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Old 10-09-2011, 09:31 PM   #1
theanthonyya
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Help writing character?

I have to write a 5 minute (it can't be even a tiny bit over 5 minutes) short film for this film program class thing I'm in.
I'm writing a draft right now loosely based on some small depression I've currently been having. My problem with this (1st draft) script is that, I feel like it rushes by too fast. I don't think the audience will care about the character all that much just based on this draft, so the ending won't be as emotional.
Can anybody help me out? I need a way to make the character more likeable, so the audience cares about him and his problems.

Just a couple of notes about the script:
The dialogue can change. When I film this video, I'll get people to improvise it a bit so it sounds more natural. Also, I apologize for not using the best syntax to write this.

http://www.text-upload.com/read.php?id=161599&c=5678934
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Old 10-10-2011, 03:13 AM   #2
Feutus Lapdance
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hmmmmm.....give him a fish, that he cals Alberto. This gives him more monolog options in his room....like: another day of drowning, Alberto....
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Old 10-11-2011, 12:03 AM   #3
FantasySciFi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theanthonyya View Post
I have to write a 5 minute (it can't be even a tiny bit over 5 minutes) short film for this film program class thing I'm in.
I'm writing a draft right now loosely based on some small depression I've currently been having. My problem with this (1st draft) script is that, I feel like it rushes by too fast. I don't think the audience will care about the character all that much just based on this draft, so the ending won't be as emotional.
Can anybody help me out? I need a way to make the character more likeable, so the audience cares about him and his problems.

Just a couple of notes about the script:
The dialogue can change. When I film this video, I'll get people to improvise it a bit so it sounds more natural. Also, I apologize for not using the best syntax to write this.

http://www.text-upload.com/read.php?id=161599&c=5678934
Overall, I think the idea is good. I think that the jumping back and forth between time 3, 4 then 6 months prior makes your character more confusing though I understand it is meant to develop him. At first I though he was an elementary school student. The stuffed penguin was suggestive but not the main factor that supported that impression. The lunchroom scene, the discussion about girls seemed young, 10-14, in tone. While the actors and director will often change dialogue, a solid script should provide relevant dialogue to help establish characters and the dynamic for the scene.

I think the dialogue with the dad was particularly a problem. It seemed very flat and unrealistic to me. Part of this, I think, is that you have the story arc developed but not a clear concept of your characters. As such, they look more like puppets. Even though this is a short, I'd take the time to write a paragraph description of the characters and their backstories. That doesn't mean you will include that information, but it helps you--as a writer-- to keep focused.

Where was the mother? Did she die? Are the parents divorced? How come he's living with his father? Why is his father so stressed? What kind of relationships did he have at school? At first, I thought he was in elementary school. Then I thought--based on the dialogue--that his gay roommate or bf had left. Then you introduce Michelle. Part of that occurs because you flit back and forth through time; this causes the reader (and viewer) to lose the sense of continuity.

I might start with a scan of his room. This visually conveys information about him. Maybe with a picture of him and his friend, him and Michelle, him and his family. Showing the happiness and contrasting it with his sadness will draw the audience to wonder what changed. The audience doesn't have to sympathize or even like your protagonist, but they need to care about them and their actions. The visual aside "... not the song" really disrupts the emotional feel. I'd lose it. In the beginning you want to build up the feeling that will be linked to the character. To that end, you might want to do an over-the-shoulder shot with a push in on the suicide note. See him writing, pause, scratch through it and toss it into the waste can.

New writers always seem to like dark endings. Somehow they perceive that as a twist. I fully expected that it would come up heads at the end after you started that gambit. After reading lots of scripts, it's predictably cliche--kinda like, "and then he woke up." The advice an instructor gave to me that I will pass along is to challenge yourself on that ending.

You asked how to improve your character(s) to be more effective and appealing in five minutes. From the suggestions above, I would focus on visually developing them and do it in a sequential manner. I'd imagine them more fully so I can better write their interactions. Does the father love his son? How do we know that? Michelle seems more like a cameo than someone he cared about. How would we know they were close? If you want to do the flashbacks, I might have him go to his shelf and pick up the pictures and the do a fade to the scene. Having some back story in mind will also help you guide the actor in what emotions to display when delivering the lines.

Good luck with your re-write and shoot.
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Old 10-11-2011, 12:11 AM   #4
drc
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Though there's nothing wrong with your idea or experiences but you only got 5 minutes to entertain people.

My first year at film school, 9 out 10 short films by students were about suicide/depression. The short films that stick out in classes and festivals tend to have a very interesting short story (set up and pay off) and a very intriguing main character.
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Old 10-11-2011, 08:52 PM   #5
theanthonyya
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FantasySciFi View Post
Overall, I think the idea is good. I think that the jumping back and forth between time 3, 4 then 6 months prior makes your character more confusing though I understand it is meant to develop him. At first I though he was an elementary school student. The stuffed penguin was suggestive but not the main factor that supported that impression. The lunchroom scene, the discussion about girls seemed young, 10-14, in tone. While the actors and director will often change dialogue, a solid script should provide relevant dialogue to help establish characters and the dynamic for the scene.

I think the dialogue with the dad was particularly a problem. It seemed very flat and unrealistic to me. Part of this, I think, is that you have the story arc developed but not a clear concept of your characters. As such, they look more like puppets. Even though this is a short, I'd take the time to write a paragraph description of the characters and their backstories. That doesn't mean you will include that information, but it helps you--as a writer-- to keep focused.

Where was the mother? Did she die? Are the parents divorced? How come he's living with his father? Why is his father so stressed? What kind of relationships did he have at school? At first, I thought he was in elementary school. Then I thought--based on the dialogue--that his gay roommate or bf had left. Then you introduce Michelle. Part of that occurs because you flit back and forth through time; this causes the reader (and viewer) to lose the sense of continuity.

I might start with a scan of his room. This visually conveys information about him. Maybe with a picture of him and his friend, him and Michelle, him and his family. Showing the happiness and contrasting it with his sadness will draw the audience to wonder what changed. The audience doesn't have to sympathize or even like your protagonist, but they need to care about them and their actions. The visual aside "... not the song" really disrupts the emotional feel. I'd lose it. In the beginning you want to build up the feeling that will be linked to the character. To that end, you might want to do an over-the-shoulder shot with a push in on the suicide note. See him writing, pause, scratch through it and toss it into the waste can.

New writers always seem to like dark endings. Somehow they perceive that as a twist. I fully expected that it would come up heads at the end after you started that gambit. After reading lots of scripts, it's predictably cliche--kinda like, "and then he woke up." The advice an instructor gave to me that I will pass along is to challenge yourself on that ending.

You asked how to improve your character(s) to be more effective and appealing in five minutes. From the suggestions above, I would focus on visually developing them and do it in a sequential manner. I'd imagine them more fully so I can better write their interactions. Does the father love his son? How do we know that? Michelle seems more like a cameo than someone he cared about. How would we know they were close? If you want to do the flashbacks, I might have him go to his shelf and pick up the pictures and the do a fade to the scene. Having some back story in mind will also help you guide the actor in what emotions to display when delivering the lines.

Good luck with your re-write and shoot.
Thank you for your suggestions! You're right, and I've taken your advice for some (I would feel bad stealing all of your ideas!) of what you've said.
I shifted the focus of the video (well, I'm rewriting it right now, so I'm SHIFTING the focus) to mainly show the relationship between the best friends. The story about the character's girlfriend will be kept in the background, mainly to show the effects losing this best friend had on the character (losing his girlfriend due to being too mopey).
I wrote down a big chunk of backstory for the best friends, the dad, and girlfriend. I'm still trying to figure out a way to give the main character a good backstory without resorting to flashbacks, or any of those "Office"-like cuts to the character talking directly to the camera (I always hated how TV shows could get away with blatantly telling the audience their exact emotions. Not to say anything bad about those shows, it's just an easy way to get out emotion without trying very hard). I want the main character to stay relatively quiet throughout the video, so this is my current challenge.
But thank you, you've helped me out greatly!
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