A film script I’ve been writing has a second level of story which (hopefully) won’t be obvious on first viewing. It’s a story which reflects on the theme and deepens your understanding of the events, but happens almost exclusively in the background. The kind of thing which helps give a film longevity and makes people want to re-watch to see how much of it they’ve missed.
The problem with that is it’s all well and good having stuff on screen that happens solely in the background, but I find it tricky to do in a script. The act of writing it down draws attention to it. Writing IN THE BACKGROUND or WE’RE* NOT FOCUSING ON THIS, BUT … is all well and good, but you can’t read that stuff without paying attention.
Sure, you can bury it in a big chunk of text, but then people reading get annoyed because their brain keeps skipping over stuff. I know that’s the point, but annoying people isn’t.
So how do you do it?
No, seriously, how do you do it?
I tend to put that stuff in italics with a note to the reader on the first occurrence like:
We’re not focusing on this, but IF YOU CARED TO NOTICE: in the background there’s a giant rubber duck hiding behind a car. The audience probably won’t notice, the protagonist certainly doesn’t.
And from then on just title each unobserved piece with IF YOU CARED TO NOTICE:
But is there a better way?
What would you do?
*Oh no! I used a ‘we’ in an action line! But that breaks all the rules! I’ll be put up against the wall and shot! No one will ever buy my work again! Oh hang on … no, that’s right. No one cares. Sorry, as you were.