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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Screenwriting Class  ›  Aging charaters in a script Moderators: George Willson
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  Author    Aging charaters in a script  (currently 238 views)
Warren
Posted: October 8th, 2018, 7:39pm Report to Moderator
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I've read a few scripts that deal with this, and I donít know if there is a preferable way to handle it.

Scripts that cover the lifetime of a person. How would you handle the aging process?

For example, if the lead character has scenes where he is  5, 16, 21, 30, 50. You canít use the same actor for all those ages. The older ones wouldnít be a problem.

Would you capitalise the lead characters name every time his age changes or only when you think the actor would change? Would you also do this for all the other characters aging around him.

If you write a character with his age (JOHN, 19) would you do the same for every other character that ages with them or is it perfectly reasonable to assume that if the lead ages, so does everyone else by default.

Then there is the issue of how to handle the character name before dialogue. Iíve seen it written as JOHN throughout regardless of age, but Iíve also seen JOHN AT TEN, JOHN AT TWENTY ONE etc.

I donít ask from a rules perspective, just from a clarity perspective.

Itís doing my head in; I keep changing my mind about how to best to do this.


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Warren
Posted: October 8th, 2018, 7:41pm Report to Moderator
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I'm thinking of capitalising whenever any character needs a different actor, only giving the age of the lead, and keeping his name constant throughout for dialogue.


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Dustin
Posted: October 9th, 2018, 1:51am Report to Moderator
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This all depends on whether it is the same actor or a different one. One actor may be able to play a role where he is 20 and ages to 40 etc... however a 20-year-old isn't going to be able to play a 6-year-old. Also, the voice would change.

If the dialogue can be read by one actor throughout, then leave it as is and write the age in the action. If a different actor is needed, then I would indicate this by using a different name in the dialogue - even if it means writing JOHN (AGE 6).
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Warren
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Quoted from Dustin
This all depends on whether it is the same actor or a different one. One actor may be able to play a role where he is 20 and ages to 40 etc... however a 20-year-old isn't going to be able to play a 6-year-old. Also, the voice would change.

If the dialogue can be read by one actor throughout, then leave it as is and write the age in the action. If a different actor is needed, then I would indicate this by using a different name in the dialogue - even if it means writing JOHN (AGE 6).


Thanks, while that is my least favourite option for the dialogue, it might be the way to go. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button uses the age in the name version. Forrest Gump keeps the character names as FORREST throughout and only indicated the age changes for Forrest in the action.

I guess at the end of the day as long as it's clear and consistent.

I am interested to hear some more opinions if anyone has something wildly different.


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Dustin
Posted: October 9th, 2018, 2:11am Report to Moderator
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I've never seen Forrest Gump. Were different actors and their voices used?

The reason I would use the age is only to make it easier for an actor to find their lines in a script. If you know you're playing JOHN (AGE 6) then you can go straight to the lines without any confusion.
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MarkRenshaw
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Don't worry about casting, that's up to the director and other such people. Just pick a method for highlighting that your character has aged and keep it consistent throughout.

As for methods you have several options. You can include a SUPER that specifies the date so it is obvious when the time has changed. For example, if earlier in the script it was SUPER: SPRING 1991 and John is a child, when it changes to SUPER: WINTER 2018 it is going to be obvious that John will have aged.  Just to highlight this is the same John, you can briefly cover it in the action, e.g. 'John, now all grown-up and sporting a beer belly, fiddles with a pen.'

If you keep bouncing back and forth between times it could get confusing, so in that instance I'd give John different names. If young John is only going to be used in flashbacks, I'd refer to his character as YOUNG JOHN throughout and the older character who has more screen time as simply JOHN.  You could specify the age each time like JOHN (12) and JOHN (25) but personally that would irritate me if I were reading that script.

When I'm writing such things I prefer the first method I mentioned.


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ChrisBodily
Posted: October 9th, 2018, 9:50pm Report to Moderator
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I'm writing a coming-of-age thing where several characters age. The character based on me ages from 5 to 14.

What I'd do is (especially if your timeline is linear) cap the character every time he ages and leave it up to the director. S/he'll decide how many actors s/he needs.


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CameronD
Posted: October 10th, 2018, 1:09pm Report to Moderator
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Why would the actor cast have any impact on your story?


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FrankM
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Quoted from CameronD
Why would the actor cast have any impact on your story?


It might be trying to keep the budget reasonable, or at least let a reader know how many actors are needed.

5-year-old is obviously a child actor.
30- and 50-year-olds probably one actor and a lot of makeup.
16 and 21 will be a judgment call by the casting people. If they're lucky, the 5-year-old has an older brother and the 30-year-old can be made to look young.


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Dustin
Posted: October 10th, 2018, 2:36pm Report to Moderator
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For the first time ever I am writing a script with particular actors in mind filling the main parts. I'm actually going to contact them once the script is done in the hope they want to attach themselves (to the project). It's also the very first family romcom I've ever written. People who know me here know I don't write romcoms. I've written 52 pages in 3 days. Should have a polished-ish-enough draft in 3 weeks.

It's been a while since I've written something for myself. Feels good.
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FrankM
Posted: October 10th, 2018, 3:42pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Dustin
For the first time ever I am writing a script with particular actors in mind filling the main parts. I'm actually going to contact them once the script is done in the hope they want to attach themselves (to the project). It's also the very first family romcom I've ever written. People who know me here know I don't write romcoms. I've written 52 pages in 3 days. Should have a polished-ish-enough draft in 3 weeks.

It's been a while since I've written something for myself. Feels good.


416 pages in all? That's getting close to Sophie the Gelded Space Stallion territory


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Warren
Posted: October 10th, 2018, 6:16pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks all, I appreciate the advice.


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Dustin
Posted: October 11th, 2018, 1:26am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from FrankM


416 pages in all? That's getting close to Sophie the Gelded Space Stallion territory


haha, no. It will be around 100 pages. It's three weeks for a polished draft. The initial draft will be finished probably by this Monday. Then comes the polish that will take one to two weeks. To be honest, it should only take 2 weeks in all but I'm allowing an extra week leeway as things can come up. I also have a lot of work coming in soon that will get in the way. That's another reason why I'm not hanging around in getting the first draft down.
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eldave1
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If feasible, I would give the character a differentiating name and only mention the age when intro'd.

e.g.,

TODDLER DAVE (4) rides his bike...

TODDLER DAVE
Look at me.

Later on.

TEEN DAVE (16) rides his motorcycle....

TEEN DAVE
Look at me.

And so on.


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Warren
Posted: October 11th, 2018, 8:34pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from eldave1
If feasible, I would give the character a differentiating name and only mention the age when intro'd.

e.g.,

TODDLER DAVE (4) rides his bike...

TODDLER DAVE
Look at me.

Later on.

TEEN DAVE (16) rides his motorcycle....

TEEN DAVE
Look at me.

And so on.



I've toyed with this idea and I'm worried it will really affect the flow of the script. Would you then do it for all the other characters that have grown up with the lead character?

I think Dustin made the point about this method making it easier for the actors to distinguish their lines, and I do remember reading that somewhere as well.

It's driving me a little insane at this point.



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