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Old 02-11-2017, 04:34 AM   #1
nidahasa
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Coming-of-age Film without "uplifting" message

Hi,
I'm writing a coming-of-age film about a teenage girl who her explores newly discovered sexuality. In most coming-of-age movies somewhat slimier to this (Diary of a Teenage Girl, Palo Alto, Ask Me Anything), there's a kind of uplifting tone in the story.

I mean not necessarily happy endings. But in all those movies, main character (and other characters also sometimes), comes to a greater understanding of things, overcome something or kinda "grow-up" into something better at the end of the story.

But in real life, that's not the case. Sometimes, we grow up the be a someone worse than we used to be. We might grow-up learning to be a typical adult "asshole" in ordering to survive.

In my film, i need my protagonist to be that kind of character. She is curious, somewhat honest and relatively innocent at the beginning. But by the end of the movie, she learns to become an "asshole", because that's what normal in her social background.

But i am worries that it might ruin the whole point of a coming-of-age movie (i need to think about marketing perspectives as well). Also, in most of the movies in this genre (including the ones i've mentioned), they use some kind of narration to reveal the inner feelings of their protagonist. But i don't want to include some kind of narration of my protagonist, although the story would be mainly told from her perspective, because i have a feeling that the technique is being overused now. But that would limit the avenues to reveal her inner feelings.

What do you guys think? Any suggestions? Please note this is my first feature film script, although i've previously collaborated in few projects as a writer.
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Old 02-11-2017, 04:43 AM   #2
Eva.NYC
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I can see this being done without narration, you can write this as an author speaking objectively while observing her life unfold. Sounds like your protagonist is going to develop into an anti hero, so I'd write it as an uphill battle similar to Alice falling into the rabbit hole and coming out the other side with a new grasp on reality, and this will make her the hero with the antagonist being people and life itself. Where is your setting? Sounds like a good idea, btw ☺
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Old 02-11-2017, 05:22 AM   #3
nidahasa
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Originally Posted by Eva.NYC View Post
I can see this being done without narration, you can write this as an author speaking objectively while observing her life unfold. Sounds like your protagonist is going to develop into an anti hero, so I'd write it as an uphill battle similar to Alice falling into the rabbit hole and coming out the other side with a new grasp on reality, and this will make her the hero with the antagonist being people and life itself. Where is your setting? Sounds like a good idea, btw ☺
Thanks for responding Eva.
The "anti hero," you've mentioned, still should be a "hero" in the eyes of viewers, right? I mean viewers should sympathies with her, right?

My story sets in a lower middle class suburb in Sri Lanka (an island close to India, also shares Indian cultural values). So, this is a culturally conservative society where most of the women decides to accept the norm and to become a part that instead of fighting back (and they kinda enjoy it).

Our protagonist in my story, finally decide to settle for this stereotypical "grown up girl" role. (which i need to depict as a tragedy).

Also, i didn't quite understand what you mean by "write this as an author speaking objectively." In the film, should i use objective narration? Or how should i reveal her inner feelings?
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Old 02-11-2017, 03:40 PM   #4
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Dexter, the TV show. The viewer sympathized with a serial killer. You have to be able to elicit sympathy or empathy or it won't work, because the audience won't care about the MC. Survival is another mechanism and often forgives moral crimes. The Walking Dead, etc. When you toe the line (in Dexter, his code, in TWD, flat out murder) you create drama and conflict but you have to be careful or the viewer will lose interest in the MC. It's a delicate balance.

In the TV show The Shield the MC was so despicable in the end I lost interest. It was a really good show about "bad cops" in the beginning seasons.

I hope this helps in some way.

Funny thing about my TV examples... I am not a TV person lol.
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Old 02-11-2017, 05:08 PM   #5
directorik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nidahasa View Post
What do you guys think? Any suggestions?
I suggest you write the story you want to write. It's your first solo
feature. When you're finished with the script show it to some people
you trust and get honest feedback. Right now it's impossible to know
if you can pull this off. It's a great challenge, isn't it? Can you expand
on the “coming-of-age” genre in a way the audience responds to.

Maybe you'll ruin the genre. Maybe you'll open up new possibilities in
the genre. You won't know (we won't know) until you write it. You
have a personal perspective to this story that an American or British
writer doesn't have. Write it!
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Old 02-12-2017, 12:33 PM   #6
nidahasa
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IndiTalk and directorik,
Thank you for responding. i didn't really expect seniors like you guys to respond to a post made by a newbie like me. Initially i was planning to end it with kind of a cynical view towards the MC, because the path she chooses, isn't something i want to endorse. But now i realize that audience need to sympathies with her (as a hero or an anti-hero) in order to keep them interest.

But i'm still not sure about not having her narration (where she tells her feelings to the audience) in the film, because she won't be revealing her real inner feelings with any other characters in the film. Can someone suggest me some coming of age films (on somewhat slimier topic) without a a narration of the MC?

Thank you/

Last edited by nidahasa; 02-19-2017 at 04:31 AM.
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Old 02-12-2017, 01:13 PM   #7
alex ma whitmer
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You really don't need narration to get her thoughts out to the audience. In screenwriting, there is a character called the 'Foil', through whom the MC will reveal his or her thoughts and feelings. It can be a person (best friend, family, teacher), or a thing (teddy bear, tree, painting, etc.) or even an invisible friend. It can her her taking selfies and talking, or just talking into her cell phone. It can be a diary where the audience can see the words - it only takes a few carefully chosen words to get a point across. It can even start with her writing 'Why do I have to get married?' Set your conflict up from the very beginning.

There is nothing wrong with the idea, but your audience might feel betrayed that she gave up too easily - your story will be about her fight to break out of the mold, I assume, and in the end she accepts it as her best possible choice, so you might want to show some of the positive aspects of her choice, and good reasons for settling on them. Security? Money? Location?

It seems to me she will be going through a sexual awakening while at the same time looking at her future and not liking the options, which appears to be only one? And by choosing this in the end, you can give your audience hope that she will do something great with it. Change it from within, or become a teacher that inspires other young girls to see themselves as greater than the role.

Maybe your MC will fall into line to protect or please her family, or community elders, but she can keep some kind of second identity that manifests in another way - writer, painter, teacher, blogger, music, or whatever. Your audience might say 'Okay, it wasn't her time, but she opened a door for someone else that may never have seen or dreamed the opportunity, and that could be a great way to end the film - and let the audience continue the story in their minds onto infinity. It could end the way you started it, with another girl inspired by your MC's words and have her write 'Why do I have to get married?'

Random thoughts.

alex


Have a peek at the film Kid Svensk.

EDIT: Just thought of something else. You could write it as you mentioned, and have your MC an asshole in the end - but hint that someone was inspired by the road your MC at least tried to walk. Your MC may not even know she inspired someone, but your audience is at least satisfied something good might have come out of the original struggle.

Last edited by alex ma whitmer; 02-12-2017 at 01:46 PM.
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Old 02-13-2017, 09:23 PM   #8
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Have you considered that even if the story ends on a sad note for the MC, maybe there is hope for say her child?
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Old 02-16-2017, 05:09 PM   #9
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Does the hero become an asshole, or do they learn to stand up for themselves? Big difference, but easy for an outsider to misunderstand. Maybe it's your job to help the outsider see how somebody acting like an "asshole" might actually just be a very necessary means for survival.

Just my two cents -- a Coming of Age movie must include a form of growth.
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Old 04-12-2017, 07:22 PM   #10
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It can work. You got your theme down perfectly. I think a show like Thirteen Reasons Why tells us that you don't have to be uplifting to be poignant. Just expect it to be divisive (read: your script will be misunderstood and rejected) because you are subverting a cliche.
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Old 04-12-2017, 10:36 PM   #11
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Watch 400 blows. It's french though
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Old 04-17-2017, 05:18 AM   #12
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I completely understand what you mean. I think the key is (like others here have mentioned) is that the audience needs to relate/care about your main character. If they don't, you don't have a story.

Write your protagonist (her actions, emotions, etc) in a way that will allow the audience to gradually get to know her and empathize with her. Develop her so that the more the audience gets to know/understand her, the more they will root for her. They need to feel like they are going on this journey WITH her ( as opposed to simply just standing by and observing). You have to establish that emotional connection, and let the audience in as to why they should give a $hit about your protagonist and what happens to her.

Make it personal (and at times uncomfortable), just like real life is.

So however things work out for her (or don't work out for her) in your story, the audience will be right there with her every step of the way.

Also, strive for honesty while still keeping it intriguing. We can't predict real-life or it's circumstances, so don't let your story be predictable either.

Don't allow yourself to cut corners or bull$shit yourself with anything. If you truly don't believe/feel something, don't write it.
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