The Pestle


Ep 144: “Nomadland”

April 20, 2021

We take the scenic route through Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland” and discuss:

  • cinematography, filming in widescreen;
  • story, what’s the deal with Fern?;
  • performance, some things that Frances McDormand does to create Fern;
  • and other such stuff and things and stuff.

I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility. – Jack Kerouac

Notes & References:
Chloe Zhao is writing and directing Marvel’s “Eternals” script! What a wild transition in genre
Chloe Zhao (iMDB)
“Nomadland” screenplay (PDF)
On the writing process (Indiewire) – it does sound like it was a very fluid process rather than executing a strict script
• I’ll be appearing on the “Creative Haven” podcast with Mitchel Dumlao – I’ll post when my episode goes up
Vanessa Kirby (iMDB) // “Pieces of a Woman” (trailer)
Jack Kerouac (wiki)
Bob Schneider (his website)
What is a vocal melody? It’s a musical sequence written for the voice, often the focal point in a song.
Drake Doremus on his writing process for “Like Crazy” (Indiewire)
• Here’s a fun walkthrough on aspect ratios from RED (
• Sluglines: there’s some contestation over what a slug line is. Some contend that it is not a scene heading as I described in the show, others say it doesn’t really matter but using the term “scene heading” is more useful, while others generally define it as I did. This is the kind of hilarious thing that happens in the screenwriting community all of the time. There’s constant infighting about “proper” formatting, noun usage, verticality, and anything at all that can end up in a script. As someone who is not personally invested in any of the fights — benefit of being a writer/director — and also as someone nowhere near WGA inclusion, my humble opinion is that is does not matter all too much all too often. The point of language is to make your thoughts understood to your audience, be it one or one million, and unless you’re breaking the formatting enough to really mess with production then it doesn’t really matter.

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