Drama condoms

I’ve been reading a lot of scripts recently and there’s one problem which keeps cropping up – mobile bloody phones.

Mobile phones exist, people use them. Okay, I get that. Watching a character run all over town instead of just phoning ahead is fucking ridiculous to watch; but conversely, watching two people argue using mobiles is fucking tedious.

Phones are drama condoms; they weaken the tension and lessen the intensity – if two people are having an argument, for fuck’s sake just put them in the same room.

Okay, so if one character’s in danger and the other person can only hear the danger over the phone, can’t help and doesn’t know the outcome – that’s dramatic and tense … but if they’re arguing with each other – Christ. Just put them in the same room! I want to see them scream at each other, I want to see how one person reacts when he sees how his words affect the other person. Flecks of gob should hit the other person’s face! Don’t fucking separate them.

Physical separation is bad. Eye contact is good. Stop taking the safe option – you’re a writer. Your job is to make your characters go through hell – do nothing to help alleviate that hell. Don’t help them. Don’t go easy on them. And for fuck’s sake don’t have the tense, complicated bits happen off screen! That’s not using a condom, that’s letting someone else have the sex for you.

Goddamn it, I want my drama on screen, in front of me with lots of shouting. SHOUT! Get angry. Or cry. Or cringe in fear, just be Goddamn dramatic. Face to face, eye to eye! Make those shiftless, work-shy actors earn their fucking money!

Unleash hell! In person!

Phones. Are. Bad.

Except when they’re not.

Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest.

Categories: Rants | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Drama condoms

  1. I agree.

    Look, this is easy to fix. Writers fall into the trap of thinking “there’s no genuine reason for those two people to be in the same room, so I’ll make them talk to one another on the phone”

    Listen. There is a reason. It’s because they’re going to have an argument. That’s all the viewer cares about. They don’t give a shit if the Prime Minister and the Ladyboy Stripper come one another’s paths on a charity hot air balloon trip. The viewer will happily suspend disbelief just to watch what happens.

    Forget about being realistic. This is drama.

    Here’s a handy list of valid dramatic uses for phones
    – sex toy (vibrate mode)
    – throwing weapon (if sharpened)
    – gag (iphones are best for this)
    – snowboard for rats (again, iphone)
    – torch when trapped in deep cave
    – wedging open hidden doors in libraries
    – looking like a twat using handsfree on a train

  2. The Thick Of It demonstrates how effectively mobile phones can and should be used.

  3. Thank god…I thought this was going to be another ‘Please don’t use the NO SIGNAL excuse to prevent your characters simply phoning the police when the murderer breaks in/traps them in a cabin/sets fire to their cat’ but instead it’s a reasoned argument about preservation of drama. I just read a script all about a character who phones people when drunk. I didn’t like it.

  4. Yeah, the cell phone thing is a problem in both directions.
    Case one: Why didn’t the stupid jock just dial 911 instead of running around that school with the leather glove wearing killer on his heels?

    Case two: The dumb jock calls 911 and the movie is over.

    Case three: become a better writer so that the jock isn’t stuck in the school running from a leather gloved killer with a cell phone in his pocket.

  5. Pingback: 2011 « The Jobbing Scriptwriter

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