Thursday, April 16, 2009


Mayerson finally clicked for me, couldn't get into him before now. But now I am so I'm spelunking over there.

On conflict in story:
"The genius of Ratatouille is that the basic situation -- a rat who wants to prepare human food -- immediately puts Remy in conflict with everybody around him. For Remy to succeed, he literally has to change the world, changing the rat perspective on people and the human perspective on rats. The weakness of Surf's Up is that for Cody to succeed, he only has to change himself. The external conflicts he faces are mild and the stakes are low."

High stakes, it's entertainment push it to the extremes, make it bigger then life, make the stakes higher. Kenny Roy often talks about acting needing to be "regular people in high stakes situations."

probably be editing this post with more finds *yep

on having the audience have sympathy for your lead
I can think of only three ways to make a character sympathetic. If a character obviously does not have the ability to protect himself or herself, if the character is treated unfairly for any reason, or if the character is attempting to help another, more needy, character. A character who is defenseless, the victim of injustice or altruistic will automatically gain audience sympathy.

The only case I can think of where possibly selfish behavior gains sympathy is a character attempting to be with someone he or she loves. My guess is that love and companionship are seen as necessities of life like food, clothing and shelter. Anyone who is deprived of these is seen as the victim of injustice and not someone who is striving selfishly.

Another of the cliches of screenwriting is that the audience needs a character to root for. All well and good, but the reason the audience will root for a character is because the character is sympathetic. From what I can see the only way to establish this is to make the character defenseless, the victim of injustice or engaged in an altruistic act.

Irving Thalberg made the Marx Brothers altruists specifically because he felt that the audience (and especially women) didn't care about them unless their antics had a point that the audience was sympathetic to.

(not sure if I agree, you need the audience to care about your characters, but is sympathy or empathy the way to make it happen? but perhaps here's his answer)
As we're all selfish to a degree and might be willing to trample anyone standing in the way of our desires, we automatically empathize with villains because we identify with that attitude. But I don't think that we automatically sympathize with them.

On subtext (check the comments)

The fact that each of these characters {in the Godfather}has to wrestle with conflicting goals makes them more complex than the Alan Rickman villain in Die Hard. ... In The Godfather, there is tension within the characters in addition to the tension in the plot. In Die Hard, there's only the tension in the plot. That's what I mean by complexity of character. The Corleones have an inner life and the Rickman character does not.

This either has to be written or (in live action) an actor has to supply it. Because so many different people touch an animated character under the current production paradigm, for animation it must be written. (And I'm considering words or pictures to be writing. Script or board, it doesn't matter but it has to be in the story before the animators get it.)

Backstory is simply what's happened to the character before the film starts. We're all products of our histories, so childhood, education, family, etc. all figure into who we are.

Subtext means what's under the text. The dialogue says things explicitly, but there can be emotions or thoughts that are unspoken but are still communicated to the audience by the surrounding story material or by the performance.


David Bernal said...

This is awesome Alonso!!
Thanx 4 posting :D

jriggity said...

Great post!

Ill take some of that with me.