Monday, 28 September 2015

Research Dossier - screenplay

Research for potential script ideas:

The key theme I would like to portray is love

Looking at films like Titanic (1997) (1) and The Notebook (2004) (2) the way the directors portray love in these films how the male works hard to win the female over, and he is the one who chases her. Also shows the female as a naive character, I want to change this in my screen play, I want to show a different side to love, a difficult situation to how love can work.

Script to annotate: The Fault in Our Stars

                            THE FAULT IN OUR STARS(3)


                                  Written by

                      Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber


                             Based on the novel by

                                  John Green

                                                          May 1, 2012

                                                          FIRST DRAFT

          HAZEL GRACE LANCASTER (16) lies in the grass, staring up at
          the stars. We're CLOSE ON her FACE and we hear:

           HAZEL (V.O.)
           You have a choice in this world, I
           believe, about how to tell sad

          - Hazel and the BOY we will come to know as AUGUSTUS "GUS"
          WATERS (17) at an outdoor restaurant in some magical place.
          [They look very much like the perfect Hollywood couple.]

           HAZEL (V.O.)
           On the one hand, you can sugar coat
           - the way they do in movies and
           romance novels.

          - "Perfect" Hazel and "Perfect" Gus sit on a BENCH
          overlooking an incredible seascape in some foreign country.
          She rests her head on his shoulder.

           HAZEL (V.O.)
           Where villains are vanquished
           and... heroes are born and...
          - "Perfect" Hazel and "Perfect" Gus kiss in a dark room.

           HAZEL (V.O.)
           ... beautiful people learn
           beautiful lessons...

          - "Perfect" Hazel and "Perfect" Gus fall onto a bed together.
          They look deep into one another's eyes.

           HAZEL (V.O.)
           ... and nothing is too messed up
           that can't be fixed with an apology
           and a Peter Gabriel song.

          BACK TO Hazel on the grass, still watching the stars. Were
          those dreams or were they memories? Still unclear.

           HAZEL (V.O.)
           I like that way as much as the next
           girl, believe me. It's just not the

          Hazel closes her eyes.

           HAZEL (V.O.)
           This is the truth.

           HAZEL (V.O.)

           FADE IN ON:

(1) - This is a slug-line it explains where the scene takes place, if it is outside/ inside or dark/ light. Similarly to what I would like to portray in my script is that first scene with the main character by herself and begging the story and for the audience to know that she is speaking to herself in her mind I will add the area she is in so it states she is on her own. I will further go onto add a scene direction to add that her lips are not moving and it is all in the characters mind.

(2) - The introduction to the first character we meet, this is important because this is where the characters personality is introduced shown through the dialogue, it is put like this to show clearly who is speaking in the scene. In this script of the Fault in Our Stars the first character Hazel is seen talking to the audience by using direct address, however the slug line indicates what is happening in the scene and we know she is not speaking to anyone but herself. In my script I will introduce my first character Lucy as she is going to be seen as talking to herself, which is why I found this script to be of use, because it is similar to how I would like to produce my script.

(3) - Here we see the scene direction to show anything that doesn't appear in the dialogue, for example what the characters are doing what positions they are in and any other details that are needed for the scene to work. This can help the director when shooting the scene to remember key parts and follow the script exact, for example where it states about the actors being styled like a perfect Hollywood couple, that creates an image in your mind when filming it and so you remember how to present these characters. I believe this is a very successful way of using scene directions. In this scene direction where is states 'CUT TO a SERIES OF QUICK IMAGES' will correspond to how I would like the flashbacks to be portrayed and this has effectively helped me understand to show that through my script.

(4) - There is no specific dialogue or conversation in this scene, there is a reason for this because my script will be predominantly my main character talking to herself, there will of course be a standard amount of dialogue in the flashbacks, however in one of my scene this is similar to what I would like to portray. The scene direction will inform the audience that this is now a flashback we are no longer in the present, however the present is still there, we have just made the character think back to memories to create the story and the emotion we want the characters to portray.

Two Short Films to analyse the screenplay:

This is one of the short films I came across that I found could have a connection to the script and screenplay I would like to create. In this short film 'Too Shy' I liked how the main character was talking over the footage of flashbacks, how he was telling the story from his perspective and the audience were getting a clear understanding of what was happening through the flashbacks and images shown, in correspondence the story the main character was telling. Additionally the way it shows character development, from how it goes through times of happiness and sadness and how the feelings of characters come through and the audience is drawn in to know more and want to know how it ends due to the suspense. Connecting this to my screenplay I would like to write and produce, I will take on board how the character and audience connection is made and try and use it in my own, through the flashbacks and how each flashback there is a progression between characters to keep the audience under suspense and wanting more.

In this short film 'True Love Waits' I like the screen play because the character is placed in a narrative position, and speaks over the footage that is on the screen. I would like to use this in my screenplay, my main character telling the story over the images and footage I am filming, for example in the first scene when my main character is sitting alone practicing her lines which background noise but also her character taking the narrative position and explaining what is happening. How we see the character development is also a key feature of this short film, at the beginning he is just a normal boyfriend and in the end his character develops into a soldier however still loves the same girl even though a lot has changed since they have seen each other.

Research into the idea:

The Characters that best reflect what I would like to portray in my screenplay, the first thought I had was to look up the character Rose in Titanic(4), her humor that is shown through the script is something that I would like to portray in my screen play, she takes the character and makes the words come alive, in a way that the audience grow an attachment to her. For example in one scene there is a part where rose introduces her potential lover, that is not up to her families expectations, to a different kind of class, the upper class.
Rose: [whispering to Jack] Now they will retreat into a cloud of smoke and congratulate each other on being masters of the universe. '(4) 
 Here we see Rose comforting the other character Jack because she knows he would be feeling uncomfortable, the way she uses humor to comfort makes her character very likable because it shows she is caring. Additionally it being a whisper gives us a side to Rose of cheekiness, which also can make the audience relate and understand her character further. Through my characters situation I would like to make her a positive character like Rose and even though they are in a difficult situation, the character makes the most of it and handles it in a manner that makes her likable to the audience.

My idea from this sprung to me from a film I once watched called (5) Love, Rosie (2014) It's not that I wanted to squeeze 102 minute feature film into ten minutes, however the emotion that film made me feel I wanted to capture that and place that in my film, which is why I had the idea of the best friend longing for each other but realize when it is too late. After watching the idea of the Love, Rosie Screenplay I knew this was the idea I wanted to take on. Capturing the idea of taking opportunities and you shouldn't hold back how you feel about someone because you don't know what the future holds. Additionally the way the flashbacks are used is similar to how I would like to use flashbacks, to be seen as they are in the present, however the audience know that it is a flashback.

Here is an image from the film Love, Rosie, this helped me with the imagery I will be trying to create through my script. These are the two 'best friend' characters Rosie on the left and Alex on the right. 

Audience Research:

I created a survey to get the information I needed to create a successful short romance film, I asked the age and whether the candidate was male of female because I wanted to see if their gender or age effected the results that came back. Additionally wanted to see if my short film would be a success to the market and if there was anything I could add to make it more appealing. Here is an example of my survey:(7)

Here are the (8) results of my survey, I have picked out the most relevant information of the feedback to analyse that would be effective for my research.

Question 1

In question 1 I knew there would be more females who were interested in taking part in this survey because there is a stereotype that females are more interested in romantic films and the genre of love. I needed to look at this result and realize that this could affect the rest of my survey because the rest of the responses would come from a dominant female opinion.

Question 2

As we can see here the predominately female survey results show that the majority do enjoy the genre of romance, this is important to me because I want to create a short film that will suit the market and will be successful and with 83% I am confident that my piece will deliver that.

Question 3
 Again here we see that the majority would be interested in seeing a romantic themed short film, however is it because the majority of people who responded to the survey was female. My short films primary target audience is females because it appeals more to those who are arguable more sensitive to this genre and who would be more likely to watch it.

Question 4 

I added this question in, to get a sense of what the audience prefers, as I was at the point where I could have made the ending either tragic or happy. However going by the highest grossing romantic films and most popular happy ever afters leave the audience feeling content and complete with what happened, and one that they would be more likely to watch again.

Question 7
This question was an important one because it reflected exactly what the market wants (In regards to those who responded to this questionnaire). This is important because the initial idea for my genre of romance was going to be a drama, now I have to consider using comedy to make my screenplay reach a vaster audience and also keep it successful in the market.

To summarise my primary research, the questionnaire results were a success, it made me aware of what the audience wants and how they want a love story to be presented. This has made me reevaluate how to construct my script and also to think more further into the characters I am thinking about creating. The results also conclude that females will be the predominant target audience, therefore I need to create a character that is relatable and one that the audience can sympathize with. This is why I am thinking about the name of character being a common one, to make her sound realistic. The questionnaire results also reflected the markets desires, when it was responded to and came that romantic comedy's were most appealing to an audience this helped me find a basis of a theme for my screenplay.

After researching the current themes are willl be including in my screenplay is a mix of romantic comedy with drama, drama can effect an audience emotionally in the sense they can sympathise with the character and comedy allows the audience to connect and relate to the character. After the responses of my questionnaire, comedy is seen as the most successful romance genre, this could be because comedy is a genre that caters to all ages (within regards to sexual content of a romantic comedy) and all genders. Where as romance on it own can be seen to be a predominately feminine context.

One statistic that challenges that romcom's are most successful, this is that the film Titanic (1997) is the highest grossing romance genre film in the US bringing in $659M, which arguably has a tragic ending which involves death of a loved one. Although the film is a feature therefore a long film, looking at my short film, a tragic ending wouldn't be able to be felt as realistic as it would if I had more time to purse how I could show it.

Reinforcing the idea that happy endings to romance films are successful, (10) Pretty Woman (1990) was ranked 24th in the success of the highest grossing films in the US and this has a happy ending. The success of film may not be based upon the ending, however I found it was important to research this to aid how I could craft my script to make it successful and reach a better understanding of the genre of romance.


The predominant target audience for romance films are females, my survey reinforces this because the majority of people that took part were female. Romantic films tend to be directed at the age between 13-24 and some even above, this could be due to the light hearted nature of the films and that the 'happy ever after' is a key desire for film makers to reach in their films, and therefore their target audience will be enticed to reach this in their lives. Some may argue it gives the audience false hope, however it could be seen to give them hope and something that is a good to feel because of how it is portrayed in Hollywood films.(11) These films are usually aimed at first world citizens, teenage girls either from America or Britain and this is why the actors used are usually from those backgrounds. For example the film Wild Child (2008) which would be aimed mainly at the lower age of the target market, has an American actress that is shipped off to a private school in England keeping to that theme because these are the most dominant countries for the film making industry. This is mainly about the main character learning to be a nicer person, however it does have an element of romance in it along with comedy, which is why the 13-16 range of the target market would be targeted as love is not as serious when you are at those ages. Where as if we look at a film He's Just Not That Into You (2009) this hits the higher age range 18 and above due to the complexity of the relationships and how there is cheating and betrayal, showing realistic dynamics of a married relationship or a romantic struggle. However this does also have a 'happy ever after' so it can sell in the market and leave the audience with that hope, as some may call the target market 'Hopeless Romantics' those who are rely on these films to give them confidence and hope in these situations, which is how this type of genre sells.

Another type of media text which could be of use to compare to my media text is Music Videos, they are also comparable to a short film, telling a story in a short amount of time and getting straight to the point. Although still being able to draw the audience to the characters and make us sympathize with the characters situation. For this I have researched the most popular love songs that have a love story based music video, I came across a very well known pop singer Taylor Swift that has a reputation for producing love songs and I found the Wildest Dreams Music Video -

The Music video tells the story of a man and a woman who are working on a movie set together playing a couple, they end up falling in love and having an amazing time on the set together, however the man has a wife. The filming of the movie comes to again and they promise each other they will see each other again, then months later the premiere comes and she gets out of the car and see's him with his wife, they watch the film back and realize how they were in love, she gets upset and runs out of the movie theater and he leaves his wife and runs after her, but it's too late and she has left.
There is no dialogue in this which means there wouldn't need to be a script, however the love song playing in the background correlates to the actions on the screen, therefore telling the story with the use of the words on the soundtrack.

Here we see the characters on the set of the film, playing their own characters in the film, the audience can assume that they are creating a love film due to the romantic scene of them sharing a passionate kiss.

However as the short film progresses we see them spend time together out of the filming areas. The audience can get a feel of the chemistry through the actions and also the look that they give each other when they are together.

There is a twist however when the male character who has seen to have had chemistry with Taylor Swift arrives back from filming, to the premiere of the film and has what the audience can assume a wife, or a girl friend.

The scene then shows Taylor's reaction and this is what reinforces that idea that there was chemistry between these two characters and it was more than just acting on a film set.

These lyrics indicate that the character is falling in love by describing what she loves about him, which can arguably make the audience fall for the character as well. It also places the main female character in a vulnerable position because she has fallen for someone that is out of reach, therefore the audience sympathize with the character and are more drawn to watch the end of the story to find out what happens to that main character.

The interesting factor of this music video is it isn't telling the story just through the lyrics and with the singer performing to the audience, it is like an actual short film. Showing how they make contact off of the film set and also spend time together outside of filming, and when the filming stops as we see the characters at the premiere, the audience can assume that they are 'back to reality' and the love story has ended.

50 First Dates
When it comes to locations I looked back at some romantic films that I have seen before and saw where the most dramatic moments took place, as you can see from the images below there is a variety
of different locations from clubbing, to a meal, to a boat scene. All locations can have an impact on the audience without them realizing, for example the first place where one character admits their feelings or breaks up, that location become recognizable to audience and especially in the film 50 first dates (2004)  they have a significant scene location where the characters first met and where they continue to meet due to one of the characters memory disorder, however whenever the characters are near this particlular location which is a cafe, the audience know this is where they first met and this draws heavily on the connection the two characters have.
The Notebook
Other locations in films the audience may not have seen before, however may have a romantic setting which the audience can expect something will be happening in the scene. For my screenplay and the locations I have thought about it tricky, because I have this idea of showing flashbacks there will be several locations recognisable to the audience, for example a school classroom, a school dance, a normal street, a beach, these are just several of my ideas that I have thought about for the flashbacks. The reason for the different locations is to show my characters spending time together at different locations to show the audience that they spend a large amount of time together and have been places together that draws them closer. When the flashbacks occur the present tense location will be at a concreate place, possibly a function room of some kind at a party for one of my characters leaving due or possible marriage, something that the audience can keep reffering back to, to awknowledge that there is a present and the flashbacks are indeed, looking back.


1 comment:

  1. You have collected and prepared excellent background material for a scriptwriting project to near-professional standards working independently to professional expectations.