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A Clear Message to the Enemy!

Every story has a flag or standard bearer. In military terms he or she is the officer or soldier of an army, who carries the symbol of identity. This could be group, community or national identity. Of course such symbol of identity will need to be understood to send a clear message to the enemy.

In screenplay or finished movies the flag or standard bearer is the protagonist or main character. He or she is the lead or principal character, who symbolizes the story’s essence. Your movie audience begins to identify with the theme or message of movie. To that extent the story becomes him, her or it; indeed the central character of the story: as the audience experiences or feels the story subconsciously.

We identify or empathize with the Main Character such that his eyes become our means of seeing, learning, understanding and indeed reporting to others. That means the audience receives, interprets and sometimes gives feedback on screenwriters’ intentions, goals or motivations.

How true-to-life is the writer’s story, while connecting to the audience through the lead, main character or protagonist? The writer must understand the ‘brand face’ of his or her story; told from the lead characters point of view. Frank Capra (1897-1991), prolific Sicilian-born American film director and creative strength in some major award-winning films agrees, “The whole thing is, you’ve got to make them care about somebody.” Only then will the audience attain a passionate relationship with the lead character.

Any blockbuster movie may have created audience sympathy with the main character; close enough to make him or her a lifestyle model. Thus we identify and empathize with the main character’s particular problems or luck. Handicapped or suffering movie heroes communicate pleasures or pains and their audiences feel same. Much so, when our main character is also protagonist, who proposes the story goal; which the antagonist impacts on to create conflict. Thus the writer must create clearest and deepest impressions, while introducing the main character or protagonist.

In line with industry standards the screenwriter must CAPITALIZE main character or protagonist whole name e.g., FEDERICK ANGEL; while introducing him or her. The introduction could include age; briefly give some very CLEAR visual description of looks, manners or habit. We as audiences begin to perceive him or her as average human or superhuman.

All such descriptions must define and impact on the movie; otherwise hair or eye color, height or weight may not be essential. We the audience must see, believe and if possible live the main character’s life and lifestyle; while and after watching the movie.

Generally good heroes fill our sense of story appreciation; because producers believe that is what their audience desire. Albeit your hero may not be that usual person or even a good person. Gone with the Wind’s, Scarlett O'Hara isn't exactly a typical citizen. ( ) There Will Be Blood’s Daniel Plainview ( ) would kick your puppy even before you have your back turned. But those two are examples of the most memorable and gripping Protagonists in cinema. Picturing such protagonists gives a perception they are active. It comes clear too that though they may experience as we also do, they are the ones, who drive their movie stories.

Main Character Introductions:

ANDY DUFRESNE, mid-20s, wire rim glasses, three-piece suit. Under normal circumstances a respectable, solid citizen; hardly dangerous, perhaps even meek. (Shawshank Redemption; )


Busy Mid-floor: Soft breezy Blues music plays under. Standing beside Luggage-Piled Pushcart: with campus girl-attitude sense of fun COWGIRL attired Texan African-American, 26-year old DESTINY ADEMOLA.

Destiny listens to same soft low-volume breezy Blues music on earphones. Spins on spurred-boots. Holds up scribbled 'BLACK GREASE' cardboard, towards Lounge Exit.

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