Screenwriting : Translation needed: "grounded" by A. S. Templeton

A. S. Templeton

Translation needed: "grounded"

No, not from a foreign language, but from Hollywood-speak. I saw this screenwriting call and want to know what it really says: ... looking to hire a writer to write a grounded fantasy action series from an established concept.... Grounded? What does that even mean in this context?

Regina Lee

Tonally grounded, as in grounded in reality. For example, overall, MEET THE PARENTS is a grounded, relatable comedy with heightened elements. Whereas, Adam Sandler's CLICK, with its magical remote control, is definitely heightened or fantastical in tone. The assignment sounds like somewhat of an oxymoron - "a grounded fantasy." I think it's tough to call anything in the fantasy genre highly grounded, but I'm guessing he means that for the fantasy genre, this particular fantasy is relatively grounded. For example, HARRY POTTER has grounded elements thrown into a story that is not grounded overall. (I'm struggling for an example of a "grounded fantasy" as grounded is not the first word I'd use to describe a fantasy!)

Regina Lee

If you get into a conversation about the assignment, you should feel free to ask for tonal examples that fall in line with what he's looking for.

Laurie Ashbourne

Grounded in Hollywood speak is not much different than grounded in real life. But grounded fantasy is a very finite parameter. It would be like STRANGER THAN FICTION where the bulk of the story is in a reality that feels like a reality you and I would experience in everyday life, but then something fantastic happens to that reality. THE INCREDIBLES is super hero animation, there is not much grounded in that as a premise, the only thing that is, is the fact that they try to assimilate into a normal life, but there really is nothing grounded about the world. It sounds to me that they are stretching the bounds of the meaning in regards to fantasy. Only a conversation will answer that.

Regina Lee

In general, tone is very hard (if not impossible) to convey linguistically, and words like "grounded" are among the tools we have at our disposal. "Grounded" is used very commonly in "Hollywood." And a tonal description is made ever clearer when paired with a movie comp, e.g. a grounded comedy like MEET THE PARENTS. Still, even when using both words and comps, it remains hard to clearly convey tone, especially in a vacuum when you're talking to someone you don't know well.

Reuben Baron

I'd think Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz would be the opposite of "grounded fantasy" because they operate on absurdity and dream-logic. Something like Game of Thrones, on the other hand, which obeys mostly realistic logic with only two or three magical threads running secondary to the main drama, would seem to be more "grounded" than Lewis Carrol's nonsense poetry and satire.

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