Keep it visual• Screenplays are stories told with pictures.• Film is a visual medium. You must find different ways to reveal your character’s needs, conflicts, fears and dreams visually.• Do not have them talking to someone and telling them how they feel or telling them what has happened to them in the past, or telling them what their intentions for the future are.
Show it visually!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iPFK5T_G3Uhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4e9CkhBb18E
Show, don’t tell!• If they are an insecure angry person, show them beating up a salesman who knocks on the door.• If they have had a traumatic experience in the past show them having a panic attack in a train station.• If they are really happy after receiving good news show them dancing while baking a cake.• What ever you want to reveal about your character, do it visually with physical actions. Only use dialogue to give information when you absolutely have to!
Characters• How do you make your character interesting and dramatic?• There are three aspects to consider when creating your characters:1.Dramatic need2.Point of view3.Behaviour
1. Dramatic Need• You must define a clear need for your character.• What do they want to get or achieve during the course of the screenplay?• Every protagonist in a film has a dramatic need. It is that need that drives the story forwards and makes things happen.• What are the needs of the following characters?• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5juO62j7W3Q• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQdy98B1nf0• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ip6GolC7Mk0• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlx4n_ibNZE
2. Point of View• What makes us unique? What makes us different to everybody else around us?• The way we see the world and our point of view.• Whose point of view does your character reflect. Where are they coming from?• A housewifes point of view• A criminals point of view• A poor mans point of view• A parents point of view• A lazy students point of view• All these characters would see the world in a very different way!
2. Point of View• What is your characters point of view?• Caring, sharing and giving?• Selfish?• Someone who believes in fate and destiny?• Bitter and pessimistic?• Optimistic and grateful no matter what?• To create drama and conflict, surround them with characters with completely different points of view.
Opposites• Make sure your character is surrounded by characters who are opposite to them in every way:• Emotionally• Physically• Opposite needs• Opposite behaviourNot just the villains and people opposed to the hero. Make everyone opposites. Friends, partners, family, EVERYONE!
3. Behaviour• Behaviour is an important thing to consider as it shows visually what the character is thinking and feeling and what their dramatic need is.• Body language, gestures, the way they enter a room, eat, move, talk etc, all explain and show who they are and what they are.• Are they serious, nervous, talkative, disgusting. The characters physical behaviour must reflect their dramatic need and point of view.
Writing a Scene “Enter late and get out early”• As a general rule, enter the scene 3 lines before the purpose of the scene is revealed. Therefore you only need a minimum amount of dialogue.• This is only a general guide but a good rule to remember as it will stop your scene dragging and being boring.
“Enter late…”• Imagine a journalist interviewing a famous criminal. Do we need to see her arriving, sitting down, setting up, exchanging pleasantries and beginning the interview?• If there is no conflict during this time then your script will be dull and slow.• It would make more sense to begin the scene 2 or 3 lines before the drama/conflict begins and the purpose of the scene is revealed. E.g. A dramatic question, or reaction or revalation.
“…get out early.”• Leave with some kind of tension so the reader will want to see what happens next.• With the journalist example, do we need to see her packing up and leaving and getting into her car? Do we even need to see her finish the interview? Leave at the most dramatic part. End on a high!• Make the transition to the next scene interesting, smooth and where ever possible visual. Show the characters intentions visually through their body language and actions.
Purpose of a Scene• Every scene should have a purpose. It should move the story forwards by revealing new information to drive the narrative.• It should reinforce the characters dramatic need and help show who they are and their view of the world.• Before writing it consider if it is a dramatically charged scene with lots of action and information Or• Is it a subtext scene where what’s not said is more interesting than what is said?
Example Scene “Enter late & get out early”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0fgAfo-e3w
Scene and Character Analysis:1. Does this scene “Enter late and get out early”?2. Purpose. Is the purpose of this scene to give new information or to reinforce the character? (Both?)3. Just from this scene what would you say is the characters’: Dramatic Need Point of View of the World Behaviour4. Finally, how does this scene “Show not tell”?
Vampire’s Kiss (1988)Plot•A publishing executive is visited andbitten by a vampire and starts exhibitingerratic behavior.•He pushes his secretary to extremes ashe tries to come to terms with hisaffliction.•The vampire continues to visit and drinkhis blood, and as his madness deepens, itbegins to look as if some of the eventshes experiencing may behallucinations…
Example Scene Scene purpose: Info or Character?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghhpe7n7Gi0&feature=player_embedded
Recap: Characters and Scenes1. Pick a plot.2. Choose a genre (or genres) to write within.3. Create a character with a strong and clear dramatic need, point of view and behaviour, and surround them with opposites.4. Decide what the purpose of your scenes are. What it should reveal about your characters or the situation they are in.5. Once you have decided, “Enter late and get out early!”6. Most importantly Show don’t tell. “Screenplays are stories told with pictures”. So keep it visual!