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Old May 20 2014, 06:32 AM   #201
Maurice
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Re: Fan Film Writer's Primer

re ensemble casts.

I was hired a while back to rewrite a feature film which is an ensemble piece. It's got eight major characters, all of whom are equally important to the plot (it's s heist movie with a team of six thieves versus a detective and his client). What I settled on was basically four threads.

Main plot: figure out what unique element each character brought to the story (their skill) and then figure out how it impacted the main plot (the heist), and then...

Subplot A: create a dramatic conflict between the two characters who have a past relationship to the MacGuffin, which creates tension between them but buttresses the main plot (adds significance to the heist attempt)

Subplot B: create tension between the thieves and explore their reasons for being involved in the heist, again supporting the main plot by their conflicts being a "complication"

Subplot C: made one character a wildcard in order to add a chaos element into the story which none of the other main characters were aware of, but which could subvert all the other plots.

Or, in a more general sense, something like:
  1. Figure out what the main plot is (goal)
  2. Figure out what the theme is (what does the story mean)
  3. Figure out what each character has at stake (what do they want, and what are they willing to get it, and what is the line they won't cross)
  4. Figure out which characters have conflicting needs, especially if they're on the same side, because that's where you'll find the drama
  5. Hold up the main theme and figure out how you can use the character conflicts to support, explore or counterpoint it.
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Last edited by Maurice; May 20 2014 at 07:02 AM.
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