Usually I write scripts for one of two reasons:
- Doing the idea genuinely excites me (Superlee, Dark Night)
- Spite/to prove a point (Nightmare On Elm Street, Headlines)
This, this is different. This is one made from love, but it also doesn’t excite me. It terrifies me. Not in a “This idea is creepy and horrific” way, but in a “This is going to be incredibly complicated” way. So what is it?
A girls coming of age story framed with how she views a film from her childhood at different points in her life, with the sections of her life and her different takes on the film, being shown and told non-linearly.
Each times she watches the film; it features the same story, actors, and dialogue, but each comes across wildly different in execution, tone, theme and genre, depending on where she is in her life.
The film, Last Christmas (title will change) , she watches is a Christmas based family drama, which she first sees on TV (with adverts), then DVD, then streamed. When she’s young she sees the film as a comedy about a kid pranking his (no films from that time featured a female lead, so she has to identify with a male character) neglecting parents till they realise the errors of their way and give him attention, which her story at the time parallels. When she’s a teen it’s a romantic drama, about their teen daughter and her boyfriend and having to put up with her embarrassing family through the holidays. And when she’s an adult she realises the film is about the parents splitting up while trying to keep a good Christmas going for their bratty kids. The film ends on what appears to be a happy dinner, but with the undertone that this is the end of the parents’ marriage.
Petra 7: Is left to watch the film by her parents as they argue, and draws parallel between the child feeling neglected in the film to how she feels, and tries to gain her parents attention.
Petra 17: After receiving a DVD of Last Christmas for a present, she is forced to watch it with her family, as she waits for her Boyfriend to arrive who she is in the middle of fighting with due to a pregnancy scare. She makes parallels to the teen daughter in the film, seeing it as a drama about the daughter dealing with her nightmare family with her Boyfriend over for Christmas.
Petra 37: Is watching the film with her own daughter on Christmas, as they wait for her husband to come home for Christmas as he has had to work. She sees parallels with the mother and father characters in the film, finally understanding that the film is about the parents getting divorced while trying to have a last good Christmas as a family.
So yeah, that’s a lot of narratives running through one film, where the style and tone will be used as a major narrative device. Best scene to demonstrate the concept is this:
There’s a scene of the younger child pranking their sister’s boyfriend and it being played for laughs from the childs POV. Then when we see it from the Teens POV we see the heartbreak she is going through: she’s lost her first love and her life feels like it’s over. Then from the adult POV we see it as slightly petulant whining, all we can think is “you were together for a week, you’ll get over it”. This will be demonstrated almost entirely by different lighting and scores, and slight modifications to the performance. But it will be the same scene played once through, with the time changing during camera cuts.
The difficult thing for this is how to demonstrate it in the script. This will have to be read by people I can’t converse and explain, the script will have to explain itself. Best way I can think of doing it is this:
Script notes: each section within the fiction film (labelled as “film” in the scene headings) take place in the same location. The colour of the text corresponds with the style of filming and which version of Petra we see in the fictional film:
Age 7. Lots of bright colours and cheerful music (think Home Alone)
Age 17. Darker, overly depressing and angsty music
Age 37. More subtle colours, orchestral music
This will allow me to change the timelines mid-scene and have it easily understandable to the reader.