What makes a good character?
1) DRAMATIC NEED - What does he/she want, is going to get or going to achieve?
2) POINT OF VIEW - Ways the character views the world
3) ATTITUDE - Manner of opinion
4) CHANGE - Characters must change
FILM IS BEHAVIOR
The purpose of dialogue in screenplay writing
-Moves story forward
-Communicates facts and information to the reader
-Establishes character relationships
-Makes your chracters real, natural and spontaneous
-Reveals the conflicts of the story and characters
-Reveals the emotional states of your characters
-Comments on the action
The CHARACTERS' EMOTIONS define them as who they are; how they respond to things
EMOTIONS FALL INTO FOUR CATEGORIES
Mad, sad, glad, scared
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THE MAIN CHARACTER NEEDS A GOAL
CHARACTERS - need motivation - action - goals - a direction
If you don't know why a character is doing something, then it's tough for the AUDIENCE to get involved in the story and tough for you to sell and produce your screenplay.
IN ORDER FOR A GOAL TO FUNCTION WELL, IT HAS TO HAVE THREE MAIN REQUIREMENTS
1) Something must be at stake that convinces the audience that a great deal will be lost if the main character doesn't obtain the goal. Essential to the character's well-being.
2) Opponent - attaining the goal is not easy because someone else is intent on making sure the protagonist (main character, usually) doesn't achieve it.
3) Goal difficult to achieve so that the character changes while moving towards it. TRANSFORMATION - It will make demands of him. Character allows those changes to happen.
Characters FIGHT, SCRAP, ARGUE, PERSAUDE and try to force their point of view, their decisions, their actions on people who don't see things the same way.
INNER CONFLICT - Characters are unsure of themselves, or their actions, or even what they want. Can express through voice-over, and through talking with someone else.
SOCIETAL CONFLICT - Character is against a GROUP of people who represent society (political group, team, town leaders).
SITUATIONAL CONFLICT - Something happens suddenly. How to handle it - panic, become a leader. Could be a personal situation.
COSMIC CONFLICT - The character VS the supernatural force
Conflict is always used. It expresses power plays, disagreements, different points of view, different attitudes and philosophies and different overall objectives
Characters have attitudes about life. They take a stand about things.
ACTION is divided into two parts, the decision to act and the act itself
It is the job of the main character to drive the story forward with her actions.
She can SEARCH, INVESTIGATE, UNCOVER, OUTWIT, PLAN STATEGY, TRANSFORM OTHERS AND THEMSELVES, CREATE NEW ENVIRONMENTS, MANIPULATE, AVENGE THE RIGHT AND WRONG
EVERY CHARACTER MUST HAVE A REASON FOR BEING IN THE SCREENPLAY
-Does the ACTION
-Is responsible for moving the story along
-Is the focus of the film
-Is who the story is about - the person we're expected to follow
-Main character always needs help and support in accomplishing his goals
-The characters who stand with or against the main character
-THEY LISTEN, ADVISE, PUSH OR PULL, FORCE TO MAKE DECISIONS, CONFRONT, INVESTIGATE
-A confidante, trustworthy character
-A catalyst figure, to push the story and reveal information
-Sends the main character on the journey
-Every story has a catalyst figure
-Important to make them active so they push the story
CHARACTERS WHO ADD OTHER DIMENSIONS
-The characters who add something to the story
-Funny characters - comic relief
-A contrasting character to the lead
-Helps the viewer see the main character more clearly because of differences between the two
-Characters who serve to convey and express the theme of the film
-Convey their ideas through attitude, action and occasionally dialogue
-A writer's POINT OF VIEW character
MASS AND WEIGHT CHARACTERS
-The people who surround the powerful people in the script
-The right hand man to the MAIN CHARACTER
BALANCE - don't add too many, but make sure enough are added
MAKE SURE THAT INDIVIDUAL CHARACTERS ARE NOT PERFORMING THE SAME FUNCTION
ANY CHARACTER CONSISTS OF THREE BASIC FACTS
PHYSICAL MAKEUP - age, sex, appearance, disabilities
PERSONALITY - intelligence, emotional makeup and so on
BACKGROUND - everything that happened to the character prior to her appearance in the screenplay
CHARACTER IDENTIFICATION - AUDIENCE IDENTIFICATION
1. CREATE SYMPATHY FOR THE CHARACTER
-The audience feels sorry for the main character by making him the victim
2. PUT THE CHARACTER IN JEOPARDY
-The audience worries about the character by putting her into jeopardy
3. MAKE THE CHARACTER LIKEABLE
Three ways to do this
-Make the character a good or nice person
-Make the character funny
-Make the character good at what he does
Only when this is established can you can develop flaws in the character
4. INTRODUCE THE CHARACTER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
-An ongoing THEORY in Hollywood is to introduce your hero within the first 10 pages
5. SHOW THE CHARACTER IN TOUCH WITH HIS OR HER OWN POWER
-Power holds a fascination for the audience
-Creates an identification on an almost fantasy level
-Money power, or power of being a leader
-Power to express her feelings no matter what
-Powers of seduction towards the opposite sex
-Audience loves people they wish they can be
6. GIVE THE CHARACTER FAMILIAR FLAWS AND FOIBLES
-The Woody Allen way
7. THE SUPERHERO
-Identifies with the audience on a fantasy level
8. PLACE THE CHARACTER IN A FAMILIAR SETTING
9. USE THE EYES OF THE AUDIENCE
-Audience only learns information as the hero learns it
A CHARACTER IS NOT A HUMAN BEING - A CHARACTER IS A WORK OF ART
A WRITER SHOULD KNOW HER CHARACTER BETTER THAN SHE KNOWS HER FRIENDS
REMEMBER TO LEAVE ROOM FOR THE ACTOR
FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR CHARACTERS
-If you can't play them, don't write them
CHARACTER IS SELF KNOWLEDGE
-Look at life and take characters from it