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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    One Week Challenge    The August Challenge  ›  August/September Character Discussion Moderators: Scar Tissue Films
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  Author    August/September Character Discussion  (currently 4130 views)
hawkeye
Posted: August 30th, 2019, 12:41pm Report to Moderator
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One thought as someone who listens often to podcasts.

I don't need to tell anyone (but I'm going to anyway) that the biggest difference between the visual of TV/Movies is that you can quickly identify who is who because you have a visual reference point.  You also have the auditory function and unusual characters burst out at you because they look AND sound differently than everyone else.

With podcasts, all you have is the auditory. If you have a dozen or more main characters, then they better sound unique and different than all the other characters. Otherwise it becomes a jumble and makes it difficult to follow.  If you ever listened to S Town, and I highly encourage you to give it a listen if you haven't, then you'll notice how different everyone sounds -- and these are real people.  

The point I'm making is that the main characters in this podcast should be kept at a manageable number so we can easily pick them out when several characters are in the room at the same time.  To me, this also means making them  easy to understand.  I've watched several British TV series like Broadchurch, Luther, Bodyguard, and Happy Valley, and Happy Valley especially I had to watch with the subtitles on.  I'm not certain whether you're placing this, but it needs to be somewhere that the accents won't affect our ability to understand what their saying.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast.


My web site and scripts can be found here:

Gary's web site
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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: August 30th, 2019, 12:50pm Report to Moderator
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All good info, Gary. And I agree.

Different voices. Different races. Different styles of talking. Different things they talk about that's instantly recognisable.

Not too many at once. Find ways to reaffirm who they are from time to time.
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ReneC
Posted: August 30th, 2019, 12:53pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from hawkeye
One thought as someone who listens often to podcasts.

I don't need to tell anyone (but I'm going to anyway) that the biggest difference between the visual of TV/Movies is that you can quickly identify who is who because you have a visual reference point.  You also have the auditory function and unusual characters burst out at you because they look AND sound differently than everyone else.

With podcasts, all you have is the auditory. If you have a dozen or more main characters, then they better sound unique and different than all the other characters. Otherwise it becomes a jumble and makes it difficult to follow.  If you ever listened to S Town, and I highly encourage you to give it a listen if you haven't, then you'll notice how different everyone sounds -- and these are real people.  

The point I'm making is that the main characters in this podcast should be kept at a manageable number so we can easily pick them out when several characters are in the room at the same time.  To me, this also means making them  easy to understand.  I've watched several British TV series like Broadchurch, Luther, Bodyguard, and Happy Valley, and Happy Valley especially I had to watch with the subtitles on.  I'm not certain whether you're placing this, but it needs to be somewhere that the accents won't affect our ability to understand what their saying.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast.


This also brings up whether there should be a narrator or not. There are advantages and disadvantages either way.

A narrator could simply describe action lines, or it could be the first person accounting of one or more characters, either in the present or as if looking back from the future to recount the events from their point of view.


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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: August 30th, 2019, 1:49pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from ReneC


This also brings up whether there should be a narrator or not. There are advantages and disadvantages either way.

A narrator could simply describe action lines, or it could be the first person accounting of one or more characters, either in the present or as if looking back from the future to recount the events from their point of view.


I think we'll have to experiment.

It feels like there are a lot of avenues that allow us to directly hear things : News, radio, Police characters calling dispatch, phone calls, people recording journals and the YouTubers. And obviously a large bulk of scenes will be directly acted as conversations.

But it feels that they're may be times when we want to hear direct thoughts.

EG.. (and don't take the writing as an example of the actual script!! )



FREDDIE Oi, Copper, nice arse.

JANE (V. O) Freddie 'Krueger' Collins, biggest tit in the town.

JANE Hello Frederick. Keeping out of trouble?




It seems like you can live in someone's head space quite easily without it seeming silly.

Finding a way to describe where you are is a bit of a skill as well.
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ReneC
Posted: August 30th, 2019, 2:35pm Report to Moderator
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Narration can fill in areas where there is no dialogue. When a character is alone, or transitioning between locations, or the passage of time. The more I think about it, the more I think we can't avoid some narration, unless everything is in real time.

On the other hand, simple musical cues can denote transitions.

The Darkest Night podcast has a really good balance between dialogue and narration. It relies very heavily on the voice acting to make it work.

http://www.darkestnightpod.com/


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ReneC
Posted: August 30th, 2019, 2:51pm Report to Moderator
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The Wolverine podcast doesn't seem to have a narrator. It uses long pauses for transitions, and characters use each others names a lot when speaking. It has more ambient noise to help situate the different locations.


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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: August 30th, 2019, 2:53pm Report to Moderator
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I'll definitely check it out.
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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: August 30th, 2019, 3:01pm Report to Moderator
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One good thing about the fog:

It gives people an excuse to always be on the phone. Or on walkie talkies.


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Zack
Posted: August 30th, 2019, 3:23pm Report to Moderator
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Don't get it right. Get it written.

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I think this story is going to need some narration.


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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: August 30th, 2019, 3:42pm Report to Moderator
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We'll start experimenting tomorrow.

There's a hell of a lot we can do without it, but if we need it, then we use it.
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LC
Posted: August 30th, 2019, 7:31pm Report to Moderator
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Do you like to eat pie after a good movie?

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Maybe have a child (or at least younger than fifteen) narrate it, a smart Greta Thunberg type, then you can have
a clear, unrattled but innocent voice, commentate and make observations on the state of play - adults making not too clued-up decisions etc. Out of the mouths of babes. Oh, and a dog by her side. Oh, and a clutter of feral cats. Cats don't do well when in competition for food and they breed like rabbits. You can also get some good sound effects from them.

At the moment the cast is all adults. Unless a side effect of the fog is most kids perishing...



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FrankM
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Quoted from Scar Tissue Films
I think we'll merge the accountant and the small business owner into one financial consultant type.


I'm going to call this guy David for the moment, just to cut down on the number of pronouns that follow.

To give this guy some texture, David can be the minority that the last-remaining-doctorlike-person doesn't like, and be the one on schizophrenia meds. Probably no indication of the illness at all until the pharmacy gets looted of all its narcotics and there's a mad dash to secure what's left.

David asks for all of the chlorpromazine, and he'd get perhaps most of it.

After being on reduced/stretched doses for a while, he makes a mistake on watch duty, sees his dancing lights out in the Fog and thinks it's someone approaching with a torch (that's British for flashlight). After the wasted effort to find the non-existent person, David is taken off watch duty and put to some other (less valuable) use. It's not like the town is in dire need of financial consulting, so he's effectively unskilled.

Later, Jane's partner gets injured, shows symptoms of Tetanus. The doctor, who probably has half a dozen other treatment options at hand, "hesitantly" suggests the chlorpromazine.

Depending on the needs of the story, this could be done publicly to shame the David into giving up his meds, or it can be said to some authoritative proxy (police chief, etc.) with a little bit of "You know the deputy's worth ten of him."

Later still, during the city-folk invasion, David saves the person who asked for the meds, gets impaled for his troubles, and hands over the remainder of the chlorpromazine which he had hidden somewhere on his person. "I'm not going to need this anymore."


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ChrisBodily
Posted: August 30th, 2019, 9:37pm Report to Moderator
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This challenge is a lot to wrap my head around, but it sounds like The Fog or The Mist.

Here are my character ideas:

ASH - an LGBT character

The President - A generic president

A Wolfman Jack-like radio DJ


FADE IN:
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LC
Posted: August 31st, 2019, 12:07am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from FrankM


I'm going to call this guy David for the moment, just to cut down on the number of pronouns that follow.

To give this guy some texture, David can be the minority that the last-remaining-doctorlike-person doesn't like, and be the one on schizophrenia meds. Probably no indication of the illness at all until the pharmacy gets looted of all its narcotics and there's a mad dash to secure what's left.

David asks for all of the chlorpromazine, and he'd get perhaps most of it.

After being on reduced/stretched doses for a while, he makes a mistake on watch duty, sees his dancing lights out in the Fog and thinks it's someone approaching with a torch (that's British for flashlight). After the wasted effort to find the non-existent person, David is taken off watch duty and put to some other (less valuable) use. It's not like the town is in dire need of financial consulting, so he's effectively unskilled.

Later, Jane's partner gets injured, shows symptoms of Tetanus. The doctor, who probably has half a dozen other treatment options at hand, "hesitantly" suggests the chlorpromazine.

Depending on the needs of the story, this could be done publicly to shame the David into giving up his meds, or it can be said to some authoritative proxy (police chief, etc.) with a little bit of "You know the deputy's worth ten of him."

Later still, during the city-folk invasion, David saves the person who asked for the meds, gets impaled for his troubles, and hands over the remainder of the chlorpromazine which he had hidden somewhere on his person. "I'm not going to need this anymore."


Hmm, interesting, Frank. I'm just not keen on the shame and worthy of living elements, even if you could argue you're shining a light on those aspects.

So, re the character suffering schizophrenia. I'll just make a couple suggestions... Do your research first. Chlorpromazine is a first generation medication which would bring you to: how old is this guy? Even if he's older, a person receiving regular meds and psychotherapy is likely now not only to be taking 2nd-generation antipsychotics (because they're superior and overdose is less likely fatal) but also be taking an anti-depressant and/or anti-convulsive/epileptic med. Obviously this is fiction so leeway applies lest you bore an audience with technicalities but it's still advisable you know your stuff...

Chlorpromazine is primarily viewed as outdated in first line of treatment these days for schizophrenia and psychotic episodes.  It would also only combat spasms in someone afflicted with tetanus, (diazepam would do the same trick) but you'd still need an antitoxin and antibiotics.

Re storyline, wouldn't it be a breath of fresh air in this climate (still) of stigma related to mental illness  (it's slowly improving) if the character was not just a plot device deserving of being impaled at the end, but if we as writers led the way to counter 'crazy' sterotypes. Your David could conversely be a high functioning individual, very intelligent, have a funny personality (maybe add comic relief with corny jokes) be well liked and be an asset to the survival of the group - maybe even be a leader of sorts. His gradual mental deterioration might then lead to him doubting his sanity as his meds wear off and he becomes less capable of making sound decisions. But even them have him aware of what's happening. He could even die heroically, saving someone else, while battling his own hallucinations. How about that? He could become a much loved character, his demise touching and tragic -

His denouement could be just like Jon Snow preparing for the Battle Of The Bastards - fans shrieking at the TV (or in this case, huddled around the podcast) yelling: No, he can't be gone...!

Okay, off my soapbox now.  
P.S. And no, I have no inclination to write David, btw. Just offering my thoughts, primarily on stereotypes.


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Nomad
Posted: August 31st, 2019, 12:16am Report to Moderator
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We have plenty of characters for the opening scene in the pub, we just need to figure out exactly who needs to be there, why do we need them there, and what are they doing.

They have to establish the world in a very short amount of time.
They have to show the problem in a very short amount of time.
And they have to come up with a plan of action in a very short amount of time.

We can't have the fog slowly get thicker over the course of several episodes.
The fog needs to be something frightening right away. It needs to be so thick you can't see more than 5 feet in front of you.
Then when people find out that the fog is just fog, and not some science/government/alien experiment gone awry, they'll really freak out because it's everywhere and there's no way to get rid of it.

I like the idea of the main character hearing reports on her radio:  Roads shut down, train wrecks, all units are to shelter in place and assist in the immediate area. Stay off the roads until it clears.

Trap these people together for a short while and build the conflict.

Who knows best?
Who is in charge?
What's going on?
What are they going to do?

I'm going to check out the chronology and see exactly where we're going in the story.
We have to be efficient with our characters and not waste time or energy on throwaway characters.
Every one of them needs a job. They need to do something for the story.

-Jordan


Read my scripts here:
SOCIAL EXPERIMENT 8pg-Drama
THE BRIDGE 8pg-Horror
SCHEISSE 6pg-Horror/Comedy
MADE FOR EACH OTHER-FILMED
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