Script-Tool - Jens Becker - ebook

Script-Tool ebook

Jens Becker

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Opis

The Script-Tool ENNEAGRAM 2.0 rediscovers an old typology theory as a working tool for story tellers – the Enneagram. If you intend to develop characters and want to learn more about their attributes, or you design plot structures and are searching for a convincing model, the Script-Tool ENNEAGRAM 2.0 is a new and helpful tool for this. It is not only applicable for screenplays but for other literary forms such as novels, short stories and theatre plays. The Enneagram is an age-old insight and self-recognition model that systematically explores nine different character profiles. Furthermore, it allows for and describes the inner dynamics of personality change, in countless varieties. Only in the last few decades has it been brought to world-wide attention. In the meantime, a few non-fiction books about the subject, which analyse literature and film with the help of the Enneagram scheme, have appeared. This Script-Tool takes on a totally new approach by optimizing the Enneagram system directly for screen play development. It is a most efficient tool for the creation of credible characters or structuring a plot.

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Imprint

Script-Tool Enneagram 2.0Jens Beckerpublished by: epubli GmbH, Berlin, www.epubli.deCopyright: © 2014 Jens BeckerISBN 978-3-8442-8513-0

Opening Credits

VISTAS published the instructional DVD FIGURES AND CHARACTERS, a tool for script writers, which came out at the Berlin Film Festival 2011. It was the first publication in Germany that adopted the Enneagram for dramaturgy, especially for script development. Two years have gone by since then and many writers and dramatic advisers have taken notice, discussed and used the Enneagram as a working tool.

In the meantime, I have often asked myself if the symbols of the Enneagram could also be used as a pattern for a structural model. Wouldn´t it be wonderful if we could analyse and shape both characters and structures with one model. But such a structural model based on the Enneagram would only make sense if it had an additional value to those structural models we already use.

As well as the character model of the Enneagram there is a process model that is less well known. This deals with timing and it can be used, for example, in an economical context. It inspired me to investigate, but I could not adapt it for dramaturgical purposes, unfortunately.

In his book THE INTELLIGENT ENNEAGRAM (Published by Bruno Martin, Südergellersen 1993, Chapter: How a Plot Develops), Anthony G.E. Blake tries to analyse the structure of TERMINATOR I, where he presents his own structural model. Unfortunately I could neither follow his model nor his analysis. I found both approaches mechanical, arbitrary, chaotic and lacking in practical relevance. But still – it was a notable first attempt.

The current extension of my educational DVD FIGURES AND CHARACTERS for THE SCRIPT TOOL ENNEAGRAM 2.0, is my own approach to create this structural model.

I have analysed a few well-known films in regard to main characters and narrative structure, in order to demonstrate how to apply the Enneagram to the dramaturgical praxis.

For legal reasons, this E-Book edition refrains from using the exemplary short films and interviews of the nine Enneagram characters. If you are curious to learn more, you can buy the DVD FIGURES AND CHARACTERS online or in a book outlet (published by VISTAS, ISBN-No 978-3-89158-565-8).

Have fun delving into THE SCRIPT TOOL ENNEAGRAM 2.0! I wish you success trying out and applying this tool to your own work!

Jens Becker

ACT 1: CHARACTER MODELS

Since the early days of theatre, opera and film, writers and dramatic advisers are looking for models that explain why some stage plays are more successful than others and why a certain movie has a bigger impact on the audience than another. Behind this search is the wish to find a blueprint for a successful work of art. This is why there are countless new attempts to capture structures and proportions in order to figure out which arcs of development, turning points or conflict constellations are obviously working. The oldest recorded text of this kind is Aristotle’s fragment POETICS. After him, dramatic advisers such as Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Gustav Freytag and Béla Balász have continued to develop Aristotle’s axioms throughout the centuries up until now.When Syd Field first published his book THE SCREENWRITERS WORKBOOK in 1984, he triggered a boom of non-fiction literature about the structural aspects of screen-writing which is still going on today. In their research, all of these books feature the successful structure of movies and screenplays very thoroughly. But they all share the same weakness by neglecting the importance of the character in favour of structural patterns. There are books which extend to 300 pages and more and contain only one chapter about the characters – mostly in a general way. I think this is an omission if not more than that – an error of thinking. The focus on the questions of structure blocks out something more essential.

It is mostly the characters who advance the plot. They act towards a goal, propelled by who they are, because their inner being can only act in a certain way and not another. Authentic characters are the backbone of each plot.

Drama (comedy, tragedy etc.), can only unfold, develop and resolve itself when the characters are obeying their patterns of behaviour in a consequent way, where they have to face the conflict and confront their own inner abysses and limitations.

As a black military leader, Othello is an outsider. He is used to being surrounded by enemies and conspiracies. Therefore, he only trusts his few chosen friends. When Jago cheats him into believing that Desdemona has betrayed him with Cassio, his profound love turns into infinite hatred. Othello cannot act differently, he has to follow his behavioural pattern. Only the consequences of his character traits make Othello’s tragedy possible.

Billy Elliot is an outsider, too. He wishes to become a ballet dancer, which is highly unusual for a boy of his age who lives in an English miners’ town in the mid 80’s. Normally, such a boy would be encouraged to box, but Billy has found a way of expressing himself through dancing – he just can’t help it. He succeeds in asserting himself against his father, his brother, his social surroundings and his origins. Because he is the way he is, the character of Billy Elliot cannot evade the conflict. That is why this movie is so powerful and has such a wide range in the hero’s rise and fall. The movie has a happy end for Billy, but the character acts in such an uncompromising way, that a tragic ending would have been feasible, too.

Both dramatic works, OTHELLO and BILLY ELLIOT – I WILL DANCE draw their magic power from the consequent conception of their characters. This is what makes drama possible. The structure of both scripts, as devised by the writer, derives from the credibility of the characters’ actions and from the full realization of their potentials.

At this point I would like to explain my understanding of a few dramatic concepts. When I address writers, I am talking about the originator of characters in a broader sense. Actors, directors or set designers who have to invent a space for characters, may all fall under this category.

We have to make a clear distinction between people and characters. Whereas people are moulded by a myriad of impressions, are capable of acting in many diverse ways and of having a highly complicated structure, characters are an entirely different matter. Characters are created by writers. They can be individuals or types. Individuals are quite unique and are able to develop in the course of the plot. With types, on the other hand, this trait is neglected - mostly, they represent a group (the taxi driver, the waiter, the member of a gang) and do not have the space to develop. Still, they may have an important role to play within a scene or a whole script. Therefore, types are not some badly drawn individuals but different kinds of figures.

Characters, on the other hand, can be as thoroughly devised and as profound as the writer wants, they will never be as divers and individualistic as a human being. On the contrary – characters should only be as individualistic as necessary. They should have exactly the attributes they need in order to be credible within the scope of a certain script. Some unnecessary traits may even be omitted so that the audience’s attention is not diverted from the essentials of the story.

The term ‘character’ can be interpreted in many ways. Sometimes, it is used in the sense that someone does not have many personal distinctions. In this case, the word has a clear moral connotation. Also, we have the dramatic term ‘character’ as an antonym to ‘types’. When I use the plural of this word in the text, I am always talking about the dramatic term. Generally, it is used objectively for the sum of the mental properties of a character.

In addition to the character (the mental attributes of a person), there are two other components of a figure that are not to be neglected. Firstly, the character has a physical appearance that the audience will judge them by. Part of this are gender, age, hair colour, physical appearance, subjective beauty etc. Secondly, the character has a social attitude. This is expressed in the way they move, facial expression, attire, education, profession, status symbols etc. I intend to slightly neglect these two visible components of a character because they are easily devised by the writer. In this text, I would like to concentrate on the invisible side of the figure – their character.

1.1. The Credibility Problem

As a writer, we sometimes come to a point called writer’s block. Nothing seems right anymore – the characters are acting without a plan or not at all, the structural thread gets lost and the characters are simply not credible. This moment occurs when we do not know much about our characters yet. If we knew them well, we would know for sure how they would act. The audience will only follow the actions of the characters if they are credible. But how do you create credible characters and types as a writer?

Or, to put it a different way: Is there a causality between the traits of a character, according to which a character with the trait A will very likely have the traits B and C, rather than D and E? Our knowledge of the world tells us that this is exactly the case. But of course, we experience the world in divers and, above all, subjective ways. We, on the other hand, are looking for a context that is as objective as possible.

So, which possibilities do we have as writers? We can shape characters according to our own experiences with the risk that they resemble us or are, at least, very similar. We can shape characters according to real people we know very well. With this method, you may lose friends that recognize themselves in your writing. On top of this, we too, move in certain social surroundings. We could take part in a script constellation – provided that we believe in it and have the money. We could do some research. That always pays. On the other hand, this is quite elaborate and we would probably first have to gain the trust of strangers to make them talk about themselves. But will they tell us the truth? Will they reveal their innermost conflicts? Are they even able to do this or is their self-perception preventing the objectivity we are looking for? We can sample sensual experience through Method Writing by putting ourselves in the situation of our characters and feel what they feel. This is definitely profitable but again, we are referring to ourselves. The character might evaluate the same event in a totally disparate way or act entirely differently.

Well, if only we had a model, a tool, an instrument for checking the credibility of a character. Let us assume, a playwright would write a play called THE MISER. This tool should enable him to find the character traits an avaricious character is likely to have and dissuade him from giving the figure implausible traits.

1.2. Scientific and Esoteric Approaches

What should such a model be able to achieve exactly? It should structure as many different aspects as possible in a meaningful way. On the one hand, it should be comprehensive and sophisticated, on the other hand it should be easy to handle and therefore, lucid. It should reveal the essentials of a character in a specific way. We wish for new information that inspires our phantasy, but the model should not constrain it in any way. Such models exist – called type theories.

All type theories attempt to explain that people are different, but at the same time there are types of people with a marked resemblance in their attitude and behaviour.

Although type theories are looking for similarities, at the same time they tend to neglect that which makes an individual unique. Applying to real people, this is clearly very limited. But when we talk about characters, they are by definition never as differentiated as real people. Therefore, a type theory that is useful for us only has to be subtle enough.

In general, there are two fundamentally different kinds of type theories – esoteric and scientific. The term ‘esoteric’ has gone through some changes over time. In antiquity, esotericism was a philosophical doctrine, a secret science only few people had access to. It has a strong mythical aspect that I find very exciting. Astronomy is an esoteric science, as is the Tarot. The psychologist Carl Gustav Jung discussed in his work TAROT AS A WAY OF LIVING that the Tarot and its symbols depict archetypes. Therefore, it is a universal treasury of knowledge. The same goes for astronomy. Unfortunately, esoteric type theories have a strong disadvantage that excludes them for our purposes – they are matters of belief.

In the context of scientific type theories, the ‘Four Temperaments’ of Hippokrates, spring to mind at once. But they are too generalized to help us. The next thing, of course, would be to look at psychoanalysis. Siegmund Freud, in classical psychoanalysis, dealt with the psychodynamics of the unconscious. Different schools of depth psychology and therapies have developed from his approach. I see a general problem here: Psychoanalysis deals with the ailing person. But this person has no free will, he is subjected to constraints that limit his character. Of course, this can also apply to a figure, but normally we need a model for figures that exercise their free will.

Furthermore, I see problems in psychoanalysis’ strong fixation on early childhood. Of course, a personality is strongly marked by their childhood. But simultaneously, we are just as much influenced by social surroundings, and it is an expression of free will to deal with it one way or another. There are other branches of psychology that do not focus on the analysis of disease or childhood patterns that much, but are looking instead for an adequate solution to a problem.

Such a method is the Integrated Solution Oriented Therapy. It categorizes people according to type – material-oriented, action-oriented or relationship-oriented. This is interesting, but to use it reliably, we would have to study it very seriously. This is the main disadvantage of all scientific type theories – we can apply them only through thorough study. Normally, we would not want to study psychology – we are content being writers.

Sociology can help us enormously in our search for a type theory that suits our purposes. In his book MANAGEMENT TEAMS: WHY THEY SUCCEED OR FAIL, Dr. Meredith Belbin discusses the role of individual personalities in teams. His empirical research on the optimal composition of teams is also known as the ‘Belbin Team Roles’. In this book, he develops three main individual orientations, each comprised of three different team roles.

3 ACTION ORIENTED TYPESShaper, Implementer, Completer

3 COMMUNICATION ORIENTED TYPESTeam-Worker, Co-Ordinator, Resource Investigator

3 SCIENCE ORIENTED TYPESSpecialist, Planner, Monitor-Evaluater

Here we have nine different roles whose strengths and weaknesses he describes so precisely that we can look at them as characters. Astoundingly, Belbin’s sociological study is congruent in its result with the empirical type theory from pre-Christian times that, for a long time, was only known to a small circle of adepts – the ENNEAGRAM.

To my knowledge, no one has yet used the Enneagram for the development of characters. This is exactly what we are now going to do.

1.3. The Enneagram as an Empirical Model for Recognition

The Enneagram is a model for recognition and self-realization, depicting nine different character profiles. It allows for a wide range of differentiations and describes the inner dynamics of personality.With respect to other type theories, the Enneagram has the following advantages:– It is empirically researched, therefore not a matter of belief as in esoteric models– It is not a science, therefore no profound studies are necessary for using it– With its nine character profiles and their differentiations, it is more subtle than other models– It allows for the inner dynamic of character change