Moving Characters

On episode 298 of Scriptnotes Craig Mazen brings up the topic of character movement when written in a screenplay. He and John August bring up many fascinating and interesting ideas and input on the subject.

Craig opens the discussion with talking about the importance of character movement when it comes to blocking but also to a characters performance. He talks about how he took an acting class in college and it taught him how important the body was to actors as it helped them with their craft. He later tok what he learned and applied it to screenwriting. From intensely physical to the subtle nuances its al important and its through the writing as well as the actor to really bring it to make it feel natural. He gives the example of how something like posture in body language can say a lot about a character. He uses the example of Gus Fring from Breaking Bad; explaining how his rigid, stiff posture shows how this many is a meticulous control freak. He also used the character Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men as another example. This time explaining how give him a subtle weird limp humanizes him but also add a creepy level to his persona and almost making him more monster like, harkening back to Frankenstein’s Monster.

They both also discuss how when writing characters moving in a scene the importance of if the characters are standing up or sitting. John explains how he likes to think when characters are standing that anything can happen and that is negated when they are sitting down. However if one character is sitting down it can show the power dynamic between characters. The one sitting down could be he one in control or the one standing could be intimidating the other to sit down. They both discuss how a characters reaction is just as important as the other character’s action. For example if someone writes a character gets in this other characters face, it’s left feeling vague because we don’t know how the character reacted. They could of not been fazed or they could be intimidated, but when writing scenes like that it is important to know the subtle reactions every character makes and it makes the scene and the story stronger.

This was a very interesting and entertaining listen. There is a lot to learn and take in account of having characters act and react with their bodies instead of just having dialogue. This is also very helpful for developing a character even more so by having their body language describe who they are.



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