Narrative for Movies and Television – Part 1 of 3

As promised to the attendees, here is the first of three parts of the outline for the seminar I presented to the Director’s Guild of Canada last Sunday in Vancouver.  Parts 2 and 3 will be posted tomorrow and the next day.

It was a spectacular session with a packed house of really eager creative industry people, looking for ways to break through creative block, inject life into their stories, and find and fix elusive narrative problems.

Judging by the response, they found what they were looking for.

Thanks again to the DGC for their invitation, to Roy Hayter who initiated the concept and sheparded it through, and to Barbara Anne Schoemaker (BA) who anticipated and handled every detail to not only make the seminar a huge success, but to make my experience both incredible and indelibly memorable.  Good people, one and all!

So, here’s part one of the seminar outline for reference, which of course does not contain any of the graphics, animations, numerous video clips or commentary.

Narrative for Movies & Television Seminar

Fix it in the Script – NOT in Post!

Part 1 of 3 – Fixing Character Problems in Existing Scripts

 

Narrative for Movies & Television

            Fix it in the script – NOT in post

Welcome!

Introduction

            Seminar Overview

                        Morning Session

                                    Identify common serious narrative flaws

                                    Techniques to repair flawed narratives

                        Afternoon Session

                                    Story Development Techniques

                                    Application of Structure to the Creative Process

What is Narrative?

            Origin of Narrative

            Generations of Storytellers

            Trial And Error

            Conventions of Storytelling

            Patterns of Dramatics

            The Concept of Narrative

Models of Narrative

            Aristotle and the 3 Act structure

            Jung and the collective unconscious

            Campbell and the Hero’s Journey

            Each had exceptions; Each was a formula

            Each showed only a glimpse of the elusive structure

A New Model of Narrative

            Structure is Non-Linear

            The Story Mind

Teaser

            “You and I are both alike”

What’s Happening!!!

            Narrative is happening

            These are the kinds of dramatic elements that make up narrative.

            If a narrative doesn’t have all the important elements, it will fail

            Let’s learn how to recognize and repair flawed narrative elements…

Narrative Problems with Characters

            The most common narrative missteps regarding characters, and how to fix them.

The Main Characterv& Influence Character

            The passionate core of your story’s message

Main & Influence Characters

            So who ARE these guys?

            Main Character represents a paradigm of belief.

            Influence Character represents an opposing view.

            Between them is your story’s passionate argument.

            The result of this argument is your story’s message.

To Kill A Mockingbird

            4 Principal Characters

                        Main Character

                                    First Person Experience for Audience

                        Influence Character

                                    An alternative life view

                        Protagonist

                                    Prime mover of the effort to achieve the goal

                        Antagonist

                                    Diametrically opposed to Protagonist achieving the goal

Head Line & Heart Line

Heroes and Villains

            The Hero

                        Protagonist

                        Main Character

                        Central Character

                        Good Guy

            The Villain

                        Antagonist

                        Influence Character

                        Second Most Central Character

                        Bad Guy

            Hero and Villain Swap

                        Anti-Heroes

                        Anti-Villains

            Melodrama

                        Head line AND heart line between same characters

                        Power of storytelling masks gaps in arguments

                        Arguments are incomplete

                        Conclusions not supported

            The Dramatic Triangle

                        Can fully separate as in To Kill A Mockingbird

                        Can hinge on one character and split the lines

                        Most common variation (the love interest)

                        Other variations

The Heart Line

            Main Character Resolve

                        The Main Character doesn’t have to change to grow

                        He or she can grow in their resolve

            The influence character pressure the MC to change

                        Key establishing points to reference later.

            Change Characters

                        Establish a belief system

                        Establish illustrations of belief

                        Announce resolve

                        Verify resolve

            Steadfast Characters

                        Establish belief system

                        Establish illustrations of belief

                        Announce resolve

                        Verify resolve

            One Must Change

                        Main or Influence will convince the other to change

                        Change occurs at character climax

                        Success in logistic goal hinges on who changes

                        Message determined by results of change

            A Changing Influence Character

Character Arc

            Character Arc 101

                        The Steady Freddy

                        The Griever

                        The Weaver

                        The Waffler

                        The Exception Maker

                        The Backslider

                        How Change Happens

The Head Line

            Archetypes

                        Origins of Archetypes

                        Each of us has the same complement of basic traits

                        We use them to solve our personal problems

                        When we join in a group, we quickly self-organize

                        As specialists, the group gains depth and focus

            The 8 Archetypes

Protagonist

Initiative

Antagonist

Reticence

Reason

Intellect

Emotion

Passion

Guardian

Prudence

Contagonist

Expediency

Sidekick

Confidence

Skeptic

Doubt

            External / Internal

                        Protagonist

                                    Pursuit/Consider

                        Antagonist

                                    Prevent/Reconsider

                        Reason

                                    Logic/Control

                        Emotion

                                    Feeling/Uncontrolled

                        Guardian

                                    Help/Conscience

                        Contagonist

                                    Hinder/Temptation

                        Sidekick

                                    Support/Faith

                        Skeptic

                                    Oppose/Disbelief

            Star Wars Archetypes

                        Protagonist

                                    Luke Skywalker

                        Antagonist

                                    The Empire

                        Reason

                                    Princess Leia

                        Emotion

                                   Chewbacca

                        Guardian

                                    Obi Wan Kenobi

                        Contagonist

                                    Darth Vader

                        Sidekick

                                    R2D2 & C3PO

                        Skeptic

                                    Han Solo

            Oz Archetypes

                        Protagonist

                        Dorothy

                         Antagonist

                        Wicked Witch

                         Reason

                        Scarecrow

                          Emotion

                        Tin Man

                          Guardian

                        Glinda

                         Contagonist

                        Wizard

                         Sidekick

                                    Toto

                        Skeptic

                                    Lion

            Oz vs. Star Wars

                        Leia- Reason

                                    Logic

                                    Control

                        Scarecrow- Reason

                                    Logic

                                    Uncontrolled

            Oz vs. Star Wars

                        Chewbacca- Emotion

                                    Feeling

                                    Uncontrolled

                        Tin Man- Emotion

                                    Feeling

                                    Controlled

            Oz Element Swap

                        Scarecrow (Reason?)

                                    Logic

                                    Uncontrolled

                        Tin Man (Emotion?)

                                    Feeling

                                    Controlled

            Complex Characters & Relationships

                        Complex Characters

                                    Structural Relationships

                                    Character Relationships

                        Four-Dimensional Characters

                                    Motivations

                                    Methodologies

                                    Purposes

                                    Evaluations

            Summing Up Characters

                        Head Line characters involved in the goal

                        Heart Line characters involved in the message

                        Head Line determines if your story will make sense

                        Heart Line determines if your story will have meaning

Intermission

Part 2 of the outline will be posted tomorrow and part 3 on the next day

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