"I'll tell you a secret. The last act makes a film. Wow them in the end, and you got a hit. You can have flaws, problems, but wow them in the end, and you've got a hit. Find an ending, but don't cheat, and don't you dare bring in a deus ex machina. Your characters must change, and the change must come from them. Do that, and you'll be fine." - Robert McKee's character in Adaptation, written by Charlie Kaufman
This week we had a break from pitching and each picked a scene from our film to describe to a partner. We then wrote up out our partner's scene but in a completely different genre. I took a scene from Lauren's romcom treatment and wrote it up as a horror. She took a violent and disturbing scene from my thriller and played it out as a comedy.
It was surprising how easily we could see opposing genre elements fitting into our films. Coming from a comedy background, I've been trying to resist the urge to let gags creep into my thriller, but I now feel more confident that there's a way to make it work. This is an (admittedly fucked up) love story, and I can't imagine falling in love with someone that didn't make me laugh.
Another interesting thing that Lauren did was to show the scene from the antagonist's perspective. We follow his silent growing anxiety as his listens at a closed door rather than the protagonist's relatively banal conversation, which is a great idea to increase the tension and round out the character. Yes, I will be stealing this.
On Wednesday we did another speedwriting exercise where we were given a scenario - Jo has to get a train home to see his/her dying mother in 5 minutes but he/she has no money - and were asked to throw as many obstacles in the character's way as possible. We thought up personal, physical, environmental and metaphysical challenges for the character and had a lot of fun putting Jo in the shit.
This is a great exercise to lift a scene out of a blockage - if you're stuck, chances are that the character doesn't have enough to contend with...
STORYTELLING FOR THE SCREEN
A blog about The Screen Arts Institute's 'Storytelling for the Screen' course, taught by Stephen May and supported by the BFI.