When the hero changes



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  • When the hero changes

    Greetings to all. I've been absent for a while, polishing a sold script and going to pitch meetings.

    I come looking for help.

    In my latest script, my hero goes through a drastic change at the end of Act I. Like, 'Regarding Henry' drastic. Except, my lead changes back at the end.

    My problem: how to keep my lead's motivation and needs consistent through such a change. It's a little like 'It's a Wonderful Life', only, instead of everyone suddenly never knowing George Bailey, it's George who doesn't remember anyone.


  • #2

    Is it like Tom Hank's in "Big" where he reverts back at the end of the film? In that case, the story was more about his effect on other characters (especially Elizabeth Perkins') than his own character arc.


    • #3
      Just a Thought

      ...But wouldn't a more interesting angle be that the lead's needs and motivations DO change? It would offer a lot of interesting character development twists to it. Things like, does the lead really need his job? His wife? His friends? They may still need him, but due to the drastic change, does he need them?

      Then, the lead reverts back. Does he remember the lessons he learned in Act Two? If so, then he has just undergone a major character arc. If he doesn't remember, then, perhaps, the focus is on the crowd that lost him when he no longer needed them.

      Hope that helps.


      • #4
        Lead character

        Are you familiar with the movie "Charly"?


        • #5
          Dig Deeper?

          Great to "see you" again!

          I would think the character's real motivations wouldn't change - though the surface stuff that symbolizes their motivations might. Maybe you need to dig another level deeper on motivation. Find the motivation for the motivation, and use that as the driving force in the scenes where your character isn't himself.

          Also - think about the surface. In amnesia novels (and movies) the characters often find themselves doing some small bit of action from their past - ROBOCOP does that gun thing. This not only creates a connection to the past for the audience, but for the character as well. Like G. Davis cutting vegetables in that Shane Black flick - what does this skill have to do with my past life? How is this a part of me? Your character may still be compelled to perform actions that tie them to their past - even if they don't understand why.

          Also: Usually what a character most wants is the opposite of what they most need. Dorothy's original motivation in WIZARD OF OZ is to escape Kansas to find excitment - she gets her wish, but realizes that excitment isn't what she wanted after all. Her new motivation becomes finding a way back to her drab old life - where the people she loves are. (Actually, she gets what she wanted from the begining if you dig down a level or two.)

          So think about how this big change may be a way of TRANSFORMING the character's motivations - it may impact the goal in a positive way. Help them to find their true goal.

          Hope that helps.

          - Bill


          • #6

            Thanks Bill and all. You've given me much to ponder.

            This pitch has been like a white elephant. It's attracted 2 big producers and a couple big stars. But no one has figured out how to make it work.

            It's universal enough that it could become any genre from romantic comedy to sci-fi thriller.

            'Charly' is an excellent comparison to my pitch. Similar in many ways. But I just can't get a handle on it. I've written treatments where my lead is anything from a stoner college slacker to a Wall St. power broker.

            And it doesn't help that one of the producers keeps bringing up 'Big Momma's House' as an admirable paradigm.

            Or when, trying to be helpful, he suggested that I write the story first, then go back and make the scenes funny. I've figured out that he doesn't really want a treatment. He wants a list of 10 "unbelievably hilarious" scenes that he can use for the quasi-stand up act he does for studio execs.

            Well, it's hard to make a scene sound funny in 3 sentences. Take the boardroom scene of LIAR LIAR.

            "Carter is forced to admit that he detests a former boss. Rather than being angry, the boss is amused and invites Carter to insult other employees. Carter does so with great aplomb. The ensuing hilarity climaxes when he rips the toupe off a man and sticks it to the wall."

            But it's all academic now, with the strike looming and my producers (both Jewish) gone on Christmas vacation.



            • #7
              Re: Thanks

              If you want to bounce around some ideas, I'll be around all through the holidays.

              [email protected]

              No strings attached.