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Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

I feel as though I should post something that shows I have a degree in Film, so here’s a scene taken from a feature script (working title Someplace Called Home) that I’m writing now. This scene is about halfway through the script. I have a soft spot for coming of age stories, and what I’m really working on in this scene is dialogue and character interaction. Ignore the bad formatting! Feedback, is always, is appreciated!

General premise of the film: Devon realizes that his low income lifestyle isn’t taking him anywhere, and doesn’t particularity have any faith in his own capabilities. As his Mother cracks under the financial strain of providing for her two sons, Devon becomes convinced that the only way he can get where he wants to go and solve his problems is by winning it big with the lottery.

INT. TREE HOUSE – Afternoon

SIDNEY (21) is sitting by the window smoking a cigarette. She’s wearing tight skinny jeans that are ripped at the knees and a cropped leather jacket. Her wavy brown hair covers half her face and there are a dozen cigarette butts at her feet. She blows smoke out the casement as DEVON (21) climbs in.

DEVON
Hey.

Sidney nods her head nonchalantly, taking another drag.

DEVON
Chain-smoking isn’t good for you.

SIDNEY
Shut up.

She holds out a cigarette for him and he takes it sitting next to her with his back against that wall. Sydney turns away from his as he does, hiding her face behind her long hair. He picks up a lighter that’s on the floor and lights his cigarette. He takes a long drag and leans back. They sit for a moment as the sun lowers on the horizon.

DEVON
Want to talk about it?

SIDNEY
I said shut up.

DEVON
Fine. Whatever.

He takes another drag of his cigarette. Beat.

SIDNEY
Do you ever think of leaving?

Devon shrugs.

DEVON
… sometimes… I guess.

SIDNEY
Sometimes, I close my eyes and try to imagine myself someplace else… someplace warm.

DEVON
Ya? What do you see?

SIDNEY
Nothing. Just myself… here.

Sidney throws the butt out the window and lies back at Devon’s feet.

SIDNEY (CON’T)
I wonder what the world’s like.

DEVON
Probably like everywhere else.

SIDNEY
We should just leave. Flip off our parents, burn down the school. That way we couldn’t come back.

DEVON
That’s stupid.

SIDNEY
Why? We could hitchhike, or rent a car, or take the bus. And we could go where ever we wanted, and be who ever we wanted. We could just be.

DEVON
Quit with the existential bullshit. We’d need money, everything costs money… you need money to fucking exist.

SIDNEY
What’s up yours?

Devon
(sighing)
Nothing. Listen I just mean you can’t do whatever you want in life. People who think that are just kidding themselves.

Devon takes another drag of his cigarette.

SIDNEY
Alright. I’m a realist. Let’s make some money.

Devon looks at her from the corner of his eye, intrigued.

DEVON
How?

SIDNEY
We’ll save up what we can and in a year let’s leave. Together.

Devon snorts as he blows smoke into the air. Sidney props herself up on her elbow. She looks directly at Devon, her hair partially covering the bruise on her cheek.

DEVON
You’re serious?

SIDNEY
Always.

Devon looks down at her from in between his legs. She smiles up at him. He takes on last drag from his cigarette and crushes the butt in the floor boards.

DEVON
Alright, you’re on.

SIDNEY
Sweet.

Sidney gets to her knees and slides between Devon’s legs so that they are face to face.

SIDNEY
You’re not going to punk out on me right?

Devon looks away quickly.

DEVON
(flustered)
You’re the one who doesn’t have a job.

SIDNEY
I’ll get one.

She lingers between his legs for a moment but Devon still avoids her eyes. Finally she gets up.

SIDNEY
Well I guess I should get back. It’s almost dark.

She winks at him and heads towards the exit.

DEVON
Right… see ya.

She lazily motions a goodbye and climbs down. Devon sighs and reaches into his pocket for another cigarette. He pulls out the pack and a new lottery ticket. He places the cigarette in between his lips and picks up the lighter holding it next to the ticket. Beat. He lights the cigarette and exhales slowly.

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There’s something wonderfully comforting about knowing that Neil Gaiman is still up to form: happy and writing. It’s like knowing that the world still makes sense, and that over night it hasn’t become some dark unrecognizable thing. Everything around me keeps changing, I barely have a grasp on what I already know. I haven’t a clue what to do with myself most days and that truly scares me. I’m not sure what I can do to feel more certain of myself as writer, but at least I know that as long as the world still loves Gaiman, there’s a place for me in it.

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It has been a few days since my last post as I’ve spent the majority of my free time watching the latest episodes of HBO’s Game of Thrones. George RR. Martin is one of the great fantasy writers of our time, but I was skeptical when I first heard that his acclaimed series was going to put on HBO. But after watching the first episode last year, I was hooked by the story all over again. Outstanding in nearly every respect, I can say little to disparage this captivatingly dark fantasy.

When I find a story as enthralling as this, I like to try and pick apart the pattern and find the threads that really tug at me. Most often, I discover that characters are at the other end. Characters such as Daenerys, Tyrion, Arya and Robb are, for me, the most relatable in the show up to date, and retain the perfect balance of internal growth and external action, which only makes their performances that much more remarkably evocative.

However, I’ve noticed that I learn nearly as much when studying characters that I utterly despise, which brings me to Joffrey Baratheon. Jack Gleeson was a perfect cast for this smarmy self-important twat who seems to do nothing but make me loath every single fiber of his being. He actually reminds me of Commodus from Gladiator, which remains one of my favorite films due largely in part to Joaquin Phoenix’ marvelously odious portrayal of the character. Though Commodus is considerably more calculating and intelligent than Joffrey, they both are infuriating, cowardly and bitterly sadistic. I did find Commodus to be a more of a well-rounded character as his greed, cruelty and hatred are balanced by desperation, anxiety and loneliness. He feels abandoned by both his father and his sister, who have chosen to deliver unto Maximus what Commodus believed to be his right, whether it be the Empire of Rome or simply their love and respect.

And just like Commodus, Joffrey is a pitiful character. We almost come to enjoy hating him. His mannerisms, his speech, his smug little smile, all seem to make you want to throttle him.  I believe that any character that can rouse such sentiments in a viewer or reader is a successful one, even if he is a sniveling spoiled brat like Joffrey. These types of characters push you to root for the protagonist, to invest in the crisis of the story, and to revel in their inevitable downfall.  But they also exist to show the viewer a side of human nature that is forcibly repressed.  The fact of the matter is that Joffrey is a product of his parents twisted sense of self-importance. We hate him because we hate the idea that such appalling qualities could reside within us all. As a writer, we must be able to create characters so abhorrently vile that we cringe every time we write them onto the page. A nameless evil that threatens the realm is all well and good, but a revoltingly pompous little shit is so much more satisfying to squash.

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