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The Director's Chair Issue #4 – July 17, 2000 (Script Breakdown: Character Analysis)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

July 17, 2000          Scene 1 – Take 4

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
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Web Site: http://www.actioncutprint.com

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1.  Introduction
2.  Action-Cut-Print!
3.  Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
4.  Quote of the Month
5.  Feature Article – Script Breakdown (Character Analysis)
6.  Directing Tip – Use Your Hand as a Foot in Fight Sequence
7.  Film Links of Interest – Web Sites on Directors
8.  Online Marketing Links – Using Free Ezines to Promote Your Web Site
9.  Out Takes – 30 Top Film Making Lies
10.  Suggestions & Comments
11.  Copyright Information
12.  Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information


Welcome to Issue # 4 of The Director’s Chair (July 17, 2000)

a) The Feature Article this month is on Script Breakdown –
Character Analysis.

b) Calling all Volunteers! If you would like to contribute
articles, tips, links of interest,industry news, interviews,
special event dates or other resources to The Director’s Chair,
please contact me at: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com


Peter D. Marshall


If you are a Film or TV Director; a working professional who
wants to Direct; a film student who would like to learn more
about Directing; or a “student of film” who just wants to know
more about the Art of Directing from the pros, Action-Cut-Print!
is for you!

Take a moment now to visit  http://www.actioncutprint.com where
you will find over 900 Online Resources for Directors; where you
will learn Directing tips and techniques from the pros; where you
can share your production knowledge with others; and where you
will discover the very best strategies and techniques for
creating, developing and marketing your own Film and TV Web


To read back issues of The Director’s Chair, visit:


FILM QUOTE: “If we can’t be great, then there’s no reason to ever
play music again Sal”

Eddie Wilson (Michael Pare’), EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS

5. FEATURE ARTICLE –  Script Breakdown (Character Analysis)

Script Breakdown – Character Analysis
by Peter D. Marshall

In the last issue, (June 12, 2000) we talked about the first, and
most important, part of a Director’s job – understanding the
script: what the story is about; the themes; the story points;
and the characters. (To review Script Structure, Script Analysis,
and Scene Analysis, visit:
http://www.actioncutprint.com/ezine-3.html )

In this issue, we will focus on Character Development and

After reading the script and working through the script structure
and scene analysis, it’s is time to figure out the development
and objectives of the characters.

1)  Character Functions

Each character has at least one function (or role) in any story,
such as:

a) protagonist
b) antagonist
c) best friend
d) love interest
e) confidante
f) partner
g) catalyst
h) mentor
i) comic relief

There are many more, but this is a basic list for you to start with.

2)  Character Emotions

Here are the three main character emotions:

a) Sympathy – the audience IDENTIFIES with the character’s
problems and triumphs
b) Empathy – the audience UNDERSTANDS the emotions that drive the
c) Antipathy – the audience wants the character to “GET WHAT THEY

3)  Character Components

These are the Internal and External factors that shape each character:

a) Interior – form character
b) Exterior – reveal character

4)  Character Background

a) where is the character from (background)
b) what was he doing just before this scene
c) what does the writer say about this character
d) what do others say about this character
e) what does the character say about himself

5)  Character Objectives (Most Important!)

These are the main needs and wants of a character (what people
want out of life)

a) SUPER OBJECTIVE (example: “Power over People”)
– what is the primal motivation of the character
– what are the main needs of the character

b) OBJECTIVES (example: “Wants to Dominate Character A”)
– what does the character want (motives)
– what are the active choices to achieve the Super Objective

c) MAIN ACTIONS (example: “What they DO to Character A”)
– what the character DOES…
– to get what he WANTS…
– to fulfill his NEEDS


a) there can only be one objective per character – per scene
b) the simpler the objective, the easier it is for an actor to play it
c) objectives rise out of the character’s needs and feelings
d) objectives help actors react to each other – rather than just
“say the lines”
e) an objective should be an active choice for an actor
f) an actor should always play their objective in every scene

When coming up with character objectives, ask yourself: what does
each Character want in this story – in this scene?

a) look at the character’s behavior (what he does)
b) look at what the character talks about (what he says)
c) remember my Director Mantra: Motive (inner life ) Determines
Behavior (outer life)!

6)  Character Breakdown

Go through your script and write down all the characters. You
should list the main characters first and the secondary
characters last and then assign them a function. Your first
character should be the main character – or the protagonist.

NOTE: if you are doing a TV Series, the main characters will
already be established for you. They are usually numbered
“1,2,3…” on any call sheet.

7)  Script Breakdown (Per Character)

Answer these question about how each character fits in the story:

a) what is the story function of this Character
b) what is their Super-Objective
c) what is their Main Objective (in the story)

8) Scene Breakdown (Per Character)

Answer these questions about how each character fits in every scene:

a) what is the character objective in this scene
b) what are the character’s main actions in this scene
c) what are the results of their actions in this scene

9) Character Dialogue

I am a firm believer in the rule ” Less is more!”  As the
Director, it is your responsibility to take a written document
(The Script) and translate it into a visual format (Film or
Video). This means that we can sometimes use visuals instead of
dialogue to make a story point or to show what an actor is

After you have done all your homework on Script, Scene and
Character Analysis, make another pass at the script to see what
dialogue can be omitted by using visuals to get the point across.
It is always better to SHOW the audience what a character is
thinking, than have them talk about it. (Motion Pictures!)

WARNING: on a TV series, the producers are usually the writers
and they are, for the most part, very hesitant to have any
dialogue removed. If you have done your homework (Scene and
Character Breakdowns) and can show them that your idea will make
the scene better, go for it – they can only say no.

6.  DIRECTING TIP – Use Your Hand as the Foot for a Great Hit!

Want to get a great CU of Person B getting hit in the face/head
by Person A’s foot?

Take the shoe, sock and pant leg of Person A and dress it on the
stunt coordinator’s hand and arm.(re: fit the pant over the arm,
put the sock and shoe on the hand). You can then move the camera
in close and use the stunt coordinator to swing at Person B’s
head right beside the camera. You get a great looking shot and
you have more control of the “kick.” I’ve used this technique
several times in fight sequences and it looks great on camera.

7. FILM LINKS OF INTEREST -Web Sites on Directors

1) Catharton  http://www.catharton.com/directors/index.htm

2) Cineparlance http://www.netwiz.net/~rdef/cineparlance/cineparlance.htm

3) Director’s Chair  http://concourse12.hypermart.net/directors/

4) Dnet Directors  http://www.directorsnet.com/directors.html

8.  OUT TAKES! – 30 Top Film Making Lies

– We’Il never see that.
– It’ll be an early wrap.
– You can only use one or the other.
– Of course I can ride (swim, drive, skydive…)!
– We’ll be ready in 5 minutes.
– She/he is coming out of the trailer now.
– You won’t even see the rain.
– I’m more critical than you are and I think it looks great.
– We’ll fix that on your next check.
– The PA had to leave before the checks were ready.
– I didn’t get the changes.
– The car is not going to move in this shot.
– We won’t ever look that way.
– Do this one for me and I’ll remember you on the next one.
– There are no lines in this one, so they won’t talk.
– Don’t worry about it; they’ll fix it in editing.
– We’ll make sure the crew doesn’t eat, drink or smoke inside the location.
– Don’t worry- we checked with the Union and it’s OK.
– I wasn’t here that day.
– We should have the money any day now.
– Don’t worry- we’ll clear the set for that scene.
– I can do my own makeup and hair.
– We won’t let anyone drive to the set.  Everyone will park in the crew parking.
– They never discussed this in the meeting.
– In the time we’ve wasted talking about it, we could have shot it again.
– The door won’t open in this shot.
– I never saw a script.
– They only told me last night.
– It’ll match!
– This is the MARTINI.


Send any comments, suggestions, questions or advice to:


Copyright 2000, Peter D. Marshall/Celtic Fire Productions Ltd.

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