NO SAFETY IN PLAYING IT SAFE
INNER MOVIE: How are you?
INNER MOVIE: But how are really? Was it hard to get here today?
Do you maybe feel this way?
Yesterday was great. You reached page 45 and a symbolic initial growth scene for your character. But today, something in you feels like a brick wall. And yet you showed up.
That’s exactly what happens for your character from pages 45 to 60. It’s a time when you begin to see change take place.
Do you know someone who is overweight, goes on a diet, has initial success, loses weight, and almost immediately eats a dozen Ding-Dongs?
Here’s a human trait: change scares us. Inner Movie Axiom: We will do anything to change until we start to; then we do everything to stop it.
Pages 45 to 60 is when your hero has put one foot in the boat but the other foot is still on the pier. You play him from 45 to 60 as wanting to get the other foot off the pier and into the boat so he can go.
On page 45 your character had initial success with his plans and has shown growth. Now the stakes get higher. As you know when you first start something, there’s a certain naivete. You have no idea what you’re in for. You need this initial enthusiasm to start up. Your hero has stated his goal, has acted on it, has grown somewhat from it, and is a little bit different because of this. He needs to be a little bit different, because now he is faced with how difficult this is really going to be. If he had known initially that it was going to be this difficult, he might not have been able to handle it. So this slightly new person is more equipped to go after the dream.
Now how does that break down for your pages 45 to 60?
On page 45 is our first indication that the character takes action. Up until now he has been reacting to a situation. Once he starts taking action the obstacles no longer victimize him but rather challenge him. Where before the obstacles made him weaker, now they make him stronger. Let’s see how he learns from the problems and takes new action.
Think in terms of cause and effect. One scene’s cause is the next scene’s effect, which in turn causes the next effect. For instance, in Tootsie, the agent tells Michael no one will hire him. In the next scene we see Michael as Dorothy on his/her way to an audition. The one scene caused the next. Can you see how each of your scenes becomes a natural progression from the scene before? Does one pull the next one along? Separately they don’t necessarily make sense, but connected one to the other they make a complete story. And progression is just that – moving along. Your character is just a little more defined as we go.
HOW TO CHANGE BEHAVIOUR
We are watching your character experience obstacles so that he can learn new tools to use in each new scene.
Between pages 45 to 60, the obstacles heighten, they get tougher. But as the obstacles get tougher, the hero gets smarter, so that he is ready for each new obstacle.
He sees it’s going to take everything he has to do this. It’s harder than he thought, but somehow the fact that it is harder makes him want it more. Where before it was a wish, he senses the reality of accomplishment; there is light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s harder, but he’s learned something from what’s happened up to now, two things in fact: (a) he’s outgrown his previous life, so he can’t go back; and (b) the goal seems closer, and he has gotten a few successes along that path. There’s nothing more exhilarating for your hero than to be spurred on by a few small successes.
Here’s how it will work in your pages. Page 45 is the symbolic growth scene. It is a taste of where your hero will get to. Page 60 is where he commits wholeheartedly to his dream. In Gone With The Wind Scarlett holds the carrots up to the sky and says, “As God is my witness, I’ll never go hungry again.” And she spends the second half of the movie holding to that commitment.
I HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND IT IS ME
By page 60 your character is going to be saying loud and clear what he began to state as a dream on page 3.
Have your character complete this statement now: “As God is my witness, I will _______.”
IT’S WHAT IT IS; IT’S NOT WHAT IT ISN’T
If you’ll notice, you might be experiencing this for yourself. Any illusion you had about what you thought it was like to write a movie is going through changes now. The illusion is giving way to reality, and in reality is where real progress is made.
Any obstacles that you are now experiencing come from the discrepancy between what you thought you were supposed to experience and what you really are experiencing. The way to eliminate discrepancy is to just have one experience at a time. So give up how you thought it was going to be. That way you can enjoy how it is.
Okay. Let’s go. Page 45 to 60. Let’s see your hero move from initial growth on page 45 to strong commitment on page 60. Let’s see him get better at surmounting obstacles.
©Andrea Nicola Dodgson, 1971.