Screenwriting : Can I put flashbacks with a more sombre note into a high concept comedy to help flesh out my lead? by Melissa Dawn Brown

Melissa Dawn Brown

Can I put flashbacks with a more sombre note into a high concept comedy to help flesh out my lead?

Feedback from critique of my high concept comedy (emerging screenwriters contest): The reviewer reads like a female. Most of the two and a half pages of analysis is clear. I'm a little stumped with a comment that she made about tone. She referred to a 'brilliant' flashback scene that I used to expose my lead character's journey: from her invisible childhood to a super-ly heroic woman who has no qualms about standing out from the crowd. She seemed puzzled with the contrast between a scene with subtext and the ludicrous fantasy scenes that appear later in the script. I was trying to give my story a footing in a sombre reality that has universal echoes for an audience. Can I plug a bit of silly into the way that I tell sadder beginnings? Do I need to? The actor in me likes having a contrast between story elements-- something my lead can really sink her teeth into. D'you guys have any advice?

Phillip "The Gent" Hardy

MDB: I wouldn't get to concerned about any one reader's opinions about your dream sequences. If a pattern emerges and most readers say the same thing then I'd be making some changes. Additionally, don't be afraid to be original but don't be afraid to really dissect those scenes with your most critical eye.

Melissa Dawn Brown

Thanks. The contrast in tone was intended. I think I just need to look at the clarity of my thro'line and character arc. :)

Debbie Croysdale

Hi I think this kind of flashback could serve the purpose of adding richer layers, and the audience can "feel" they have grown with the protagonist, as Melissa points out "Universal echoes". I would bond more with the character, rather than just seeing some sort of picture perfect super woman. Also I think mirroring before/after character traits can work well on screen, especially in dark comedies to highlight dramatic irony.

Preston Poulter

You do have to be careful about tone. Just as an example, if you take "Out of Africa" and insert a lighthearted comedy scene, it will be seen negatively because it just doesn't fit with the audiences emotions and expectations.

William Martell

1) Flashbacks move the story forward. 2) Beware of tonal shifts. 3) Watch comedy films with great characters and see how they did it... I can't think of any offhand with flashbacks.

Debbie Croysdale

@Oliver. Totally agree. Pondering too long on comments other people make on script wild cards, can kill a spontaneous stroke of genius that might have served to aid the visual story.

Melissa Dawn Brown

Thank you one and all. I need to remember that it was constructive feedback she gave me = 'stuff I done good' + things I could do better + lots to think about I'm no longer playing the 'I wanna be ... When I grow up game.' Part of the brilliance of the biz is about trusting your creative instincts. I figure I need to look at the storytelling I have in place and see where I can adjust it to smooth out anything that smells funny-- not obliterate it: just be aware. (I figure that'll give me a good foundation to talk to anyone who's interested in my script.) Thanks again! MDB

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