Some of you may know that I am an aspiring screenwriter. The other day, I showed my lecturer my blog. He highly recommended that I put my screenplay from last year up here for all the world to see, so here it is.
Honey, Chocolate and Nerkles is a short, fantasy film for children about a young pre-teen girl, who is trying to fit in with school, but she has cerebral palsy. She goes to a mainstream school and the children bully her for being different. She is also receiving a lot of questions from her younger brother who has started to notice how different she is to other people.
Pursued by her main bully, she falls through a portal into a world made of chocolate and sweets. There she has to learn to accept herself to free a small, winged creature known as a nerkle, and to return back home. By doing this, she finds out she has a talent of her own.
I feel that children the same age as my protagonist, Fiona, often feel like they cannot fit in and are an outcast, whether they have a disability or not. By writing this screenplay, I hope to show children that it is alright to be different because everyone is different, everyone has a gift and talent of their own.
Reflection of the piece
My screenplay is roughly twelve minutes long with the working title: Honey, Chocolate and Nerkles. My protagonist, Fiona Lewis, has severe, right-hemiplegia, spastic cerebral palsy. She’s eleven-years-old and has noticed she is different from her peers. Due to her disability, she is unable to do the same physical activities as her classmates, which has
At first, I did not know what story I wanted to tell. Originally I was going to write a story where a teenager is kidnapped while trying to save her brother. Then I changed the story to her searching for her missing brother. However, both plots would have been too complicated to show what happens in fifteen minutes.
However, I still wanted to include a sibling in my plot and this is why Fiona has a younger brother. While the story does not evolve around him like I originally planned, he is still essential to the plot. A drawing he did and his questions are what help me to stabilise the real world and Fiona’s world, creating a subtle bridge between the two.
My new idea came when I was speaking to someone about a game I used to play when I was a child. The game involved doing a silly little dance, clapping my hands and counting backwards from three to summon a door into another world. This gave me an idea to implement the game into my script but instead of a game simulating imagination, use it as a device for my character to accept who she is. Therefore, the whole plot revolves about the protagonist’s psychological development.
Now that I had a vague idea for a story, I created a character profile to better understand my character. In Fiona’s character profile, I mostly focused on her physical attributes and her self-esteem and it became clear hat Fiona’s need for this imaginary world was because of her low self-esteem. I found exploring her self-esteem challenging as I had to understand why she was ashamed of her disability and think of a way for her to overcome this issue. Jazzle helps her realise that she is good at other things and she is able to return home.
Fiona’s name went through many changes. Her name was formally Faith Smith. However, as my story developed, I felt that the name did not fit Fiona’s personality and did not add anything to the story. I also needed to clearly show Georgia’s bullying; this lead to Fiona being renamed as Fiona Lewis and Georgia called her “Limpy Lou”. This was later changed to “Wimpy Limpy” portraying how Georgia saw Fiona and hint at Fiona’s daily torments.
The script begins with an introduction to Fiona’s disability and who she is, her mental state and self-esteem early on. The kitchen portrays what normal life is to her, representing her attempts to be independent. I feel that this is a good introductory scene as it implies that her brother’s inquisitive behaviour and her parents overwhelming fuss makes her feel like she is an outcast and someone who constantly needs to be watched.
This is further illustrated in the school playground. Fiona watches the other children play on the obstacle course, as she is not occupying herself in another way, it suggests that she longs to play with her peers. However, due to her disability and her lack of balance, she is unable to.
A classmate invites her to join, his palm up to show it’s a friendly invite. I used this action in the hope that it showed not everyone was trying to make Fiona feel like an outcast and that some people wanted to be her friend. However due to the mockery and bullying that follows seconds later, Fiona is unable to tell the difference between bullying and friendship. I feel that these first few scenes of the script expresses Fiona’s feelings towards herself and her disability well and, as a result, have not gone through that many changes compared to other scenes in the script, therefore staying relatively close to the treatment.
On the other hand, the middle and end of the script was constantly changed and therefore differs largely from what was set out in the treatment.
One of the reasons was because I was trying to fit too many scenes in my script. As the script is a maximum of fifteen minutes, this meant that many of my scenes were not established, repeated similar scenes and added nothing to the plot and was more of a visual exploration of Fiona’s world as well as an exposition piece rather than a story. This lead me to delete the gorge, treehouse, and pier; all of which were tasks that I originally set her relating to the obstacle course. I then combined the treehouse scene into the clock scene.
By narrowing the scenes in Fiona’s world, I was able to develop the two main characters and establish the links between the real world and Fiona’s imagination through the action of the spider-web scene. This helped make it easier to develop Fiona’s character and this in turn helped make her character believable that she had accepted her disability and was able to appreciate what she can do as opposed to what she cannot do.
It also helped me create a stable connection between the ordinary world and the chocolate world. An example of this is the movements and actions Jazzle makes in response to the story Fiona is telling. This resembles similar actions Jamie makes at the end with both characters listening intently and asking lots of questions. Similarly, there is a painting of a Nerkle on the fridge in the first scene and the obstacle course acts as a metaphor for Fiona, representing the journey she has to take in order to accept who she is and Jamie’s pyjama trousers are black, linking to Jazzle’s liquorice laced legs:
One of his feet is lost in the tunnel of his black pyjama trousers.
Near the end of the script, Fiona pulls out a chocolate Jazzle and a few strands of black liquorice out of her pocket:
She pulls out a Jazzle and a few strands of black liquorice laces.
I used this action not only as another means of connecting the two worlds but also to evoke the question as to whether Fiona was really in a world made out of chocolate and sweets or was her imagination influenced by her surroundings. I feel all these alliances help to make my story and its setting believable and relatable.
Challenges and thoughts
As I developed the piece I learned that one of my challenges when it came to crafting the script was my dialogue. It tended to be forced, weak and unrealistic. An example of this is: “Fiona’s special. She does things her way” which has been cut out and replaced with the mother telling Jamie off.: “Jamie!” Not only is this more realistic, it is shorter and has more of a tone to it that the previous sentence didn’t have. Knowing my weakness meant that I was able to revise the dialogue and cut out anything that was not relevant. I found that getting someone to read my work to me helped me see the weakness in the dialogue and help me improve it.
Overall, I feel that my script went well. However, there are still sections of dialogue that I believe can be improved and I will continue to improve this skill. I found using a character profile useful when exploring Fiona’s mental state and self-esteem and will continue to use character profiles in future scripts and stories. While writing the script, I have learnt that sometimes the fewer scenes and characters you try to put in the script improves the character and plot development and I will consider this for my future work. I will continue writing and developing my screenwriting skills as I have enjoyed writing the script.
Thanks for Reading
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