Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Storyteller’s Rulebook: Let Your Characters Re-Label Themselves

Let’s start by showing another post from the always-wonderful Humans of New York:
The takeaway is this: people like to re-label themselves. You see your characters as types, but they see themselves as individuals. This can especially be a problem in a movie like Do the Right Thing, which is all about types, as in “these are the types of people you see on an average New York street on an average summer day.” That’s a fine way to write. It’s okay for you to see them as types, as long as you allow them to reject those labels in the dialogue.

On the excellent Criterion Collection DVD, there’s lots of video of writer/director Spike Lee’s extensive rehearsal/workshop process and you can see him adjust the script to address the concerns of the actors, who were all invited to personalize their roles.

These leads to a wonderfully ironic moment, when Lee is rehearsing the first boycott scene with actors Danny Aiello (Sal) and Giancarlo Esposito (Buggin’ Out). Lee notices that, instead of saying “Only Italian-Americans on the wall”, Aiello has changed it to “Only American-Italians on the wall.” Spike instantly sees that this is better, and points out to Esposito that his mocking response should also change to mirror Aiello: “Well, I don’t seen any ‘American-Italians’ eating here!”

As Esposito is making the change in his script, Aiello explains that that’s the way he says it, because he visited Italy and decided that he was more proud of being American than Italian. At this point, Esposito gingerly points out that he himself is in fact, unlike Aiello, Italian-born. Aiello is of course totally embarrassed, but Esposito chuckles and says it’s no big deal.

Let your characters re-label themselves. Let them describe themselves in unique ways, so that their language will come alive. Let almost everything they say be specific to them and their particular worldview. Give them a chance to punch through the boxes you put them in.

1 comment:

lena said...

It seems like you're discussing the idea of people rejecting labels and embracing their individuality, as well as the importance of allowing characters to have a say in how they are portrayed. This is particularly relevant in a movie like "Do the Right Thing," which focuses on different types of people encountered on a typical New York street.

The Criterion Collection DVD of "Do the Right Thing" provides valuable insight into writer/director Spike Lee's process. The DVD showcases the extensive rehearsal and workshop sessions, where Lee collaborates with the actors to address their concerns and allows them to personalize their roles. This collaborative approach highlights the importance of giving actors the opportunity to shape their characters and bring their own experiences and perspectives to the table.

While the idea of playing Minecraft Apk Java Edition as a way to refresh the mind and enhance problem-solving abilities is intriguing, I would suggest exploring other creative outlets or activities that align with your interests. Engaging in activities like reading, painting, writing, or even trying out new recipes can provide mental stimulation and an outlet for self-expression.