Character introductions

 “We need to re-shoot scene 67, but we can’t get the actress back – can you think of a way around it?”

Thus spake the director on that cold and windy morning.

Two thoughts immediately crossed my mind:

  1. Just say yes. Make him think it’s really difficult and a lesser writer would struggle but luckily he’s hired the best around, a guy who makes the impossible happen. How hard can it be?
  2. What the fuck happens in scene 67?

Maybe I should know my own scripts inside out, but this is for a film which has finished shooting (or so I thought) and I’ve written four drafts of a different screenplay and the outline for a TV series since then.

And anyway, who actually knows the scenes in their scripts by number? Not me, that’s for god damn sure.

A hurried script consultation later and I’m regretting my automatic assurances. Scene 67, it turns out, is the first time the hero meets his love interest.

Bugger.

How the hell do you get round that? The next scene she’s in, which has already been shot, clearly shows they’ve already met. With no opportunity for any re-shoots with the actress, that scene can’t be changed.

Besides, there isn’t the money or the time to re-shoot any other scenes – it all has to be handled within the confines of the new scene 67.

My side of the follow up conversation went something like this:

“Has she got an identical twin?”

“Oh, can we clone one?”

“What the fuck do you mean the technology isn’t available yet? I’ve seen it on the TV.”

“TV is real, fuck off.”

“Okay, what about a body-double? … And a face-double as well.”

“Ooh, I know – do that thing like Oliver Reed in Gladiator.”

“Well, get a bigger budget then you tight bastard.”

“Take shots of her from throughout the film and cut them together to make sentences.”

“Oh. How shit will it look?”

“She could be a quick change artist.”

“Fine, give her a big hat … Or a veil! Let’s put a veil on her! Then you can use a different actress!”

“I don’t know why she’s wearing a veil, because she’s on the way to a wedding or something.”

“Some people other than the bride wear veils to weddings.”

“Alright, fine – make it her wedding.”

“The husband? He died.”

“Yes, he died immediately after the wedding, but before she had a chance to remove the veil.”

“Make it a funeral veil then.”

“Yes, it’s a dual purpose veil she wore to her wedding and her husband’s funeral. It’s reversible.”

“That’s right, then she went to a nightclub … Where she fell in love with someone else.”

“It’s not shit, it’s inspired!”

“Fine … Fancy dress! Make her dress up as Bugs Bunny.”

“Fancying Bugs Bunny does not make the hero gay. Fucking weird, yes, but gay – no.”

And so on. I think a solution has been found, but once again I find myself charting territory I wasn’t prepared for. How do you rewrite a character’s introduction without actually having the character present? Who runs a course about that one? Huh? Where’s the information I need to do my job? How do you cope in the modern world when Google fails you?

Like I say, a solution has been found – it’s not ideal, but it should work.

What is it?

Well, you’ll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, look through your script and see if you could take any character out of the scene which introduces them and still have it introduce them. Think about that and then think about getting people to pay me more money.

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Categories: Random Witterings, Rants | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Character introductions

  1. Eleanor

    Other actors + reshoot + exposition or V.O. + slight of hand => a fait accompli …? No? Darn!

  2. What, you mean voice over like:

    “And then I met the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen … with her head hidden behind a crate.”

  3. crustynomad

    Classic post again – your problems sound so much more interesting than mine!

    Could you do it in a cafe, where they’ve got their backs to each other at different tables with some outrageous flirting? Close ups of eyes, mouths etc?

    Just a thought…

  4. Ah … no.

    The location is fixed and the scene has to introduce the villain and the love interest and establish the relationship between the three of them.

    It’s done though – the problem is solved and it was very, very simple.

  5. Eleanor

    “And then I met the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen … with her head hidden behind a crate.”

    Yep, that’s the one.

  6. “I have the most terrible spot on the end of my nose. That’s why my head is inside this cardboard box.”

  7. Damn it Piers, have you been reading my emails again?

  8. Pingback: Indelible Freckles » Blog Archive » Point & Click

  9. Pingback: Point & Click | INDELIBLE FRECKLES

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