View Full Version : feature film screenplay idea (arthouse)

02 February 2005, 02:32 PM
hi guys, i'm obviously new here, but i came up a while ago with this idea for a screenplay, tentatively titled "[Making a] Connection" (or "Connect the Dots").

i told my screenwriter/3d animater friend the idea and we debated heatedly whether or not it would work as a feature film.

simply, it tracks a daisy chain of about 10 people who engage in overlapping relationships, as depicted below (the dashes represent relationships), where Billy dates Louise, who meets Charlie - they form a new relationship, until Charlie breaks it off cos he's now into Marie, etc:

Billy - Louise....Charlie - Marie....Nathan - Mike....Ashlea - Peter....Jenna - David
.........Louise - Charlie....Marie - Nathan....Mike - Ashlea....Peter - Jenna

my question is, is it somehow possible to give each of these characters a deserved and fully developed and satisfying character arc, which interconnect in the above order? my friend says you could do five completely separate films/episodes about unrelated couples (billy-louise, charlie-marie, etc) but when you overlap them with one partner jumping over to the next, it somehow would not provide enough room for the characters to satisfactorily develop? or the couples would become too insignificant? "too much of too little," he says.

He also says it has no purpose... but of course there is a twist, and only when it is revealed do i think it gives full weight to the film (as twists tend to do), but he says the twist is obvious.

can you predict it?


well it's simply that on a tv or something at the end, the original guy (in this case Billy) is revealed to have aids. so, blah blah, obviously it is suggested that everybody in the chain has been carrying along the HIV, though hopefully the script is written in such a way as to not make that end 'payoff' obvious -- perhaps the gay relationship in the middle might tinker some bells.

but that twist doesn't really say much besides "engaging in sex leaves you open to the potential of acquiring AIDs," i know, but the purpose i feel is that as each character is introduced to a new person - their next fling - both we as an audience and the character can only see what the new person is showing us, and we are taken along the ride on face value much like the case truly is on the dating scene (besides what i call the unrealistic 'incestuous' Friends and 90210 set up, etc). as i see it in my idea, a relationship is broken off generally when a dark side of that new person is revealed, but we are all humans and they are given a shade of humanity, so that we accept their dark side (to some degree), as they become the next person in the chain whom we follow into their next relationship.

so it's a two-fold dose of reality, with temporary overlapping realistic character arcs where we are shown only the sides of ppl they want to show (and uncover hidden truths), and one overall sweeping arc of the risk of HIV.

is this a doomed screenplay idea?

02 February 2005, 12:04 AM
First of all you should make your posts more about film/script writing and less about petty arguments.

Next no idea is doomed. This is a GOOD start, but u need to be prepared to let go of things to experiment, and take the ideas further. Nothing comes without sacrifice, and no idea is really ever going to work without alot of work and development.

Lastly, you should try write some short stories before you attempt to write a feature. This practice will give you a solid foundation to give you the tools to be able to write for this medium. Always watch a plethora of films, thats somehow related to your idea, research and cut up / mutilate your original idea into as many different variations as possible before you choose the right plan of attack.

Oh and it often helps to at LEAST read a book or something on scriptwriting. Its a very fine art, that many of us will be studying for the rest of our lives and still not master.

02 February 2005, 12:18 AM
"He also says it has no purpose... "
This is something that can be said about most art films. They often don't really 'serve a purpose' other than showing character and character development. (which of course is a very noble purpose, but most people have a problem acknowledging this without a definite end and explosions :D)

I personally like the idea, but I doubt it would work that well as a feature as you simply do not have the time to handle all these characters in depth enough to make such a film shine. 10 people with 9 different relationships sounds a bit too much for a single feature, but I would see this work as some kind of TV series of, say, half hour episodes. The concept would work as a feature as well, but not with that kind of cast I think.

The only thing that really does not appeal to me is the 'aids' thing. It really seems to be an attempt at making everything actually serve a cause, and give the storyline more purpose. From reading your post I got the impression you're much more interested in characters and character development anyway, rather than slapping the audience in the face with a last minute twist. It would really detract from all the efforts you've done creating believable characters without adding much besides "have safe sex".

Having said that, I'd say you should exploid character development through each character that goes away - for example by making characteristics stick after each failed relationship. That way there actually is a 'purpose' of such a narrative.

An ambitious project either way and it's going to be hard to write enough interesting characters without becoming too blatantly different or cliche with any of them. :)

02 February 2005, 03:11 AM
thanks skullbox, opinion respected :D

so anyway it's not possible to show enough detail or give enough of a glimpse into their lives as to make their appearance satisfying? you're right, it would probably work better as a tv series, but i don't get why in this day and age of cinema those tv episodes could not run together smoothly to form one lucid film experience. oh well what would i know. lol. i'm just an ignorant moronic piece of... with a big fat ego. but yeah feel free to use this idea in any way in your career. heh.

02 February 2005, 06:49 AM
Hello. I only have one comment: There are too many characters. Unless your point is about having ten characters, you won't succeed in getting your daisy chain point across with this many. You won't be able to develop them to any satisfactory point, and yes, you will make some forgettable. What you are going to find is that your characters will double up. For example, Charlie will be so similar to David, or Ashlea to Jenna, etc... that ten people cannot have ten unique voices. Having this many characters, the first thing I ask myself as a viewer/reader/audience is: what is the point of this story? Is the point that one character keeps making the same mistake (ie: he dates brown eyes girls with neurotic personalities, and both Ashlea and Jenna happen to share these traits) or is it that the same circumstances occur to many, and there is no getting out of a rut? Put yourself in a viewer's shoes, and see if you can guess the point you are trying to get across. If you can't, revise. I can almost garantee you will find the cause of your problems to be the number of characters.

I like the idea, tho. Daisy chaining is an interesting concept, but by the third iteration, I would get the point, and if I found myself sitting through ten iterations, I would get bored.

Stories like this I have seen and read: Love Actually; The Years of Rice and Salt.

Hope to be of some help! :)

02 February 2005, 09:27 AM
The theme reminds me of 'Kids' directed by Larry Clark. It really depends on how you wanna shot this thing. If you dont have a central character its going to be hard to find something or someone that the audience will identify with.

My Suggestion is that you should have something more than 'HIV problem' maybe show how its affecting their lives or how different problems arouse because of this or if u decice to reveal it to the audience at the very beggining of the film and choose a character that the audience has already identified with then you show how this character is affected by this or how it gets so close making love with one that carries the HIV...

02 February 2005, 08:44 PM
I, on the contrary,think it's an idea that would be more interesting on film than on tv.
Try seeing it this way: A cast of ten characters, young and attractive swapping love interests in a mantle everyday-life drama, are stricken by death. To me this is the exact plot of every soap on TV. J.R. loves Samantha who loves Terry the Millionaire who is gay. Rudy, John's (Samantha's husband) father want's JR to be his heir. We then learn tat John has cancer and see how this affects everyone.. Sounds like Dynasty and Dallas to me.

I don't think you have to dig into each character. Thhey could be depicted has a complex ensemble of clashing personnalities. (What a single human being is in my opinion)

All you need is a few major defining trait for each character, some mystery and trust the audience to fill in for the rest. The best (almost exact) example of what you're trying to do is the french film 8 femmes (womens) by François Ozon. It think it has been translatd in english (and is based on a play). It involves 8 womens(duh) a man and a murder plot. And believe me every single one of these characters is memorable.
7 samurais is another example of well developped ensemble.
Worth checking them out if you,re serious about your project

p.s. and the HIV plot is not that interesting to me. Like someone mentioned. It inevitably stays on one level. Safe sex or your life will turn into a blame-game.

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