Screenwriting Notes.doc

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Innis College Courses
Norman Snider

Character creation is the primary concern for creating a narrative. Characters should be paradoxical, they need both good and bad qualities. Create a character that the audience can identify with. They want to imagine them- selves on screen. They want to see who they would like to be. Love stories always work because people are always looking for partners and so they want to see that story succeed and imagine themselves in it. Character - Motivation what they want. Drama is what the protagonist wants and how the antagonist stops them from getting it. if the antagonist is internal or an idea, how is it represented visually. James Bond retains popularity because he kills his enemies and mates with all the wo- man. Primal urges. Occupation is important to deciding what your film is going to be Humphrey Bogart was never anyones dad. The road to a true noir hero. Audiences are like children at bedtime, there are some stories they never tire of hearing. Drive is a story about the defense of family values, Gosling is defending a single mom and her daughter. That is why he is redeemable. We can forgive characters much more if they want things that audience also wants. The desire for family, the desire to fall in love etc. Write characters so compelling that there is lots for the actor to do with a wide emotional range. Give main character a lot of emotions/afflictions for them to overcome. Tom Cruise in days of thunder/top gun, a likeable hotshot but he must overcome his selfishness to become a team player. What are the characters ethnic, social and educational backgrounds. Pretty Woman Julia Roberts to Gere “how far did you go in school?” Gere: “All the way.” Once sentence shows his entire educational background. Occupational jargon is important for establishing credibility, pet phrases help to define a character. Every ethnic group has its own spoken idioms. Tape conversations to analyze foreign conversations. You must mimic slang in order to provide a sense of realistic dialogue. Ethnic dialogue must be done sparingly otherwise the character becomes a charicature. Dialogue and behaviour reflects the time in which is was made. Bad Day at Black Rock is a western with 40’s sensibilities, Deadwood is much more contemporary. In Training Day Ethan Hawk is the Point of View character. In The Great Gatsby, the story is about Gatsby not Nick. Nick is the point of view char- acter. This allows a link between the audience and main character so you may view this astoundingly bad person by seeing them through the point of view of a good character. POV character is like safe sex. It’s fun but does not expose you to a bad character or risk. Main character should have a particular precise way of speaking to define their charac- ter. You should be able to take away the names from the script and you would know who was talking. Characters behave in a certain way, the way they act defines who they are. The characters can be based on a fantasy of what we would like to do if we were able. Girl With Dragon Tattoo. Lisbeth is living out a female fantasy of standing up to men and corporations. Her violence is based on revenge and defense making it more ac- ceptable and allowing for her to undertake actions normally not attributed to female characters. All movies are about relationships. How do we affect eachother? For good or bad? Relation between onscreen characters. Emotional dynamic between characters is as important as the aspects of the characters themselves. Protagonist - Villain Protagonist - supporters Protagonist - world at large Relationship needs things that pull people together and push them apart. Bonnie and Clyde against the world True Romance characters against the world. Be able to find a single sentence that describes your character. In a buddy movie, what are the differences between the two characters? Love Triangle, Buddies, Bad guys turn out to be good. Failure is a great dramatic ploy. What are the dramatic possibilities about the situation you have established. 2nd to the love relationship is the status of the bad guy. A hero must kill a true devil in- carnate or he is not a hero. True love must not run smooth. A villain that can break down into tears is scary because they are not only violent, they are not in control of their emotions, they seem much further out on the hairy edge of psychology. If a character does not have a dramatic function they do not need to be in the movie. How do you show someone is truly great? Put someone next to them that is not as skilled. Establish the situation, Inciting incident, Inciting incident leads to a question (can you have an affair and get away with it?) The question is answered and things get progress- ively worse or better. Eventually things get so bad the hero is surrounded by dark forces. The Hero must fight their way out. People define themselves by how they do little things. Show don’t tell. When defining character, introduce an element that supplies plot initiator Dramatic structure is audience psychology. How do you attract the attention of a viewer and then keep it. All stories are either a rise or a fall or a rise and fall. If it is a rise you must establish the depths of their station so they have something to rise from. Have surroundings mimic characters state - Her apartment’s a mess, her car’s a mess, she’s a mess. The more we know in the beginning the more the audience cares. Length of scene determines pace of the movie - shorter equals faster. Longer the scene the cheaper the movie to make. Listen to radio to get example of face paced conversation Spaghetti westerns for visual without a lot of dialogue. Strong has rhythm, spared, back and force like tennis ball, conflict, two or three lines, ten words in sentence, colloquial naturally exchange the better. Last line must be a kicker to get out of the scene, a boxing rhythm. Good dialogue resembles poetry, every line counts, the order of the words counts, if it sounds weird out loud re-write it. You must differ the speech styles so it is apparent who is speaking. Depps lawyer in public enemies - example of character exposing dialgoue while show- ing the state of 1930s courtroom Avoid on-the-nose dialogue. Use misdirection to reveal information. Subtext. a family finds 500 dollars, what each person wants to do with the money will show who they are, its not about the money, its about the argument that ensues. Will: I need that money for school. Ray: We all got needs baby brother. Will: What the hell do you need? Ray: A way out of this godamn neighbourhood. Will: What do you think school is you moron. Ray: School is for suckers like you. Even if I gave you this I’d still have more than you in the
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