the films Krohn discusses, re-writes went on during production, and some scenes shot were never actually written down. Not everything was in the script anyway, with Hitch bemoaning the omission of camera movement in the conventional Hollywood writer’s draft (a different convention from his early British work with Stannard and others); though Hitch claimed to have about 90% worked out in his mind. It was ‘not just guessed at’, but on the other hand his plans might not have been on paper at all (Krohn 2000, 11–16).


Screen Time Camera Angle Scene Text Genetic Criticism Visual Style 
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Copyright information

© Ian W. Macdonald 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian W. Macdonald
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Communications StudiesUniversity of LeedsUK

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