Friday, November 4, 2016

How an Ambiguous Tale Told by a Character can Enrich the Storytelling

The filmmakers of the HBO Show, WESTWORLDwere clearly ambitious in the way they chose to remake the 1973 Michael Crichton movie. 
Their creative approach was to dig deeper before laying the foundation for the series' storyline. 
Going that route opens up more possibilities for the writers tasked to write each episode. 
It means there is more to draw on when telling a story from one episode to the next.   
One of the great weapons in Professional Screenwriting is to have a scene where a character tells a story to another character (or a group of characters). 
Not every script has the organic opportunity for this to occur. 
However, when the project is right, this tool can be a powerful way to deliver to the audience an aspect of the storyline that will illuminate what had previously been hidden, whether it is about a specific character, a secret from the past, or even thematic aspects informing the script. 
Unfortunately, this writing weapon is often abused by screenwriters, used in a lazy, hackneyed-attempt to cover over plot holes or other inferior efforts in telling a good story. 
There are ways one can tell the difference when this technique is in the hands of an artful story teller -- 

- The Character’s story is written in a way that the ultimate meaning is Ambiguous. 

- The Story told by the Character has a specific purpose – usually along the lines of revealing something deeper, not only about the character who is relating the tale, but the reaction of the character on screen listening. 

The fifth episode of WESTWORLD begins with Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), telling one of the park’s early robotic creations, “Old Bill,” a story about his past. How the scripted story is produced on screen ends up being a perfect example of the two points cited above.