Trouble with beginning a script with a bunch of inter-twining characters

Collapse

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Trouble with beginning a script with a bunch of inter-twining characters

    Yeah, I'm working on a script called Fortune. I posted some pages a while back. They were initially the opening pages, but i've since decided that i might want to try something else. I have an large cast of main charactors that all inter twine with one another, much like magnolia or crash. The story itself is like magnolia meets its a mad, mad, mad, mad world. But anyway. I was thinking of beginning with one of the characters just sitting down in front of a blank wall (kind of like in annie hall) and have him describe the relationships between the people ion the story, as a kind of introduction to these people and what is going to happen. If i were to go this route, how would i do it in such a way that i dont have a page and a half of just one guy talking as my opening. Any suggestions on how i would exactly start the script? I know I'm being a bit vague, and sorry about that. I just wondered if anyone else has encountered a similar problem. I ask this because my story itself doesnt persay have a definate beginning. It is telling the course of events of a night. And if i started it in a natural way, the story just gets bogged down and ends up going too slowly. And i also end up starting in a place that it isnt really interesting or necessary to the story.

    This post itself is confusing me already. If you really need any more info, feel free to ask.

    ~Doovid Ooves
    Insert signature here.

  • #2
    Re: Trouble with beginning a script with a bunch of inter-twining characters

    This is my best quick summary of the characters and their relationships. THis would be essentially what the character Jack would tell at the beginning of the movie:

    Itâ€TMs about a guy named Jack, who just happens to be an insomniac. Heâ€TMs got this friend Roy who is a coffee addict. And then there is Roy's partner, Clive, who is slow, but kind hearted. Then there is Roy and Clive's boss, Mr. Vincent who is a criminal. Itâ€TMs also about Mr. Vincentâ€TMs daughter, Jill who jack just happens to get a crush on. So does her cousin, Owen, who also wants to take over the family fortune, but Mr. Vincent has never liked him all that much. But, as i said, Owen likes Jill too. Unfortunately, Jill has a boyfriend, or she so she says. Jill is a pathological liar. She claims to have a boyfriend named Ronald, whom she mistakenly named after an actual Ronald who has had a crush on her since middle school, and is also schizophrenic and obsessive compulsive. And then there are several other people involved. Such as Roy's girlfriend, Kelly, who just happens to be a control freak and is most likely cheating on Roy. And there is Roy and Jack's friend, Derrek, who is a couch potato. Then there is Owenâ€TMs friend Z-Dogg, a white rapper. Then there is Lafayette, a crazy modern day samurai that wants something from Mr. Vincent. And finally, there is Chang, who dies almost immediately after you meet him. You see, all of these people have an even deeper connection. They are all after the same thing: an unknown fortune that technically belongs to Mr. Vincent. And everyone wants the fortune for themselves, whatever it may be. Blah blah blah... yadda yadda... crap like that...

    And yes I know... Jack and Jill... entirely intentional... same with Clive Owen. It all fits into that whole fortune fate higher power thing. It's all a really bad joke that the characters seem to realize at various points and just ponder... what the hell. The universe not only sucks but has a bad sense of humor.

    ~Doovid Ooves
    Insert signature here.

    Comment


    • #3
      Learn To Walk before you try to Run A 2 Minute Mile

      You are talking about bad exposition - so don't do it.

      And the problem with a script that has a bunch of lead characters - hard to get to know them, hard to keep the stories straight, hard to identify with them... and *less* space to develop them.

      Take a look at the A.P. review of SYRIANA - a bad review that points out that the characters are all cliches, and the story is difficult to follow. This is a script by a seasoned pro - and he seemed to have trouble making the multiple-protagonists-multiple-stories thing work.

      I think the attraction to new writers for this kind of story is that they don't have time to really get deep into story or character - so they think it's easy. Exact opposite. It's more difficult.

      So, I'd suggest you master the single protagonist / single story first. Learn to juggle *one* ball. When you've mastered that (and people who hate you rave about your script and people who make films want to buy your script) then add another ball.

      Another thing you might note about both MAGNOLIA and CRASH is that they are written-dirceted-produced by the same person, and made independently. So, unless your plan is to find the money and make the film yourself, I'd suggest writig the type of script that producers *buy*.

      If you do plan on finding the money and making the film yourself, you might note that PTA's first film was a single protagonist / single story... master that before you move on to something so difficult that pros have trouble getting it right.

      - Bill
      Free Script Tips:
      http://www.scriptsecrets.net

      Comment


      • #4
        On the other hand..

        You could write an American Graffiti, with four interconnected leads and their separate stories. You could use unknown actors. You could shoot it, as Lucas did, for $750,000, and see a return of more than $100 million.

        Comment


        • #5
          Use *relationships* to introduce characters.

          Okay, so hereâ€TMs the actual answer if your plan is to go the PTA, Lucas, Altman, Gaghan, CRASH route.....

          What you want to do is *demonstrate* who the characters are through actions rather than use exposition. Hereâ€TMs how EXOTICA opens...

          A seasoned Customs Officer is telling a young Rookie how to tell when someone is hiding contraband. Theyâ€TMre watching a young man, who owns a pet store dealing in exotic birds and fish. The Pet Store owner is one of our lead characters... and the Rookie will become a minor player later in the story. The Pet Store owner passes through customs, hails a cab in front of the airport, and a Businessman asks if heâ€TMd mind sharing. When they get to the Businessmanâ€TMs stop, he asks the Pet Store owner if he likes ballet... then "pays his share of the cab" with ballet tickets. Kind of stiffing the Pet Store owner. When the can and Pet Store owner zoom away, we follow the Businessman into a strip club called "Exotica". In the strip club we meet a Stripper who dresses like a school girl and the smarmy MC who pays more attention to her than any of the other strippers. Two more of our lead characters. These characters are shown by the way they relate to each other (and their boss) at work. Then a bearded Suburban Man pays the School Girl Stripper for a private table dance - and doesnâ€TMt act like a typical strip club patron. He acts more like the stripperâ€TMs father. Because their actions are unusual for a strip bar, you wonder what their relationship is (and youâ€TMre learning about the characters). We follow the Suburban Man as he takes his babysitter home - and kind of worry because of his relationship with the School Girl Stripper. We follow the babysitter, introducing her wheelchair bound Father - another lead character. The Father and Suburban man used to be best friends, until *something* happened. Something mysterious. Something that connects all of the characters in the film. Well, our Pet Store owner has used the ballet tickets to cruise from men (heâ€TMs Gay), and is late opening his shop... on the day the tax auditor is going to go over his books. The tax auditor? Our Suburban Man - heâ€TMs the hub to this story. Now we learn more about both the Suburban Man and the Pet Store owner during the audit. You see, the Pet Store own has been smuggling in exotic bird eggs, and the tax audit might discover the extra income. Now we have all of our lead characters, and we know who they are through their interactions with each other. We donâ€TMt know what the mysterious thing that connects them all is - but that puzzle is what the movie is all about.

          See how one character is used to introduce the next - and the realtionship between the characters is used to *dramatically* give us information about the characters.

          You want to create *situations* that expose character. Create dramatic interactions that expose character. Find ways to connect the characters so that the relationships help expose character.

          The problems with this type of script still exist - you have almost no chance of selling the script, even if the script comes out excellent. The reason why we've had that word "protagonist" (to describe the *one* lead character in a story) for two-and-a-half thousand years is because that's the way stories work best - with a single lead character that the audience identifies with and imagines themselves as throughout the story. This is a story *basic*.

          - Bill
          Free Script Tips:
          http://www.scriptsecrets.net

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Trouble with beginning a script with a bunch of inter-twining characters

            My intent would be to make this film independantly. I am a freshamn film student at drexel at the moment, and my intent is to get into the independant film making industry. (yeah... like that'll be easy)

            ~Doovid Ooves
            Insert signature here.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Trouble with beginning a script with a bunch of inter-twining characters

              Drexel? Is Ian Abrams still teaching screenwriting there? He's a great guy.

              - Bill

              PS: "independant film making industry" is kind of an oxymoron. There exists an industry of indie film *distributors*, but the films themselves are made... independently. The filmmaker finds the money and makes the film. Once you are an established filmmaker (you have made a couple of financially successful indie films) the distributor may be interested in advancing you money on your next project (and that money can be used to fund or partially fund the film). But your first film will probably be made the same way Spike Lee and Robert Rodriguez nd Kevin Smith and all of those other Indie guys made their first films - they rounded up the money themselves.
              Last edited by wcmartell; 12-13-2005, 08:25 PM.
              Free Script Tips:
              http://www.scriptsecrets.net

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Trouble with beginning a script with a bunch of inter-twining characters

                I'm not sure I agree with everyone. I think you can pull this off if you pick one or two characters which you center the story around, and you focus on them the most. There are many films out there with multiple characters that we focus on. Look at JAWS as an example. Sure, we have Roy Schieder's character, but we spend a lot of time on Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw. Three protagonists. The other guys are introduced through one, but a lot of time is devoted to the others too.

                Then you have a film like The Usual Suspects. The protagonist in that film, Kevin Spacey, tells a story in which he is NOT the protagonist. In fact, he's like a secondary character. Other characters in that film take up more time. Yet, its done in a way which is all related to Spacey.

                I just think that you can have multiple characters, but try to give one or two the meat of the story. The other characters should be secondary. They work off of your main characters.

                There are a lot of horror movies that have multiple characters: Friday the 13th, Alien, Halloween, The Exorcist, and Night of the Living Dead. Horror movies are the best example of a genre where you can have 4 or 5 characters the story focuses on. It works there. I'd suggest studying those films, even if your story isn't horror, it might help in terms of how they do it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Trouble with beginning a script with a bunch of inter-twining characters

                  Yeah, he's still here, and he is indeed the man.

                  ~Doovid Ooves

                  PS. Thanks for all the tips so far. I will read them all more in depth once ive actually gotten some sleep though.

                  PS2: And yes, night porter, that is essentially what i am going for. The main main character is Jack. There is a heirarchy of importance in the story essentially.
                  Insert signature here.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Trouble with beginning a script with a bunch of inter-twining characters

                    You can intro many characters by introducing them in brief, separate scenes, and then bringing them into contact with one another as the story develops. But you do want to have one or more characters that is the main protag of the story. It's not rocket science. You mention a couple movies that are good examples of this, and there are many others, anything from CADDYSHACK to AMERICAN PIE, to oh so many others...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Trouble with beginning a script with a bunch of inter-twining characters

                      Well, i essentially do that in the story itself. It's not how do i bring these people together. I just can't seem to fijnd what those first 2 or 3 pages should really be about. That intro before the story begins.

                      ~Doovid Ooves
                      Insert signature here.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Trouble with beginning a script with a bunch of inter-twining characters

                        I think it should most certainly involve Jack. Maybe you intro alone w/ his insomnia, unless that's just a quirk that doesn't impact the story. Maybe Jack and Roy, at night in a coffee shop, where we see Roy's compulsion, and Jack's listlessness. Maybe Jack and Roy at work, where Jack is dead tired from lack of sleep, Roy is overcaffeinated, and they have a run in with their boss Mr. Vincent... There -- already three characters well into development. They all leave the office and go their separate ways, where each interacts with one or more of your next tier of players. And, you're off..

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Trouble with beginning a script with a bunch of inter-twining characters

                          Funny, i was toying with the coffee shop idea myself. Mr. Vincent couldn't really get involved though. He kind of transcends the other characters. The events of the script (once it gets underway) all take place over the course of a single night. So the coffee shop opening would have to be the night before. It would set up the two essential characters, and the themes involved, without seeming like part of the actual story. It'd be like the opening of Reservoir Dogs (only a tiny bit more on topic, and with only 2 characters). The only problem that then arises from opening there is showing that this takes place a day before, and is for the most part, separate from the events of the major part of the story.

                          ~Doovid Ooves
                          Insert signature here.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Trouble with beginning a script with a bunch of inter-twining characters

                            What's your theme?

                            Come up with a scene that illustrates your theme through conflict - something interesting and involving enough to hook your reader/audience.

                            In EXOTICA, the two customs officers are talking about how you can tell who is probably smuggling something - how to tell if people are hiding a secret. This is thematic (the whole story is about characters hiding secrets) and also exciting and involving, because the Pet Store owner *is* smuggling exotic bird eggs.

                            I still suggest you begin with something less difficult to pull off. Anything with multiple protagonists and mutiple story threads is *experimental* and most experiments fail. If you're going to be producing this independently, you have a very good chance of losing your money. According to an LA Times article a few years back, something like 96% of indie films get no form of distribution at all - not even direct to video. This is a *brutal* business, and trying to do it the hardest way possible is danged close to masochistic.

                            - Bill
                            Free Script Tips:
                            http://www.scriptsecrets.net

                            Comment

                            Working...
                            X