Monday, April 4, 2011

Mixing Action & Emotive Character Arcs

Phew, second personal pass through edits complete (well, on paper, I still need to make changes on computer, but still, DONE)!!!! I’ve done all the big work at this point: mainly a lot of smoothing out of story-arcs, combining multiple conversations into single more cinematic ones, amping up tension EVERYWHERE, and at the end, making sure to pack emotional punch in among the action. Basically that’s been the big wrestle with this edit round—making sure the action & emotional arcs are both smooth in and of themselves, but then are also woven together seamlessly. That’s what makes for a great story. How many of us have seen spectacular action flicks with great special effects, but thought: bummer, for all the flash and bang, there just wasn’t a compelling story at the heart of it—or—I didn’t really connect to those characters. This is the crux of every story that has been a staple in my life. A few examples:

  • Original Star Wars. Luke’s journey of maturing through the three films, as well as Darth Vader’s redemption, not to mention Hans Solo's extremely likable persona—in spite of the space-fighting-kick-assing action, it’s the characters that make this story timeless.

  • The Terminator, especially Terminator 2—this was a 90’s action flick at it’s explosion-y best, coupled w/ cool sci-fi of the mercury-like enemy terminator—but all of it is based in the emotional journey of a family and the machine sent to protect them, leaving viewers pondering well after the movie has finished if the Terminator’s loyalty was all his programming, or if sentience in machines could mean becoming more human than was ever intended. Not to mention the lingering discomfort about the future of the human race and the worry about computers taking over the world that seeped into the consciousness of my generation!

  • Jurassic Park—one of the landmark films of my childhood. The more I think about the places I went with Glitch, of nature to react against the bindings of attempted human control, I can trace thought processes back to this book/movie. In Jurassic Park, man thinks he can control nature by cloning, reproducing, and packaging ancient wild beasts. And instead, they begin adapting in unforeseen ways. I mean, think about what this film highlights—there are actual amphibians that can CHANGE THIER BIOLOGICAL SEX when forced into a same sex environment in order to procreate and continue their race. It’s f’ing nuts, completely wild, untamable, just like human nature. Societal rules and many religions attempt to control us, to mold us into singular, controllable, patterned entities. Any attempt at control that does not acknowledge the chaos of what it means to be alive, however, is doomed to fail. Ok, excited soap-box ranting over :) Yeah, anyway, this and other awesome scientific ideas were interspersed with very human main characters, navigating the dangerous and thrilling consequences of human tampering with things too large for them to control. Not to mention, the special effects were unlike anything we’d seen in 1993 when it came out!!

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