Thursday, June 21, 2007

Don't be an idiot

It was another day in the teaching seminar, this time to learn how to do a unit I've been doing on my own for years. There was no internet connection so I spent the whole day doing a revision on Bamboo Killers. Tax dollars well spent.

Last night I went to Lead Actor's acting class again. Learned some new things about directing. I'm really focused on blocking, I realized. I was constantly paying attention to the distance the actors kept between them. I guess that's my thing. Proximity.

Lead Actor had one reservation about the script that I've been putting off from day one. In order for our basic premise to work his character must be phenomenally stupid. He's not stupid the whole script, just a little crazy and coked out. Then he does this one thing that no intelligent person on earth would do. Nobody's really made a big deal about it because we were concerned with other things and suspension of disbelief and all that, but Lead Actor has been seeing everything from this one guy's perspective and just can't get a handle on him being this big of an idiot.

Which brings me to a point others have made and I would like to reiterate now.

Making a character a complete moron is, for the most part, the weakest choice you can make. It weakens not only the stupid character, but it makes things too easy for the other characters. By making Lead Actor's character stupid, we also made everybody else have to be a little dumb too to not see through his stupidity sooner. And when a character has a moral victory over him, it seems kind of empty because, well, he was too dumb to realize what you were up to anyway.

So mission number one on the rewrite was to remove the stupidity. With a few choice lines and some added tension, the character got a little bit smarter. It was a challenge and it's still got a few kinks, but all in all it's a much stronger story.

Because everybody has a brain they enjoy using. Even cokeheads.


  1. 100% completely ignore the problem.


    Don't write some contrived reason your character makes a stupid decision. The audience will pick apart the reasoning because it won't make sense, is against the character, and panders to them.

    Take a leap of faith and let your main character make a bad decision.

    If you've crafted a story that is compelling, stands on its own, and every scene/sequence presents a dramatic conflict that moves the story forward a bad decision illustrates character with or without reasoning behind it.

    When people talk about suspension of disbelief ... these are the problems that they are talking about. I think the term is used too often.

    Probably one of the best examples of believability...


    Why is Phil constantly stuck in the same day?

    The movie never gives us a reason. It alludes to a lot and leaves it up the the viewer, but their is no definitive answer.

    Don't believe me?

    In the original script, a girl that Phil was seeing just prior to the start of the movie is pissed he blows her off and curses him with voodoo.

    I'm not kidding.

    GROUNDHOG DAY is an AMAZING film. I'd consider it a classic.

    If they had left the voodoo part in, it would be akin to a Rob Schneider film in terms of excellence.

    One little change in an attempt to explain the unexplainable.

  2. I agree. You shouldn't make a contrived reason for your character to make a stupid decision.

    Instead you should make your character make a less stupid decision. So that's what we did. Our character commits a crime in a way that is almost garaunteed to get him caught. So all we did was change it around so that he plans ahead a little to try not to get caught. Now when he gets caught it's because someone else betrayed him, not because he's just stupid.

    I think it's a much better choice.


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