STARTING & ENDING
by Michael Chasin Screenwriting Mentor, IAFT/Miami
The year’s end serves as a bold reference point for measurement for our lives.
Those measurements (figurative and literal) trigger New Year’s resolutions—acknowledgements that we should—or need to—improve how we live our lives.
Just as we strive to make our lives better, we have the same hopes for the movie heroes that we so emotionally invest in.
While a calendar year for change and growth may serve us well in real life—in a movie—where our hero fighting a ticking clock is part of the drama—it’s an eternity—that lessens the impact of their growth.
A great storytelling device to dramatize character change—in lieu of a time frame—is to use location as a benchmark.
Rocky starts in the ring—with Rocky as a club fighter—and ends in the ring—with Rocky fighting for the championship—after learning to respect his ability.
The Godfather begins in the Godfather’s office—and ends in that same office—with war hero Michael—who wanted no part of the crime family—as the new Don Corleone.
Training Day opens with idealistic cop Jake Hoyt in his suburban home and ends—after a day of corruption—with a very different Jake—returning to his home.
All of those films brilliantly used location to dramatize character change.
It can be argued that this storytelling device is actually part of our DNA.
Our desire to visit our high school—or the house we grew up in—is not necessarily rooted in curiosity about how those buildings have changed—but rather—how we have changed since we left.
So start and end your films—with your heroes in the same location.
Make that your New Year’s storytelling resolution.