Making a Movie Is Like Sculpting With Sand in a Sandstorm

Question: How is screenwriting different than other forms of writing?

Guillermo del Toro:  Yeah.  I tell you, what I’ve learned with dabbling in the media... in the different media is writing a screenplay for an animated film is one thing, writing a screenplay for a live-action film is another thing.  Writing a screenplay for a video game is fascinating and great.  And the disciplines are very different because you’re not only thinking of a language, you’re thinking about immersion techniques, if you will.  How are you going to make the viewer or the player, the gamer, immerse into the world.  And as a writer of fiction, that’s again almost a different set of rules.  

In some of these mediums, the sort of Aristotelian structure of three acts of beginning, middle and end, goes away at certain points.  And I find that truly thrilling, but what has been great for me in writing fiction is that, a) I don’t deal with notes from anyone.  I have free reign over what characters do what and the fate of the characters, there’s no, there’s not such a thing as a down ending in writing fiction, you know, you can please the tale rather than please the demographics and the quadrants of a movie.  But I would say the same can be done doing an independent European or Mexican film.  You have that freedom.  

What is great here is that you... moving making, the process of making the movie goes against the product.  It’s like sculpting... I think Francis Coppola said, "It’s like sculpting with sand in a sandstorm."  You know, things are flying away from your hands as you’re trying to shape the thing.  And I agree.  And so the process of the moviemaking goes against the product, and at the end of the day you end up with a movie that compromises.  You compromise with the budget, with the time, with the elements.  There’s no filmmaker that can have absolute control unless you’re making an animated film in abstract.  

And instead of that in fiction, the moment that you are writing the scene is as good or as bad as you are writing it.  You can see the product come to life and that’s it’s final form.  So it’s very much like painting in that, or illustrating, you depend on our abilities, but definitely the product is part of the process. In movies it isn’t.

Recorded on September 22, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller

Things are constantly flying through your hands as you’re trying to shape the product, says the filmmaker.

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

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  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.