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SCREENWRITING TIPS: Le Dîner De Con

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Le Dîner De Cons’ delights aren’t ‘cinematic’ – the real joy of the film lies in its bravura illustration of how to lead your characters through an absurd tale while making every action and reaction feel credible; and the belly-laugh comedy drawn from character and dramatic irony. 

Francis Weber’s Le Dîner de Cons was subsequently remade as Dinner for Shmucks, which I haven’t seen, but sadly, the latter looks unlikely to match the charm and wit of the French original…

SPOILER ALERT!

If you don’t want to know what happens in Le Dîner De Cons, don’t read on. Bookmark this page. Go and rent the film, buy it, watch it, enjoy it – and then come back to this blog, don’t let me spoil the fun for you. Go away…

Right, for those of you who have seen the film – a quick reminder of the story:

Le Dîner De Cons tells the story of an affluent publisher who regularly attends a ‘dinner for idiots’ where he and his friends compete to bring the most foolish ‘idiot’ as a guest. Tonight, his wife has had enough of his cruel humour and leaves him. Frustrated, he does his back in just as his ‘idiot’ arrives, eager to help…

Within a couple of hours the ‘idiot’ helps destroy the businessman’s marriage, offend his mistress, and get him a tax audit – by inadvertently revealing truths. Unable to approach the world honestly, the duplicitous businessman is hoisted by his own petard

So other than having an enjoyably absurd story, what is it I particularly liked about this script? Well…

IT PLAYS TO ITS STRENGTHS

If your film’s action is mostly static, more akin to a theatre piece, what qualities justify its life on screen?

Le Dîner De Con is as static as a play – in fact, it was an adaptation of one, and this shows in its construction. In spite of this, it works. It knows its own strengths (see below) and plays to these.

Le Dîner De Con is an odd length at 76 minutes, but again, that’s the right length for the story. While you would still struggle to get a feature film made at that length in the UK, that’s not true of France.

Apparently the US remake attempts to move away from the film’s more static character-based ‘farce’ format to craft a longer story, with more locations, broader external character development, and a longer time span. But in doing so, it loses what makes Le Dîner de Con successful – it’s engaging lightness of touch; and understanding of how to tell its story best.

TWO CHARACTERS, EACH WITH A STRONG DESIRE

In your two-hander, what light does each character shine on the other? Does each have a satisfying journey of their own, even if they are pursuing a similar aim? How are they alike and unlike? 

The film follows two main characters (the businessman and the idiot), each with a clear character journey.  They act as a counterpoint to each other – both experience great conflict, and both have a clear aim that carries them through the story. The businessman wants to get his wife back. The idiot wants to help him.

We like the idiot much more, and empathise with him as a good-natured victim trying to do his best. We delight in the businessman’s mishaps, but we also feel for him because he is experiencing so much conflict.

Ultimately, the idiot is the assistant to the businessman’s greater story aim, and thus the businessman is our protagonist, but the characters are yin and yang, one would not work without the other.

And does the businessman learn anything from his nightmare evening? Ultimately perhaps to make a real honest connection with someone else. A connection that might just allow him to make much-needed changes in his life, and save his marriage (or not…)

CHARACTER-LED OBSTACLES

How are your characters responsible for creating their own challenges?

The plot cleverly piles on the obstacles and conflict, while retaining a satisfying sense that events are entirely generated as a result of the businessman’s own bad behaviour, despite his apparent charm and confidence.

It was his choice to have a ‘dinner for idiots’; and his inability to tell the truth, come what may, makes his situation worse every single time. While we aren’t conscious of this as we watch the film, this pattern is echoed to great comic effect throughout the story. Consequently, his come-uppance is delightfully just.

Where the businessman proposes lies or mottled shades of the truth, the idiot offers truth (inadvertently, while trying hard to tell lies…). As an example: the businessman wants to track down his wife through her ex – and asks the idiot to call him, pretending to be a book agent – the idiot plays a convincing agent but fails to ask about the wife. He tries again, but carried away with the success of his agent act, foolishly gives the businessman’s phone number as his own – thus exposing the businessman’s search to his ex-friend, the very man he stole his wife from.

While this is wonderfully embarrassing, it is also the idiot’s first inadvertent gift to the businessman – as the ex-friend sees that the businessman is suffering and gets back in touch.

PATHOS IN COMEDY

What dark tragedy lurks underneath your comedy?

The best comedy often has a dark underbelly that engages us with the characters, and makes us laugh all the harder as an escape.

Here, there is cruelty in the businessman’s (and the audience’s) amusement at the idiot’s foolishness, and there is tragedy in the idiot’s desire to prevent the businessman meeting a loveless fate as bleak as his own.

GREAT USE OF DRAMATIC IRONY

What does the audience dread, leading to a laughter-filled resolution…?

As for ‘technical’ delights, the script makes good use of set-ups and pay-offs –building comedic tension in a knowing audience.

When the businessman hides all his antiques and paintings, we feel sure he will be caught out – and it’s a delight when the taxman (rushing for the loo as a result of drinking the wine that the businessman has mixed with vinegar to hide the expensive vintage…) opens the wrong door to see all the evidence tumble out. That hoisted petard again!

Who knows what when? And how does that knowledge add to the comedy and dramatic tension?

An invaluable tool for gripping the audience, creating tension, and providing satisfying pay-offs, dramatic irony (where the audience and one/some of the characters know something another character does not) also plays a crucial part in Le Dîner De Cons’ success.

We know that the idiot has been invited to a ‘dinner for idiots’, but he is unaware of this until the very end. As a result we worry what will happen when he finds out. And we enjoy the businessman’s humiliation as the idiot blindly gets his own back, his innocence and apologies providing greater comedy.

There are numerous other smaller dramatic ironies throughout – for example, when the idiot mistakes the businessman’s wife as his girlfriend, (we know, but the idiot and businessman don’t – then the businessman realises, but the idiot still doesn’t…)

A SATISFYING ENDING

All of this means that the ending is a delight.

A moving speech from the idiot demonstrates surprising wisdom. It’s a moment of honesty that reveals a key truth to the businessman (and to the audience) – that the businessman clearly loves his wife or he wouldn’t have gone through all this today.  This convinces the businessman’s wife, and us, that despite his many failings, he loves and deserves her.

And then just as we think have a sweet ending where the role of idiot and ‘wise’ businessmen have been swapped to good effect – the idiot then turns it on his head again, proving himself an idiot once more. Our laughter lasts longer than the idiot’s brief moment of wisdom.

Well, that’s my own brief moment of wisdom over. I’m sure there are many more wonderful observations to make, but as I’ve only watched it once, that’s my lot for now. If you’ve seen the film, I’d love to hear any other thoughts you might have on what worked well, or what you think was crafted by an ‘idiot’…

 

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SCREENWRITING TIPS: DISTRICT 9

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District 9 gives us insights into the power of genre hybrids, films that make you think, and open endings…

SPOILER ALERT

I wish I’d seen District 9 at the cinema, but when it came out, I had a small child. Now that I have two kids, nights at the cinema still remain a luxury reserved for birthdays, anniversaries, and days when my husband has surfed all day.

At that time, the only thing I knew about District 9 was that it had visual effects that were cheaper than normal. And that I had to watch it on TV, which was a shame.

I didn’t know anything about the story at all – and that’s the best way to watch a film, with no preconceptions. So if you haven’t seen it, don’t read on. It’s great. Well worth a view. Don’t let me spoil it for you. Bookmark, view, return…

FINAL SPOILER ALERT!!

First, a reminder of the story: Aliens have arrived in South Africa, and unable to communicate, are kept in slums and treated as second-class citizens. An ineffectual manager is given the task of relocating them all to a new district. Searching an unusually resistant alien’s shack, he sprays himself with a strange liquid (brewed by said resistant alien for 20 years as the only way to power the aliens’ escape…).

He starts to develop an alien arm. His alien DNA makes him the only human able to fire alien weapons, and he becomes highly sought after by the powers-that-be. His boss (his wife’s dad) conspires not just to separate him from his wife, but to murder him. On the run, the manager builds a relationship with the alien whose liquid he impounded. Together, they fight to recover the liquid – now his only hope to return to his human DNA and his wife; and the alien’s only way back to his planet.

ORIGINAL COMBINATIONS OF CLASSIC IDEAS

What unexpected combinations can you play with in your script to bring a fresh twist – to the genre, the tone, the ambition, and audience expectations?

I’ve read a lot of formulaic scripts – they follow the rules of a particular genre too closely, impose predictable turning points and character shifts, and end exactly as you expect. They never really come alive because they are trying so hard to do what they think they are supposed to do. They don’t look beyond the established status quo for new and intelligent alien combinations that might exist out there.

In contrast, District 9 offered new perspectives and exciting original combinations of traditional ideas. It knew the rules, and it reinterpreted them in a fresh way. It demonstrated a compelling balance of classic story-telling techniques and less familiar combinations of genre, style, tone and setting. The more predictable story elements helped an audience to stay rooted while we enjoyed the thrills of unexpected new pleasures:

  • Sci-fi thriller and a pseudo-documentary genre
  • Comedy and dramatic tension.
  • Gripping action and strong characterisation.
  • Empathy with humans and aliens – who’s the bad guy here?
  • Intellectual and emotional stimuli
  • Big budget film and a low budget attitude.

While District 9 was cheap for a VFX film, it delivered the thrills that we expect from a big budget production, combined with the intelligent alternative perspectives we hope for from more independent lower budget offerings.

None of the combinations noted above stand alone as completely original, but the sheer volume of fresh ideas made the film a much more stimulating experience – with lots more to talk about in the bar (or indeed the unnavigable living room of discarded toys) afterwards.

Apart from the original premise, what most tickled me here was the hybrid genre: a sci-fi thriller ‘documentary’. The interplay between ‘documentary-style’ footage, documentary interviews, and more traditional action brought a fresh perspective to a familiar genre. Crucially, I didn’t notice the joins.

The documentary elements made the fantastical sci-fi situation more credible and impactful. They allowed for amusing parody (political and otherwise), and helped to shade the serious and comic tones of the film. They also usefully implied that something terrible must have happened to our hero, building tension and setting up a knowing dramatic irony for the audience.

Did these genre shifts also mark out the shifts in the audience’s experience of the film?

  • On the one hand, a more distanced intellectual experience (analysing the interviews’ meanings; smirking at the clever politics, parodies and techniques; scoffing at our hero’s attempt to work with a film crew…).
  • And on the other (alien) hand, a more emotional, immersive and thrill-seeking experience (the visceral drama of the thriller plot, chases, gory bits, battles and visual effects).

This is a really tricky balance, and for me, they pulled it off (obviously, being both Virgoan and a woman, I’m more than capable of thinking and feeling at the same time – in fact I’m probably incapable of not doing so – so I loved that).

As a striking alternative to setting the film in the US, South Africa is an unusual and powerful setting for a relatively populist action movie – providing a clear political context for a challenging story about how we mistreat each other as humans.

PROTAGONIST

Is your protagonist credibly motivated? What journey do you take the audience on to shift how we feel about them? How do we understand what they want, and believe their transformation in pursuit of this?

Our introduction to our protagonist of District 9 is low-key and funny – he’s trying ineffectually to cope with his new promotion, and the slightly disjointed shooting style reflects his awkward performance. His inept show of confidence in front of the camera and vulnerable desire to impress (us, his wife, her father) makes the audience initially feel superior. It’s also his downfall, leading to him spraying himself with the aliens’ mysterious liquid.

Initially his main aim is to prove his mettle, to do a good job of moving the aliens out and living up to his promotion. However, once he begins to see the signs of his own alien DNA, he has a much stronger ambition. He wants to get back to his normal life, and most importantly, his wife (and has to fix himself, escape, survive, fight back etc. in order to prove his sanity and get back to her).

The protagonist’s transformation from ineffectual manager to courageous desperado is a huge leap, but it’s convincing because the stakes are so high – we believe he has no alternative, it’s change or die.

We may laugh at him to start with, but we come to sympathise with and respect him as his conflict increases. In classic thriller mode, we watch him go to the very edges of his capacity to survive, discovering his inner strength and the force of his love for his wife.

STORIES THAT MAKE US THINK

Do you know what you want the audience to discuss when they leave the cinema? What message is explored in your film?

The level of conflict and character growth (in response to obstacles) in District 9 illustrates how well-told stories can engage an audience at a deeper level. I wonder what I would reveal about myself if pushed to the edge – I hope I’d find a hero, and fear I wouldn’t.

District 9 charts this fluctuating journey between selfishness and potential selfless heroism – most crucially, tested when our broken lead chooses to leave his new alien friend behind, to his death. Would we turn back even as we despair of ever being saved ourselves? I blooming well hope so, but you just don’t know.

Great stories allow us to play out the great moral questions.

Our hero overcomes his prejudice. And he finally chooses heroism, coming to his friend’s aid. This action allows him to retain his one chance of finally changing (in three years time, in the sequel perhaps, finally coming soon…) and of getting his wife back.

It’s worth noting here that our alien hero also has a clear aim and faces huge conflict in his pursuit of this. How might the story have been told differently from the alien’s POV? Ultimately, using the bumbling manager as the hero works because it gives the audience an easy way into the story – his world is close enough to ours for us to accept an otherwise far-fetched story, and makes it easier for us to see how we too carry prejudice.

The story makes us think about our own judgements, fears, and ignorance – how would we act in that situation? How are aliens any different to anyone else we might encounter who is different to us?

We wrote our hero off as a bumbling idiot, yet who were we to judge him?

ALLEGIANCES

How do you play with your audience’s allegiances in the course of your screenplay?

I enjoyed watching how the film-makers play with our allegiances in District 9 – shifting the audience from a shared prejudice (looking down on the ‘prawns’) to engagement with the alien’s predicament.

An effective tool here is the introduction of the young alien son that our hero needs to befriend – making the aliens seem ‘cute’ and unthreatening for the first time.

We also shift to the alien’s point of view, and see them experiencing conflict – our bumbling hero arriving to search their home just as their plans for escape are coming to fruition.

OPEN ENDINGS

Do you have a ‘Hollywood’ ending where all the loose ends are tied up, or do you leave it more open? Does your character get both what they want and what they need?

Unusually for a ‘big budget’ action movie, in District 9, our hero doesn’t get his overarching desire at the end. He doesn’t get his life back. He doesn’t get his wife back.

It’s always interesting to think about the potential outcomes you set up for your audience, and what it means for them (and the film’s success) if you don’t deliver what they hope for.

In this case, it gives the film a darker flavour, which suits the material (a sense of frustration that is heightened by the image of our hero now entirely alien, waiting…); but in the wrong story, it can leave the audience feeling unfulfilled, the experience a little hollow.

As we see here – if you want your audience coming back for a sequel, an unfulfilled ambition can be a very useful tool to keep them hooked – as long as there is enough resolution for us to feel that the story has been worthwhile (in this case the successful launch of the alien ship, opening a chink of hope for the future).

Depending on how you want your audience to feel at the end of the film, you get to play with delivering both the want and need, just the want or just the need, or neither at all…

And for my very own open ending, I’ll hope to continue my notes on District 9 at a later date, when I have a child-free chance to watch it for a second time. I know there is a huge amount more to explore here, so please do add any of your own observations below, I’d love to read them.

And maybe we can all come back again, if and when we finally get to watch the sequel…

What will that scary Script Editor ask me?

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The power of asking and answering the right question – and the frightening truth that script editors don’t know the answers.  The only thing (and it’s the most vital thing) that we really know  is how to help you find the answers for yourself.

I think the most exciting part of my job as a story consultant is finding the right questions to ask the writers I work with. I love the conversations that result from these. A great question can lead to a new character discovery, an unexpected story development, or a sudden clever solution to what seemed an impossible problem.

In contrast, a script report full of judgements and answers can squash creativity and limit your project’s forward progression. All writers will at some time be on the receiving end of rushed and ill-considered feedback – a report or development session that’s packed full of statements and opinions instead of questions. It’s an approach that often leaves writers feeling frustrated, unheard and unappreciated, (and causes them to hide behind understandable defence barriers in meetings…!)

Great questions start from the basis that the writer knows more than the editor about this story. And as a result, they’re generally much more effective!

The editor may be perceptive, with a Mary Poppins’ bag of theory and story tricks, but we also know that when it comes to this particular story, the writer has the answers – and it’s our job to help them find them.

The right questions

So where do we find these pertinent questions? Is there a secret list somewhere that only script editors know about?

Sadly, no. For me, it’s as much about a gut response (conveniently based on years of experience…) that stems from really careful reading of the script:

It’s vital that we first take as much time as it needs to read a screenplay carefully, (that’s at least twice…)

The first read, I experience it as a film – I ‘see’ it. Afterwards, I capture my instinctive responses. I analyse this – what I understood, where I cried, laughed, what I felt about that character. I start to think about the questions I’m left with.

The second read, I try to interpret the writer’s intentions, and monitor my interpretations of every little action, word or image. I note down queries as I go. Why does that character do that then? Why do we shift perspective there? What happens to that story-line or character journey?

These questions to myself help to shape some very specific questions that help the writer to move forward.

My favourite questions

The questions I ask in a report or in a meeting aren’t designed to catch you out, test you, or scare you. Instead, I want my questions to help you to discover a fresh perspective on your work that helps you move forward.

And having said there isn’t a secret script editor’s list of questions, there are some questions that do seem to come up time and time again – here are a few of those for you to ponder:

  • What does your lead character want (externally) and need (internally) – and how does the audience come to understand that?
  • What do you want the audience to feel at the end of this scene/sequence/film?
  • What message/idea/question do you want your audience to take away from this film?
  • What most interests you about that character? How can we share that with the audience?
  • What’s stopping that character from getting what they want, and how does facing that obstacle change them?
  • How can that moment become more visual?

The problem with SCENE 12

So let’s imagine that there’s a problem with Scene 12…

A good editor won’t get cross and say, “Scene 12 is nonsense. Your characters are talking rubbish, I don’t believe any of it, nothing you’ve written makes sense here”. 

We’re more likely to ask you one of the questions above. Maybe something like: “In scene 12, what do you want the audience to understand about these characters’ relationship? How can we hone that further?”

We might reflect our interpretation back to the writer too, “The dialogue here implies that this is their first meeting, but the action hints at some previous physical intimacy – is this the subtext? Do you want the audience to think they’re secretly in a relationship?”

Comparing my interpretation of a scene with the writer’s original intention always prompts more useful questions. And equally often, the resulting discussion takes us somewhere neither of us expected. Not just in the scene we’re looking at, but in other scenes too. Because it’s highly likely that the ‘problem’ with Scene 12 actually stems from a lack of clarity in Scene 8 (or wherever else).

We always assume the writer knows what’s going on (whether that’s consciously, unconsciously or instinctively,) and that’s our starting point.  If we don’t understand what the characters are saying, it’s our job to find out why, and help you to make it work better.

The right answers

The truth is that we don’t actually know the right answers to our questions when we ask them.

Yes, we might have some ideas about possible answers based on what we know about story structure – and we might even give you some really bad examples of solutions as a way to help you find your own way. But you’re the only one who knows the actual answers.

As story editors, we share our experience and our big bag of story tools as we mentor you and chip away at these big questions together.

The bottom line is it’s your screenplay, not the editor’s, and we’re here to help you express your intentions to an audience. Most of all, we want our questions to inspire a powerful conversation that will help you to find all of the answers.

So… which of the questions above will you ask yourself about your project today?

Find out more about Pippa and how we can work together.

An earlier version of this post first appeared here on Bang2Write.

Photo by Tertia Van Rensburg via Unsplash

Screenwriting tips: Juno

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Juno offers a masterclass in loving your characters, crafting distinctive dialogue, and leading your audience towards the acceptance of character choices they may not have expected.

SPOILER ALERT!

Don’t read this if you haven’t watched the film – go watch it, laugh, cry, and return…

DIALOGUE

Aim for dialogue so distinctive that if you were to hide the names of the characters, the reader would still know who’s talking.

Funny, funny, funny. Diablo Cody has a real ear for teenagers’ dialect, yet also writes convincingly for the older generation.

In addition to specificity, the dialogue rarely spells out the story, yet tells us much about what’s going under the surface of the characters. Great writing, supported of course by great acting. Get the script and read it – there are so many examples of great lines and exchanges – your favourites will be different to mine (or indeed you might completely hate it and disagree with everything I say here, that’s fine too…).

I was tickled by Juno’s often sarcastic dialogue, like “I thought I might, you know, nip it in the bud before it gets worse. Because I heard in health class that pregnancy often results in an infant”. I also enjoyed Bleeker’s more absurdist rebuttal of Juno’s suggestion that he get together with someone else: “Katrina smells of soup, her whole house smells of soup”, and Bren’s dark pragmatism during labour, “Well, honey, doctors are sadists who like to play God and watch lesser people scream”.

Each of these lines is funny, but the type of comedy and the tone is specific to each character.

I also enjoyed many an appalled snort – for example at the inappropriate abortion clinic receptionist’s “My partner uses these every time we have intercourse. They make his balls smell like pie.”

THE WRITER’S VOICE

Don’t let a strong writer’s voice overshadow your characters’ own voices.

Diablo Cody’s darkly humorous voice feels very present throughout the film – in the dialogue and the characters’ individual actions. This is always a tricky one – in lesser hands, a strong writer’s voice can lead to characters simply feeling like shadow versions of the writer (we don’t want all our characters to sound like us, as we’re not that interesting sadly…)

However, here it strengthens the piece because the characters all have distinctive ways of speaking and behaving. The clear voice brings a unity of vision and of the writer’s ‘alternative’ perspective on the world. Remember how Woody Allen’s earlier work had that clear voice running through it, yet still felt refreshingly honest?

CHARACTER CHOICES

You can use what you know about story structure to surprise and engage your audience: write characters who make unexpected but believable character choices. 

What makes Juno feel fresher than the usual teen rites of passage film? A pregnant US teen heroine clearly offers relatively new subject matter (pre-Glee…) and the Juno we meet here is an engaging and refreshing character. Crucially, her original choices make the film stand out from more familiar fare.

On the surface, the film follows a straightforward story structure (Juno wants to place her baby in a perfect family and overcomes obstacles to do so). Yet while the story allows her to resolve her relationship with the baby’s father, it doesn’t automatically follow that they will therefore keep their baby (the ending we would expect from a more typical Hollywood structure).

Instead, her new belief in the power and value of ‘imperfect’ love allows her to rethink her attitude towards the newly single mum – she may no longer have a husband and the ‘perfect’ alternative life that Juno had imagined, but she is full of love for Juno’s unborn child.

Thus, Juno’s choice to give her child away (to someone who will clearly care for her) at the end of the film allows Juno to live her teenage life as it could have been pre-pregnancy – hanging with her best friend and starting to explore their love, still kids themselves…

Juno’s apparent ease with a very difficult decision could feel simplistic, incredible even, but her straightforward pragmatism and distinctive vision is illustrated throughout the story. She’s consistent. From what we have seen, we know this is what she has wanted from the beginning. We know she walks her own path. We know she sticks to her guns. As a result, we believe that she will be OK, and it’s all for the best.

Similarly, we believe that the baby’s new mum will be a worthy substitute because her love and desire for motherhood has been illustrated throughout the film.

(Seeing Juno’s letter hanging in the baby’s bedroom also hints that Juno may stay in touch with her child – allowing the audience to have it both ways…)

EMPATHISING WITH DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES

Encourage your audience to engage with a range of perspectives, desires, and ‘flaws’ in the human condition.

All the characters in Juno are drawn with compassion and complexity. We can understand that Juno sparks the composer’s midlife crisis (we may not agree with him, but we understand him), and we can also empathise with his wife’s blind obsession with becoming a mum.

We shift our opinion of the grumpy step-mum who stands up for Juno against the judgemental nurse (Diablo Cody says she particularly wanted to create a non-wicked stepmum character, and does so brilliantly). We warm to the dad who calls his daughter ‘skanky’ and accepts her choice to give away her child. He may be frustrated by her, he may not agree with her choices, but he loves her whatever she does, and that’s a wonderful lesson for Juno, and for us.

Most of all, it’s clear that the writer loves her characters, and that loving your characters allows you to take them, and us, to challenging and original places.

Know your characters’ speech patterns, their ‘lingo’, their beliefs. Know how they will behave when faced with challenging choices. Ensure they are consistent, but not predictable. That they change, but not all at once.

Above all, love your characters, despite or because of their flaws – that compassion will allow you to build complexity, empathy, and an engaging story.

P.S. don’t mistake loving your characters for protecting them, that way lies boring scripts with no conflict and no reason to keep watching. Love and test your characters’ flaws and make the most of their strengths. And hey that’s a good lesson for life too.

Find out more about Pippa and how we can work together.

Find out more about Juno.

 

 

What I do

A photo by NASA. unsplash.com/photos/whDrFMucHkc

I work as Script Editor and Script Consultant on feature film and TV projects, providing development support throughout the process from idea to post production as required. I love developing stories and sharing the journey to bring these to the widest possible audience.

My input can include script reports (from simple overview to in-depth detailed scene by scene analysis), ongoing one to one support to hone particular skills or projects, discussions by skype or in person, and general advice on next steps. I also offer adaptation services for the right projects.

I have worked directly in feature film development for over 20 years. I’ve also devised and delivered a wide range of impactful projects to support screenwriters, producers and directors through the process of development, raising finance for these and creating supportive and inspiring spaces to hone stories and explore how to engage with existing and new markets. 

Most recently, as Script Consultant and Project Director, I  delivered the pilot Cross Channel Film Lab with partners in France. This expanded into the fields of VFX and Stereo 3D alongside screenwriting as the Cross Channel Film Lab Phase 2 and is now a Europe-wide innovative training scheme for writers, directors and producers: CCFL Training.

I have two children and in 2011, I also launched Story of Mum, a social enterprise that facilitates mums of all ages to connect, create and celebrate their stories.

You can read more about how I work over in this blog post.

If you would like to find out more about how we could work together, please email me.

Photo by NASA via Unsplash