Exquisite False Expectation

{An excerpt from Shane Black’s KISS KISS BANG BANG}

Harry (Robert Downey Jr) and Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) are trying to get information out of a hostage.

HOSTAGE: “Look, I don’t know anything about a girl.  Seriously.  I was bluffing.”

HARRY: “You know what?  I think that you are bluffing- right- now.”

Harry empties his revolver of all six bullets.

GAY PERRY: “Harry, what are you doing?”

As Harry places a single bullet back in the chamber… 

HARRY: “Well, what I’m doing for the guy that likes to ‘bluff’ is playing a little game that I like to call ‘Am bluffing?'”

Harry spins the cylinder, aims at his hostage:

HARRY: “You wanna play hard ball?  I can do that.  Where- is- the girl!

–BLAM!  The gun goes off, killing the hostage.  Harry is appalled.

GAY PERRY: “What did you just do?”

HARRY: “I just- I put in one bullet, didn’t I?”

GAY PERRY: “You put a live round in that gun?!”

HARRY: “Yeah, there was like an 8 percent chance.”

GAY PERRY: “8 percent?  Eight?!  Who taught you math!”

Image

Why am I so tickled by this scene?  Because it’s a perfect illustration of a concept in screenwriting I like to call the “Exquisite False Expectation.”

We’ve seen this setup a thousand times.  The gunman empties the cylinder, places a single bullet back in the chamber.  This little game he’s about to play is really called ‘Russian Roulette.’  Naturally in this situation the gunman will aim at his hostage, pull the trigger- CLICK– an empty chamber means the hostage’s life is spared- for the moment!  But could the bullet be in the next round?  The tension grows with each trigger pull.  However, the tension is diluted when the audience can accurately predict the result having seen it many times before.  Sometimes the option lock runs out and the hostage is eventually killed.  But what usually happens is the hostage can’t take the tension anymore and caves, giving in to the gunman’s demands.

Yawn.

The reason the KKBB scene elicits a response from the audience is not just because an event occurs that the audience didn’t see coming, but moreover, the audience was anticipating something specific that they’ve seen over and over again… but this time got something different.

It’s like the classic 1-2-3 joke structure where the first step establishes the setting, the second establishes a parallel to the first step- a direction- and thus an expectation for what will come next.  But when you get to the 3rd step you are instead given a twist.  Setup-anticipation-punchline.

(from Laura Kightlinger) “I can’t think of anything worse after a night of drinking than waking up next to someone and not being able to remember…”

a) “…their name…” (setup)

b) “…how you met…” (anticipation)

c) “…or why they’re dead.” (punchline)

Bodda-bing!

In the narrative setup we’re substituting jokes for tropes.  In jokes we intuitively know the 1-2-3 structure but can still appreciate a good punchline.  But in a movie trope, when the result is what we expected it to be it’s as if we’re hearing a joke for the umpteenth time- it’s as if the joke doesn’t have a punchline!

Wah-wah-waaah.

Lazy screenwriting results in audiences walking out going “There was nothing original in that movie.”  Sure, it’s one thing to invent original stories where events occur that we haven’t seen before.  But there’s something extra special about when a writer sets up a situation we have seen before and successfully turns our expectation of what will happen right on it’s predictable head!

Bodda-frickin-bing!

As a mentor of mine once said to me: “Well, if you can do that, then you can have the house in the hills.”

~ JW

A Unique Perspective on the Sphere of Humanity

A friend of mine, Leigh McGowan, was recently asked to write a book based on her blog, InCaseImGone.com, about her experience as a young mother who suffers from a very rare- and potentially fatal- disease called Pulmonary Hypertension.  When talking about her opportunity to share her stories in this new book, this brilliant, courageous, humble woman asks me: “But why would anyone care about my perspective?”

The question rocked me a bit.  Clearly people are interested in what she has to say, otherwise she wouldn’t be asked to do a book proposal.  I think what my friend questions is what her unique life situation does to illuminate humanity as a whole when not many can relate to what she’s going through.  But in my opinion, the more unique the perspective the more valuable it is to humanity.

Let’s say humanity- and all it represents (politics, religion, sexuality, eating habits, etc)- is wrapped in a dense sphere.

Based on where we’re born, what values we’re raised with, and specific events that occur in our lives, we develop a certain perspective on life, that is markedly similar to others within our own demographic.  Imagine this viewpoint as an electrical charge connecting to an invisible outer sphere, which represents the “truth” about humanity.  Every perspective is important as the only way we can fully see the whole truth is if, in theory, this entire outer shell is eventually illuminated.

The problem with, say, Americans being raised under such similar circumstances is our perspectives tend to shine in the same general area.  It’s comforting for us to feel understood.  We are drawn to the light.  When one person challenges a popular view they are, at first, met with opposition until eventually like-minded people are drawn to this new light.  Polarization occurs; two competing lights which, most likely, each have merit but are nothing without the other.  People find comfort in the Republican/Democrat struggle because life is easy to define.  But I’m sorry, I don’t believe in straight vs gay, black vs white.  Humanity is much too complex to deny the many shades of gray, which only become visible by the residual glow from light reflected off areas we’re already familiar with.  But how do we get all 360 degrees of illumination to shine brightly?

That’s where Leigh comes in.  She’s not unique because she’s a woman, or because she’s from Canada, or because she’s a writer.  A search on eHarmony.com will return pages and pages of similar matches.  But one thing that makes her truly special is her struggle with this debilitating disease.  Now throw in that she’s a mother who has decided to write letters to her son to say all the things she understands about life in case she doesn’t get a chance to explain them later.  All of a sudden, a unique perspective shines brightly on the outer sphere, expanding the visible surface, and creating new gray areas.  People are drawn to the light.  Soon women, men, Canadians and Americans alike who have this same disease- or something similar- see aspects of themselves represented.  The Venn diagram of their lives compared to Leigh’s is given credence as they now have a clear place in society.  And they’ll be inspired to share their own unique perspectives that were formerly veiled in darkness.

The illumination of this entire sphere is a daunting, yet noble, goal.  To Leigh… and to everyone markedly similar yet unique who will each get us closer to understanding humanity… I say:

“Write on, my dear friend.”

~ JW

The Dash vs the Ellipsis

This could also be called… “Cutting Off vs Trailing Off.”

I’m certainly no grammar expert.  I get called out on my use of “its” vs “it’s” all the time.  Truth be told, I favor “its” sometimes simply because that extra space would put my dialogue on a new line, and nobody likes those dangling orphans making their script longer!

But I am amazed how often I see an incorrect use of a dash vs an ellipsis — taking me out of the script.  Not because I’m being anal but because they communicate two totally different ideas!   This seems like common knowledge to me.  But it comes up all the time when I’m coaching actors.  This confusion bothers me so much that I’ve decided to let the dash and the ellipsis duke it out!

In the blue corner…

THE DASH. ( – )

  • Specifically, there are en dashes (  ) and em dashes (  ), which have slightly different uses.
  • Not to be confused with hyphens which are used to join words and to separate syllables of a single word (thank you, JD)

And in the red corner…

THE ELLIPSIS ( … )

  • DEFINITION: “A series of marks that usually indicate an intentional omission of a word, sentence or whole section from the original text being quoted.”
  • Commonly used to indicate an unfinished thought or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence.

DING–!

So which one wins…?  Let’s find out!

Other than using dashes for slug-lining (i.e., INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT) there are two main areas we’re going to have to decide whether to use a dash or ellipsis.

Round 1: DIALOGUE:

Let’s say you want to communicate someone talking before getting cut off (small excerpt from Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)

  • HARRY: “Listen, I just found out
  • HARMONY: “Get out of my life!!!”

On the flip side, let’s say you want to communicate a thought trailing off. (from The Simpsons)

  • KIRK: “But, will they just find Milhouse, or will they find him and kill him?”
  • CHIEF WIGGUM: “Well, they’ll, when they find him they’ll um
  • KIRK: “Um, excuse me, you didn’t answer me, you just trailed off.”
  • CHIEF WIGGUM: “Yeah yeah, I did kind of trail off there, didn’t I?”

What if a character pauses before answering…?  Or they’re simply waiting to continue…? Or let’s just say there’s a phone conversation where the audience can’t hear the person on the other line.

  • HIM (on phone): “Hey, honey, it’s me yeah, I was talking to that girl but yeah, but okay, please stop yelling.”

If you want to suggest a continuation of someone talking from scene to scene (like in narration)…  Or if you want to suggest the audience walking in on the middle of a conversation in progress (again, from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

  • Flashing lights.  Crime scene tape.  A REPORTER does a stand-up, breath pluming in the chill air:
  • REPORTER: “ sources close to Neal, who has not worked as an actor in two years, said he seemed despondent earlier tonight.”

Both can be used to express a change in thought but a dash suggests the flow doesn’t slow down.  Here’s another excerpt from Shane Black’s KKBB expressing an emphasis on an idea — almost as an afterthought.

  • NARRATOR (VO): “It’s hard to believe it was just last Christmas that me and Harmony changed the world.  We didn’t mean to; and it didn’t last long a thing like that can’t.”

What if there are two people talking.  One is going on and on but the second one interjects something without breaking the flow of the first person’s dialogue… (from KKBB)

  • LEATHER #1: “You wanna know who we are?  Real simple.  Me?  I’m the frying pan, see, and my buddy over here, he’s –“
  • LEATHER #2: “Mustard.  I’m Mustard.”
  • LEATHER #1: “– He’s the FIRE, fuck you, Mr Mustard.”

In this case the ellipses is also a fair substitute.  That same idea can be expressed like this.

  • LEATHER #1: “You wanna know who we are?  Real simple.  Me?  I’m the frying pan, see, and my buddy over here, he’s”
  • LEATHER #2: “…Mustard.  I’m Mustard…”
  • LEATHER #1: “He’s the FIRE, fuck you, Mr Mustard.”

And again, the dash can be substituted in this case as well.

Now let’s say there’s some action going on and you want to add urgency to the way someone cuts in to dialogue.   (NOTE: This can also indicate cutting the first word off a sentence to add urgency)

  • The cop trains his weapon on the suspect as he creeps behind.  The suspect turns and the cop shouts at him.
  • COPS: “On the ground!  Now!”

This brings me to…

Round 2: ACTION

To add urgency to action you can write the same piece like… this–!

  • The cop trains his weapon on the suspect as he creeps behind.  The suspect turns when
  • COPS: “–On the ground!  Now!”

Or you can do it in the middle of a line to emphasize a quick dramatic moment — in this case, a SOUND.

  • Her head snaps upward, alert — CRASH!

On the flip side, if you want to add a slow… dramatic… pause… or… beat.

  • They both look over the edge… three stories down.

Or to connect one visual idea to another…

  • CAMERA begins, slowly, to pull back
  • A PEN POINT.  It begins WRITING gracefully:

(NOTE: As far as capturing what a movie will feel like in script form, Shane Black is one of the best)

AND THE WINNER IS…

Dash — 6Ellipsis — 6

Yay!  They both win… or lose.  Either way- who cares– let’s just use them correctly.

~ JW

Notes on Craft – (Part 6 of 6): Rewriting & Polishing

PART 1: Premise & Concept

PART 2: Structure

PART 3: Character

PART 4: The First 20 Pages

PART 5: Dialogue & Scene

PART 6: Rewriting & Polishing

Audrey Wells (Under the Tuscan Sun, George of the Jungle, Shall We Dance)

– “When I write, I rewrite as I go.”

– “The more pain I put my main character through the better it is.”

– “I never let a studio read a working draft.”

– “I don’t outline (confessed not enjoying the writing process).”

– “I always write backwards.  I have to know the ending first.  Then I write the scenes in order of interest, no matter where they are in the story.”

– “When writers go for tone the story always suffers.”

– “Characters are what they do.  You can’t have story unless you have characters who would make those decisions.”

– “For beginning writers, write something low-budget and direct it yourself.  Don’t wait for Hollywood to fulfill your dreams.”

– “Don’t protect your work.  Show it to people.  Get feedback.”

– “If you’re stuck in a rewrite with a 2-person scene, for instance, try writing a 3rd person into the scene; anything to shake it up.”

– “Whenever you’re stuck, brainstorm 10 ideas before deciding.  Then another 10 if you’re still unsure.”

Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air, X-Men:First Class, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning)

– “I edit as I go along, starting from the beginning.”

– “Write a first draft when you’re feeling manic.  Edit when you’re feeling depressed.”

– “I always fill up two legal pads before I start writing the script.”

– “Studios are usually good at out the problems but not articulating the solution.”

– “I come up with dumb questions for studio execs that they can answer so they feel like they came up with something.”

– “Just write.  Don’t underline certain things you love.  Stupid people won’t get them.  Smart people will hate you for pointing them out.”

– “I wrote 12 scripts before showing one to anyone.”

Wesley Strick (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Cape Fear, Arachnophobia)

– “I just try to finish the first draft as fast as possible.  Like climbing up a mountain, I want to get to the top as fast as possible.”

– “Set a deadline.  6 weeks for the first draft.  Make sure after each week you’re hitting your mark.”

– “Often younger writers can’t define what they’re writing about.”

– “I’m driven by plot.  Twists, turns, turning expectation.”

– “When I get notes in email form I write responses to each one, whether I’m acknowledging what the studio suggests or defending why I think something is valid.  (That way you can keep everyone on the same page).”

– “They say you have to write 10 scripts before you’ll sell your first one.”

Scott Frank (Minority Report, Out of Sight, Get Shorty)

– “I rewrite constantly; often rewriting several times as I go.  OCD-like.  Then later on I have less rewrites to do.”

– “My first drafts usually run about 140-160 pages.”

– “I write draft 1 in scene order, but do rewrites out of order.”

– “Newer writers don’t know how to write characters.”

– “I always work deeply in character bios: what are they afraid of, their histories, etc.”

– “Listen- if you want to have a great writing career, write great characters!”

– “It takes me…

  • 10 weeks before I ever write the title page.
  • 4 months to write an outline.
  • 1 year for a first draft”

– “Ignore studio criticism in notes but decipher what they’re trying to say.”

– “When receiving notes from the studio, I just sit there writing- not always what they’re telling me- but something, in over to take my mind off of it.  Try to be the dumbest person in the room.”

– “Be clear about why you’re writing.  I would rather read a script that a writer spent 8 years working on than a writer who had 1 of 8 scripts to choose from.”

– “90% of the rewrites I do are because of character flaws.”

– “Every scene you write think about what is interesting about it.”

Qs:

– What style of writer outlines vs one who doesn’t?   What do you do?

– After you write a first draft of your script are you disciplined enough to go back and outline before trying again?

– When you receive notes are you able to remain cool and hear what they’re trying to tell you?

Notes on Craft – (Part 5 of 6): Dialogue & Scene

PART 1: Premise & Concept

PART 2: Structure

PART 3: Character

PART 4: The First 20 Pages

PART 5: Dialogue & Scene

PART 6: Rewriting & Polishing

Kurt Wimmer (Law Abiding Citizen, Salt, Equilibirum)

– “Once your scene states what it’s about you should be out.  It helps punctuate the next scene as well.”

– “The way to affect an audience who’s seen everything is give them dialogue they don’t expect.  They feel like like it’s real all of a sudden because they didn’t see it coming.”

– “Try to make your scenes simpler so you don’t get trapped by exposition.  Simple story; provocative emotion.”

– “To draw in the audience create a compelling character and give him a big question to be answered.  Movies are answering a series of questions.”

– “The more your characters disagree and have opposite POVs the more the scenes write themselves.”

– “There’s a fine line with mystery where just enough keeps the audience on board vs too much which alienates and tires them.”

– “Don’t talk in speeches.”

– “Test yourself.  If you have a 3 page scene, try to communicate the same information in 1 page.  You’d be surprised how much it will work.”

– “If you write the 1st act correctly the rest will write itself.”

Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex, Marley & Me, Bounce)

– “In life, people usually hide their feelings.  They don’t usually say how they feel unless they’re mad.”

– “When deciding how to write a scene, think ‘What is Character A afraid Character B will find out about him?’ and ‘What does Character A want Character B to think about him?'”

– “I establish one main character (ideally) and make the audience connect with him right away so they’re on board with the story.”

– “Characters need two things.

  1. Secrets
  2. Objectives.”

– “Don’t tell us everything about your main character right away.”

– “To get the audience to like your hero give them a scene where a group of people leaves the room and your hero is left alone.  Imagine a close up where he sighs.  For some reason, the audience empathizes with this feeling of how difficult it is to operate in society.”

– “Subtext comes from what the character wants and what they’re afraid to say.”

– “You must know the ‘moment before’ whatever scene you’re writing.”

George Nolfi (The Bourne Ultimatum, The Adjustment Bureau, Ocean’s Twelve)

– “Movies are about having one large question to be answered… and riddled with a series of smaller questions along the way… and conflict.”

– “The best way to handle exposition is visually.”

– “Not every scene has a 3-act structure.”

– “Come in to a scene as late as possible so the previous part is inferred.  A good tactic is to have characters arguing about something we don’t know about until it’s slowly revealed within the scene.”

– “To surprise the audience you have to lull them into something they expect- and then alter it.”

– “The best thing you can do with dialogue is eliminate it.”

– “Too much subtext and characters not saying what they want and the audience won’t understand what’s happening.”

Qs:

– Do you tend to overwrite your scenes?

– How does dialogue function with two vastly different movies like Drive (by Hossein Amini) and Moneyball (by Aaron Sorkin)?

– Do you think about writing scenes with a 3-act structure?

Notes on Craft – (Part 4 of 6): The First 20 Pages

PART 1: Premise & Concept

PART 2: Structure

PART 3: Character

PART 4: The First 20 Pages

PART 5: Dialogue & Scene

PART 6: Rewriting & Polishing

BILLY RAY (Shattered Glass, State of Play, The Hunger Games)

– “Think about the end and then reverse-engineer to create the best setup for that climax.  I’m looking for things to drop in that will pay off later.”

– “Don’t try to sell your script w/page 1.  Just try to get them to read page 2.  Establish a voice.  Hook em.”

– “Whenever I’m writing a script I always ask myself ‘What is the simple, emotional journey‘ and then I write it on a note at the top of my computer.  For Shattered Glass it was ‘What if the least popular guy in class took on the most popular guy in class?'”

– “One mistake I made in writing Shattered Glass was that the first 6 scenes were ‘Start-Stop’.  (They were six independent scenes that had a beginning, middle, and end introducing each character) and it really slowed down the pace of the story when we saw the rough-cut.  We had to play around in editing to make it flow right.”

– “Using visuals relating to your theme help symbolize the entire film.”

– “The purpose of the camera is to reveal subtext of what the character is hiding.  Use the action to contrast the dialogue.  Liars are easy to write.”

– “Make a check mark next to every bit of dialogue that each character says that he actually means.  If you have too many then you need to rewrite.”

– “Robert Towne thinks of every lie a character says as a pull on the quiver of the eventual release of the emotional arrow.”

– “Dialogue should be spare (fragmented) because that’s how people talk.”

– “When prepping for writing I always pick a soundtrack to fit my story- I use The Thin Red Line a lot.  Then I write a makeshift treatment putting every single idea I can think of.  Don’t edit!  After you build your granite block you then chip away the info that is irrelevant until yo have your story.”

– “Don’t think of writing as art.  Think of it as work.  (Be practical about approaching writing without all the “artsy angst” people attach to it).  When studios rewrite you they look for what’s not working. So think of writing as work- and hopefully the art will come.”

– “I write from 9Am-1PM.  Then 1:30-5PM.  Nights and weekends are for my kids.”

– “If you have a long treatment it’s impossible not to write the script fast.  And there’s an energy to that.”

– “For every single scene you write, ask yourself…

  1. Am I deepening the character?
  2. Am I setting tone?
  3. Am I advancing the story?
  4. (depending on genre) Is it funny, or exciting, or scary?”

– “Try to disguise your story beats behind emotional (character) beats.  This is advancing the ball in more than one way.”

– “When getting notes from studios… Listen to the problem; ignore the solution… They usually are good at pinpointing what is wrong with the script but don’t know how to articulate it.  Sometimes they’re dealing with so many movies that they’ll try to fix your problem with the exact same solution they used on another project.  (So here what they’re saying but use your own instinct on remedying it.)”

– “I organize my notes by

  • Thematic Ideas
  • Character Ideas
  • Act 1 Ideas
  • Act 2 Ideas
  • Act 3 Ideas”

– “There are 4 quadrants to make a film about.  If you make a movie that satisfies all 4, it applies to no one.”

Nick Stoller (Fun With Dick and Jane, Get Him to the Greek, Yes Man)

– “I rewrite Act 1 all the time.”

– “When directing, it is only essential to shoot as much as you can in the first 20 pages; to make sure you cover every possible set-up the movie can go that can be arranged through editing.”

– “I always make sure I know what POV the story is being told from.”

– “Mike Nichols starts every movie with a visual metaphor that defines the movie thematically as a whole.”

– “Tension and comedy come from your lead character thinking he knows who he is when he doesn’t.”

– “I hate ‘cute-meets’ in romantic comedies.  I prefer two people who don’t know they’re in love.  When it seems like they’re in love it seems like the movie should be over.”

– “I write outlines.  And rewrite them.  Then write a “vomit pass” of a script as fast as possible.  Then go back and re-outline, etc… until I finally get it.”

– “Cut into the middle of the scene!”

– “Disguise story beats with a joke.”

– “I write the script as if that’s exactly what we’re shooting.  But if I’m directing there will be 40% of improv that is created after we’ve captured what is on the page.”

Jon & Erich Hoeber (Red, Whiteout, Battleship)

– (JH) “The first 20 pages are all about Tone and Character.

  • TONE: Laying down the rules of the story.
  • CHARACTER: Establish a relationship with your lead that’s special.”

– (EH) “You have a few minutes at the beginning of your story- a grace period- where audiences will stay tuned.  Don’t rush it.”

– (JH) “I always overwrite the 1st Act.  I need to go back and cut once I realize what’s needed.”

– (JH) “Before writing, we know where the story is going to go.  We also know each character’s emotional arc.  Then we look for those little moments to define the shift.”

– (JH) “Gather your notes/research.  Sit with it.  Then start writing & don’t stop yourself.  ‘Perfectionism is the enemy of execution.’  Get it down.  Go back later and edit once the gist of it is on the page.”

– (JH) “When writing the vomit pass, do it as fast as possible.  14-25 days for a feature.  Every professional I know does it.  Go back and re-outline.  But you’ll use the first draft as the bones to discover dialogue that repeats.”

– (JH) “When re-writing action or dialogue, ask yourself ‘Can I cut it?’  If you can, then DO IT!”

– (EH) “Every word in a script either makes it better– or makes it worse.”

– (JH) “When getting notes from studios, determine what they mean by the note.  Like if they say: “The ending sucks”… ask yourself ‘Is that really true?  Or was it not properly set up?’

– (JH) “I write with a computer.. and a notepad.  Sometimes it makes more sense to write certain notes by hand.”

Qs:

– Are you outlining as much as these professionals say they are?

– Do you think the prices of writing is different if you’re planning to direct the piece?

– Do you think Act 1 is the most important of the three?

Notes on Craft – (Part 3 of 6): Character

PART 1: Premise & Concept

PART 2: Structure

PART 3: Character

PART 4: The First 20 Pages

PART 5: Dialogue & Scene

PART 6: Rewriting & Polishing

WALLY WOLODARSKY (Monsters vs Aliens, The Rocker, Seeing Other People)

– “I get character from my friends.”

– “The best films are when the stories are simple and the characters are complex.”

– “If I at least know what the character wants I can write the scene.”

– “The best is when you write dialogue that shows what they want w/out telling exactly what it is.”

– “I like to put ‘wish-fulfillment’ into my characters.  Things from my life.”

– (re: time-management) “I keep a clock by my desk and click it every time I go to the bathroom, or lunch, etc, to monitor how distracted I get.”

– “When I sit down to write, I turn off all electronic devices and keep up the webster’s site.”

– (quoting Mamet) “Research is the writer’s crutch.”

ALINE BROSH McKENNA (The Devil Wears Prada, 27 Dresses, Laws of Attraction)

– “Character comes from action.”

– “In film, it’s important to take a character that is relentlessly ‘evil’ and give them a scene that explains why they’re that way.”

– “If you can’t put yourself in the driver’s seat of a character you shouldn’t write them.”

– “Your characters should talk on their own. If they don’t there’s something wrong with the character or the story.”

– “Back-story is great, but if it’s not in the script it’s useless.”

– “You only speak when you want something.”

– “I write scenes with specific actors in mind.”

– “If you write scenes and nothing funny happens then something’s wrong.  But they won’t be funny unless grounded in some sort of universal reality, making the audience go: ‘That’s so true!'”

– “Movies are an ’emotional delivery system’.  If a scene doesn’t evoke emotion it’s failing.”

– “I try to get myself in a state where I can literally laugh or cry as I’m writing.”

– “It’s best to write to a deadline of sorts.”

– “William Goldman describes his characters well: ‘The kind of guy who always drops their ice cream.'”

– “Characters changing is more about them not knowing what they want at the beginning and by the end they do know and finally take up the mantle.”

– “Tone is the whole ball game for a director.”

NANCY OLIVER (Lars and the Real Girl, Six Feet Under)

– You can change character’s voices through rhythm, vocabulary, etc. Do they finish sentences?

Qs:

– What do you think either character or story is more important than the other?  Or are they apart of the same beast?

– How do you craft your characters?

– Who are some of the best characters in film/TV?