One of the things that most perplexed me about screenwriting was introducing my main character. Often, I find myself intimidated by getting seemingly one shot to introduce the protagonist that is supposed to lead us for the next hundred minutes of precious time. You don’t want to get it wrong, but after reading so many scripts, you wonder whether there is actually a “wrong.”
I’m researching my main character for my next screenplay. It’s a romantic comedy, and the main character is a drug dealer. Obviously.
Just for kicks, I searched “character traits of drug dealers” and found this AMAZEBALLS series on “How To Be A Drug Dealer”… and as illegitimate as the subject matter is, the guy at least sounds like he knows what he’s talking about.
I don’t know what compelled me to do so, but I have started watching Ally McBeal on Netflix (to my husband’s chagrin). The first 15 episodes were basically amazeballs. Seriously. Peter MacNichol is stellar (and he remains so throughout the series).
And then the show fell into this weird ebb and flow of creativity, cringe-inducing moments, and oddness. In either case, I think this show is an interesting case study in how a showrunner’s point of view can clearly dominate, and evolve as a show goes on.
Tonight I finished the first draft of my first feature length screenplay! All 127 glorious pages.
The end of the year, that is. As mentioned before, I’m currently creating a basis of research on understanding women in society, as an audience, and as consumers. In addition to that, here’s what my next 6 months look like…
Two things happened this fall, that made me further understand who I’m writing for, and what I’m writing exactly.
1. I was talking to my mom about my docket of script ideas I want to tackle in the coming year, and I said, “Basically, none of my protagonists are male or over the age of 30.” Interesting, since my mom is an acclaimed young adult writer who focuses a lot on young women and girls. The legacy lives on!
2. My husband and I were brainstorming the b-story for the next screenplay I’m going to be working on after I finish my current script, and then my television pilot. In doing that, I realize that almost all of the projects I’m most driven to are comedies with dark elements to them: corruption, death, addiction, and unconventional relationships between people.
Both of those epiphanies happened in one week. It’s inspired me to go on an in-depth journey to further understand my audience: females ages 15-30. It’s such a large span while still being an often neglected or misunderstood segment of people. And what’s great is that there are so many different life events within this group: high school, college, first grown-up job, getting married, having children, first love, getting your license, the dreaded quarterlife crisis, your first apartment, all-things-dating, learning about who you are as an individual, and so many other things we all experience. And among all of that, we’re so varied in our lives, beliefs, experiences, and tastes.
One of the serious lessons I learned from my summer at UCLA was that defining your audience is part of defining your personal brand. One of the reasons I’ve become more motivated toward this career switch is that I’m fed up with the kind of programming that’s out there for young women. So, starting this December, I’m going to work on a little extended research in understanding who young women are now, what they want, what they don’t want, what entertains them, and what motivates them. Hopefully out of that, will come some badass awesome material and a better understanding of my own people: people with vaginas, and the men who roll with them.