Gerald Hanks Filmography

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Screenwriting: Finding Your Niche

Many rookie writers make the mistake of writing “for the market”. These aspiring scribes believe that the best ways to get their scripts converted from page to screen involve either appealing to the widest possible audience, or chasing trends found in recent script sales or current box office hits.

For writers seeking to get films made, a more effective approach often involves focusing on a specific niche audience.

The biggest reasons that rookie writers should focus on a niche audience come down to economics:

  • Films for niche audiences are often less expensive to produce. Small, focused stories can ease the burdens on producers, who must assemble the money, talent, equipment, and expertise to get your script made.
  • Fans of niche film genres will often go out of their way to see films in their favorite genre, giving producers a built-in audience that they can count on to purchase the final product.
  • Niche audiences are always demanding new material. Films for niche audiences often have an appeal that lasts longer than just a few weeks after its initial release.
  • Films for niche audiences are often profitable. Film is a business. Businesses live on profit. Revenue minus cost equals profit. High ticket sales and low production costs equals a profitable niche. In this economic structure, many writers can make a good living by writing scripts for a niche audience.


Niche vs. Genre

Just to clarify these terms, niche refers to the audience, while genre refers to the tropes used to tell specific types of stories. Niche audiences often flock to films in their favorite genre because they recognize and appreciate the genre storytelling tropes.

Here are some genres that typically appeal to niche audiences.

  • Horror / Crime / Thriller. Writer/ directors from Sam Raimi to Guillermo del Toro got their start in low-budget horror films. Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez cut their teeth on low-cost shoot-'em-ups. Writers can also focus on thriller/suspense stories, without the need for a blood bath, either on screen or on the books.
  • Faith / Family Friendly. On the other end of the spectrum, films that focus on faith and family are often inexpensive to produce and have a ready-made audience. Films with a holiday theme, such as summer vacation, Thanksgiving or Christmas, are often annual favorites and can attract audiences across generations.
  • Stories for Under-Served Audiences. Stories that focus on audiences that don't often see themselves on megaplex screens can not only bring attention to your story, they can also attract talented actors and directors in those groups who are hungry for more substantial roles. Scripts that feature strong characters who happen to be women, ethnic minorities, LGBT+, physically or mentally challenged, or other under-served groups can draw audiences.

On the flip side, there are also some genres that rookie writers may be better off avoiding:

  • Historical Pieces. From clothes to hair to music to cars, historical pieces are often more difficult and more expensive to produce. If you can find any way to bring your story into the present day, you increase your chances of getting your script made.
  • Ensemble Pieces. In Old Hollywood, “A Cast of Thousands” was a sign of a prestige picture. Today, a script with a large cast is the sign that the writer lacks focus. A script that focuses on a single protagonist, a single antagonist, and a handful of supporting characters not only forces the writer to keep the story tight, it also shows producers that the writer understands the limitations involved in low-budget productions. 
  • Sci-fi /Superhero. One of the big reasons that sci-fi and superhero films are successful today as if they have audiences that have followed the characters and storylines from other media, such as novels, comic books, or TV shows. Inexperienced writers who try to push their original sci-fi or superhero concepts face an uphill battle. Not only do their stories lack that built-in audience, but also the financial and technical requirements involved in producing a high-quality film in the genre can be cost-prohibitive to getting the script made.

Remember, your end goal as a screenwriter is NOT to win screenwriting contests.

It's NOT to get rave reviews from your friends or your writers’ group.

It's NOT to earn grants.

It’s NOT to get a “RECOMMEND” rating on a coverage report written by a studio intern.

It's NOT even to get an agent or manager.

All of these are means toward the true end goal.

Your end goal should be to write a script that gets you PAID and gets a movie MADE.

Whether you’re writing for a niche audience, or your penning a screenplay for the masses, Story Into Screenplay can help. Story Into Screenplay offers one-on-one consultations, coverage reports, and script writing and rewriting services.

For more information, email Story Into Screenplay on the form on this page or at storyintoscreenplayblog at gmail.com. You can also reach Story Into Screenplay at our Facebook page.

Good luck and keep writing!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Setting Up Your Story World Through Conflict and Character

One of the major problems that many rookie writers, especially those whose stories take place outside of contemporary Western settings, is the need to explain how characters function within the laws, customs, and traditions of the story’s setting. From ancient empires to far-flung future societies, settings place specific limits on characters.

The approach most rookie writers take is to have their characters explain the rules to the audience in an “info-dump”, a stretch of expository dialogue that bores the audience to tears, deflates any dramatic tension these scenes could have, and prevents the story from moving forward.

A more character-driven approach to the “As you know, Bob” speech is to create characters that are on opposite sides of the societal divide. One character is in charge of enforcing society’s rules, while the other must break those rules to pursue their Victory.



In Les Miserables, the audience doesn’t need to know all of the intricacies of the political landscape in France in the late Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Centuries. All the audience needs to know is that Jean Valjean is a desperate ex-convict on the run and Inspector Javert is the driven police officer whose mission it is to bring him in. All the societal, cultural, and political aspects become background noise for the core story.

Moving from the past to the far future, the appeal of most science fiction shows arises less from the whiz-bang technology they show or the utopian societies they propose, but from the characters that must cope with their settings.



In the original Star Trek series, Captain Kirk often breaks the rules (both those established by Starfleet and those imposed by the “laws of physics”) to accomplish his mission and save his crewmates. On the other side, Commander Spock attempts to follow logical reasoning and to stay within the rules as much as possible.

By this method, the audience only learns about the rules of how the technology works and how the Federation deals with different societies through the conflict between Kirk, Spock, and the other characters. The audience doesn’t need a lecture on warp drive or transporters to enjoy the show: the conflicts between the characters will show what they can and can’t do given the rules of their universe.

But what if you’re not writing about the past or the future? What if you’re just sticking to the here and now? These methods can still apply. Each group has its own set of rules. Some members are in charge of enforcing those rules, while others are on the outside looking in. These rules are the source of your conflict, which becomes the fuel that drives your story.



In Mean Girls, Regina George is the queen of the school: she makes the rules about who gets to be popular and who doesn’t. When Cady Heron arrives, she gets a crash course in these rules, first by befriending the outsiders, then by working her way into the Plastics. Again, the audience doesn’t need a lengthy explanation as to how someone becomes a “Plastic”. The conflict between Cady and Regina shows them how the rules work, and how Cady uses them to bring Regina down.

Most aspiring writers have been told “Show, Don’t Tell,” but have never known exactly how to implement that adage into their storytelling. By using the characters to establish the setting, instead of the other way around, writers can show their world to the audience through their characters’ eyes, rather than through their words.

If you need help with your script, get in touch with Story Into Screenplay. We offer coverage reports, rewrite services, and one-on-one consultations. You can reach us through the email form on this page, or send us a message on our Facebook page.


Sunday, July 28, 2019

What’s Your Point? Screenwriting and Emotion





When I work with rookie screenwriters, one of the biggest issues I encounter is that they fail to see the point of their story.

They’re fascinated by plot and theme and setting and, occasionally, even character, but they often miss the point.

Here’s a question that illustrates my argument:

Why do you tell a joke?

Do you want your audience to nod in solemn agreement, validate your point, and praise you for your wit and intelligence?

I hope not.

You tell a joke to get a laugh. That’s the point of a joke.

The point of a wacky comedy script is to get the audience to laugh.

The point of a family tragedy script is to get the audience to cry.

The point of a gruesome horror script is to get the audience to hide their eyes in terror.

What do all of these have in common?

They’re all emotional responses.

Story Into Screenplay’s Fundamental Theorem of Story (™ PENDING): The point of any story is to provoke an emotional response in the audience.

Not to teach a lesson. Not to make a statement. Not to show how smart or sophisticated or skilled you are as a writer.

Your job, first and foremost, is to provoke an emotional response in your audience.

If your story does not provoke an emotional response in the audience, YOU HAVE NO STORY!

You may have a sequence of events or a narrative, but you don’t have a STORY.

The VOTE Method can be highly effective at helping writers find the emotional response that they want to get from the audience. The E in VOTE can also stand for “Emotion”. The E answers the question, “What is the Emotional need the character needs to satisfy as they pursue their Victory, overcome their Obstacles, and apply their Tactics?”

While the first three elements are unique to the character, setting, and story, the Emotion should be something that everyone in the audience can understand.

Love. Revenge. Grief. Fear. Redemption. Validation.

These are all emotional needs that everyone feels at one time or another.

These are all examples of the types of emotional needs that you need your characters to pursue.

These can all be examples of the emotional responses that you need to evoke from your audience to make your story a success.

You can even apply this theorem in a specific scene.

In this scene from Inside Out, the writers knew the emotional response they wanted from their audience: they wanted them to mourn the death of Bing Bong.

How did they get the audience to mourn a character who was, up to that point, annoying, useless, and more of a hindrance than a helper?

They built up the audience’s hope through Joy, the sunniest character in the film. They showed the near-misses that Joy and Bing Bong had as they tried to escape. Then they showed the only possible solution: Bing Bong’s sacrifice.

When Joy escapes the pit, she starts out happy. When she sees Bing Bong still in the pit, she realizes that her escape came at a cost. When Bing Bong waves goodbye and tells Joy, “Take her to the moon for me”, as he disappears, Joy (and the audience) tear up at the loss.

Before you sit down to outline your script, think of your audience.

What emotion do you want the reader to feel when they get to “FADE OUT”?

What do you want the audience to feel when the end credits roll?

What do you want them to tell their friends about their emotional experience after going through your story?

When you can answer these questions, then you just might have a story worth telling.

If you need help finding these answers, contact Story Into Screenplay. We offer coverage reports, script consultations, rewrite services, and much more.

To find out more about how Story Into Screenplay can help you, please fill out the form on this page, email us at storyintoscreenplayblog(at)gmail(dot)com, or send a message through our Facebook page.


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Product Review: SmartPhone Movie Maker

One of the aspects of screenwriting that new writers, especially those transitioning from other types of writing, is that screenwriting is, first and foremost, a visual medium. While the emphasis on characterization and story structure cannot be under-emphasized, the purpose of a screenplay is as a blueprint for making a film, not as an example of literary writing.

With this in mind, one of the ways in which screenwriters can better understand what it takes to turn their script into a film is to learn about the other aspects of film making. On a recent trip to a used bookstore, I found “Smart Phone Movie Maker” by Bryan Michael Stoller. Although the box contains a film making kit designed for grade-school children, it also contains useful information for adults who want to learn more about the technical aspects of screenwriting.

The package comes in four major parts:
  • A box that can be assembled into a mini-projector
  • Accessories, including popcorn boxes and tickets.
  • A 48-page book on the film making process
  • A book of storyboarding templates

The projector box may be more suited for a child’s bedroom than for a living room, since the smaller box and shorter lens tube lack the focal length needed for large-screen projection. The kit requires that the phones be less than 78mm (about 3 inches) wide, so larger smartphones won’t work with it.

Also, users have to reset their phone screen to landscape, both upside-down and mirror-image, to ensure the proper picture orientation when projected. This often requires downloading a separate app to get the right orientation. Kids can also put together the stenciled accessories to create their popcorn boxes and tickets to their “premiere” event.

For adults, the key components are the two books. The main book includes some important ideas that screenwriters should keep in mind.

In the section on genre, Stoller writes, “Make the kind of film you like watching.”  For writers working on spec scripts, this advice often goes unheeded, as they seek to chase market trends rather than write something that captures their interests.

With the amount of work that goes into crafting a workable screenplay, any writer who works on a spec script that doesn’t pique their interest is wasting their time and talent. After all, if the writer doesn’t like the story, how will they convince anyone else to invest in it?

Another valuable piece of advice comes in the section “Beginnings and Endings”. In the “Hints and Tips” section, Stoller writes, “Write less rather than more...Ask yourself: ‘What does my character want? And why can’t he get it?’”

In other words:

  • What Victory does your character want to achieve? 
  • What Obstacles are standing between them and their Victory? 
  • What Tactics will they use to get around the Obstacles and achieve the Victory? 
  • What Emotional need is driving them to pursue that Victory?
If only there was a simple mnemonic device to help writers remember all of these questions.

For those writers adventurous enough to shoot their own films with their phones, the book also offers some sound technical advice, including proper lighting techniques, sound equipment, and camera tricks. The book also includes resources to find post-production tools, such as music, sound effects, and color correction.

Since film is a visual medium, another key aspect of screenwriting involves visualizing each scene as you write it. At this point, the book of storyboard templates in this kit can be a valuable tool.

While most spec script gurus recommend against specifying camera angles in the script itself, using the storyboard templates can give writers a sense of the images they want to convey.

For instance, the storyboard shows a close-up of Bob shading his eyes with his hand, while the script can read, “Bob shades his eyes against the setting sun.” The writer never needs to mention “CLOSE UP” in the script.

The days of the lonely screenwriter, sitting in a coffee shop, and pecking away at a laptop in hopes of selling a million-dollar screenplay are all but dead. Instead, producers and agents want to see how a writer’s vision can translate into a finished product.

In my case, I had a lot of help from some talented people who assembled my scripts into short films. These films showed clients that, not only could I write a quality script under a tight deadline, but that I had people who believed in my skills enough to invest their own time and money into my talents.

When you make your own film, whether it’s by yourself with your phone, with a handful of friends in your backyard, or with a cast and crew of thousands, you can show those decision-makers that your vision, your talent, and your creativity and worth their time and money.

If you’re ready to turn your idea into a script, Story Into Screenplay can help. We offer script consultations, coverage reports, and rewriting services for scripts in all genres and at all stages.

For more information, contact Story Into Screenplay at storyintoscreenplayblog(at)gmail(dot)com, fill out the form on this page, or send us a message through our Facebook page.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

One (More) Marvelous Scene: Black Panther Take 2





With the record-breaking box office of "Avengers: Endgame" and the ground-breaking analysis found in the YouTube essay series "One Marvelous Scene", I thought another post regarding this trend was highly appropriate.

Since I wrote last week on the much-heralded Killmonger death scene from Black Panther, I wanted to take a look at another scene from the same film that didn’t get near as much attention, but also shows how characters with strong desires, even for the same thing, can come into conflict.

The scene involves Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), the Wakandan spy and love interest for T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), and Okoye (Dania Gurira), the leader of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s all-female troop of royal bodyguards.

Although this scene doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test, it does involve two women discussing something vital to both of them: the safety of their country, and the potential threat that Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) poses by taking over the throne.

In Nakia’s case, she is fiercely loyal to T’Challa, who she believes is dead. She wants Okoye’s help in overthrowing Killmonger and returning the throne to T’Challa’s branch of the family.

As a warrior and a commander of an elite squad, Okoye values the chain of command and the traditions that support the ruling structure.

When Nakia suggests that they work together to overthrow Killmonger, Okoye answers:

“I am loyal to the throne, no matter who sits upon it.”

When Okoye questions Nakia’s loyalty, she answers that she loved T’Challa as a man and the country that he represented as its ruler.

“Then you serve your country,” Okoye tells her.

“No,” Nakia responds. “I save my country.”

Nakia then leaves and joins CIA Agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) in an effort to escape the country with T’Challa’s mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) before Okoye can send the Dora Milaje after them.

Not only is this one of the most underrated scenes in a stellar film, it’s also possibly the most underrated scene in the entire MCU. It’s not a matter of galaxy-wide consequences, but it carries deep personal meaning for both characters.

For Nakia, who values and respects Okoye as a warrior and a friend, the idea that Okoye would stay loyal to the man who killed the king, a man who only arrived in the country that same day and claimed the throne, rather than fight to avenge the king's murder, leaves her shocked to her core.

For Okoye, who values tradition above nearly everything else, even the man she loves, the idea that Nakia would want to overthrow the rightful king is anathema.

The scene also carries some strong parallels to another, more notable, fractured friendship in the MCU: the fight between Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) in Captain America: Civil War.

In that film, Captain America fights for his values and his loyalty to his friend Bucky/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), even when those values conflict with the law. Iron Man fights to get Cap to comply with the Sokovia Accords, the law of the land, even when that law is unjust.

Both the Nakia/Okoye scene and the Cap/Iron Man scene ask serious questions of their audiences:

Can someone stay loyal to their friends, their beliefs, and their values, even as their country gets taken over by a megalomaniac bent on world destruction?

Or does someone stay loyal to their country in the spirit of patriotism and duty, even when they recognize that the new leader’s mission compromises all of the traditions that made their country great to begin with?

When a screenwriter (such as Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole here) can set up an intense conflict where both characters have strong beliefs, high stakes, and valid points for their arguments, that writer can create One (More) Marvelous Scene.

If you have an idea for a screenplay, Story Into Screenplay can help.
If you’ve started writing a screenplay, but don’t know how to proceed, Story Into Screenplay can help.
If you’ve finished a screenplay and need a comprehensive view of the characters, dialogue, logic, structure, and marketability of your script, Story Into Screenplay can help.

Contact Story Into Screenplay at storyintoscreenplayblog(at)gmail(dot)com, or send a direct message through our Facebook page.



Saturday, April 27, 2019

One Marvelous Scene: Black Panther



With the release of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame, a number of YouTube video essayists have created pieces that reflect on their favorite scenes over the 20+ films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, titled "One Marvelous Scene".

While my video editing skills are pretty much non-existent, as a lifelong fan of the Marvel characters and a die-hard fan of the MCU, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to reflect on one of my favorite scenes: the death of Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) at the climax of 2018’s Black Panther.

The scene starts with the deposed King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) fighting his estranged cousin Killmonger in an underground mining train tunnel. As the train passes, a protective energy field makes their special suits disappear. Just when Killmonger looks like he has the upper hand, T’Challa turns the tables and plunges a dagger into his cousin’s chest.

“Helluva move,” Killmonger tells T’Challa as he struggles for breath. T’Challa drops his mask, an immediate look of regret and sorrow crossing his face, even though the two were locked into a battle to the death just seconds ago.

Killmonger looks up, as if trying to look past the limitations of his mortality and into the world beyond. He tells T’Challa about how his father, T’Challa’s uncle, told him of the beauty of his native Wakanda and promise to show it to him someday.

“Can you believe that?” Killmonger asks? “A kid from Oakland, running around believing in fairy tales?” At this point, he shows less sorrow for the life he’s lived, and the lives he has taken, than he does for possibly missing out on seeing the beauty his father promised to show him.

Without a word, T’Challa resolutely pulls Killmonger to his feet and takes him on an elevator to a high promontory overlooking the countryside. Killmonger looks out over the sunset, knowing that it’s the last thing he’ll ever see.

“It’s beautiful,” he remarks as he gasps for breath.

“Maybe we can still heal you,” T’Challa tells him.

Instead of responding positively to the offer, Killmonger casts a look of complete disdain on his compassionate cousin.

“Why?” Killmonger asks. “So you can just lock me up?

“Just bury me in the ocean, with my ancestors that jumped from the ships. Because they knew death was better than bondage.”

Killmonger pulls the dagger from his chest, causing him to bleed out and his lungs to collapse. T’Challa stands over his fallen adversary, his cousin, his closest family member, and poses the body in respect.

When most rookie writers first apply the VOTE Method, they typically approach it from an overall story level. However, it’s also important to look at the VOTE at the scene level. One of the things that makes this scene so powerful is that both men are still looking to pursue their scene-level Victories, even as the overall story comes to a close.

In the fight scene, the VOTEs are obvious:
T’Challa:
Victory: T’Challa wants to defeat Killmonger.
Obstacle: Killmonger has better training and powers equal to or better than T’Challa’s.
Tactics: T’Challa uses the train’s energy fields to make for a more even fight.
Energy: T’Challa needs to stop the civil war waging above their heads.

Killmonger:
Victory: Killmonger wants to defeat T’Challa.
Obstacle: T’Challa has his powers back, and they’re fighting on T’Challa’s home turf.
Tactics: Killmonger uses his military training and advanced fighting techniques, along with his powers and vibranium suit.
Energy: Killmonger needs to take revenge on the family and country who abandoned him and his father.

In Killmonger’s death scene, the VOTEs are more subtle, but no less powerful:
T’Challa:
Victory: T’Challa wants to save Killmonger.
Obstacle: Killmonger’s wound is deep. Even though the suit is holding him together, he might not make it.
Tactics: T’Challa brings him up to see the sunset and offers to heal him.
Energy: T’Challa needs to end the chain of lies and pain that caused Killmonger to turn on Wakanda and the family.

Killmonger:
Victory: Killmonger wants to see the sunset over Wakanda before he dies.
Obstacle: Killmonger’s wound is deep and he knows he’s going to die soon.
Tactics: Killmonger tells T’Challa the “fairy tale” story about his father.
Energy: Killmonger needs to see the fulfillment of his father’s promise.

The beauty of these scenes (and the entire film in general) is that T’Challa is not the infallible, righteous hero, nor is Killmonger the egomaniacal, self-absorbed villain. Each character has strong beliefs that lead them to pursue destructive courses of action.

Because T’Challa needed to protect his country, he chose to murder his cousin to save his country and the world.
Because Killmonger needed to fulfill his father’s promise, he chose to die rather than be locked in a cage for his crimes.

When writers use the power of the VOTE Method at each level of the story, they can all but guarantee that their scripts will have at least one “MARVEL-ous” scene.

If you want help in creating a “Marvel” of a script, contact Story Into Screenplay. We offer coverage reports, script consultations, rewrite services, and work-for-hire script writing for projects of all sizes.

You can reach Story Into Screenplay at storyintoscreenplayblog(at)gmail(dot)com, or through our Facebook page.

Story Into Screenplay’s own Gerald Hanks will be appearing at the Comicpalooza Sci-Fi convention in Houston on May 10, 11, and 12, as well as the Big Easy Con in New Orleans on June 1 and 2.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Screenwriting With The VOTE Method: The Upside



The new film The Upside follows the unlikely friendship between wealthy quadriplegic Phillip (Bryan Cranston) and his caregiver, Dell (Kevin Hart). The script, written by Jon Hartmere and based on the award-winning 2011 French film Les Intouchables, traces how two characters from different worlds learn to form a bond of mutual trust and respect.

In this post, we'll look at how Hartmere developed his version of these characters by applying the VOTE Method. The object of this review is not to criticize the film itself, but to demonstrate to aspiring writers how they can build strong characters in their own stories by showing how the VOTE Method applied to contemporary films.

In this case, we'll look at how Hartmere approached writing the characters of Phillip, Dell, and Phillip’s executive Yvonne (Nicole Kidman)

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Dell (protagonist)
Victory:
At the start of the film, Dell's Victory is to get signatures from hiring managers to show his parole officer that he has been looking for a job.
Once he gets the job with Phillip, his Victory is to keep it long enough and make enough money to take care of his son and the boy’s mother.

Obstacles:
Dell’s criminal record and prison term make managers hesitate to hire him. His pessimistic attitude and lack of motivation also stand in his way.
When he gets the job, he finds out he’s both unqualified and unsuited for it. Yvonne also puts pressure on him by instituting a “three strikes” policy, ready to fire him after he causes trouble.
Some of that trouble comes from Dell’s attempts to win over his family. He gives his son an expensive book from Phillip’s collection, drives Phillip’s expensive cars, and leaves his job at times when Phillip and Yvonne need him to be there.

Tactics:
On the quest for the signatures, Dell barges in on an interview between Yvonne, Phillip, and a candidate. Dell only wants the signature, but Phillip hires him on the spot to spite Yvonne.
After he starts the job, Dell starts to learn about what it takes to take care of a quadriplegic, including some activities he considers unpalatable. He also takes Phillip out of his penthouse apartment and encourages him to live it up, including smoking marijuana, hiring prostitutes, and setting Phillip up on date with a woman with whom Phillip had been corresponding

Energy:
Dell needs to prove to his son (and to himself) that he’s not the same loser who went to prison. He also needs to build a better relationship with his son than his own criminal father had with him.

Phillip
Victory:
Phillip's Victory is to die with dignity.

Obstacles:
Phillip’s major Obstacle is his own body. A paragliding accident left him without feeling from the neck down.
Yvonne acts as another Obstacle, as she helps him manage his business interests and work with his caretakers.

Tactics:
Phillip tells Yvonne that he has a standing DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order and that she and the rest of his staff are to take “no extraordinary measures” to keep him alive.
One night, he swallows his own saliva and tries to choke himself before Dell can save him.
When he finds out about Dell’s criminal record, he fires him and isolates himself from the rest of the staff.

Energy:
After his accident and losing his wife to cancer, Phillip doesn’t see a reason to live anymore. He feels that he needs to die to escape the prison that his body has become and be happy again with his wife.


Yvonne (antagonist)
Victory:
Yvonne's Victory is to get rid of Dell and get a more qualified caretaker to help with Phillip.

Obstacles:
Phillip hates all the candidates that she interviews, and hires Dell just to spite her.
As Phillip and Dell’s friendship develops, Yvonne begins to fear that she’ll lose out on Philip’s approval.

Tactics:
Yvonne uses her “three strikes” policy as a way to justify her treatment of Dell and hire someone more qualified.
Whenever Dell encourages Phillip to do something reckless, Yvonne becomes a “mother hen” and tries to squash Dell’s ideas.

Energy:
Yvonne needs to take care of Phillip and express her love for him, even if she can’t admit to him or herself.

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While a protagonist/antagonist pair creates a single thread of conflict, a three-character interaction requires three pairs of conflicting Victories. When you have three main characters, you need to ensure that the VOTEs of each character create enough conflict with the others. Each character’s Victory should put them in conflict with the other two. For instance:


  • Dell wants to keep his job./Yvonne wants to fire him.
  • Phillip wants to die./Yvonne wants to keep him alive.
  • Phillip wants to die./Dell wants to keep his job, so he must keep Phillip alive.


When you give your characters strong, clear desires, you also create strong, clear desires for the producers to want to make the film, for the actors who want to perform in the film, and for the audiences to want to see the film.

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If you need help with building strong characters for your script, contact Story Into Screenplay. We offer script coverage reports, rewrite services, and one-on-one consultations. For a list of services and prices, please email storyintoscreenplayblog(at)gmail(dot)com, or send a message to our Facebook page.