Voice-Over Death

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  • Voice-Over Death

    I'm tentatively adding a protagonist's voice-over to my first draft of a gonzo horror screenplay. I'd like the voice-over to have something of Captain Willard's (Apocalypse Now) about it, with a touch of Travis Bickle's (Taxi Driver) and a hint of Marwood's (Withnail & I).

    However, my protagonist may yet die before the screenplay ends, and she may even die before her voice-over stops.

    Does a protagonist speaking a voice-over mean that they must survive to the end of the movie? Would it be cheating the audience to have a protagonist speak a voice-over when that protagonist will die?

    Is it stupid and blatant cheating if a protagonist still speaks after they're dead?

    I'm struggling to recall pertinent examples. Any of your thoughts on this matter - and on voice-overs in general - would be much appreciated.
    Last edited by Done Deal Pro; 10-09-2020, 05:34 PM. Reason: Added tags
    Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
    "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

  • #2
    Re: Voice-Over Death

    "American Beauty"?
    "Sunset Blvd."?
    Will
    Done Deal Pro
    www.donedealpro.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Voice-Over Death

      'Desperate Housewives'


      Hey! You might do it in your house, but in this house we don't lick our butts. -- Mother Teresa

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Voice-Over Death

        I feel there are many YA Novels that use dead characters as the lead narrator -- thus voice over in a screenplay.

        If it works for the story -- then it works.

        For instance, I'd assume the voice over the whole time had been from beyond the grave if the lead character is doing the VO and killed before the movie ends.

        "So yeah, that's how I died. What a crappy way to go. Did I forget to mention that I was dead? My bad."

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        • #5
          Re: Voice-Over Death

          Nothing wrong with having a dead character do a voiceover. That said, I personally hate voiceovers in general. Especially when they're used as an expository device. Character reflections are a bit more acceptable.

          Not to say that some movies haven't done it well, but most of the time it feels like a lame crutch when I see others do it. And I'm not just talking about amateur writers.

          My advice, if you're going to do a voiceover, try and get creative with how you go about it and make it feel fresh somehow.

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          • #6
            Re: Voice-Over Death

            Not personally a fan, though it's worked well enough for the classics that have been quoted above, which means it's tough to say no, don't do it!

            DP (V.O.)
            Even though that is what
            I'm secretly thinking.
            Check out the results of the Valentine's Day short script contest in Writing Exercises forum

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            • #7
              Re: Voice-Over Death

              Apocalypse Now, Adaptation, Raising Arizona, A Clockwork Orange, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, The Royal Tenenbaums, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Big Lebowski, Trainspotting, Taxi Driver, American Psycho, Fight Club, The Shawshank Redemption, The Usual Suspects, Citizen Kane, All About Eve, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Goodfellas, and Sunset Boulevard use voiceover narration.

              John Steinbeck wrote Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday in the third-person omniscient point-of-view, and the film adaptation of it — Cannery Row, 1982, written by David S. Ward (and derived from both books) — used voiceover narration to great effect.

              If voiceover works for these classic film stories, it works for me. Voiceover is a literary device, a writer’s tool. When a tool is right for the job, use it, but — as ever — use it well.
              "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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              • #8
                Re: Voice-Over Death

                Originally posted by TigerFang View Post
                Apocalypse Now, Adaptation, Raising Arizona, A Clockwork Orange, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, The Royal Tenenbaums, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Big Lebowski, Trainspotting, Taxi Driver, American Psycho, Fight Club, The Shawshank Redemption, The Usual Suspects, Citizen Kane, All About Eve, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Goodfellas, and Sunset Boulevard use voiceover narration.

                John Steinbeck wrote Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday in the third-person omniscient point-of-view, and the film adaptation of it - Cannery Row, 1982, written by David S. Ward (and derived from both books) - used voiceover narration to great effect.

                If voiceover works for these classic film stories, it works for me. Voiceover is a literary device, a writer's tool. When a tool is right for the job, use it, but - as ever - use it well.
                Well said.

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                • #9
                  Re: Voice-Over Death

                  Originally posted by Done Deal Pro View Post
                  "American Beauty"?
                  "Sunset Blvd."?
                  Will - Doh! I should have remembered American Beauty. Shamefully, I've not seen Sunset Boulevard, so I'll check it out. Thank you.
                  Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
                  "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Voice-Over Death

                    Originally posted by Mark Somers View Post
                    'Desperate Housewives'
                    Mark Somers - Thank you. I've never seen Desperate Housewives. I'll look online for some clips with the voice-over.
                    Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
                    "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Voice-Over Death

                      Originally posted by Bono View Post
                      I feel there are many YA Novels that use dead characters as the lead narrator -- thus voice over in a screenplay.

                      If it works for the story -- then it works.

                      For instance, I'd assume the voice over the whole time had been from beyond the grave if the lead character is doing the VO and killed before the movie ends.

                      "So yeah, that's how I died. What a crappy way to go. Did I forget to mention that I was dead? My bad."
                      Bono - Thank you. I've been writing the voice-over as a real-time in-the-moment one, not a post mortem one. I may have the voice-over stop when the protagonist dies ("The rest is silence.") and your insight is nudging me more towards doing that.
                      Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
                      "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Voice-Over Death

                        Originally posted by Prezzy View Post
                        Nothing wrong with having a dead character do a voiceover. That said, I personally hate voiceovers in general. Especially when they're used as an expository device. Character reflections are a bit more acceptable.

                        Not to say that some movies haven't done it well, but most of the time it feels like a lame crutch when I see others do it. And I'm not just talking about amateur writers.

                        My advice, if you're going to do a voiceover, try and get creative with how you go about it and make it feel fresh somehow.
                        Prezzy - Thank you. Fear not, I wouldn't stoop so low as to use voice-over for exposition. The voice-over seems to be coming as the protagonist reveals her true self to me. I give her actions and she voices her motives, concerns or regrets. So this voice-over may just be part of the writing process, and I'll cut it completely when I've written the character fully by way of the entirety of her actions and some revealing dialogue.
                        Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
                        "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Voice-Over Death

                          Originally posted by dpaterso View Post
                          Not personally a fan, though it's worked well enough for the classics that have been quoted above, which means it's tough to say no, don't do it!

                          DP (V.O.)
                          Even though that is what
                          I'm secretly thinking.
                          dpaterso - Thank you for your intimate thoughts.

                          CRAYON (V.O.)
                          Doubters be damned!
                          Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
                          "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Voice-Over Death

                            Originally posted by TigerFang View Post
                            Apocalypse Now, Adaptation, Raising Arizona, A Clockwork Orange, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, The Royal Tenenbaums, Ferris Buellers Day Off, The Big Lebowski, Trainspotting, Taxi Driver, American Psycho, Fight Club, The Shawshank Redemption, The Usual Suspects, Citizen Kane, All About Eve, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Goodfellas, and Sunset Boulevard use voiceover narration.

                            John Steinbeck wrote Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday in the third-person omniscient point-of-view, and the film adaptation of it  Cannery Row, 1982, written by David S. Ward (and derived from both books)  used voiceover narration to great effect.

                            If voiceover works for these classic film stories, it works for me. Voiceover is a literary device, a writers tool. When a tool is right for the job, use it, but  as ever  use it well.
                            TigerFang - Jeepers, what a list. I'm kicking myself for not recalling more of those. Thank you.

                            When presented with so many successful examples, one wonders why voice-overs have such a bad reputation. I suppose, as with any narrative device, it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it.

                            BTW, I'm liking your Bradbury quotation signature. It's reminded me of an early time in my working life when I showed some now uncharacteristic courage.
                            Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
                            "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Voice-Over Death

                              Originally posted by Crayon View Post
                              When presented with so many successful examples, one wonders why voice-overs have such a bad reputation. I suppose, as with any narrative device, it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it.
                              These successful films used voiceover narration organically; you hardly remember that they did so because the story (premise) was engaging and well executed.

                              Originally posted by Crayon View Post
                              BTW, I'm liking your Bradbury quotation signature. It's reminded me of an early time in my working life when I showed some now uncharacteristic courage.
                              Thanks. After you build or rebuild your wings, remember not to fly too close to the sun.
                              "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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