Thursday, December 16, 2004

[Film] The Limit, tough scene.

So, back to my three days on after one day off. And yet again, I find that first day back goes a little slow. I thought it was only when I started a new phase of a project, but maybe it's after any type of break.

Anyway, I'm transcribing a massive rewrite/expansion of 'the first confrontation between the 2 fathers'. Lots of backstory spills and spews during this scene - and there's a chaotic spiral upwards into violence. 2 things make it an interesting problem: 1) After listening my sales pitch my producer friend, Ainsley, made an incredibly astute suggestion about how and when one of the father's should change his mind. That means I'm restructuring the whole scene on the fly; and 2) I'm treating this primarily dialogue-driven scene as an action scene.

You see, action scenes are easy to write. I'm not sure why I find that yet - but I build a clear visual image in my mind of what happens, and I find it easy to see where the gaps are and edit accordingly. I also find it easy to create and maintain the point of view (sympathy for the hero) in an action scene, and to increase tension and put the people I like under stress.*

Drama scenes lack that clarity for me. I feel they should build tension and maintain interest in the same way that action scenes do, but because the (opposing force?) is non-physical, that clear visual image is harder to create in my head.

How to represent an intangible (not physical or visual) form of jeopardy. What I'm trying is:

Clearly determine the main characters motivations.
Break the scene down into acts and turning points.
Visualise how the characters will move within those acts and turning points.
Use those movements to inspire deeper tensions and oppositions.

Boy, thinking along these lines may start me questioning exactly what a scene is.

* For me to write it effectively, an action scene has a person in jeopardy and something putting them in jeopardy. In the case of The Limit, that something is usually a person. Typically the person IN jeopardy as the hero or the person we have sympathy with in the scene. Because The Limit is a vigilante thriller, the person causing pain is the hero. So I'm constantly finding I have to tweak the scene to keep the hero sympthetic.

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