Jasmine's pond of dreams

Jasmine's pond of dreams

Monday, February 18, 2013

School of Rock 101, storyteller's log 2-18-2013

School's out. No, school is in session. It's time to look at an actual movie and see how the method of mapping the character's ups and down's and the audience's hopes and fears actually work.

Dewey Finn, played by Jack Black, dreamed of being a heavy metal rock god. He had the passion but not the talent. After being kicked out of his band he returns to his little world of sharing his old friend,s apartment, Ned Sneebly (Mike White).

Planted in this section, to be used later in the story, is the information of the rock contest with big cash prizes. Dewey's dreams of winning are dashed. Remember setup and payoff later. You're story weaving.

Patty (Sarah Silverman), Ned's annoying girlfriend, is introduced. Patty is also a setup who will cause more trouble for Dewey later. Patty is the one who delivers the lesson to Dewey in the form of a threat. She tells him to give up his dream and act responsibly. She tells him to get a real job and pay his rent or be kicked out.

This is a double-edged message comprising a positive and negative component. She tells him to act responsibly is the positive lesson which Dewey needs to learn. Give up his dream is a negative message. Fom Patty's limited perspective giving up the dream is necessary in order to be responsible. They can't coexist in her mind. This is why I think the lesson itself is the important thing, not "meeting the mentor." I don't think we can call Patty, the Mentor. Do you?

Can there be negative mentors? We can learn from negative people in our lives this is true. However, I know of one case where the mentor is a freeway sign- Steve Martin's L.A. Story.

Now, the characters are all set to start the story in motion. What happens? Ned gets a phone call and Dewey answers the "call to adventure". I wonder how they got the "call to adventure" before they had phones? Pony Express? Carrier Pigeon?

What does Dewey do?

We'll look at that in the next blog. First, let's look at how we'd map this. (ClLICK TO ENLARGE)

A. is the beginning of the story. It's neutral in terms of hope and fear because we don't understand the world yet. It starts during a concert and Dewey falls flat on his face literally. The direction and camerawork tell us that this story is going to be about him. We admire his passion and feel sorry for things not working out. Jack Black plays a very unique but likable character. We connect with is enthusiastic passion. Why? Because we want that for ourselves- to feel truly alive. So we identify with him. We hope he'll succeed but probably fear he won't.

B. Dewey returns to Ned's apartment and thing go from bad to worse. He has to pay his share of the rent and he has no money.

C. Patty threatens Dewey to pay his overdue rent or get kicked out. She pesters Ned into making the threat. We now fear for Dewey. What will he do? What can he do? 

Why do we side with Dewey? We follow him because it's his story. Ned is portrayed as having given up his dreams, stuck in a job he doesn't like. He's what could happen to Dewey if he gives up his dreams. We don't want to be like Ned, even if we are a little.  Patty is just a "bitch" who dominates Ned and harasses Dewey. We root against her. Boo! Hiss.

D. Now, alone in the apartment there's a phone call. We know something will happen to change things. Why do we know this? We've all been watching movies and we unconsciously know the structure of good stories. Already we've got the audience connected to our character and hoping they'll succeed but fearing they won't.

So what happens when Dewey answers the phone? We'll see when we cross the threshold into Act 2.

See you in school tomorrow, and don't be late...

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