There’s Pulp Fiction, The Shining, E.T., The Dark Knight, Sunset Boulevard, and many more. The films that I most enjoy, take the time to invest in character development. Whether that be through the script, the actors or actress’s performance, the camera work, the lighting, the tone. Whatever it is, there is a comfort in knowing that your audience is along for the ride. If you don’t spend the necessary time making sure the characters have a presence, then your film can easily tumble. To me a great foundation for a sagacious prompt that benefits towards a functional film, is grounded characters. A couple films employ this virtue and grasp a hold of it. They squeeze the extravagant juices and attempt to squeeze some more. They set their characters as the setting. The characters are the progression. A daunting task for a screenwriter, but when done well, you can see how sufficient character development, can be in progressing a film. Look at a film like 12 Angry Men, or the Hateful Eight. These are character pieces. These are films that are emotionally connecting because of how well the characters are portrayed. Life, can be looked at as a unique ever changing character. The people living in this wandering beast, lean towards their comfort, their tendencies, their diversifying characteristics. If you can harvest this life and delve deep into its pores, then you can start making a good movie. You can motivate an audience to be on the edge of their seats, watching 12 men fire back at one another in a room for a couple of hours. That’s remarkable isn’t it?
The common mantra in modern film making is to think the progression is and only can be moved through action, explosions, bland dialogue, shaky cam, overexposed lighting, light flares (I’m looking at you Michael Bay. I am only addressing the modern Bay, not the old-fashioned gritty one, that we love.). No one will be invested in a close up, dim lighted shot if you have been neglecting that character previously in the film’s exposition or through the proceeding sequences. This seems like an obvious thing, but it can be a tempting overlooked aspect if you let the scope of the task, of making the next big thing, get to you. It’s an artifice of film. A fragile crack in the gold mine. I would love all films to be character pieces. As an introverted individual, I enjoy being in the character’s mind. I understand this cannot be the case because the charm of these films, will eventually diminish, and dwindle into a collapsed artifact. This would be a catastrophe. A sulking tragedy in film. So what I am suggesting, or encouraging is a sense of focus, a sense of awareness to the way one tells a story. The human spirit should be found in your film. Even if its animated. Look at Zootopia, Toy Story. Heck even Cars, I’ll confess has decent characters that one can see vitality fueling them (pun intended.)
Just keep that in mind. I will and always will love films that do and hope to create art like a Spielberg, Tarantino, or even a Zemeckis (Back to the Future, and my favorite Who Framed Roger Rabbit?). Once you have a great character, you can put your artistic touch on them and the frame around them. A film such as Drive displays this. A character we can invest in. A character that is mysterious and unique, so much so that the director chooses so intellectually to follow his ride (again pun intended) so closely with the camera. His heart pounding journey. This sculpure molds in front of our eyes, so easily observable through the lens. The noir that masses the surroundings greatly articulates subconsciously the dreary, mysterious life our guy lives in. I love this stuff man. I love this stuff woman(?). (Didn’t want to come off as sexist. Odd thought? Maybe. This is too long, so I’m going to drop this subject and get out of these parenthesis. Again, another odd thing to say. Hopefully I can wrap this up well.)
Have a good one. (Darn it)