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Thursday, June 26, 2003

Drama terms. 

Before we get too deep into scene and character analysis; let’s go over some terms. Characters have objectives and obstacles. What I really like is when they're ramped right up in competition with each other. Jim Carey is excellent in bringing them both out strong (had the same drama teacher as I did, see previous blog); example: Liar Liar. Jim wants to lie, Jim cannot lie. Eventually one side must win; but by then the battle itself has become the show. A more complex version of this effect: Memento. The main character cannot remember the past. The catch is; he doesn't want to remember it either. (By the way, how Buddhist a message is that in Memento in regards to clinging to the past. How much was his, and our, life made up of an endless series of minute deaths?)

Two more words for today: substitution and subtext. These are common terms for actors and good writers. Substitution is when something (or someone) is endowed with meaning by a character, and a relationship is formed. "Money loves me, it really does". "Blogging is my life". "I hid with uncomfortable hunk of metal up my ass for two years". In a good scene, the characters have attitude about everything - the bartender, the drunks, the ex-wife, the best buddy, the neighbors, the goddamn xyx's. Even apathy is an attitude, so long as it motivates the characters - just look around, yeah you! Or if you prefer, use that guy in Scorsese's After Hours. The other sub-, subtext, is similar but it works in speech. All characters practice subtext. All people practice subtext. I have conversations with people thousands of miles away, all day. Only the bus driver, and I, think it's about having the right change.

So there ya go: Objectives, obstacles, substitutions, and subtext. Look for these, and use them in storytelling and you're on your way to making movies that motivate. You'll see them come up in future blogs, why not send me some terms or examples of your own?

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