This is a verbatim conversation on Twitter from Friday, October 28, 2011, between me (@mrbarnard1) and Raven-Lee Royal (@Raven2BME).
Raven said: I read your post [The Movie That Needs to be Made], and I really hope you can get this movie made for all of us out there.
… So are you still trying to shop the film around?
Michael said: “So are you still trying to shop the film around?” [THAT WOULD BE INCREDIBLY SELF-DESTRUCTIVE OF ME!! SO...YES.]
Raven said: haha Well I hope you reach success. Still trying to form the right idea/story for me to write.
Michael said: Good luck. (Hint: Figure out EVERYTHING about your main character, the story will evolve from that person.)
Raven said: So in order to get a story, I need to form a character and his wants/needs first?
Michael said: Well, you have an idea you like. It will evolve as you learn about your character, WHY he would react, etc.
Raven said: Oh okay. Well right now, I am starting from scratch, as my great grandmother would say. (first person to tell me stories)
Michael said: Great place to start! =} Remember: Have character face a problem, send him up a tree, then throw rocks at him, then get him down.
Raven said: That’s good advice and all, but man, I got nothing.
Michael said: Here’s a thought: Search for a real-life story of a gay man serving in Vietnam war, use as inspiration.
Raven said: A gay man serving in Vietnam? Really?
Michael said: Why not? That’s what had your interest originally. REALITY is a good place to start.
Raven said: How did you know what had my interest? haha
Michael said: HAH HAH HAH Either I’m psychic, or it’s because you DM’d me about it! (I *am* psycho…not so different)
Raven said: Oh I did?! haha I don’t even fucking remember!!
Michael said: That’s cool. I’m so damn INVISIBLE and EASY TO FORGET. You are not the only one.
Raven said: lol Yeah
Michael said: I create characters by starting with a birthdate and its horoscope (I hate horoscopes). Then, an address.
Raven said: How does that help?
Michael said: You need to create real characters with whom you can identify and understand their motivations and fears.
Raven said: Okay, so then what after the character is created?
Michael said: What do you want him to do? Save a little girl? If you know your character, you can create the girl. Or…
… Do you want him to fight injustice? Either he’s the victim (less likely) or he becomes aware of the problem.
Raven said: Oh okay I think I get what you’re saying. I like how you were inspired to write you script by what you saw.
Michael said: You MUST make the distinction between EVENTS and CHARACTER. Focusing on EVENTS makes cartoonish movies.
Raven said: So I have to focus on character?
Michael said: If you want to make a film you are proud of, start with CHARACTERS, then have them react to events.
… If you want a “popcorn” movie, focus on EVENTS and throw in caricatures to react in stereotypical ways.
Raven said: No, I want a badass movie that has potential to be recognized by the Academy.
Michael said: Hah hah Then you can go either way. ;-} But, I think you want a life-changing movie. Go for CHARACTER.
Raven said: Yes, a definite life-changing movie. ;-}
Michael said: Create 3 characters: Protagonist, Antagonist, love interest. Add characters to interfere or enhance them.
… Get to know these characters as if they were part of your family, so you know how they SHOULD react.
Raven said: I just hope I can make it as original as possible.
Michael said: If you create real characters, the movie will be as original as each one of us is.
Raven said: Yeah. It sounds easy, but it’s not.
Michael said: It is a lot easier if you start by knowing your characters. If you know them, then you can predict their behavior.
Raven said: Well I don’t have to predict their behavior, I should already know it. The writer is the story’s God.
Michael said: Even GOD is limited to what a person’s reaction will be. That’s free will.
Raven said: haha True.
Michael said: Big point: know your characters well enough so that THEY WILL TELL YOU how they will react.
Raven said: Okay, still trying to come up with an original story. Ugh, getting aggravated.
Michael said: Look at the world around you. Your story is lurking in small details that you usually overlook.
Raven said: Really? Because the details of my life are pretty boring. haha
Michael said: If you think your life is boring, you are not looking at the details. ;-} Look deeper, wider, slower.
Raven said: Trust me, dude. If my life were a western, it would be a ghost town, hands down.
Michael said: THEN WRITE A WESTERN ABOUT A GHOST TOWN! What do you WISH would happen in that ghost town??
Raven said: haha Hell if I know, not a western person! lol
Michael said: How about if ALIENS ATTACKED your ghost town?? Hmmmmmmm??
Raven said: You just described the plot to COWBOYS AND ALIENS
Michael said: (EXACTLY MY POINT)
… How about if bad guys killed your wife in that ghost town??
… How about if a teacher arrives in a ghost town by mistake???
Raven said: My only real film like interests are: gay, geek, action, drama, romance, history ….
Michael said: Before everybody became homophobic, “gay” wasn’t so odd in A WESTERN GHOST TOWN. Figure it out!
Raven said: So maybe a gay saloon film?
Michael said: Well, Gays LOVE to drink, so, sure!! LOL
Raven said: haha Funny!
Michael said: If you’re in L.A., go to West Hollywood, hang out at The Abbey, imagine it 175 years ago.
Raven said: 175 years ago?
Michael said: or 125, or 100. Whatever rings your bell.
Raven said: Wonder what would happen back that far?
Michael said: That’s why God made google and libraries.
Raven said: haha
Michael said: So, create two characters, give them birthdates 150 years ago, read their horoscope, start researching!
… Here’s the Number 1 secret to being a successful writer: ……
… it is: WRITERS WRITE. Start writing.
Raven said: Okay, I’ll see if I can come up with something. How long are you going to be on here tonight?
Michael said: I hope to get to work on my own projects now, so hope to sign off for a while.
Raven said: Okay. This was a nice conversation though.
Michael said: Yeah, I enjoyed it. Good luck.