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SCREEN WRITING CLASS - MOD - 12


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#1 aroundworld

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 07:31 PM

Character Voices




We will:

Understand some of the factors that influence a character’s voice.

Write in the voice of an invented character.

Understand the benefit to the screenwriter of having a broad base of knowledge.



Review Homework:

In a previous module, I asked you to write the opening scene of a movie. You were asked to
establish the character and their objective, then write the ending in an entertaining and
satisfying way.

This is always a challenge when writing a story whether it’s a
script or other form of narrative fiction.

Not enough can be said about the importance of a good ending. If your ending doesn’t
work then the rest of the movie will be cast in a poor light. As I mentioned, the ending is what the audience takes with them when they leave the theater.


ASSIGNMENT #1



Please mention three characters from three different films that had very original "Voices" i.e.


What made them unique?

Where are they from, are they poor, rich, middle class, are they in prison, what is there job? Think along these lines. Tell me how this influenced your characters "Voice".


What about them caused you to relate to them?

A habit, clothes they wear, how they speak, are they smart, dull of wit, what idiosyncrasies / eccentricities do the have that kept your attention ... etc .. etc.


BE SPECIFIC ... don't cut corners in your answers. Be as detailed as you like ... Characters are hard.... because they are the heart of your story.








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#2 JosephKw

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 08:17 AM

Voice #1
Indiana Jones.
When we first see Indie (from the first film, "Raiders of the Lost Ark"), he is presented as an enigmatic mystery man. His back is turned to the camera, and one of his companions attempts to betray and murder him for the secret treasure map. As the traitor raises his pistol to shoot Indie in the back, Indie unleashes his whip and lashes the weapon out of the would-be assassin's hand, sending him fleeing. Only then do we see Indie's face beneath the brim of his trademark hat. Yet even though he is initially presented as a heroic and rugged adventurer, we find that he is a mild-mannered professor by profession. This dichotomy of personalities is what makes Indie such a legendary screen character. His clothing is also so distinctive, they are now signatures of the character; his fedora hat, his leather jacket, and his trusty bullwhip are part of the character's icons.

Voice #2
Harry Potter.
When we first see Harry (from the first film, "Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone"), he is presented as an abused and bullied child. He looks small and frail--dependent upon large coke-bottle-bottom glasses to even see. His adoptive family treats him poorly, and makes him sleep under the stairs in a broom closet. Yet as the film progresses, we suddenly find he is invited to attend a school for wizards. We have hope that this poor lad can find a way out of his dreary existence, and even excel in something out of the ordinary (thus elevating him beyond the average man). Our hopes are realized when he finally enters the world of the magic, and it seems that everyone knows his name. So he goes from a downtrodden nobody to a celebrity among celebrities. This is a great convention since we are first made to sympathize and even empathize with the character, then we are given the opportunity to share his relief and joys as we follow his adventures. In regards to his clothing, he, too, has distinctive wardrobe and accessories which have now become trademarks of his character; his thick over-sized round glasses, and to a lesser degree his wand and Gryffindor red-and-yellow scarf.

Voice #3
Mickey Mouse (I was tempted to use Luke Skywalker, but Mickey's a more challenging choice).
Mickey is always presented as a good-natured, yet almost infantile character. He often gets into trouble by doing what most kids would do. For example, as the "Sorceror's Apprentice" he gets lazy and animates a broom to do the chores he was assigned by his instructor to do--only to find it causes more problems than it solves. In the end, he is saved by his instructor, and he apologizes for his misstep. As an audience member, we can associate with his temptations and mistakes, and learn from his lessons (especially the kids). This could be why he is an immortal character in practically all mediums. His trademark is, of course, the three circles joined together to form a round face with two mouse ears.

#3 aroundworld

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 11:55 PM

QUOTE (JosephKw @ Jun 19 2013, 8:17 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Voice #1
Indiana Jones.
When we first see Indie (from the first film, "Raiders of the Lost Ark"), he is presented as an enigmatic mystery man. His back is turned to the camera, and one of his companions attempts to betray and murder him for the secret treasure map. As the traitor raises his pistol to shoot Indie in the back, Indie unleashes his whip and lashes the weapon out of the would-be assassin's hand, sending him fleeing. Only then do we see Indie's face beneath the brim of his trademark hat. Yet even though he is initially presented as a heroic and rugged adventurer, we find that he is a mild-mannered professor by profession. This dichotomy of personalities is what makes Indie such a legendary screen character. His clothing is also so distinctive, they are now signatures of the character; his fedora hat, his leather jacket, and his trusty bullwhip are part of the character's icons.

ok, these are all REALLY important signatures of his visible character ... but what is his struggle? What internal conflict works in contrast to these visible characteristics that fill him out as a person?



Voice #2
Harry Potter.
When we first see Harry (from the first film, "Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone"), he is presented as an abused and bullied child. He looks small and frail--dependent upon large coke-bottle-bottom glasses to even see. His adoptive family treats him poorly, and makes him sleep under the stairs in a broom closet. Yet as the film progresses, we suddenly find he is invited to attend a school for wizards. We have hope that this poor lad can find a way out of his dreary existence, and even excel in something out of the ordinary (thus elevating him beyond the average man). Our hopes are realized when he finally enters the world of the magic, and it seems that everyone knows his name. So he goes from a downtrodden nobody to a celebrity among celebrities. This is a great convention since we are first made to sympathize and even empathize with the character, then we are given the opportunity to share his relief and joys as we follow his adventures. In regards to his clothing, he, too, has distinctive wardrobe and accessories which have now become trademarks of his character; his thick over-sized round glasses, and to a lesser degree his wand and Gryffindor red-and-yellow scarf.


Again, excellent visible character signatures! Great descriptions .. these help define him as did Indiana. But Harry also had another conflict. What was the reason he was living with his adoptive family? His inner struggle was about finding out what? This grounded him as a character ... making him human... what was it?


Voice #3
Mickey Mouse (I was tempted to use Luke Skywalker, but Mickey's a more challenging choice).
Mickey is always presented as a good-natured, yet almost infantile character. He often gets into trouble by doing what most kids would do. For example, as the "Sorceror's Apprentice" he gets lazy and animates a broom to do the chores he was assigned by his instructor to do--only to find it causes more problems than it solves. In the end, he is saved by his instructor, and he apologizes for his misstep. As an audience member, we can associate with his temptations and mistakes, and learn from his lessons (especially the kids). This could be why he is an immortal character in practically all mediums. His trademark is, of course, the three circles joined together to form a round face with two mouse ears.


As an audience member, we can associate with his temptations and mistakes, and learn from his lessons (especially the kids).

EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!! You had common ground with Mickey ... now what gives you common ground with Harry and Indiana?



Ask your self these questions:

Is it the clothes Harry wore that caused you to relate him?

Was it living under the stares? Do you live under stares?

How about Indiana?

He was an archeologist who lived dangerously. Do you?

What gave him common ground with you?

There is no try, only do or do not.

 

Learn story telling in the MOVIESTORM education forum. 

 

START HERE:  http://www.moviestor...showtopic=13153


#4 JosephKw

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 04:11 AM

Here's the rest of my answers laugh.gif

Indiana Jones. Most audience members aren't adventurers, so I think we relate to his mild-mannered professor personality, but yearn to be thrill-seekers (weekend warriors). So Indy becomes our alter ego.

Harry Potter is the same, but geared more for schoolkids. Many are bullied in school, or feel inferior to their smarter or stronger peers. So they relate to downtrodden Harry (belittled by peers and/or siblings). Yet they yearn for a chance to become something different, and to excel at their own niche/talent. Thus Harry's normal life is easily sympathized and empathized by kids in similar shoes, and his paranormal life is the dream of something better which they yearn for (alter ego again).

#5 aroundworld

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 11:53 PM

QUOTE (JosephKw @ Jun 24 2013, 4:11 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Here's the rest of my answers laugh.gif

Indiana Jones. Most audience members aren't adventurers, so I think we relate to his mild-mannered professor personality, but yearn to be thrill-seekers (weekend warriors). So Indy becomes our alter ego.

This is also important to note. But the conflict that drove Indiana was his relationship with Merriam Ravenwood, duaghter of Indi's mentor Dr. Ravenwood. The story turns from finding the lost arch, to restoring his lost love with and rescuing Merriam. Which brings Indi's REAL conflict to the fore.

WHAT IS THE REAL TREASURE HERE?

The arch or Merriam? We find that Indies pursuits of ancient artifacts are eclipsed only by his real love, Merriam Ravenwood. Thus filling out his character .. making him more accessible to the audience and giving him a voice that everyone can hear.



Harry Potter is the same, but geared more for schoolkids. Many are bullied in school, or feel inferior to their smarter or stronger peers. So they relate to downtrodden Harry (belittled by peers and/or siblings). Yet they yearn for a chance to become something different, and to excel at their own niche/talent. Thus Harry's normal life is easily sympathized and empathized by kids in similar shoes, and his paranormal life is the dream of something better which they yearn for (alter ego again).


Also very valid points in the subtext of Potter's character voice. However, it is once again loss in is life that makes him resonate on a more universal level.

THE LOSS OF HIS PARENTS.


This becomes the underlining tension that drives Potter to go on. What he REALLY WANTS, is to find out what happened to his mother and father. And it is this the begins our relationship with him and helps us HEAR him as a character we relate to. Filling out his voice .. allowing him to be heard on a more universal level.



Great work! Thank you for the extra effort!

There is no try, only do or do not.

 

Learn story telling in the MOVIESTORM education forum. 

 

START HERE:  http://www.moviestor...showtopic=13153


#6 JosephKw

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 07:44 AM

QUOTE (aroundworld @ Jun 25 2013, 11:53 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Great work! Thank you for the extra effort!


You just pointed out something I wasn't aware of. The characters in my tales are rarely concerned about romance or their families, but are instead focused on their jobs, themselves, or some political/social goal. I guess as a guy who doesn't watch much romance or drama, those are the themes I tend to overlook. So I'll have to watch out for that aspect of my characters as well in order to flesh them out even more. Thanks for that!

#7 kkffoo

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:26 PM

1) The Hobbit
Bilbo Baggins

Bilbo is first portrayed as a contented stay at home hobbit, who loves order, but when Gandalf challenges him to join a team of adventuring dwarves, he connects with his 'Took' family traits, and of course saves the day.

In an early scene, where the dwarves almost invade Bilbo's house, we empathise his reactions to the disruption. He is kind and hospitable, but the dwarves cause chaos and upset his cosy routine.

Both Bilbo and the dwarves doubt Gandalf when he claims Bilbo is the hero they need. Only when it is nearly too late, does the little hobbit go racing after to join the party.

At one point the dwarves expect he will give up and go home, but he returns.
When the dwarf king is attacked by an overwhelming foe, it is Bilbo , the inexperienced swordsman, who rushes in to help.


He is small and slight, dressed in homely clothes. He holds a sword awkwardly. He finds he is clever enough to out-riddle Sméagol, and 'burgle' the precious ring.
This central character follows a huge development curve, discovering courage, resources and an adventuring spirit he did not know he possessed.


#8 kkffoo

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:40 PM

2) The Hobbit
Sméagol / Gollum

Sméagol has the appearance of creatures who learn to live in low light, with huge watery eyes and pale, almost blue skin. His body is shrunken, wasted looking, and he wears only a tatty loin cloth.

Our reactions move between horror, amusement then a poignant sadness as we compare his life to that of Bilbo Baggins.
Living alone in in a cold, dark cave, his life has emaciated into a single desire..to hold on to the ring.

Sméagol is almost child-like in his simplicity, and yet cunning in protecting his twisted way of life. We feel he stood no chance resisting the lure of the ring, and maybe his life before that wasn't that great either.
When Bilbo outwits him, and leaves him with nothing, it is a complex moment..we want the hobbit to win, but we feel sympathy for the desolated Gollum.

#9 kkffoo

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:48 PM

3) Edward
Edward Scissorhands

Another character who has a monstrous appearance but with an endearing child-like innocence.
Edwards appearance is startling, with spiked black hair, pale skin and dark eyes.
Of course his most unusual features are the scissor hands.
His skin is scarred from (presumably) accidents from his own razor sharp blades, but there are resonances with young people who use cutting themselves as a way of letting out extreme distress.

Edward loses his first adopted parent, and is taken in to a 'normal' family.
We follow his progress as he becomes a 'useful' member of society, using his scissor hands to do cut hair / hedges etc.

Edward is an oddball, an outsider, and he finds a place to belong.
A very powerful transition.

#10 aroundworld

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 02:46 AM

QUOTE (JosephKw @ Jun 26 2013, 7:44 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You just pointed out something I wasn't aware of. The characters in my tales are rarely concerned about romance or their families, but are instead focused on their jobs, themselves, or some political/social goal. I guess as a guy who doesn't watch much romance or drama, those are the themes I tend to overlook. So I'll have to watch out for that aspect of my characters as well in order to flesh them out even more. Thanks for that!



Remember. The VISIBLE goal (MISSION) of a character propels them toward getting what they NEED (subtext) in the story. That's what brings them healing, love, acceptance ... etc. Which is why we really identify with them.


We I identify with Luke Sky walker because he lost his parents.

We identify with Forest Gump because we all feel like him at some point in out lives.

What was Forest's GREATEST FEAR?

1. That he would lose his childhood sweetheart.

2. That his son would be mentally challenged as he was.


These were all drawn out in NEED which was exposed by the natural course of his life.


Keep Pushing!

There is no try, only do or do not.

 

Learn story telling in the MOVIESTORM education forum. 

 

START HERE:  http://www.moviestor...showtopic=13153


#11 aroundworld

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 10:22 PM

QUOTE (kkffoo @ Jun 26 2013, 3:26 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
1) The Hobbit
Bilbo Baggins

Bilbo is first portrayed as a contented stay at home hobbit, who loves order, but when Gandalf challenges him to join a team of adventuring dwarves, he connects with his 'Took' family traits, and of course saves the day.

In an early scene, where the dwarves almost invade Bilbo's house, we empathise his reactions to the disruption. He is kind and hospitable, but the dwarves cause chaos and upset his cosy routine.


Yes, right off we're identifying with Bilbo .. who wants uninvited guests? And imposing ones at that! Great observations .. so we're hearing part of Bilbo's CHARACTER VOICE. He likes his privacy and order, as you pointed out.



Both Bilbo and the dwarves doubt Gandalf when he claims Bilbo is the hero they need. Only when it is nearly too late, does the little hobbit go racing after to join the party.


What does this say about him? He actually WANTS change in his life.. as do we all. But what will we risk in order to see adventure? Also, it speaks to his lineage; what his race is naturally gifted at .. and brings out his heritage. A character's voice is seldom understood if we don't know WHERE THEY CAME FROM. Why are they good at hiding in plane site ... etc.



At one point the dwarves expect he will give up and go home, but he returns.
When the dwarf king is attacked by an overwhelming foe, it is Bilbo , the inexperienced swordsman, who rushes in to help.


He is small and slight, dressed in homely clothes. He holds a sword awkwardly. He finds he is clever enough to out-riddle Sméagol, and 'burgle' the precious ring.

This central character follows a huge development curve, discovering courage, resources and an adventuring spirit he did not know he possessed.


You've pointed out one of the things we have been saying all through this course. Characters are influenced by EXTERNAL FORCES. This is what pushes them ... propels them though the story.

External forces are also responsible for bringing out a Character's voice:


How did Bilbo respond to Gandalf?

The Dwarves?

His challenges?


All of these external influences brought out Bilbo's true voice; the things about him that connected us to him. His fears .. joys .. failures .. selfishness .. .

Now, because we identified so strongly with those things we invested in Bilbo ... we fully heard his voice as a character! SO, when he won .. when he saved the day... we were there with him... we won the battle with him.


Excellent observations Kate!! Thank you!

A character's voice are those things that cause us to resonate with them, to connect with them.


There is no try, only do or do not.

 

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#12 aroundworld

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 06:08 PM

Kate, JK are there other observations you have about this section that you'd like to share?

There is no try, only do or do not.

 

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#13 kkffoo

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 07:33 PM

I wonder if you have any comments on the other two examples.
Gollum and Edward Scissorhands?

(I think you maybe missed those in your reply as I put them in separate posts due to being interrupted on task.

#14 aroundworld

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 12:15 AM

QUOTE (kkffoo @ Jun 30 2013, 7:33 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I wonder if you have any comments on the other two examples.
Gollum and Edward Scissorhands?

(I think you maybe missed those in your reply as I put them in separate posts due to being interrupted on task.



Kate, my apologies ... I'll get right on those ... Thank you for pointing out my over site.

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#15 aroundworld

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 12:50 AM

QUOTE (kkffoo @ Jun 26 2013, 3:40 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
2) The Hobbit
Sméagol / Gollum

Sméagol has the appearance of creatures who learn to live in low light, with huge watery eyes and pale, almost blue skin. His body is shrunken, wasted looking, and he wears only a tatty loin cloth.

Our reactions move between horror, amusement then a poignant sadness as we compare his life to that of Bilbo Baggins. Living alone in in a cold, dark cave, his life has emaciated into a single desire..to hold on to the ring.

How many of us are thankful that our lives haven't "emaciated" into such a desperate state? on the flip side of that coin, what do we cling to desperately? What is our secret desire or secret desperation; something we're guilty of... something know one knows about? What secrets do we "cunningly protect"? That hidden cave of our lives we forbid anyone to enter.

On one hand we're glad we're not Smeagol, on the other, his secrets and greed resonate with our own.




You gave us the very elements of his character voice that cause people to connect to Smeagol!


Smeagol ... is our GREED ... he is our FEAR ... he is our desire to protect what little "control" we think we have.


Sméagol is almost child-like in his simplicity, and yet cunning in protecting his twisted way of life. We feel he stood no chance resisting the lure of the ring, and maybe his life before that wasn't that great either.
When Bilbo outwits him, and leaves him with nothing, it is a complex moment..we want the hobbit to win, but we feel sympathy for the desolated Gollum.

If you remember in one of the first three films we meet Smeagol before he poses the ring. He lived in the shire and was a Hobbit himself. He finds the ring on a fishing outing with a friend. The boat tips ... Smeagol happens on the ring while underwater, the two men fight over the ring and Smeagol kills his friend to posses it. And as you pointed out, his life shrinks to the desperate state of maintaining POSSESSION OF THE RING ...


What do we, the audience "kill" to maintain our status? This is subliminal in my opinion ... but most of Smeagol's character voice is subliminal; tapping the audiences desire to keep their secrets and maintain there possessions for as long as possible.


It is our own weaknesses that cause us to HEAR Smegaol's character voice. And his appearance embodies what our base motives of survival might look like in the most desperate of circumstances.





Excellent, excellent observations!

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#16 aroundworld

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 02:49 AM

QUOTE (kkffoo @ Jun 26 2013, 3:48 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
3) Edward
Edward Scissorhands

Another character who has a monstrous appearance but with an endearing child-like innocence.
Edwards appearance is startling, with spiked black hair, pale skin and dark eyes.
Of course his most unusual features are the scissor hands.

His skin is scarred from (presumably) accidents from his own razor sharp blades, but there are resonances with young people who use cutting themselves as a way of letting out extreme distress.

Edward loses his first adopted parent, and is taken in to a 'normal' family.
We follow his progress as he becomes a 'useful' member of society, using his scissor hands to do cut hair / hedges etc.

Edward is an oddball, an outsider, and he finds a place to belong.
A very powerful transition.

Whats amazing about Edward's character voice, is that we identify with his NEED TO BELONG, his experience of loss, and finally, something we all crave ... acceptance. But here there is really nothing Edward can do to fit in by altering his appearance! He's stuck!

But actually what makes him different, causes him to fit in ... and THAT is the tension which causes his CHARACTER VOICE to resonate so loudly with us.

We all want to fit in, right? As artists we hope our work resonates with other artists and non artists a like.

How many times in life have you heard someone say "So and so is a real odd ball, but when it comes to _________ they're the best there is!


When have you found yourself in a situation where you were sure you didn't fit in a social circle, but what ever reason you were stuck .. you HAD TO BE THERE. However as time went by, it became obvious that your off beat capabilities or approach to something made your presence appreciated and even needed?


Edward's character voice was crafted to resonate in such away. The fact that he was so different actually made room for him in his community.


Again, wonderful observations. Thank you!

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#17 aroundworld

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 03:14 AM

Something I want you to note about the observations you both have made thus far.

The voices of the characters you choose all had one thing in common:

They were GROUNDED IN HUMAN NATURE.

Therefore they were reality based. This is very important!


If you want your characters voice to be heard, YOU MUST BASE THEIR NEED IN REALITY!


Even if they're an align.

ET PHONE HOME

Edward scissor hands want to ... BELONG

Indiana Jones wants to be loved

Harry Potter wants to know what happened to his parents.

The Tin Man wants to feel ... (have a heart)

The lion wants courage.

The scarecrow wants to be smart.


All of these characters had needs that made their voices resonate with us ... why?

Because there NEEDS are based in human nature ... they are the same as the people in the audience. Reality based.

Im war of the worlds the alien dies at the end ... why? Because he needed his own planets type air. Our oxygen was poisonous to them. Was that reality based? YES IT WAS!

THEY NEEDED TO BREATH! They just couldn't breath our air!


So, your characters will dress a certain way ... they will talk a certain way ... they will live a certain way in the movie world. BUT! It is their NEEDS that will amplify their character voice and reinforce the VISUAL ELEMENTS that help define them and make them unique.

But their needs are what cause their character voice to resonate / connect to us, making them alive!


There is no try, only do or do not.

 

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#18 kkffoo

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 07:27 PM

There's such a lot to take in!
Thanks for all your comments.

#19 aroundworld

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 12:30 PM

Kate, JK - Take your time and read these comments im getting the next assignment ready.

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#20 aroundworld

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 05:48 PM

ASSIGNMENT #2





Invent a fictitious character: The following is an example of a character I wrote for a Life Time film.


NAME: Alice Finch

Background: Irish/American, 50 years old, divorced with no children. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Mostly ignored by her parents, she basically raised herself. Graduated high school with a G.E.D., never went to college. Street smart, always a go-getter. Busted for drugs in her early 20’s but the charges were dropped after she turned informant and helped get a life sentence for the head of a cocaine smuggling ring. Afterwards she cleaned up and started her own jewelry business with inheritance money from her grandparents.


Goals/ Relationships: Alice wants to retire to Florida and sell the business to Ellen Sanders, who she’s known since childhood and who faithfully manages the Jewelry store for her.


What I want you to do here, is put them in a premise for a story. i.e.:


Premise:

Ready to retire and move to Florida, Alice Finch prepares to sell her business to her long time friend and store manager. However she discovers several purchases of black market diamonds made in her name. Confronting her associate she’s told she’ll be killed for cooperating with the D.A. to convict a local crime boss if she doesn’t sell the gems. Stunned that her friend knows her secret, Alice isn’t sure who to trust. She must now find away to reach the D.A. without being exposed.


The above is very lose ... How ever I want take your time with your character ... place then in a situation (premise) that your character type would likely be plausible in ... a situation that is believable for your character.


Follow the above example .. good luck!






There is no try, only do or do not.

 

Learn story telling in the MOVIESTORM education forum. 

 

START HERE:  http://www.moviestor...showtopic=13153



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