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Old 11-01-2017, 04:13 PM   #1
chenjie108
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Character Question for writers/directors

To writers and/or directors:

How well do you know your characters before moving on to shooting?
i.e. WHAT do you know about them before even beginning to rehearse:
Does motivation and backstory suffice?
Or do you have a hundred questions on minute details you must answer first?
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Old 11-01-2017, 04:17 PM   #2
mlesemann
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As a writer & producer, I know my characters' motivation and backstory.
I discuss it with the director to the extent that (s)he wants to, but otherwise I let the words on the page speak for themselves and I expect the actors to do their own character development work.
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Old 11-01-2017, 04:18 PM   #3
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You must know your character entirely. How else do you expect to embody him/her? You must know their present personality and their history. The writer or director should be able to guide the actors on that one.
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Old 11-01-2017, 04:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlesemann View Post
As a writer & producer, I know my characters' motivation and backstory.
I discuss it with the director to the extent that (s)he wants to, but otherwise I let the words on the page speak for themselves and I expect the actors to do their own character development work.
Bingo.

The writer knows more than anyone, which if not on paper may not even be relevant. The director can "direct" and the actors can make up whatever backstories they want for motivation, etc.
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Old 11-01-2017, 04:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quality View Post
You must know your character entirely. How else do you expect to embody him/her? You must know their present personality and their history. The writer or director should be able to guide the actors on that one.
Not true. Actors often dig deep into personal stories or create their own backstories. And often directors do not give them backstories. Sometimes they do.
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Old 11-01-2017, 04:44 PM   #6
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You say to writers and/or directors but I'm not sure whether you are talking about before or after writing the screenplay.
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Old 11-01-2017, 08:59 PM   #7
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For writers: before submitting it to production
For directors: before approaching actors, DP, etc for discussion. i.e. still in analysis mode
More a question for writers, I s'pose

I have an inkling we'll never reach a complete understanding of a character, so just wondering what the 'good enough ' point is...
Hopefully not knowing every answer to something like this: http://www.epiguide.com/ep101/writing/charchart.html
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Old 11-01-2017, 09:09 PM   #8
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In my opinion, that's ridiculous over-kill for a writer. And one of the great pleasures of seeing my 2 features (Surviving Family & Detours) come to life was to see the choices that the actors and directors made.

Last edited by mlesemann; 11-01-2017 at 09:19 PM.
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Old 11-01-2017, 09:36 PM   #9
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Depends on how you write & direct. Some Directors will know every little facet of a particular character. Others won't. Others will adjust it to get a particular performance out of the actor.

Some writers find it easier to write a character if they go through and meticulously profile each one. Sounds like a good procrastination exercise to me. Everything you need to know about a character should be on the page. If I don't know it from reading your script, it's obviously not important enough to have any effect on the character's actions.
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Old 11-02-2017, 09:00 AM   #10
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A writer knows all the characters the same as he/she (the writer) knows him/herself. Everything and every detail, from the written ones to the other which are not relevant with the story. There is not the slightest question about the characters that the writer can't answer. That happens naturally for a writer from the first seconds, maybe, of getting the first idea.

It's very deep topic and all comes down to the philosophy that there is not any character or self somewhere inside you. There are only the actions you do. So, in my opinion, there is no need for the director and the actor to know anything beforehand. The parts of the character that are not visible in the screenplay can vary a lot from human to human. Director and actors could easily create-add aspects to a character if, in their opinion, these aspects will push the directing and acting forward.
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Old 11-02-2017, 10:32 AM   #11
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I think he is asking as a writer/director and wants to know if he should be prepared for such questions or should be giving backstories before prod. The answer is two part: As the writer, yes (to know it/be prepared). As the director, up to you how you proceed with it.
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