Monday, 9 January 2012

Undepth In Real People And Those Who Believe They’re Real

An entry in the Glossary project

Francis Dove’s notorious 60,000 word tutorial on character development in film and television productions was serialised over eight issues of the screen industry journal SquareEyes against the will of its then editor, who handed in his resignation when the legal department insisted that a hidden clause in Dove’s contract compelled them to publish anything Dove submitted for print. With no-one else willing to take on the editorship under such conditions, the journal fell under the unofficial control of Dove himself, becoming a textual ghetto for his increasingly unpalatable ideas on film, life and the hybridization of the two.

Only the abstract survives:
Everybody knows that in fiction, if you want to create a deep character all you have to do is create a very consistent character who does something surprising at the end of the second act. In life, of course, we know that when someone does something unpredictable it us usually due to a partly formed or poorly defined personality, or that they are always doing unpredictable things to try and hide a self-perceived shallowness. To really say that someone is more or less deep is an over-neat metaphor for the human condition: we are, more accurately, all equally shallow (though some taller than others), but with different (and fluctuating) levels of turbulence, pressure and indigenous life. However, these are not our concerns here: if you want to create a deep character all you have to do is create a very consistent character who does something surprising at the end of the second act. How have the artisans of film and television worked, and may they continue to rework, this formula again and again and again to give the illusion of real actual inner life?
Somebody, at least, was reading: Volodymyr Nanneman made substantial changes to the character-generating function of his electronic filmmaking kit, apparently alarmed by the misanthropy he saw in Undepth In Real People And Those Who Believe They’re Real. Dove, however, insisted his paper was a gesture of deep affection towards his colleagues, rivals and humankind in general.

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