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We’ve been briefed on the assessment task and we’ve been put into groups. Now it’s time to get the show on the road!

We were given time to talk about our assessment towards the end of tute and I think we managed to get a lot done. By the end of tute, we had mutually decided on a story idea, discussed the script, assigned roles, talked about potential locations, explored costumes, and talked through the set design.

Back on the topic of the story idea, our film revolves around Stu a geeky, socially awkward fella who scores a (first) date with his dream girl, Jenny. He anxiously practices pick up lines while waiting for Jenny to arrive. But little does he know, Jenny isn’t the person he thinks she is. On the outside, Jenny is an attractive woman who catches guys attention as she walks into a room. But on the inside, she’s a huge slob that eats like a pig. Our short film basically follows and/or chronicles Stu on his first date.

Next, we talked about the script. We drew inspiration from films that shared a similar storyline. White Chicks, How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and Bad Teacher were some of the films brought up during our discussion. As for the location, because Stu is still a student and does not have a high paid job, we all agreed that either an apartment or a down market unit would suffice. Subsequently, with regard to set design, we talked about having posters all around Stu’s bedroom, action figures displayed on the table or shelves, etc. Following that, we debated weekly meetings and assigned roles. I volunteered to take on the role of production designer and first AD.

Ultimately, It was easy working with everyone and I think the group discussion went really well. We managed to cover almost every area of our production and by the end of tute, our script was well on it way. This was, no doubt, a productive week.

This week we dove into the topic of characters more extensively. Sitting through the lecture made me realize just how little I know about developing a good, well-rounded character. And so here are a few things I’ve gathered from this week’s lecture.

For starters, characters are never typical or ordinary. They’d just be boring if they were. An easy way build character and to ensure they aren’t banal is to give them a want – an external or conscious drive, and a need – an internal or unconscious drive. In addition to that, we must also ask ourselves what’s at stake. Take a boy who deals drugs for instance. There’s nothing out of the ordinary judging by that action alone. It’s when you add in the ‘why’ factor that gives it meaning. For example, the boy deals drugs in order to pay for his mother’s gambling debt.

Subsequently, when building a character we must always consider the believability of it all. That being said, we must take into consideration whether or not the character’s action is appropriate or in sync with the character’s personality. For instance, you wouldn’t make a person who’s allergic to fur to rare a cat. It’s implausible. Unless he/she is absolutely insane or mentally unstable.

Lastly, not all genres require character complexity. Horror, mystery, and comedy genre films are often filled with twists or unexpected events, hence they are considered plot driven and it is for this reason that they do not require well thought-out characters. Conversely, dramas play on the viewer’s emotions, and so the employment of complex characters are essential in order to bring about an emotional response. Thus deeming dramas character driven. Below are some examples of plot and character driven films.

Plot Driven Films

Inception (2010)

Panic Room (2002)

Character Driven Films

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Into The Wild (2007)

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Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

This week’s tute was conducted by Christine and on the agenda was character development and story ideas. We were given approximately ten minutes to come up with a character bio before we went around the class sharing and discussing our characters. But before we began, there were a couple of things Christine stressed on:

1. Strictly NO ORDINARY CHARACTERS allowed

2. Assure the believability of your characters

Seems easy enough. At least that was what I thought. It wasn’t easy creating an extraordinary and original character. Every character idea I had written down seems to be on par with the ones I’ve seen in blockbuster movies. That was my main struggle with the exercise. All in all, I really enjoy the class exercise and so I’ve decided to write up another character bio as part of my reflection this week.

My Character Bio

Name: Sandra Marx

Age: 20

Gender: Female

Nationality: American

Religion: Christian

Sexuality: Heterosexual

Temperament: Introverted, feeling, sensing, perceiving, deceitful, manipulative, spiteful, cautious, reserved

Hobbies & Interests: Playing the piano, painting

Background: Born and in Oklahoma and was abandoned by her parents at a young age. She then went on to living with her wealthy grandparents in California

Place of Birth: Los Angeles, California

Family type: Only child family

Family of origin: Pure Americans; only child

Education: Home schooled, Santa Monica College, UCLA

Friendships: Various acquaintances; no close friends

Pets: Dog

Beliefs: People know what is right but they go on and do what is wrong anyway

Early traumas: Abandoned by parents

Relationships: None

Financial situation: Well-off

Goal in life: Desires to find out the truth her abandonment, seeks love and closure, motivated to succeed in life in hopes that her parents would regret their decision of giving her up.

Physical characteristics: Attractive, brunette, brown eyes, long and sexy legs, feminine, elegant and classy style of dressing, eight-figured body and is obsessed with knifes.

Occupation: Inherited her grandparent’s wealth after they passed on and has been hosting galas and giving back to charity – esp. orphans, participates in various clubs and societies, president of the student council.

How they differ from everybody: Vulnerable when it comes to the topic of abandonment, utilize this vulnerability as a drive to achieve anything and everything she sets out to do, focused on her goals, good at concealing (if not dealing) with her emotions, instead of accepting/letting go of her past she feeds off it. This attitude is important to the narrative of the story especially when she finds out the truth behind the disappearance of her parents.

A strong, single moment in their background defining their character and/or actions: Sandra belongs to a family of three. Being the only child, her parents loved her very much. One morning, her parents suddenly left her with nothing but a letter saying they love her very much but they had to leave her behind. Sandra was abandoned by her parents and was left to live the remainder of her live under the care of her grandparents. All this happened when Sandra was only 5 years old.

Evidence of their strong desire: The abrupt and unexplained disappearance of her parents and the vague letter they left behind.

Basis in their character for conflict or opposition: Rage and the longing for the truth serves as the basis in Sandra’s character for conflict/opposition

That’s all for this week!