Category Archives: women

Screenwriting – character outline for Lara

Character outline:
Lara
28
Primary school teacher, wife of a soldier (UN peacekeeper)
Having an affair with a colleague who showers her with romantic cliches and physical attention.
Questions:
Does the character have a nickname?
Only with her boyfriend James – Lulu
What is your characters hair color? Eye color?
Brown, deep and dark.
What kind of distinguishing facial features does your character have?
A biggish nose, which she is embarrassed about and tries to cover up with a fringe and short bob. Her brown hair is beautifully shiny and straight. Big and deep eyes.
Does your character have a birthmark? Where is it? What about scars? How did she get them?
A birthmark on her foot and scars under her chin from a bike accident when she was seven.
Who are your characters’ friends and family? Who does she surround herself with? Who are the people your character is closest to? Who does she wish she were closest to?
Lara has a sister that she doesn’t live near, but rings fairly regularly. She has both parents still, but they have an active social life and she speaks or now more frequently texts them once or twice a week. Her mum keeps up with her personal life via Facebook. She has a few friends from work who she has ignored recently, because she doesn’t want to talk about her affair with Phil. She has a couple of girlfriends from university who have babies and she has fallen out of touch with them. Rob is away for stretches of time and she is often by herself in the evenings. This regularly involves film watching, her cat and a glass of wine.
Where was your character born? Where has she lived since then? Where does she call home?
Lara was born in York and lived near the Yorkshire Coast until she went to university. She now lives near Bristol to be near army bases.
Where does your character go when she’s angry?
To bed, balled up in the duvet.
What is her biggest fear? Who has she told this to? Who would she never tell this to? Why?
Loneliness. She would never tell this to anyone, it just seeps out in her desperation for attention from James. However, with her husband Rob, she never lets on.
Does she have a secret?
Yes, the affair and the fact that she doesn’t actually like him more than her husband, she just likes the attention.
What makes your character laugh out loud?
Cat GIFs, old sitcoms, chatting in bed.
When has your character been in love? Had a broken heart?
Yes, twice and no, she has never encountered that. It has made her feel fragile as if she is continually waiting for it.
What is in your character’s refrigerator right now? On her bedroom floor? On her nightstand? In her garbage can?
Wine and neat food ready to make specific meals (some tuna steak, leeks, cream, filled pasta, a deluxe pizza). The detritus of this is in her bin. Her bedroom floor and nightstand are neat and tidy and have photos and a book, candle and radio on. Her clothes are tucked away neatly every night. She worries that people would judge, even though it is rarely entered.
Look at your character’s feet. Describe what you see there. Does she wear dress shoes, gym shoes, or none at all? Is she in socks that are ratty and full of holes? Or is she wearing a pair of blue and gold slippers knitted by his grandmother?
She wears neat tights for work and slippers and big socks and slippers when at home.
Your character is doing intense spring cleaning. What is easy for her to throw out? What is difficult for her to part with? Why?
There is very little to throw out as she lives sparsely as Rob doesn’t like mess. She continually chucks out clothes and buys new as a treat. She likes dressing well and neatly and prides herself in her appearance.
It’s Saturday at noon. What is your character doing? Give details. If she’s eating breakfast, what exactly does she eat? If she’s stretching out in her backyard to sun, what kind of blanket or towel does she lie on?
She’s making herself a brunch meal after a slight lie-in until nine. She’s about to meet a friend to go afternoon shopping with and have coffee. She read in bed for an hour.
What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?
Ruining her new, beautiful red wool coat by sitting down in oil. The tears and telling off.
Your character is getting ready for a night out. Where is she going? What does she wear? Who will she be with?
She wears dark denim jeans, high heels and a silky top with a cropped jacket. She’s going out for a meal with two girlfriends from work at the local wine bar. She’ll eat fish, drink some champagne and they’all gossip about work colleagues.

Advertisements

4. Joint 93rd – ‘The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp’

The life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger is a classic of British cinema.  It stars a wonderful Roger Livesey as Colonel Candy, Deborah Kerr as a variety of great women and Anton Walbrook as a complex and sympathetic German character.  Something that caused controversy at the time, but reveals a liberal and cosmopolitan view that is lovely to see.  My ace friend Nat had given me a box set of eleven Powell & Pressburger films about three years ago so I have seen it before.  I have to admit that it isn’t one of my favourites (I much prefer A Matter of Life and Death and The Red Shoes), but it is always nice to see wartime British films.  I used to collect Utility/CC41 clothing and furniture and have always had an interest in that period of history.  I also enjoyed this film a lot more on the second viewing.

Colonel Blimp

I loved the tapestry opening sequence.  It was a weekend of good opening sequences, I especially enjoyed the neon lights in My Man Godfrey.  A good opening sequence is crucial in a film and sets the tone.  Obviously the Saul Bass era was especially rich, I will always remember dad showing me the opening of Walk on the Wild Side, but there are some great ones being made now.  The Catch Me If You Can  titles were lovely and lots of telly programmes make an effort with them – Mad Men, Dexter – that always makes me happy.
For some reason I never remember it being in colour and yet, of course, the beautiful Technicolor cinematography is crucial to its success.  It photographs the lush mise-en-scene perfectly.  I guess I think that Britain in the middle of the century was black and white.  I still have to check that The Ladykillers is in colour, it seems wrong.
The narrative is beautifully structured in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.  From the very complex initial present day Turkish bath sequence and transition in him coming out of the bath, weaving the cloth in a factory to show they are getting married to the use of taxidermy to show movement of time.  Surely the only time this has ever been done in a film?
Although this film has a focus on the male protagonist and war, there is a lot of proto-feminist ideas from Kerr’s character, such as what roles where left open to women and why she is a Governess.  I love that she is accused of being a Suffragette as an insult.
This film has some lovely messages.  It is obviously about friendships crossing borders, but it is also about lives past and to not let the young judge the old.
Creatives:
I think I want to focus on what is Britishness.  I could do this through words (I like the idea of British and American English being confused in the film), or images or moving images.

3. Joint 93rd – ‘Touki-Bouki’

I have never watched a film from Senegal.  Shamefully I have seen very few films from the whole continent of Africa, which this top one hundred list will hopefully change.  Touki-Bouki is the very reason I started this blog – to try something new and see films I had never heard of.  Brilliantly, I also watched  a restored version of it free on mubi.com.  I have been  a member of this site for a while and it is absolutely amazing.

Touki-Bouki

Touki-Bouki was made in 1973, directed by Djibril Diop Mambéty with a Government grant of $30,000.  It stars Aminata Fall as Aunt Oumy, Ousseynou Diop as Charlie, Magaye Niang as Mory and Mareme Niang as Anta.

The film starts with a rural scene and pipe music, immediately contrasted with a hideous abattoir scene where they slaughter cows by cutting open their windpipes and then city scenes.   Throughout the film there is a contrast between ancient ways and modern life and in the early scenes they kept using sound bridges of modern sounds (traffic, planes) over images of timeless farming or nature.

The style of the film is unusual.  It is really split between a naturalism and consciously filmic.  At some points there doesn’t seem to be any obvious sets or lighting.  The shots (very often long shots or close-ups) linger and frequently handheld.  There is often very little dialogue.  At these points it has a feeling of Cinéma vérité or even Dogme 95 about it.  However, at other points it has a frenetic energy with a pounding soundtrack and juxtaposing montage.  You can really feel the heat and dust of the market scenes and it feels like a French New Wave film, especially when we are following Mory and Anta around – it almost seems a parallel to À bout de souffle.

I loved the way the film never clarified what was dream and reality and instead consistently paralleled the suffering of humans and animals.  There was an hypnotic quality to the montages of cruelty and violence and a desperately heartbreaking ending.  It was made even more so by the stoic and under-played performances.

I found some of the film difficult to watch.  The killing of the animals, although clearly important to the film, was harrowing.  I also found the representation of women, African poverty and gay men difficult to deal with.   The stereotypes were obvious and worryingly negative – especially the portrayal of the gay, rich Charlie.

Creative ideas-
Poem – particularly of the abattoir juxtaposition scene – long sentences, a refrain
Word cloud – chaotic and confused
A juxtaposed portrait of age and modernity.