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Second Bass

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

‘What we often don't do is take a moment to connect what …’ is ‘…happening in our personal lives at the moment...’ with ‘…larger events.'-AJ Detisch

Every human conflict, whether personal or organized, has two faces to it. Our pains, grieves, inequities or imbalances are mere individual reactions. More so we react to each other based on our personal life experiences. Thus adolescents take up human social, economic or political habits from the very community where they grow. But ‘laugh-out-laugh’ isn’t it said that the Nigerian will survive anywhere on earth? Probably better said, Nigerians can sell ice to Eskimos in Alaska.

Nigerians grow in a society, where upbeat lifestyles and go-getter attitudes are ingrained in most. Equipped so we are ‘good to go’ anywhere on this planet. Wherever we go, our sense of survival may conflict with host nation’s way of life. Do you blame South African xenophobia then?

Answer that; know now that our screenplays cannot avoid the larger background story to our personal heroes or heroines’ screenplay stories. The larger background story in our screenplay asks questions for answers.

What city? Our story could take place in Abuja, Lagos or Port Harcourt. What period? Our story could have materialized, when various military coups happened in Nigeria. What part of society? All the coups have always been announced at radio stations; even when they are planned in the jungle.

What tone? This requires the writer, producer and most of all the director to establish moods with dialogue, action, props etc. Yet the screenwriter’s tone simply depicts the imageries, whether by obvious or hidden expressions. These are hints of the larger picture.

It is well accepted in screenwriting that the first ten pages of your screenplay should establish the world of the protagonist’s story. The protagonist’s story is so, a small world compared to events, issues, personalities that may or may not be obvious. However our hero or heroine may be inspired, but are certainly impacted on by such larger background stories.

The screenwriter, who dreams of high concept screenplays is readily equipped by these larger than life elements. He or she could use such parallel events, issues, personalities, groups and communities that constitute larger background to protagonist’s story. Indeed the larger world encompasses the protagonist’s story.

You can say Fela Anikulapo-Kuti invented ‘second base,’ while in prison under the Buhari-Idiagbon’s regime in the early-1980s. Your screenplay story about ‘second bass’ in Fela’s Afrobeat music happened in Nigeria’s 20th Century. During the period the larger background to Fela’s ‘second bass’ story had issues, events, personalities, institutions that impacted on it.

“Making this connection for the characters in your screenplay can be the key to turning the script into a profound story instead of a superficial confection.”

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