Resources for writing ensemble (multi-protagonist) screenplays?

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  • #31
    Re: Resources for writing ensemble (multi-protagonist) screenplays?

    You need to write an ensemble, multi-protagonist screenplay, when you think that the theme/moral of the story absolutely needs to showcase several, equally important points of view.

    One viewpoint, or two, simply wouldn't be enough. You feel strongly that such a complex story/theme/moral needs to have many opposing view points, all equally important.

    If someone would make for example a movie about love, or death, or sex, or money, etc, it's understandable that to fully explore the concept, several equally important points of view have to be presented. In the real world,"truth" usually has multiple facets to it, all equally true .

    (I'm obviously talking about non-scientific "truths" here).

    If you don't have a unique, strong, well-argued, truthful viewpoint for every one of your protagonists, I don't see why you would need them in your story.

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    • #32
      Re: Resources for writing ensemble (multi-protagonist) screenplays?

      Originally posted by tuukka View Post
      One viewpoint, or two, simply wouldn't be enough.
      While I agree with your post as a whole, two strong points of view can be equally as powerful as seven. Perhaps more so.

      Ex: http://www.raindance.org/wp-content/...-the-Pines.pdf

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      • #33
        Re: Resources for writing ensemble (multi-protagonist) screenplays?

        Originally posted by Eric Boellner View Post
        While I agree with your post as a whole, two strong points of view can be equally as powerful as seven. Perhaps more so.

        Ex: http://www.raindance.org/wp-content/...-the-Pines.pdf
        No disagreement there. Most good movies opt for only two real viewpoints, at most.

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        • #34
          Re: Resources for writing ensemble (multi-protagonist) screenplays?

          Originally posted by tuukka View Post
          You need to write an ensemble, multi-protagonist screenplay, when you think that the theme/moral of the story absolutely needs to showcase several, equally important points of view.

          One viewpoint, or two, simply wouldn't be enough. You feel strongly that such a complex story/theme/moral needs to have many opposing view points, all equally important.
          Disagree.

          E.g. Ocean's Eleven. The characters are not showcasing different points of view.
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          • #35
            Re: Resources for writing ensemble (multi-protagonist) screenplays?

            Originally posted by Timmy View Post
            Disagree.

            E.g. Ocean's Eleven. The characters are not showcasing different points of view.
            Danny Ocean is quite clearly the de facto protagonist of the story. Everyone else plays second fiddle to him. So it's not a multi-protagonist ensemble in the sense that was introduced in the opening post of this thread, and what mostly has been the focus of the discussion.

            Of course, you can write a multi-protagonist story even if every character would be identical clones, in complete agreement over everything. There aren't really any rules writers must follow, as long as the writing is good. My point was that you only *need* to write a multi-protagonist story when you absolutely *need* to have several equally important viewpoints, all happening simultaneously. Even that's a generalization - But the OP was looking for some kind of generalization.

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            • #36
              Re: Resources for writing ensemble (multi-protagonist) screenplays?

              Barry Levy described Vantage Point as The Hero's Journey done as a relay race.

              The attempted assassination of the American President is told and re-told from several different perspectives.

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              • #37
                Re: Resources for writing ensemble (multi-protagonist) screenplays?

                Originally posted by tuukka View Post
                My point was that you only *need* to write a multi-protagonist story when you absolutely *need* to have several equally important viewpoints, all happening simultaneously. Even that's a generalization
                I dunno. Seems shaky to me, even as a generalization. Not every point of view has to belong to a protagonist; you can do it with a single protagonist and the other roles/archetypes.

                Originally posted by hacque View Post
                Barry Levy described Vantage Point as The Hero's Journey done as a relay race.

                The attempted assassination of the American President is told and re-told from several different perspectives.
                That makes sense.
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                • #38
                  Re: Resources for writing ensemble (multi-protagonist) screenplays?

                  Originally posted by Timmy View Post
                  I dunno. Seems shaky to me, even as a generalization. Not every point of view has to belong to a protagonist; you can do it with a single protagonist and the other roles/archetypes.
                  I have *repeatedly* said "equally important viewpoints". It's not equally important, if we spend 90 minutes on one viewpoint, and 1 minute on another. 90 doesn't equal 1.

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                  • #39
                    Re: Resources for writing ensemble (multi-protagonist) screenplays?

                    Originally posted by tuukka View Post
                    I have *repeatedly* said "equally important viewpoints". It's not equally important, if we spend 90 minutes on one viewpoint, and 1 minute on another. 90 doesn't equal 1.
                    No.

                    You said this:

                    Originally posted by tuukka View Post
                    You need to write an ensemble, multi-protagonist screenplay, when you think that the theme/moral of the story absolutely needs to showcase several, equally important points of view.

                    One viewpoint, or two, simply wouldn't be enough. You feel strongly that such a complex story/theme/moral needs to have many opposing view points, all equally important.

                    If someone would make for example a movie about love, or death, or sex, or money, etc, it's understandable that to fully explore the concept, several equally important points of view have to be presented. In the real world,"truth" usually has multiple facets to it, all equally true .

                    (I'm obviously talking about non-scientific "truths" here).

                    If you don't have a unique, strong, well-argued, truthful viewpoint for every one of your protagonists, I don't see why you would need them in your story.

                    You're not talking about point of view as "the eyes we see it through." You're talking about thematic point of view.

                    And you're suggesting all sorts of things: that the protagonist has to hold point of view, that only the protagonist can hold point of view, and so on. All of that is incorrect.

                    Then you said this:

                    Originally posted by tuukka View Post
                    My point was that you only *need* to write a multi-protagonist story when you absolutely *need* to have several equally important viewpoints, all happening simultaneously.
                    If you're talking about thematic point of view, you don't need to have several protagonists.

                    If you're talking about point of view as in "the eyes we see it through," well even if they're equal in stage-time (or for that fact, thematic value), that still doesn't mean the character has to be the protagonist.

                    Originally posted by tuukka View Post
                    I have *repeatedly* said "equally important viewpoints". It's not equally important, if we spend 90 minutes on one viewpoint, and 1 minute on another. 90 doesn't equal 1.
                    Now I think you're switching to point of view as in "the eyes we see it through" and equating the protagonist with the character "whose eyes we see it through" most of the time. You might win the majority vote on that but it doesn't mean its accurate or even helpful.

                    And you're equating multi-protagonists as those characters "whose eyes we see it through" equally in terms of stage-time. Well, they don't all necessarily have to be protags.

                    Or you're doing something like that.

                    But whatever you're doing, you're making a helluvalotta assumptions.
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                    • #40
                      Re: Resources for writing ensemble (multi-protagonist) screenplays?

                      Originally posted by Timmy View Post
                      No.

                      You're not talking about point of view as "the eyes we see it through." You're talking about thematic point of view.
                      Incorrect. i'm talking about both. Character always has a POV. Always.

                      Originally posted by Timmy View Post
                      And you're suggesting all sorts of things: that the protagonist has to hold point of view, that only the protagonist can hold point of view, and so on. All of that is incorrect.8
                      Incorrect again, I didn't say that only the protagonist can hold a point of view.

                      Regardless, it's impossible to write a character without any kind of point of view. Even if you try to write a character without a point of view, THAT becomes his point of view.

                      Originally posted by Timmy View Post
                      If you're talking about thematic point of view, you don't need to have several protagonists.

                      If you're talking about point of view as in "the eyes we see it through," well even if they're equal in stage-time (or for that fact, thematic value), that still doesn't mean the character has to be the protagonist.
                      Did you bother to read the entire thread, especially including the opening post? What you have to notice here is the *context* of the discussion. Throughout the thread, people have been talking about multiple protagonist ensemble pieces such as Breakfast Club.

                      If you're not paying attention to the context, you will miss the entire point of the discussion. (This is the 2nd time I'm saying this to you, BTW)

                      Originally posted by Timmy View Post

                      Now I think you're switching to point of view as in "the eyes we see it through" and equating the protagonist with the character "whose eyes we see it through" most of the time. You might win the majority vote on that but it doesn't mean its accurate or even helpful.
                      No, I didn't think that, and I didn't say that.

                      Originally posted by Timmy View Post
                      And you're equating multi-protagonists as those characters "whose eyes we see it through" equally in terms of stage-time. Well, they don't all necessarily have to be protags.
                      No, I'm not doing such equating.

                      As for multi-protags, again, context of discussion.

                      Originally posted by Timmy View Post
                      Or you're doing something like that.
                      Yes, must be, whatever it is?

                      Originally posted by Timmy View Post
                      But whatever you're doing, you're making a helluvalotta assumptions.
                      I like what you're doing here. It's kind cool to read your post, and then have that one final punch-line.

                      But anyway, when people start mostly using straw-men, it's time to leave the discussion.

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                      • #41
                        Re: Resources for writing ensemble (multi-protagonist) screenplays?

                        Originally posted by tuukka View Post
                        Most good movies opt for only two real viewpoints, at most.
                        Originally posted by tuukka View Post
                        Character always has a POV. Always.

                        it's impossible to write a character without any kind of point of view. Even if you try to write a character without a point of view, THAT becomes his point of view.
                        In terms of those "two real viewpoints" or thematic points of view, you can have a character that doesn't start with one but changes to adopt one.

                        You're all over the place with your viewpoints. You're not even considering the idea that ensembles can have one viewpoint.

                        Originally posted by tuukka View Post
                        I didn't say that only the protagonist can hold a point of view.
                        You implied it.

                        Originally posted by tuukka View Post
                        Did you bother to read the entire thread, especially including the opening post? What you have to notice here is the *context* of the discussion. Throughout the thread, people have been talking about multiple protagonist ensemble pieces such as Breakfast Club.

                        If you're not paying attention to the context, you will miss the entire point of the discussion. (This is the 2nd time I'm saying this to you, BTW)
                        You're taking it for granted that Breakfast Club is multiple protagonist. Because the characters are in a group and use an equal-ish amount of screen time and we see it through their eyes.

                        You can just as easily use the argument that the protagonist is the opposite of the antagonist. That points to Bender as the protagonist. It's an approach, in my opinion, which begins to clarify a lot of what's going on and shows you how to write it which is exactly the point of the discussion.

                        It's not that I'm out of context, it's that you're not considering all the angles.

                        Originally posted by tuukka View Post
                        straw-men
                        You say that because you can't see the assumptions you're making.
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                        • #42
                          Re: Resources for writing ensemble (multi-protagonist) screenplays?

                          Originally posted by Timmy View Post
                          You can just as easily use the argument that the protagonist is the opposite of the antagonist. That points to Bender as the protagonist. It's an approach, in my opinion, which begins to clarify a lot of what's going on and shows you how to write it which is exactly the point of the discussion.
                          The problem is that, as I wrote earlier, the real source of antagonism is the kids themselves. Look at how much time they spend dealing with problems with each other compared to problems with the principal. And at the end, which is unambiguously triumphant, they haven't overcome the principal in any meaningful way - but they have changed how they relate to each other.

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                          • #43
                            Re: Resources for writing ensemble (multi-protagonist) screenplays?

                            Originally posted by LauriD View Post

                            In a multi-protagonist story, the multiple characters rarely transform in any meaningful manner. Instead, the best of these have the characters arrive at some new understanding regarding one another, without any accompanying change in their life. This is especially true of the Hangover and Oceans...
                            -----

                            If you can pull that off, you will soon be sought after in Hollywood, which is always on the lookout for writers who can write great characters."
                            Except it's not true of the Hangover...

                            Phil appreciates his wife and child at the end of the Hangover. He didn't in the beginning. Stu was browbeaten in the beginning of the movie, at the end he was able to tell his girlfriend off. Just because character arcs are subtle doesn't mean they don't exist.

                            -- And yeah, you'll be so sought after in Hollywood, the director won't let you write Hangover 2 or 3... he'll write it himself instead.

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                            • #44
                              Re: Resources for writing ensemble (multi-protagonist) screenplays?

                              Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
                              the real source of antagonism is the kids themselves.
                              It's like saying that characters with inner problems are their own antagonists. Not true, in the sense we mean here.

                              Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
                              Look at how much time they spend dealing with problems with each other compared to problems with the principal.
                              Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
                              they haven't overcome the principal in any meaningful way
                              Neither of these disqualify a character from being an antagonist.

                              Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
                              at the end, which is unambiguously triumphant
                              Right. You've got the Principle pulling them one way and Bender the other, and Bender wins.

                              There's clear opposition between the Principle and Bender.

                              Also, the term "multiple protagonist" just says something vague like "a buncha characters who all could kinda be the main character... ." And it implies that they're all playing identical roles. But Bender is clearly playing a different role.

                              Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
                              He's a very minor antagonist, relatively speaking. Notice how the kids band together against him almost instantly
                              The Principle isn't just a minor antagonist. I mean, he's not evil, but functional comparisons can be made between him and, say, the warden in Shawshank.

                              Originally posted by figment View Post
                              Except it's not true of the Hangover...

                              Phil appreciates his wife and child at the end of the Hangover. He didn't in the beginning. Stu was browbeaten in the beginning of the movie, at the end he was able to tell his girlfriend off. Just because character arcs are subtle doesn't mean they don't exist.
                              Agree.
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