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Monday, August 20, 2007

The Painful Moments

Movies aren't about the dull times in life. Movies are about adventures, crises, turning points and change. Today the Mini-W started her first day as a freshman in a new high school. Where everybody already knows everybody else. Kid was white as a ghost but teenaged pride wouldn't allow her to articulate how she felt. How many of us read that last couple of sentences and were instantly transported to the feeling of teenaged angst and insecurity? For most of us, even if high school was long ago, the memory is keen. How about moving out of your folks place for the first time? Starting your first real job? Getting married? Or turning back the clock a little, the feeling of having your own car? Being invited to (or not) the prom?

Part of the reason it's so very hard to be a writer is that we tend to feel and remember these emotions more deeply than other people. It's why we write and it's why we write well. When people go to the movies, they go to experience these emotions vicariously. It's a safe place to work out the emotional kinks. Part of the reason that actors are often - let's face it - a little crazy is that they literally summon the emotions of the character in the moment. They feel angry, they feel frightened, they feel insecure. Actors become the character they are portraying and that means wrapping themselves in the experience.

Well, in order for writers to write a really effective painful moment in a script - we have to feel it too. Become your character as you write. Feel their pain, fear, joy or triumph. Tap into your own feelings from life experiences. It's the only way a painful or emotional moment in your script is going to read authentically.

I think we all wish the Mini-W well today. What are some of your favorite high-school movies? Have any Rouge Waves seen SUPERBAD?

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screen scribe said...

Hands down my favorite high school movie is Fast Times At Ridgemont High with a close second followed by the Breakfast Club.

Anonymous said...

Ghost World. Nominated script too.

Christian M. Howell said...

Dead Poet's Society. I think five minutes of a kid drawing pics of penises may cause me to have a nervous reaction, so no I haven't seen SuperBad.

Pete said...

The only high school movie that ever really spoke to me was Say Anything.... Needless to say, Cameron Crowe has been on a losing streak since then, as far as I'm concerned, but what can ya do?

Matt Hader said...

Superbad was very crude and VERY funny!

(Disclaimer: I may be incredibly biased because my nephew Bill Hader plays Officer Slater in the film)

DougJ said...

"Heathers" and "American Grafitti".

casper said...

I think Dazed and Confused is my favorite high school movie.

shecanfilmit said...

I was just about to turn 16 when Sixteen Candles came out and it captured my life PERFECTLY. It's still one of my favorites to this day. Long Duk Dong? I still repeat his lines to this day. "You my new-style American girlfriend."

Josh Boelter said...

Superbad is my new favorite high school movie. Of course, I hated high school, so I don't seek out movies that are nostalgic for high school. Superbad is just so damn funny and crudely sweet.