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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Screenwriting Class  ›  Lead Character Question Moderators: George Willson
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Disco Cactus
Posted: January 21st, 2017, 7:58pm Report to Moderator
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Hey guys,

Is it possible for the antagonist to be the lead character? Would that work?

~Zack~


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Angry Bear
Posted: January 21st, 2017, 8:42pm Report to Moderator
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IMHO, no. Your main character can be an anti hero, but not the antag.

That's just me though and I seem to be wrong about everything lately...


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Female Gaze
Posted: January 21st, 2017, 9:17pm Report to Moderator
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I'll tell you what my teacher told me:

Protagonist DOES NOT MEAN GOOD.

Antagonist DOES NOT MEAN BAD.
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Female Gaze
Posted: January 21st, 2017, 9:26pm Report to Moderator
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Examples:

Despicable me.

Shameless.

The Borgias.

The Sopranos.

House of Cards.

I can go on but you get the idea.

The protag is the person who's journey we are following. We want them to obtain their goals Good or Bad because we are made to care about them.

The antagonist is anyone or anything that is trying to get in the protags way or trying to prevent them from obtaining thier goals.
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Disco Cactus
Posted: January 21st, 2017, 9:41pm Report to Moderator
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Hmm... Thanks Pia and Ashlie. I've got quite a bit to think about.

Could a serial killer/person who is planning to kill a group of innocent people be an anti-hero?

~Zack~


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Female Gaze
Posted: January 21st, 2017, 10:11pm Report to Moderator
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depends on his reasons. As a serial killer. No. Because, that is a deep psychological disorder.

As a mailman trying to avenge the death of his wife by killing a bunch of innocent people..then yes.

Our protag can be anything just as long as you write him so we care about them. No one is all evil the same that no one is all good.

For the best instance of a multi-layered antagonist look no further than the Lion King which has one of the best examples of a flawed protag and a sympathetic antag
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Disco Cactus
Posted: January 21st, 2017, 10:41pm Report to Moderator
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Do you mind if I pm you my logline? I think then you will see my predicament.

~Zack~


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Female Gaze
Posted: January 21st, 2017, 10:58pm Report to Moderator
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go for it. ill try to help
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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: January 22nd, 2017, 2:14am Report to Moderator
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All these things gets confusing because different gurus use the words to mean different things.

Dramatica theory is one I like because it splits the idea of main character and protagonist.

Your main character is the point of view of the story. We see the world through their eyes.

The protag is the one who drives the story. (The difference can be seen in to Kill a Mockingbird. Its the Father who is the protag, he drives all the story, but the main character, the POV is his daughter, Scout...in that story this has a very powerful thematic resolution at the end, when we as the audience realise we've been watching proceedings with a "childish" point of view). Anyway, I digress.

If the protag is also the main character..then they are the "Hero".


It's a good way of looking at it...more precise

.In terms of antagonist..it depends on how you define the technical term, I would say. He is usually the one trying to stop the protag. Or it can simply be someone that is hostile.

A main character or protag can be as hostile or evil as you like. An absolute psycho. You'll probably want to humanise them a touch, otherwise it will be too hard to watch for most, but anyone can be the main character. You need to make the audience empathise...not sympathise. Understand, if not completely condone. Like Michael Douglas in Falling Down..we understand why he goes crazy, even though we kind of know it's not right.

Your antagonist in that scenario will be the "good guys"..The Police etc because they're trying to stop him.

Is that what you mean?

Or do you specifically mean that the obstacle character, the person trying to stop the protag, can be the main character?


That may also be OK.


A scenario could be that Someone is trying to bring Peace to the World. It's a world-wide movement. On all the TVs. Everyone is very excited. The Protag is the guy pushing it all, changing the world.

Your main character is a Nihilist, watching all this and decides he's going to stop it all.

Every time the Protag does something. He ruins it. He's the main character because we see it all from his POV.

This would probably be a darkly humorous story about the Human condition, and the inability to fix the world's problems.

That's about as close as you can get.. it's arguable that he's technically become the Protag in some uses of the word, because in some uses of the word the main character is always the protag.



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Scar Tissue Films  -  January 22nd, 2017, 2:25am
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Scar Tissue Films
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Quoted from Disco Cactus
Hmm... Thanks Pia and Ashlie. I've got quite a bit to think about.

Could a serial killer/person who is planning to kill a group of innocent people be an anti-hero?

~Zack~


Yes, but his reasons would have to be something we could empathise with imo.

For instance....let's say your man decides to kill people who try to tell everyone what to do....so we see him hill Politicians, Environmentalists, Feminists etc

He could be an anti-hero type because he'd represent a kind of twisted freedom people could appreciate. Even though what's he's doing isn't right.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer also shows, btw, that an almost entirely evil character can lead a film.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099763/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_113


Quoted Text

During the screening of the film at the 1989 Telluride Festival, nearly half the audience walked out during the family massacre scene. When the film finished, it was met with complete silence, as the audience were so stunned by what they had just seen and didn't know how to react. As director John McNaughton was leaving the theatre, he was approached by a distressed man who informed him: "You can't do that". McNaughton asked him what he meant, and the man explained that you couldn't make a film about a murderer who gets away in the end, without punishment or without any kind of moral resolution, reiterating "You can't do that". McNaughton thought about this for a moment, and then said to the man: "We just did".


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Disco Cactus
Posted: January 22nd, 2017, 3:15am Report to Moderator
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Wow. That's a lot to take in. Thank you Scar. I'm gonna let this all sink in and see how it changes my approach. I've actually recently watch Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Very interesting film. Not at all what I'm going for with my project, but it definitely has me thinking. I really appreciate all the advice everyone is giving me and please know it is not falling on deaf ears. I'm soaking it all up.

~Zack~


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leitskev
Posted: January 22nd, 2017, 8:20am Report to Moderator
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Hey, Zack. I endorse Rick's comment completely, that's as fine a comment as you will get.

I'll add a penny's worth: once the story progresses, what will the audience want to see happening with the character? This critical element often gets neglected in hero's journey discussions. For example, in our story about Hitler during the war, his need might be to learn to accept the love of Ava Braun, but we in the audience probably don't care if he solves his problem and marries her.

So if your protagonist is a serial killer, what anticipation in the audience will be created? Will we want to see him become like Dexter and use his terrible urges only for good? Is there some level of growth or redemption we are hoping he will achieve? For example, serial killers have a hard time empathizing with people. Maybe your character will manage some success in this and get his urge to kill under control.

Usually a protagonist is either a change character who undergoes transformation, or he is a character who has the inner strength to resist forces of harmful change, and so he does not change at all, but his strength prompts beneficial change in those around him/her. Which type will your hero be?

It could actually be a very interesting story if you try the latter, where he is a character that does not change, but his constancy creates positive change in others around him. I think in this way, you would have a kind of ensemble of characters that we get to know and care about. The killer is more of a change agent than a true protagonist. He's a clever device that causes others to change. Although that's pretty close to being an antagonist, which also performs that function. The key thing is to create anticipation in the audience. What are they sitting on the edge of their seats hoping will happen?
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Female Gaze
Posted: January 22nd, 2017, 11:01am Report to Moderator
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This is also a really great one to check out with a 'Bad' protag/hero

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0388367/

Redemption. Jaime Foxx as Stan Tookie leader of the Crips before his execution. He actually wins a noble peace prize for his children's books on peace.
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Dreamscale
Posted: January 22nd, 2017, 11:03am Report to Moderator
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So many examples of what you're asking, Zack.

Rick is right for sure.

Look at Game of Thrones - are there any actual "good" lead characters?

Look at all the Friday the 13th movies.  Who's the main character, usually?  If you say so and so on this one and so and so in that one, I'd say you're wrong.  Jason is the main character, and IMO, he's always the Antagonist...but yet, peeps have cheered for him for 30 plus years.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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eldave1
Posted: January 22nd, 2017, 12:04pm Report to Moderator
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This thread is way to antagonistic!  


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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