Archive for the ‘Idea Development’ Category

Script

I’ve decided it’s time to start pulling the pre-production together, and started with the one thing I believe the rest of my production can be based on; the script. As such, a lot of other important decisions have had to be made:

The Title

The title of my film is soemthing I have had decided in mind for a while now. Indeed, I believe it is so effective at putting across the message of my film that I may not put it up for audience research yet. The title will be The Season to be Jolly. Taken from the well-known Cristmas song Deck the Halls, the title is designed to be ironic and sarcastic. Although the general connotations of Christmas are happiness, togetherness, sharing  and of course jolliness, the title links back to my idea of focussing on the negative aspects of Christmas. The character’s are not experiencing jolliness at the happiest time of year, and indeed their yearly reflections are what eventually drives them apart, hence, the title is sarcastic.

Although I am yet to make final decisions on features such as titles, below is an example of the kind of font I would want my titles to be presented in. I think it’s serif design makes it quite Christmassy, however, it is also quite sophisticated and holds the theme:

Early title ideas

Continuity features

I couldn’t really think of a better way to describe these other than ‘continuity features’. Basically, I intended to have many hints and occurences throughout the years which would show the steady decline and breaking apart of the friendship. However, timing has proven to be a huge issue with my script. Given that my production is mostly reliant on dialogue, and as  far as I can see, it will mostly consist of three people sitting at a table for five minutes, the timing of the dialogue is absoluetly essential. This means I cannot over or underestimate the amount of time it will take my actors to say something. As such, many of the little clues I intended will have to be cut. For example:

The necklace idea

I had intended that in 2009, Miranda would give Louise the gift of a necklace. By the next year, Louise has become so consumed by her unrequited love, that when  she wears it to meet with miranda and Ellen, it breaks and she cannot remember where she got it from in the first place, obviously causing large insult to Miranda.

The broken necklace would also parallel the characters' relationship

The baby idea

When I first wrote my character profiles, I imagined that I would make Ellen feel very isolated by her teenage preganacy and motherhood, and Louise and Miranda would show a disregard for Ellen constantly bringing up her baby. Unfortunately, it appears as if there will be little time for this to occur.

The teenage mother plotline was supposed to cause more a rift between the protagonists

The jobs idea

Also when I was first writing the character profiles, I imagined the careers of Miranda and Louise to play a larger role. Obviously becoming successful careerwomen would separate them from Ellen, but I also imagined that the differences between their jobs would separate them also; that there would be a sense of cometiton between them. However, again unfortuantely because I have had to spend time focussing on character establishment and reflection of events, there seems to be little room for this.

The girl's careers were also supposed to be a running problem

I am currently in the process of writing a basic version of the script, which I will obviously post when complete.

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It’s All in the Timing…

I thought I would finally decide upon the timescale of my production, seeing as up to this point, I have mostly just said that certain things will happen around certain years. I’ve come up with a sort of ‘schedule’, which shows what each character will be doing in each year. I should be able to base my script around this.

 

The timings of each event in my film

 

The first year will simply an introduction to all the characters. My only aim for this year is for all characters to be well established, including attitudes and hopes for the future. This will set the equilibrium. Until the final year, each of the character’s main events will happen each year. This will allow me to show them drifting apart. Obviously the main event in the final year will be the argument. In the above table, where there are gaps, this will be where the corresponding character is reacting to the main event. Obviously the majority of this will be clearer once my script is written.

The Third and Final Character!

After conducting my audience resarch, I have made a final decision upon the final protagonist in my film. Read on…

Character Three: Miranda

The main idea for Miranda came from my target audience, who suggested that a good third character would be someone who was focussed on their career. Although originally this was a main trait for Louise, I figure I could split this character to make two: one who is focussed on her career and one who experiences unrequited love and covers it with her career. I also think that seeing as nothing devastating happens to Miranda, she can be the middle ground for both Lousie and Ellen, and a character who the audience can relate to well.

Main inspiration: I said I would find an already existing counterpart for my characters to be loosely based on, so I wouldn’t lose my way when coming up with their characterisation. Miranda would be based on the character Miranda Hobbes, from HBO’s Sex and the City. The main character traits I hope to emulate would be Miranda’s sarcastic attitude to life, her devotion to her career and her loyalty to her firends, although obviouslyt this would breakdown slowly throughout my film.

The third character would be based on Sex and the City's Miranda Hobbes

 Age: 17-21

Occupation: In Sex and the City, Miranda Hobbes is a successful lawyer. Whilst I would love to have this as the career of my Miranda, I think it would be highly implausible, given the short time space of five years and her age. Instead I thought my Miranda could have a career in public relations. This is obviously a field which requires a lot of devotion and hardwork but is also quite flexible, and for Miranda to have gotten a small job in public relations and worked her way up a little in five years is more believable than the lawyer idea. So as to avoid complications, very little would be revealed about how Miranda fell into public relations, and hopefully by around the third Chritmas, the audience will accept it as the status quo. However, in my own mind, again I imagine Miranda to have gotten her original job through friends and family connections, but this will never be outwardly revealed.

Main trait or event which causes her to split from the other characters: Miranda’s career would be the main event which causes her to split away from the others. I imagine her to gain a well-respected promotion within possibly the third or fourth year. However, by this point, Ellen would have had her baby, and Louise would be struggling with her issues, so their interests will be divulging and Miranda will perhaps feel annoyed that her ‘best friends’ cannot be happy for her, or at least cannot express it fully. Given her fiery attitude, I imagine the final argument would mostly be between her and Louise, who also has a fiery side.

Apparent characterisation issue so far: I think there are still a few minor errors with Miranda. For example,even though I said I would try to make her job and vague and simple as possible, her age still makes it seem quite implausible. I also worry that my film will not really focus upon Miranda until around the third Christmas when she receives her promotion. Furthermore, the evnt which causes her to split away is not exactly disastrous or scandalous. I think that both of these things will make her quite a boring character, and I’m really aiming for quite an even focus on all three characters. I think these problems are quite easy to fix, or at least disguise, however. For example, in the first few Christmases, Miranda could have more dialogue than the other characters so she is not forgotten, and her true character can be revealed at the end, during the argument. As for her career, how she got into it shall not be specified, but this does not mean that she cannot talk about it in the present tense, and shouldn’t stop me from presenting her to the audience as a devoted careerwoman.

The following is a video showing an argument between Miranda Hobbes and fellow Sex and the City character Carrie Bradshaw. I think it shows the attitude of Miranda Hobbes quite well, as well as acting as inspiration for the final argument in my video:

Characters so far…

I’m pretty sure that I’ve decided on two of the the identities of my main characters. Below is a profile of both characters as they currently stand, because chances are they will be chopped and changed around as necessary, and obviously to comply (or resist against) with the third character’s personality which is still to be decided.

Character One: Louise

As mentioned before, my first character would be based on the character of Louise Oriole, whom I discovered during my initial research was incepted and played by Madonna. My Louise would be a slightly tamer form of the original, and her attributes should be able to come across more clearly than the original, who was shrouded in implications and subtlety. Below is a list of this character’s main points so far:

Main inspiration: Louise Oriole, main character in Madonna’s Bad Girl music video

Age: 17-21

Occupation: Just like the other characters, Louise would start off as a student, until she is 19, where the girls have left sixth form and are forced to start forming their careers. Louise gets a helping hand in this area, as her aunt is an assistant director in a highly successful fashion company, and Louise is able to gain a junior assistant job, with good prospects for the future. This explains why she defies the middle class stereotype of going to university. Over the next two years, she becomes highly successful, gaining promotions through her rigorous work ethic and nepotism. She uses her growing status as a front to cover the unrequited love she suffers, just like the original Louise.

Main trait or event which causes her to split from the other characters: Just like the original Louise, my Louise will fall in love, love that will not be returned and drives her further and further into a depressive state. This is where elements of the original Louise will begin to seep through. My Louise will also be reliant on alcohol (which can easily be faked), cigarettes (I’m considering investing in some herbal cigarettes, or prop cigarettes should the actress not smoke) and one night stands, although the latter would be only implied or discussed. As it stands, I imagine that it would be her who causes the main divide and argument between all three characters. Although the third character is yet to be decided, I don’t imagine her to have the fiery attitude which could cause the argument.

Apparent characterisation issues so far: The only problem so far I can see with Louise is the impact she would have upon the genre and tone of my film. Although she would only be in love for around half of the film, the extreme nature of her love and the ensuing depression may grow tiresome with the audience and she could make the overall tone much more depressing than I intended. It’s sort of a catch 22, she needs to be depressed enough for the audience to sympathise with her, yet she can not be so depressing as to take away from the subtlety I had planned for my film. I think this can be mostly overcome through scripting, which I intend to draft a lot, as it is the main feature of my film.

 

 

Louise is based on Madonna's Louise Oriole

One of the biggest aspects stolen from Madonna's character would be Louise using her career as a front to her love life

Character Two: Ellen

I decided it would be good idea for all three characters to be based on already-existent characters from other media. Admittedly, this would not be exact copies, as this would obviously count as plagiarism. This way, I can keep a clear idea of what their personalities, attitudes, personas and opinions are, as they would be based on their original counterparts. Last year, I had a tendency to add layer after layer to my characters until they became too vague and implausible. Having a character basis should stop this. Furthermore, should there be an aspect of the character which I am unsure of, I can look to see if this aspect is evident in the original character and use it as inspiration. Character two would be based loosely on the character of Juno MacGuff from the 2007 hit dramedy Juno. Below is a list of this character’s main points so far:

Main inspiration: Juno MacGuff, main character from Reitman’s Juno. She is named after the actress who portrayed Juno, Ellen Page.

Age: 17-21

Occupation: Once more, Ellen would start off as a sixth form student. In the first Christmas, it would become apparent that although nervous of her future, she at least has high aspirations. However, Ellen’s world is turned upside down when she is 18, and falls pregnant by her boyfriend. Although in this year Ellen assures the other characters that her boyfriend is willing to stay with her, it becomes apparent the next year that she is now a single teenage mother. She puts her aspirations on hold until her child is older, and throws herself into motherhood with as much enthusiasm as her previous aspirations. For the remainder of the film, she remains a single mother.

Main trait or event which causes her to split from the other characters: Obviously her pregnancy is the event which causes her to drift away from the other characters. Of course, the other characters don’t begin to reject her based purely on the fact that she fell pregnant at a relatively young age. It is arguments about lifestyle and living arrangements is what drives the biggest divide between them. For example, in the year Ellen announces that she is pregnant, she is convinced that her boyfriend is committed to her and the family they are about to start, a view which the other two characters strongly oppose, believing her boyfriend to be unreliable. The biggest divide will be their occupational differences. Whilst the other characters will have jobs and careers. Ellen will remain a single mother throughout the film, meaning the girls worlds will obviously become more and more split.

Apparent characterisation issues so far: I think the only problem with Ellen is that her situation is quite implausible. Her age also poses the biggest problem. Usually a large problem with teenage pregnancy is the lack of support, independence, responsibility and time the mother would have to look after the baby. However, at the age of 18, a lack of maturity, responsibility and independence arent’ as much of a problem than if she were around 14/15/16. Furthermore, by the time she has the baby, she would be relatively free of the ties of full-time education, giving her time to look after the baby. This leads me to believe that I am making the teenage pregnancy more dramatic and problematic than it really is. This is quite a difficult problem to overcome. I think the most sensible thing to do would be to portray the pregnancy as that of an older teenage pregnancy. This can be done by defying the stereotypes of teenage pregnancy (that the mother is young, naive, and so on), and focussing upon the aspects that would be most likely to affect Ellen, such as financial worries and loneliness.

Ellen is based loosely on the character of Juno MacGruff

The 16-year old Juno has many teenage elements which may not be relevant or applicable to Ellen

Appearances

Seeing as no actresses have yet been assigned their characters, the appearances of each character are yet to revealed. However, as it stands I don’t think this will be a particular issue. So far, the only specification for each character is a middle class teenage female, a specification with little detail, leaving appearances wide open.

Obviously the main point to be made with appearances is the aging effects. I believe that this can be quite simply done simply through the power of hair, make-up, and costumes, although obviously this will require further research.

Christmas is coming early…

I’ve decided to have a complete overhaul of ideas. The main problem with my previous idea was the music. Unfortunately the coursework specification does not allow for any copyrighted music, and the music would have been the main point of my last idea. The video was created for the music rather than the music being a changeable concept. Furthermore, the idea was very much in the genre of social realism, a genre I wanted to avoid after having done it for my coursework last year. This is why I have decided on a completely different concept and theme. Read on…

Concept

My film would be based on the themes of social etiquette at Christmas, choosing to focus on three main characters. These characters are all female and of the same age in order to create the feeling of a clique. Each Christmas, they meet up on the 23rd of December, keeping in with the idea of a Christmas Eve Eve. My film would follow the final five (or possibly four, to allow for timing) Christmases that the girls (or women as they would become) share. Over the years the audience sees the girls relationship deteriorate slowly but surely. In a take on British attitude, the girls choose to keep tradition alive rather than not meet up because they’re not really friends anymore. In the final Christmas an argument or something similar erupts and the audience is to assume that this is the last time the girls/women see one another.

My film would focus on Christmas etiquette and the difficulties of friendship

Justification

There are many reasons why I chose Christmas. Firstly, this offers an obvious reason as to why the girls meet up on the same day every year. Christmas is also generally seen as a time of reflection, which gives a reason as to why the girls are reflecting upon the events in their lives on this certain day throughout the film. I also chose it for ironic reasons. Christmas is stereotypically seen as the happiest time of the year, this film would focus on the possible negatives associated with this time of year.

Furthermore, I believe I would be taking the portrayal of Christmas a step further. As far back as modern Chrtistmas traces, there has always been media which presents it’s negative side, from A Christmas Carol (1843) to Miracle on 3th Street (1947) to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) to Bad Santa (2003). However, most of these films show redemption and eventual happiness at Christmas time. This would not occur in my film and obviously this message would be impacted.

The negatives of Christmas have long been portrayed in the media, from the Victorian novel A Christmas Carol...

...to modern films such as Bad Santa

Characters

As yet, the identity of all three girls is unknown to me, however I’m taking tbis as an advantage at the moment, as this is where I think the most room for improvement lie with my idea, which is always a good thing to have for a production. Interesting, engaging, relatable characters along with what they do and say is where the appeal of my film lies. However, I have decided that one of the girls will grow up to become a character like Louise Oriole. I think her abrasive attitude is most likely to cause an argument in the climax of the film. I may even consider calling this character Louise to make this connection obvious. The identities of the other girls would be my main priority for research. For simplicity the girls would be the same age. This also leads into the assumption that the girls met in school, where they would have been grouped by their age, making their relationship more plausible. I was thinking that the audience would see the girls age from 17 to 21. I imagine this to be mostly achieved through make up and costumes, however this would obviously require research.

One of the girls would grow up to become a reinvention of Madonna's Louise Oriole

Aging effects are something I will have to research carefully. Even with state of the art CGI, the aging effects in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were largely criticised

Main problems

The following is a list of problems I can see so far (highlighted in red) with my idea, along with how I hope to solve them (highlighted in green):

  • Keeping audience attention will be a big problem. The film will mostly be constructed of simply five conversations, and unless my audience is targeted correctly, it will be all to easy for the audience to lose interest. I will mainly try to overcome this problem with extensive script work so the writing is as sharp as possible. I also have a possible editing technique in mind. I’m tempted to show the Christmases in the reverse order. This way, I can have a dramatic beginning, with the argument. Also, a sense of irony will follow the characters. The audience will see the girl’s relationship grow stronger the younger they get, all the time knowing that their relationship is ultimately doomed. However I have not made a final decision on this. I may consider showing the events immediately before the final argument first, then continue the narrative from the beginning. The beauty with this production is because it is filmed in blocks, they can be easily changed if necessary.
  • I’m also worried about the location in the production. I had originally intended all five years to take place in the same room, either a living room or a cafe, mostly so as not to confuse the audience. This way, the audience could see a subtle change in interior design over the years. However, I feared that this would simply add to the possible boredom the audience could experience.  But on the other hand, I wouldn’t want to change the location each time, as this would be confusing and distracting for the audience. I think I would have to make a compromise. Perhaps change the location once or at most twice or maybe during one year the room could simply act as a meeting place before going on to a restaurant or something. However, this is something that could be decided via audience research.
  • I think the cinematography could possibly be another problem. Given that most of the action would take place in a room, there is not much allowance for a variety of shot types, letalone movement. I figure I would have to make up for this by making the most of the shots I can easily use, which includes anything from a long shot down to an ECU. This could possibly include HAS and LAS. Panning and tracking could be used wherever possible.
  • My film also doesn’t have a clear target audience. Unfortunately this is obviously one of the few problems which cannot be solved through audience research, at least not specific audience resarch. I think the only way to overcome this problem is to initally target those who could relate most to the central characters, middle class females aged 17-21.

Further necessary research

So far, my biggest inspiration for my general concept has been the book (and by extension, film) of One Day. However, clearly this cannot be the only inspiration, as my film contains many themes not touched by One Day, the most obvious one being Christmas. Now that I have my idea, I have the advantage of being able to tailor my research, so that the only things I watch in regard to research will most likely be helpful. Obviously the most helpful and inspiring piece would be that of a short Christmas film, as this would help me in the condensing of this theme into a shorter narrative. Also, I’m going to have to write a script which shows a gradual breakdown of a friendship mostly through the medium of conversation. This is going to be difficult, so anything which can advise me in terms of this would be invaluable.

The concept for my film is largely inspired by the book One Day

... and by extension the film

My Intial Ideas

So far, my ideas are very vague, but I really feel as though I can build upon them. As mentioned, my idea is largely influended by the ‘Bad Girl’ video. The following is a brief list of the aspects of my idea I am sure of.

The narrative begins with traditional, cheesy, cliche boy-meets-girl. The protagonist would be the female.  She would ideally be in her late teens to early twenties (preferably the latter). Similar to Louise, little would be revealed about her backstory, so as not to make the rest of the narrative either too cliche or implausible. However, it would be clear that she is looking for some fulfilment in her life. Cue the male. He would preferably be either the same age or older than the female. As their relationship grows, we see the female’s attachment to him become more obseesive, and his abuse of her become greater. Whe I say abuse, I don’t mean he is beating her, I mean more psychological abuse. He should be able to pull off the impression of a gangster. Note at this point I would want to try and keep the sophistication of the ‘Bad Girl’ video. This ganster would not be a modern gangster, but should be able to pull off that of a 1930s one (‘Bad Girl’ could very possibly be set in the 1930/40s). I have not yet decided what exactly this psychological abuse will entail – this will  require more reserach. The video would have a dramatic end, in which the female, after abuse and possibly being stolen from by her boyfriend resorts to prostitution to earn money. However, she is unaware that her first client is her abusive boyfriend,  and vice versa. In a dramatic ending, the boyfriend pulls up at the meeting location, discovers what he assumes the female has been doing for a long time, and possibly kills her. I have also not decided if the audience will view this murder. Similarly to ‘Bad Girl’ I intend to mix up the narrative order slightly. The dramatic scene in which the boyfirend discovers his girlfriend is a prostitute will come first, however the narrative will return to normal order just as the two realise who the other is. This way, I am setting up the relationship as doomed, and the audience will have to discover how this occured. Plus, they will have to wait even longer to discover the outcome of their altercation. Also note that I don’t intend for my chosen song to be playing over this song, nor will there be any dialogue. Actor expressions and sound effects should be enough to express the tension and ominous-ness of the scene. Once the narrative begins, so too will the music.

The biggest problem I can see with my ideas so far is the lack of ideas for psychological abuse and the lack of location possiblities. However, I beleieve these problems can be solved with careful research.

Now only one aspect remains; the music to which my narrative will be set. After much deliberation, I have chosen ‘Monster’ by Lady Gaga. This is because of two main reasons reasons:

  1. The lyrics of ‘Monster’ talk of a boy who emotionally destroys boys by dating them or sleeping with them. Obviously this is highly relevant to the ideas I have explained above.
  2. Lady Gaga is constantly compared to Madonna. Indeed, Madonna herself has pointed out the similarities in their careers, and it is widely considered that Gaga’s biggest single to date, ‘Born This Way’ is a musical reinvention of Madonna’s ‘Express Yourself’. This soing would in-keep with the theme of powerful, iconic female singers, and the impact they can have on their videos. For example, Gaga tends to include avant garde narratives in her videos.

The following is an audio clip of Lady Gaga’s ‘Monster’. Note the lyrical relevance.

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