Bates-Motel

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On a lark I decided to catch the Bates Motel TV show recently. I mean how bad could it be? It had Carlton Cuse as the showrunner, who did Lost. And the cast looked strong.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far. I mean, you have to come to terms with the fact that the show takes place in the present (Was Norman Bates cloned?) but once you do, it’s entertaining television.

I bring this up because I’ve been watching a lot of television lately – trying to crack the TV code – and I’ve come to the realization that writing for television REALLY HELPS when it comes to writing character.

That’s because you’re forced to know a lot more about your characters in TV than what’s happening in the here and now. You’re thinking three episodes down the road. Six episodes. Even twelve.

As someone who reads a lot of features – features that leave me feeling zero emotional attachment to the characters – this is a revelation. Taking a long-form approach to character forces you to know your characters in a way you never would on the feature front.

Which brings us back to Bates Motel. There’s a moment early on in the second season where Norma Bates’s brother comes to town. And it turns out he and Norma share a dark secret. Normally, this is something a feature writer wouldn’t know, especially if the brother never appeared in the movie. But here, the writers had to know because his entrance into the story needed to be built up.

So as an exercise, I’d like you to approach your feature characters with a TV mindset. Get to know them beyond the 110 minutes that take place in your story. This simple change is going to add a depth and dimension to your characters that you never knew was possible.

To get a little more specific, we’re going to call this the 3-D Method. Those three “Ds” represent the PAST, the PRESENT, and the FUTURE of your character. I guess in a way you can look at me as the ghost of screenwriting. But the budget’s cheap so I’m going to have to play all three parts. Let’s get started.

1-D) PAST
The “PAST” component of character creation is almost exclusively reserved for backstory. It means figuring out as much about your character’s life, up until when your movie begins, as you can. We can actually break this down into two sub-sections. “Relevant to Plot” and “Non-relevant to Plot.” When you’re figuring out backstory that’s non-relevant to your plot, it’s more for you than the audience. A lot of this stuff will never make it into the script, but it will inform your choices about the character. For instance, if your character was raped when she was 15 by a close family friend, she’s probably going to have a problem trusting men. Therefore, you can add a little distance to the character’s personality when she’s around men she doesn’t know. She’s the kind of girl who hangs back and needs to get to know the person before she opens up.

“Relevant to plot” backstory is much different. This is backstory that will directly play into the plot at some point in your movie. So say your main character had an old girlfriend he was never able to get over. Now he’s happily in a new relationship. Near the midpoint of your movie, then, that ex pops back up and has your character second-guessing his current relationship. Obviously, relevant backstory should take precedence. But backstory that isn’t directly related to plot is still mucho importento. The writers who stand out are the ones who add specificity to their writing. And you achieve this by knowing as much about your character’s past as possible. I mean Batman is just a guy in a mask if he never had that experience with the bats. The more you know about your character’s past, the more real they’re going to appear on the page.

2-D) PRESENT
The present is really about your character’s IMMEDIATE MINDSET. What’s going on in that head of his within the two-hour lifetime that is your movie? There are a few things you want to explore here. First, know what your character wants RIGHT NOW, as in IN THIS STORY. They might want a promotion. They might want an engagement ring from their boyfriend. They might want to kill the bad guy. Know what’s driving them. Next, know what mental block is holding them back from achieving that. Maybe they doubt they’re strong enough to make a difference (The Matrix). Maybe they put work/country over family (American Sniper/Interstellar). Maybe they’re afraid of becoming old and boring (Neighbors). Get in your character’s headspace and understand what their issue is RIGHT NOW.

Finally, understand the key issues in your character’s current relationships. Maybe one character believes we need to seize the day while another believes we need to focus on the future (Jack and Rose in Titanic or Ferris and Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). Maybe your character struggles with opening up to others (Skeleton Twins). You can’t explore characters in any meaningful way unless you have unresolved issues in those characters’ relationships. There will be some crossover between the past and the present depending on if the characters knew each other before the movie started. So with Skeleton Twins, about a brother and a sister, they’ve known each other their whole lives so this is as much a past issue as it is a present one. With Titanic, the issue is purely in the present since the characters meet for the first time on the boat.

3-D) FUTURE
This is where the TV approach really kicks in. In TV, you need to have a plan for the show’s future. You can’t just make shit up on the fly or the show will fall apart (see “Prison Break” or “Heroes”). For example, you might know that a friend of the main character dies a year down the line. This knowledge allows you to build stuff into the present storyline that will make that future storyline stronger. So you might build a deeper friendship between the two characters so that when the character DOES die, it’ll hit the audience harder. Now, obviously, with features, knowing if a character dies a year down the road isn’t as relevant since it won’t affect the current movie. But there are aspects of the future you do want to think about. For example, where do you see your character five years from now? Are they happy? Successful? Or are they unfocused, self-destructive, no better off than they are today? Probably the most important question you want to ask is, what’s your character’s goal in life? Where do they want end up? Do they want a family? Do they want to still be partying at the nightclubs 7 days a week? Or maybe they want to follow their dream of writing a novel. Answering that question will give you loads of insight into who your character is. You can really get into the psychology of a person by knowing what they want out of life.

Once you know someone’s past, present, and future, you essentially know their entire life. One of the easiest ways for me to spot a newbie is that their knowledge of their characters is limited to the amount of time their story takes place. They don’t know where their characters have been and they definitely don’t know where their characters are going. The 3-D Approach insures that you know every aspect of your character – present, past, and future. And while I can’t promise you that using 3-D will help you create superb characters every time out, I can promise you that it’ll make your characters way better than if you did nothing at all. So let’s write some kick-ass characters this weekend. And feel free to share some character-creating secrets of your own in the comments section. :)

  • Ninjaneer

    Andrew Stanton (From Pixar) has a great TED talk on story. One of his key points is a character’s spine . It’s what drives them and informs all of their decisions, even if the character is not consciously aware of it.

    https://youtu.be/KxDwieKpawg

    “all well-drawn characters have a spine. And the idea is that the character has an inner motor, a dominant, unconscious goal that they’re striving for, an itch that they can’t scratch.

    She gave a wonderful example of Michael Corleone, Al Pacino’s character in “The Godfather,” and that probably his spinewas to please his father. And it’s something that always drove all his choices. Even after his father died, he was still trying to scratch that itch. I took to this like a duck to water.

    Wall-E’s was to find the beauty. Marlin’s, the father in “Finding Nemo,” was to prevent harm. And Woody’s was to do what was best for his child. And these spines don’t always drive you to make the best choices. Sometimes you can make some horrible choices with them.”

  • leitskev

    A cool and sometimes helpful exercise is this: after you’ve structured your script but before you begin writing, take each of your main characters and do this…pretend you ran into the character by himself in a bar a few months before the story of the script begins. You sit next to him/her and have a few drinks. What would he/she be like? What would he tell you once you got a few beers in him? Would he open up?

    You can imagine doing this with famous characters. The Driver from Drive wouldn’t say anything to you, even if you bought him a drink. Hannibal Lectre might exchange recipes. Hans Solo would be cracking jokes and sending drinks to the ladies. Most of Bill Murray’s characters would buy you a shot.

    The idea is that these characters have lives outside the plot of the screenplay. They have needs, fears, quirks, habits, etc. It’s just an exercise, it doesn’t always help, but hey, anything that might help is worth it, right?

    • Ninjaneer

      Fo sho. I would also add that doing this during and after writing the actual script is helpful as well because, in the words of The Dude, “…certain things have come to light, man”.

      You’ll discover more nuances of your characters and the story once it is put down in detail. Interviewing your characters at these points can help flesh them out even further.

      • leitskev

        Lol, yeah, good idea. Maybe interview these characters at several points along the way. Put them in situations. A bar fight breaks out, what do they do? What kind of music do they put in the juke? Do they get along with the bartender? do they leave a tip?

    • Acarl

      Great stuff!

    • klmn

      That sounds like the setup to a joke…

      Hannibal Lecter and Bill Murray go into a bar…

      • leitskev

        That would be a great scene!

        “So what you’re saying, Mister Lectre, is if I simmer the oil…”

  • NajlaAnn

    Excellent article – thanks.

  • brenkilco

    “Once you know someone’s past, present, and future, you essentially know their entire life.”

    Yes, but you still may not know his essential nature. What is the person like? Because what he’s like will inform every dramatic situation in which you place him. I think the creation of a great character involves more than taking a stock figure, grafting on a flaw, a particular backstory, a present day crisis and adding salt to taste. It’s harder than that.

    Take a TV situation. Threatening character comes back into the protag’s life. Turns out they used to be partners in crime and during their final robbery the protag’s girlfriend was killed. Bound to be tension between them. But what kind? Maybe the protag is a fearless, vengeful type A who blames his old partner for the death of the woman he loved and just wants to kill him. Maybe he’s timid and has always been under the other’s thumb so his hatred can only manifest in small ways. Maybe he’s terminally insecure, thought the girlfriend was cheating on him, has convinced himself that her death was just karma, and is willing to bury the hatchet with the partner. Maybe he’s naturally guilty and the reappearance of the partner is only a reminder of how he failed his girlfriend and a spur to new self destructive behavior. Think you have to know who the character is independent of what happened to him in the past and what’s happening to him now.

    E. M Forster is the go to guy on this kind of stuff. Character lessons from Aspects of the Novel can apply just as well to screenwriting

    • leitskev

      Good points, right on. A person’s history is a big part of who they are, but a person is not the sum of those events in his life. At the center of a person is something essential that came into the world that way…then was partly shaped by things that happened. That’s why merely listing a backstory of a character can be a distraction. I used to do that, and it didn’t work very well.

      Think about one of your good friends. You know some of the things that happened in his life…and some of what you know might even be wrong. The main thing is you will have a dimensional sense of who he is, how he will react in situations, what his insecurities are. You don’t need to know who his second grade teacher was, you don’t even need to know who his first love was. But you know how he will usually react in situations. And even then, he can surprise you!

      • brenkilco

        In Forster’s mind that was the essential quality of 3D or what he termed round characters. They can surprise you.

        • leitskev

          Good idea, and I suppose for there to be surprise there has to be expectation. So we have to first create some sense of what a character is by what he usually does.

          • Buddy

            characters reaveals himself in a crisis situations (scenes and movie). that’s it !

          • leitskev

            Glad you got it all figured out.

          • brenkilco

            Just make sure there’s something to reveal.

  • Felip Serra

    If I may be so bold to add to this:

    I broke down and picked up a copy of Zachariah Rush’s “Beyond the Screenplay” (pricey for a blind purchase) and though I’m hesitant to recommend it wholeheartedly it does contain some good nuggets of information. As I am currently wrestling with my own work I just wanted to share some of his notes on character that have thus helped me. (I’m just adding this to the discussion. I did not author this. Just thought it might help…)

    “There are three ontological dimensions of being:

    “All of us are PHYSIOLOGICAL creatures; we possess a material body with all its weaknesses and strengths both susceptible to disease and responsive to training. Our physiology can determine to some extent how we feel about ourselves and how others perceive us.

    “We are also PSYCHOLOGICAL creatures; we feel, think, desire, hope, fear, and dream, and no two people ever felt, thought, desired, hoped, feared, or dreamt in an identical way. Two or more people endure the same traumatic event yet one succumbs to depression and despair and the other exhibits fortitude, resilience and thrives. In the physiological sense neither one is weaker or stronger than the other, but psychologically they react differently.

    “We are also SOCIOLOGICAL creatures; we do not exist in a vacuum but in various environments and differing forms of society and culture where we are surrounded by a vast nexus of other physiological and psychological beings that make up a given society and whose reciprocal relationships and interactions all have repercussions, consequences, and benefits.

    “All dramatic characters posses a unique self, an ego, a personal history that helped shape and form their ideas, identities, and idiosyncrasies. No personality is identical. For dramatic characters to have substance and a sense of selfhood, in order for them to be strong enough and prepared to actively participate in conflict (…) they need to be well-conceived, well-gestated, and well delivered. They need to be tri-dimensional.”

    • Doug

      That appears to be a variation on Robert McKee’s three levels of story conflict – internal (psychological), external (physiological), and interpersonal (sociological).

      • Felip Serra

        Interesting. McKee uses Aristotle’s “Poetics” as the basis for what he teaches while Mr. Rush (in the text I quoted) spends a considerable amount of time disproving Aristotle and people like McKee… Yet they approach character similarly? I’ll have to look into that.

  • ripleyy

    I personally don’t even precede with a script until I feel like I know every inch of them. I always start with flaw and work from there. Knowing their past is fine, but it’s not really necessary. Same with their future. I don’t think it’s needed whatsoever.

    To me, a character’s future ends when the story does. I don’t need to know what they will end up doing, unless it’s absolutely crucial (ie: sequel).

    If I’m doing a TV series, then all of this accounts for it. I need to know where they will be, how they get there, etc, but for feature I don’t bother.

  • walker

    I get a lot of mileage out of using my various former bosses as models for antagonists and secondary characters.

    • klmn

      That’ll work for assholes, but you might have to look elsewhere for the good guys.

  • Maggie Clancy

    I am currently writing a series (have mostly been writing features) and this DEFINITELY helps shape your arc. I am going to work on some character backstories today to help along.

  • Casper Chris

    New Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser:

    • Malibo Jackk

      Chewy hasn’t aged a bit.

      • Casper Chris

        Lord Vaddy looks a little worn down though.

      • brenkilco

        He dyes his fur.

  • Poe_Serling

    “And feel free to share some character-creating secrets of your own in the comments section. :)”

    Since Carson kicked off this post with some thoughts on the TV show Bates Motel… why not a few insightful nuggets from writer Robert Bloch himself.

    Taken from an old interview between Bloch and Randall B. Larson:

    RL: Could you explain a little about the technique you use in your writing?
    RB: I don’t really know what is meant by “technique.” I get an idea — usually for the ending of a story — and then make a few notes or a short outline to guide me into a more complicated plot. Then I sit down and go to work. Most of my writing is first draft; I do my revising as I go along. And I always start from page one and work forward without skipping around. If this is “technique,” then you know as much about mine now as I do.

    RL: What idea were you trying to get across in PSYCHO?
    RB: The idea in PSYCHO, and in many of my so-called “psychological thrillers” is a simple and obvious one: Don’t take candy from strangers.

    RL: Could you give any aspiring writers any pointers about writing?
    RB: I believe that there are two things vitally necessary to a writer’s development — constant writing and constant reading. The habit [of] writing something everyday is invaluable; so [is] the habit of daily reading for stimulation and information. I do not believe that writers are “born,” they are developed, through hard and constant effort and
    application.

    • andyjaxfl

      It’s amazing how often constant writing and constant reading comes up regarding a writer’s development.

      • Marija ZombiGirl

        What is amazing is how many self-proclaimed writers/screenwriters don’t read/write every day ;)

  • Andy Meyers

    As someone who’s worked extensively in TV, there is another reason why TV focuses so much on character: Budget (and it’s cousin, Time)

    In short, character is cheap.

    You’ll need to re-use the same set, you can’t spend months customizing a scenario, you won’t have time for CGI, and you have to film 44 minutes every 8 days. Your action is limited, since you can’t spend 3 days working on a stunt that will take up only 2 minutes of episode time. And you don’t have downtime between episodes to build/craft any new concepts. Heck, you are already locked into your main concept because that’s what a TV show is.

    Therefore, you rely on the tools you have that you can use: actors and character. You can cheaply and instantly add layers to a script just by having a character talk about their history or emotions. You can bring another character (mother, sister, etc) onto an existing set very simply and quickly. You can add drama by adding depth to your characters because, well, that’s the tool you can afford.

  • George

    Nice. Basically it’s the character’s biography. It’s something that really needs to be thought out before writing. Because without knowing the past, they can’t act in their present and future. They’d be very one-dimensional. I read a lot of scripts with these characters.

  • S_P_1

    “zero accountability universe”

    That’s one conceit that has to be taken as a given. I don’t think modern tv programming would exist if that wasn’t the case.

  • fragglewriter

    Great Tip Carson.

    My story is flat but I felt doing too much adding to the characters would either weigh the story down or create unwarranted sympathy to a depressive character.

    A good article would be how to find the sweet spot. The equilibrium of backstory and plot.

  • S_P_1

    Today’s article along with the book NOW WRITE! SCREENWRITING hammers home writing believable characters. However the turning point for me in terms of writing was adopting the philosophy of knowing your ending before you write. To me that’s slightly more important than knowing your characters. I don’t know the absolute ending for any particular script in advance, but I do have a general heading of where I’ll end.

    It’s only through rewriting do I discover or add the nuances of fleshing out a character. In developing your characters you also have to drop the misconception your character must ARC from beginning to end. You craft the needs of the character within the framework of the story. I haven’t mastered the technique, but I adapt with every completed script.

  • Eddie Panta

    Off Topic Update from the Copyright infringement lawsuit against the creators of CABIN IN THE WOODS : Josh Weadon/Lionsgate by a unknown, self-published author of the book: The Little White Trip: A night in the pines.

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/custom/Documents/ESQ/Cabin.pdf

    The link above contains a pdf of the lawsuit, if you look at page 15, you’ll see that the plaintiff points out a similarity between the two stories as evidence that his work has been copied under “sequence of events” similarities: The “cabin” in the woods having no cell service is one of the aspects listed in comparing the respective works!

    Can you believe that? Now troupes and horror cliches are copyrightable.

    The argument over whether Cabin In the Woods was based on the work of another author is especially intriguing because all of Cabin in the Woods is based on other horror movies and the experience of watching older horror movies.

    While writing scripts, writers spend all their time coming up with ways to torture their characters for the sake of entertainment, it’s the same thing the bad-guys do in this movie, the technicians in the “control room” working behind the scenes, controlling the events inside the cabin.

    It’s as if in the film, the bad-guys are the personification of the voice inside the writer’s mind, the evil plotting voice, thinking up creative ways to throw conflict at fictitious characters. To me, the Cabin in The Woods is actually about the process of writing a horror film, the struggle of juggling characters in order to get them where they need to be at the right moment. And the frustration that eventually occurs when characters assume a life of their own, and battle back against the omniscient voice causing them so much grief.

    If you read the lawsuit you’ll also see that THEME is listed first amongst the categories breaking down these two works of fiction.

    Theme does indeed set a work a fiction apart from another. It’s important to remember that the sequence of events can never be as singular as the theme of the story.

    • Ninjaneer

      Sounds like someone should let a merman loose on that plaintiff

  • klmn

    My one tip would be to read true crime books – they often do a good job of exploring the minds of really fucked up people.

  • Midnight Luck

    OT: Ryan Gosling is in negotiations to star in the “Blade Runner” sequel opposite Harrison Ford.

    Not sure what I think of this. I like Ryan Gosling, think he has talent. I like Harrison Ford, he has always been talented. Mainly I am just not sure about making another Blade Runner. Why? Yes it was one of the greatest movies ever. How do you continue that? How high are the stakes when it comes to letting everyone down? (incredibly high, can anyone say Prometheus?). It is getting out of hand how all they want to do is make new versions of, do sequels of, rehash of, all the older works. At some point it just becomes diluted, tepid, flavorless bile. Maybe Mad Max will be AMAZING! and worth the reboot. Maybe Superman was worth the reboot (i don’t think so it was painfully awful, Again). Maybe re-dipping your tool into the old cess pool brings enough something (coin) to the Hollywood elite that it doesn’t matter. Tear down and destroy everything, all while you daydream it will be BETTER than the original, but most likely will suck.

    OT2: Saw IT FOLLOWS two days ago after all the hoopla hype. Now while I think the basis of the storyline was interesting, I love the idea of setting it as an angry VD coming to get you, yet I felt no fear, worry, or scare from how it was handled. —SPOILERS—- While someone creepily walking toward you, incessantly tracking you down, dead eyed (can you say zombie?) has an inherent creepy factor, it didn’t do what they were intending. I think it goes back to the idea of SETTING UP THE RULES OF YOUR STORY. It didn’t do it in a way that we understood or that made any sense. So there is this creepy thing slowly plodding after you, which no one else can see. Basically it is after YOU and you only. No one else knows it is there. So, in the beginning it has no effect on anyone who hasn’t contracted it from sex. Yet then they pull out guns and can shoot it, but don’t seem to be able to kill it. Then they are throwing sheets over it so everyone can see it. Then it is able to kick and hurt other people, when the rules originally seemed to state it wasn’t even THERE to anyone else. Also they say “if it Kills you” then blah, blah blah. But never made it clear how it kills you. The fact that it moves so slowly means you could drive away from it, or fly to another country. Yeah maybe it could stalk you over months or years, but no, it seemed to just appear where everyone was, even when they drove hours away.
    There was NO imminent worry or fear, because the RULES didn’t tell us what was the thing to be scared of. The only time it was worrisome was when the main girl slept with someone else. That was the only rule we got. We know the thing will come after them now, and we worry for them, but we are slightly relieved for her.
    Then it is vaguely alluded to that she sleeps with some guys on a boat, but nothing ever comes of it.
    The whole thing was the least scary or fearful of any “horror” movie I have seen. Good idea, poorly executed.

    OT3: Saw WHILE WE’RE YOUNG with Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts yesterday. I was intrigued by this one. Seemed like Noah was honing in on better things with his stories and style. I haven’t been a big fan of his work. It aspires to be great, but ends up being only muddled indie analyzing stuff.
    Sadly YOUNG was no different. Great casting, but basically just a jumbling of not very interesting plots and story happenings. I wish it was great, but it was very unmoving.

    What I learned:
    TRAILERS can be master classes in how to fuck over the movie goer. Giving you an impression of what you are going to get, when the film you see isn’t even close to what you get in actuality. I know this is their whole purpose, to create enough want to get someone to get off their ass and get to a theater, but wow, I am just amazed at how many times I am so let down, or so unimpressed it is shocking.

    also: Don’t even get me started on THE LONGEST RIDE. yes I saw it, and yes it was as painful as most people would imagine it to be. Eastwood was wooden and seemed uncomfortable, but Britt Robertson was great. she has a nice plucky sensibility to her. I believe she will go far. Soon she will be in TOMORROWLAND with that ER guy, so that should raise the worlds awareness of her hugely.
    Clooney seems to be able to start careers for the women in his movies. Vera Farmiga, Shailene Woodley, Anna Kendrick. So I am sure Britt will be just fine.

    • Eddie Panta

      I think Gosling is a good choice, he’s got the noir vibe Blade Runner needs, plus he’s the only one A-Lister left without a franchise and has yet to wear a cape. Denis Villeneuve should be able to pull it off. But, I don’t think anything could compare to the original cast or the soundtrack for that matter.

      .

      .

      • Ninjaneer

        (Directed to everybody) Is Blade Runner great outside of the cinematography/set design and Harrison Ford?

        Out of the people who say yes, did you grow up watching it? I only saw it as an adult and even though I’m inclined to like this kind of movie I was not impressed with the script or cast (except for Ford).

        If you remove the visual elements and Ford it’s just kinda your average Sci-fi movie. OK, maybe above average but not great. I do like the noir element combined with scifi.

        • Kirk Diggler

          Count me as one who thinks it’s overrated. I saw it for the first time on DVD maybe 10 years ago and found it quite ponderous. Of course there are so many versions of the film maybe I watched the wrong one. Or maybe I just need to watch it again, I understand it grows on you and many of the critics who panned it in the 80’s have come around.

          The book, “DO Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, was different, they left out A LOT of subplots. Would love to see an adaptation that is closer to Philip K Dick’s original novel, seems pointless to remake Blade Runner the same way Ridley made it, which just kept the basic idea of Decker retiring the Andys and ditched almost everything else.

          • Kirk Diggler

            On another note, with IP being the be all and end all of Hollywood, why hasn’t someone been able to make the cyberpunk classic Neuromancer into a film? That book has got everything.

        • Matthew Garry

          It’s been some time since I’ve seen it or read the book it was based on, so maybe I have forgotten all the parts that didn’t make it stand out to you.

          Still, what I remember of it that clearly elevates it above “average Sci-fi” for me are the larger questions such as: what makes humans human? And what makes replicants non-human?

          It seems clear cut from the onset that the answer is empathy, but what is empathy, and how do we test it? And where do we draw the human/non-human line?

          And when, in the end, a replicant, through introspection, finds value in life in general, in spite of his own being artificially cut short, where does that leave us?

          On top of that, if you’ve read, for example, “Morgan” (of this year’s Blacklist) you’ll find evidence of the lasting influence Blade Runner had (outside of visual elements or cast) on sci-fi movies.

          For me the staying power of Blade Runner lies in how it managed to make a compelling story out of a complex issue: what does it mean to be (a) human? I think a lot (if not most) of the good stories out there take an aspect of what it means to be human, and try to provide some insight to that. In that regard I’d postulate that all great stories are really parables of life and what it means.

          • Kirk Diggler

            “but what is empathy, and how do we test it?”

            The Voight-Kampff empathy test, what else? ;-)

          • Midnight Luck

            And if you are in fact human, is your life ALSO being artificially cut short? Should your life automatically be longer? Should the Replicants? And why? Is knowing your END DATE make it better or worse? More fair or less fair?

            If a Replicant has a self destruct date at 35 years old, yet a human child dies at 5 years old from an accident, or a Tsunami, or eating old Pork, which is that O.K.? Why or Why Not?

            The movie asked so many amazing and deeply felt human questions. That is why it was so good.
            Most sci-fi, and most movies in general, don’t ask any meaningful or human or philosophical questions. And to me, therefore, have very little value and / or depth and / or interest.

        • Midnight Luck

          It does suffer from the sheen of the time period it was made in, but then again all the original Star Wars do as well, yet no one seems to care about that and everyone across the board seem to orgasm for them. So why this movie doesn’t bring that same love to people is a bit surprising. To me it has possibly more depth and style than any of the Star Wars films (mind you I love the original 3 Star Wars), and contains interesting concepts and brilliant stylish execution.
          While I believe there are certain parts to the film which do get sluggish, they are only brief and not very problematic, as we are then catapulted into more great scenes almost immediately.

          I believe people have trouble with older movies because across the board they feel “boring” and “slow” and “dated”, even if they are action or sci-fi or what have you. I just think newer movies will always follow whatever accepted style / dynamic / flair / feel the time is comfortable with. The audience gets used to that and any film from a different era (and that could be only 5 or 10 years earlier) just doesn’t seem to hold up for them.

          I think it is a shame that a slower paced, or a combination of slower and faster paced, or allowing times in a film to “breathe” are tantamount to pure buzzkill and boredom to todays moviegoers. I think a movie contains much more intrigue and is vastly more interesting the more variety it has when it comes to pacing.

          Peoples biggest complaint about ALIEN was it was so slow moving, and even “boring” because it wasn’t all action like an action movie of today. Yet I doubt anyone would disagree with me that the pure fact it was slow and took its time and kept everything dark and moody, made the action spots just that much MORE intense and powerful. When shit happened, it STAYED WITH YOU.

          The Fast and the Furious movies are pure boredom (to me) because they have ONE gear. Blade Runner had multiple gears, and was much more fun and interesting and edge-of-your-seat than those movies, or any of the big movies of today hope to be.

          • brenkilco

            Don’t mean to be shallow and picky since others are dwelling on the heavy themes of Bladerunner but there’s one scene in the movie that has always bugged the hell out of me. Deckard plops an ordinary photograph of an apartment interior into a viewer and is able to view the 2D snap as it it’s three dimensional, prowling around corners etc. Listened to Scott’s commentary to see if it cleared up my confusion. It did. Scott admitted the scene was bullshit. Just thought it seemed cool. So there you are.

      • Midnight Luck

        I agree, I think Gosling is a perfect choice, he does have that great noir sense about him. If anyone can fill the roll it is him.
        Mainly though I am just pondering if it is even valuable to reboot this into what will inevitably become a franchise.
        I really liked the original, but have ill feelings about sweeping it into another pile of pointless remakes / reboots / and add ons.
        Maybe it will surprise everyone and be grand.
        I just think all this regurgitating of old ideas is exhausting and uninteresting. (pointless for the most part. One in a million are actually effective, yet I cannot think of a single one that is, at the moment.)

        • fd

          Harrison Ford waited zig years and never wanted to do a sequel, but then he saw this script and reckons its the best script he’s ever read, so I have high hopes for it. Bladerunner was the mother of the entire genre and considering the time in which it was made, a visual revolution/revelation, so if you only saw it recently for the first time, the film’s impact may be lost on you. But try watching the old Hitchcocks: they are so slow your toenails curl up, but to quote Lennon (on Presley) – Before Hitchcock there was nothing. The same applies to Bladerunner.

  • Felip Serra

    Politely decline.

  • HRV

    Norman Bates is such a mama’s boy. It’s an interesting show to watch, but he can be irritating at times.
    I usually don’t worry about a characters future, as far as feature writing goes, until the end where sometimes I’ll give a hint of what’s to come as part of the denouement. It’s also fun to give hints as to the antagonist’s past — why they do what they do, or simply things that have happened to them. eg. Why does the antagonist walk with a limp?
    I’m also big on letting the story tell itself and having the characters surprise you when you put them in a tough situation. Especially since the Inciting incident is supposed to throw them into a situation they’ve not experienced in their past.

  • Gregory Mandarano

    When it comes to creating characters with depth, it’s not enough to just focus on their history, present, and future. Knowing where a character has been and where he’s going is one thing, but it’s also necessary to understand what a character is capable of, and what his limitations are.

    During character creation I recommend developing both attributes, skills, and quirks that a character might have. How charismatic are they? How smart are they? Can they ride a horse? How many languages can they speak? If you were to BECOME your character, say in the context of a role playing game, you would NOT be able to BE the character with just backstory, you need a full template, including skills.

    The same should be said for creating fully fleshed out, convincing 3d characters.

  • tyrabanksy

    This was really useful and timely (for me). Thanks for posting.