Screenwriter Jack creates characters that live and breathe… maybe TOO much?
Ever watch Will Ferrell films? Well, there’s one particular flick you should see. It’s called Stranger Than Fiction – a tale about a man named Harold Crick, who discovers one day that he is in fact a character in one of Emma Thompson’s novels. (Yes, Emma Thompson the actress – known in certain circles as Nanny McPhee.) Fortunately, Harold Crick’s a gentle soul; despite the wringer Emma puts him through, he’s pretty harmless all the way.
But what if a character you wrote was far more dangerous and… unhappy with their fate? What would they do to their creator? By final Fade Out, would YOU be safe?
That’s the very question screenwriter Jack faces in R.E. McManus’ twisty short Out of Character: when one of his shadiest characters arrives at his doorstep – armed, angry, and brimming with demands.
When Out of Character opens, Jack’s writing in his claustrophobic unorganized study – surrounded by empty pizza boxes, half-finished cups of coffee and writer’s manuals galore. (A scene all too real for some writers.) Just then, the doorbell rings. Jack answers – and finds himself face-to-face with… a man named Ken. There’s a pistol in Ken’s hand. Strangely familiar features on his face.
Ken forces his way inside.
Tense bantering ensues – until the stranger-than-truth reality is revealed. Ken’s one of Jack’s characters – disgruntled and demanding change! According to Ken, Jack created him a bit too fat. A lot too poor. And with too much attitude to let such things slide. Using his revolver to do the talking, Ken insists that Jack give him a thinner waistline, a better car, and a supermodel girlfriend as well (can you say ‘join the club’?)
But can Jack do such things, and shove all creative integrity aside?
We won’t spoil the ending – promise. But needless to say, the tension rachets up quick. Jack attempts to comply with Ken’s milder demands, but conspires to take down his creation… before the plot gets too wild…
Equally humorous and tense, Out of Character is a great comedic dark script, stuffed with Easter Eggs for directors and writers alike. Grab it before someone writes YOU off. And the next time you compose a scene? Think real careful about Flat Slob #2’s feelings. Maybe it’s not wise to piss him off that much.
Production – Low budget. Two actors, one location (a house), one computer and one gun.
About the writer: R.E. McManus was born in England, of Irish roots. Hence he was always a little confused. He has since travelled the globe, and noted what he saw on his travels. He’s been writing since he could pick up a pen. The fact they were IOUs is neither here nor there.
He fell in love with film when he first saw 2001: A Space Odyssey at the age of six. Although he’s still not sure about the spelling of Odyssey. It’s still looks wrong,
He loves Fincher, Hitchcock and Kubrick. And Faith No More. And Elvis. He even has a dog named after him. This seemed like a good idea until he went to the park.
Want more information? (Just say yes – you know you do!) Then head over to his website at Rendevous.yolasite.com, or email him at redarcy2000 (a) yahoo.co.uk.
Read: Out of Character
This screenplay may not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.
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About the reviewer: Mitch Smith is an award winning screenwriter who offers notes, script editing and phone consultations. Reach him at his website, follow him on twitter @MitchScripts, or email him at Mitch.SmithScripts (a) gmail.