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Script Breakdown - Character Analysis
In the last article, I talked about the first, and most important, part of a Director's job - understanding the script: what the story is about; the themes; the story points; and the characters. In this article, I will focus on Character Development and Analysis.
After reading the script and working through the script structure and scene analysis, it's time to figure out the development and objectives of the characters.
1) Character Functions
Each character has at least one function (or role) in any story, such as:
There are many more, but this is a basic list for you to start with.
2) Character Emotions
Here are the three main character emotions:
a) Sympathy - the audience IDENTIFIES with the character's problems and triumphs
3) Character Components
These are the Internal and External factors that shape each character:
a) Interior - form character
4) Character Background
a) where is the character from (background)
5) Character Objectives (Most Important!)
These are the main needs and wants of a character (what people want out of life)
a) SUPER OBJECTIVE (example: "Power over People")
b) OBJECTIVES (example: "Wants to Dominate Character A")
c) MAIN ACTIONS (example: "What they DO to Character A")
NOTES ON OBJECTIVES:
a) there can only be one objective per character - per scene
When coming up with character objectives, ask yourself: what does each Character want in this story - in this scene?
a) look at the character's behavior (what he does)
6) Character Breakdown
Go through your script and write down all the characters. You should list the main characters first and the secondary characters last and then assign them a function. Your first character should be the main character - or the protagonist.
NOTE: if you are doing a TV Series, the main characters will already be established for you. They are usually numbered "1,2,3..." on any call sheet.
7) Script Breakdown (Per Character)
Answer these question about how each character fits in the story:
a) what is the story function of this Character
8) Scene Breakdown (Per Character)
Answer these questions about how each character fits in every scene:
a) what is the character objective in this scene
9) Character Dialogue
I am a firm believer in the rule " Less is more!" As the Director, it is your responsibility to take a written document (The Script) and translate it into a visual format (Film or Video). This means that we can sometimes use visuals instead of dialogue to make a story point or to show what an actor is thinking.
After you have done all your homework on Script, Scene and Character Analysis, make another pass at the script to see what dialogue can be omitted by using visuals to get the point across. It is always better to SHOW the audience what a character is thinking, than have them talk about it. (Motion Pictures!)
WARNING: on a TV series, the producers are usually the writers and they are, for the most part, very hesitant to have any dialogue removed. If you have done your homework (Scene and Character Breakdowns) and can show them that your idea will make the scene better, go for it - they can only say no.
This article was posted on October 28, 2005