The following notes are from Marilyn Milgrom, script consultant Published from Times Online February 11, 2008 http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article3336775.ece?token=null&offset=0&page=1 Info found 19th October
The Character & the Problem- The most important questions to ask yourself when you begin to develop your story are: Who is the main character? What is their problem? How will the audience recognize the problem? Are the stakes high enough? Am I telling the story from the best point of view?
What is driving your main character through the story must be one of the following:
In all cases it must be clear to the audience, even if it isn’t to the character, what this is. But what must also be present in the story - and apparent to the audience - is something that is making it hard for the character to pursue their want, need or obligation. The fact that something is making it hard is what turns it into a problem and, like we said before, no problem, no film.
Making Problems Manifest to the Audience The way in which you turn a character’s inner problem into the heart of your film and make sure that the audience can SEE it is one of the most important ways that you can demonstrate your skill as a filmmaker and not just as a story-teller. When we’re reading books we can be inside a character’s head but when we’re watching films we need to see characters DOING things that show us what they are thinking and feeling.
Are the Stakes High Enough? Ensuring that there is something at stake in the story means that the audience can understand what the character stands to lose if they do not solve their problem. If the story hinges around a life or death situation then it is clear what is at stake but if it is simply that the car breaks down think about how you set the film up so that the audience knows why it really matters that the character completes this particular journey.
Am I Telling the Story from the Best Point of View? Think about the story of Cinderella and imagine if you told it with one of the ugly sisters as the main character. You could still make a good story but it would not have a happy ending.
What Does My Story Mean? You probably don’t set out to write a film with a moral or even with a conscious awareness of what your story means but every story communicates some meaning to the audience.To summarize so farA good short film needs a story in which something happens that has a noticeable effect on the main character. All successful short films focus on one moment/event. That moment is likely to be: one of universal significance a moment that is of significance to the protagonist (whether s/he knows it at the time) one that produces a situation in which the stakes are high for the protagonist.
Reflection upon my research on our original film idea. .The main Character is: AshleighAshleigh Is a 8 years old, she is a child from a broken home, her mother has recently left the family which has left her father in a bit of a state, not knowing how to raise his child, his ignorance takes over, he then neglects Ashleigh leaving her older brother to look after her. Ashleigh’s older brother is around 18 and is more adjusted as he has realized his mother isn’t coming back and had longer to get used to that idea, as he experienced his parents difficulties growing up. Being a teenager Jon is distracted with his own life and work to realize that Ashleigh is being neglected by her father choosing to believe everything is okay. Which is why he is severely shocked when he finds that her father doesn’t even know where Ashleigh is most days.What her problem is: She isn’t getting the right care at home, and is looking up to people too old and too devious for someone her own age, as her father and brother are not spending any time with her she is looking to others for compassion and acceptance from them. She has clearly looked at the wrong people for this, however not knowing any better she is trying to find a connection with them.
How the audience will recognize her problem: The audience will see Ashleigh’s need for touch from the older children, and her struggle to fit in and gain attention. The way a child would from her parents, looking for praise and affection. Furthermore they will notice her fathers neglect towards her from the second scene, they will later understand the brother in the final scenes as he finds Ashleigh.Are the stakes high enough? When we reach the final scenes it becomes clear that some of the teenagers are slightly more sinister than they first appeared to be. Though a teenage boy tries to comfort Ashleigh his intentions are slightly peculiar, which leaves the audience feeling uneasy. When the older boy makes a fuss out of her drinking her drink the audience is left to wonder why is it so important that she must drink it? What is his plan? Her brother entering the scene understands the situation and sees it for what it really is and pulls her from the pub. This leaves the audience with wondering what could have possibly happened if her brother didn’t come in, could she have been raped? Could she have been left behind? Could she have been persuaded to take drugs? Or unintentionally taken them.
Are we using the right point of view? The point of view is coming from the central character; therefore it makes most sense to see everything from her point of view.What is Driving Ashleigh? Coming from a broken home and being neglected Ashleigh is looking to fulfill the need for love and attention. Desperately seeing that attention she has found it from the worse possible place. Finding attention from her brother finally, gives her the attention she needed.What is making things to hard for Ashleigh to pursue her want/needs? If her father had of given her the attention she needed, her pursuit for love would not have been necessary, had she already been receiving at home. Furthermore the teenagers she is hanging around with do not understand what she is looking for and are therefore unintentionally making it more difficult for her. This is seen in subtle gestures, she frequently reaches for older children’s hands. However, they ignore her gestures finding them unusual.What is the theme/Meaning? The meaning of the story is the possibilities of what could happen to a child if they are left to fend for themselves. And the idea that children are growing up to fast in today’s society.
New Idea The Main Character is Amelia. Amelia is 17 years old and is in her final year of A-levels. She is an only child living with her parents in middle class Hertfordshire. It is assumed her father is always working where as her mother is a house wife, as each morning Amelia is greeted by her mother in the kitchen making breakfast, where as her father is never present as he is at work. Amelia being an only child is determined to make her parents proud and do well. She is currently sutdying her A-levels in which she puts all her focus into as she hopes to get into a good university. However to do so has had to make extreme sacrafices that has affected her happiness. Amelia was chosen as a name as it relates to the name Millicent, which means ambitious in Greek. It is Amelias ambition that finally pushes her over the edge.
The audience can see Amelia as she struggles to keep her friends happy with her excuses and ends each day in her room alone working, which will eventually lead to her breakdown. Which does not seem too uncommon, as the audience can see her pick herself up again and begin again in the last scene. Physically and mentally Ameli breaks down throughout the film, from not having enough money in the canteen to becoming clumsy with her over packed bag on the brink of breaking. As well as Amelias hectic and restricitng lifestyle the audience will notice all the happiness and joy around her. It seems that every she goes people are laughing and having fun, clearly not taking A-levels as seriously as she does.
Are the stakes high enough? From the begining Amelia appears to be yet another stressed out teenager complaining about how hard life is, when really she has been given good opportunities in a good school and loving home. However as the story progresses the audience can see Amelias stress and turmoil grow as she begins to get depressed and alienate herself from her friends and boyfriend. almost to the point of harming herself. This concept is something that happens every day among teenagers but is rarely explored, therefore making it an appropriate story will give adults a new understanding to teenagers as well as letting teenagers know they are not alone. Time and time again films short and long have displayed the idea of teens living in hard conditions and triumphing, proving everyone wrong. It is rare to see an alternative; the life of someone who does have everything then need, but is struggling to cope.
she is driven to succeed in her schoolwork at all costs, she is pushed to do well in her exams by teachers and her mother but most of all herself. Everyone else around her seems to be happy and getting along, however, Amelia can’t seem to stop working and take a break. She begins to abandon her friends and all social life as well as avoiding her mother Hilary’s cheery personality. Amelia’s name was chosen as we got the idea from the name Millicent. This means in Greek ambitious. Amelia’s problem begins with her ambition but soon gets out of hand. The audience continues to see throughout that Amelia is struggling to cope with the heavy workload, seeing happiness and joy all around her yet not involving her as she feels she must restrict herself to do well. The stakes at first do not seem very high, but it is clear that Amelia is going into depression rapidly and will even contemplate hurting herself. The story is from Amelia’s point of view as no-one else around her can see the stress and difficulties she is going through.
We have named this story “Toast”. Throughout the story each morning Amelia is offered a slice of toast, making it become a reoccurring image. The main want for the title was that it would be quirky and different, almost confusing the audience. The point of view. The point of view used is from Amelia, this is highly appropriate as it shows how Amelia appears to be alone, as no-one can see the struggle she is going through. From her point of view we can see how she is damaging herself but trying to cover it up all the time and pull herself together.