Let’s take a dramatic look at pressure.
It’s a fascinating study.
Through the lens of the monomyth it generates tremendous fuel for the heroic journey. The screenwriter who deeply understands its nature can create stories that reveal both this tension and its remedy. My own study parallels my own life. I am driven to understand story both in the creative expression but more in applications it can have in my personal life. It’s why I was drawn to this craft. It’s why I quest to use it to help others, ultimately to help myself, my family and those I care about.
I have tremendous reverence for screenwriters. The very best writers are incredibly disciplined. They pull from their own life experiences, their own wins and losses and they often seek to help their audiences find good.
In films we love to watch our hero’s face then overcome insurmountable odds. The more the pressure, the better the movie. Here’s how it’s broken down. These elements are broken down to sizeable slivers through the archetypes that administer the flowing forces.
The Hero. I believe we are all inherently good. We all seek security, peace, kindness. We all quest for balance, justice and a sense of wonderful adventure. In your personal pursuit of a strong story you can begin here with this incredible heroic energy or you can begin with the villain. It’s very often and yinyang kind of the thing. A great hero has a great villain that works quite hard to force the hero to concede to their laden greatness within. Your hero MUST have some basic virtues, ethic and morals. Well they must in the movies most of us want to see. Even heros with not so great morals should work to defeat pure evil, or those with worse values. Those positive elements are good, and I believe we all want to have remedy from pressure and these kinds of character traits that foster the remedy. The hero must learn to rest in their own knowledge or how these principles work. However the hero MUST have weaknesses. A GREAT hero has abilities laden deep in their self doubts. While the hero will seek to save the prince or the princess they also must seek to save themselves. Pressure from fear is a powerful skill for your pen. Malicious, persecuting pressure will help your audience understand that no matter how hard things are the brave hero will learn, will overcome. Often times the hero has peace in the beginning of the movie, but they make a mistake that opens the door for evil, for the villain to step in. Typically is their own ambitions, their own lack of knowledge, their fears of “what people may say”. These fears will torment your hero during the first part of your script. The fears will be faced in the middle and the fears WILL be defeated, internally and peace will return, love will return and this love can be the new.
What strong values does your hero possess? What qualities does your hero represent? What good does your hero desire?
The Villain: Our villains are the forms that apply pressure. They are designed to, they can’t help themselves. They give the audience a face to see. The more evil the villain the more intriguing the movie. Your audience should wonder why… Why is the evil attacking the hero? What good is the hero really capable of that the villain seeks to destroy? If your hero is able to heal, able to love, then often times it’s that simple. The villains lack it so they attack it. Rather than take accountability they lash out. Behind all the hurt they inflict is often a lack of real love in their own life. The best villians seek revenge. The pressure they apply is culled from a desire to hurt the hero. The conjure malicious ways to attack the weakest aspect of the hero. This forces the hero to turn this weakness into its greatest strength. Have no fear. The universe will send us an endless supply of villains to help us learn how to release pressure. These villains may be redeemable, in other words their actions can stem from deep seeded pain they never addressed and are now punishing others… or.. they can just be a representation of pure evil. Perhaps your audience can answer those questions.
Who is your villain? Who do you believe is trying to destroy you? Why? Are there aspects, fears they are preying upon? Your story should have personal experiences, knowledge of these lessons…. the tension and the remedy.
Minions: The minions live just outside of the directives of the villian. They represent the smaller consequences of the hero’s reluctance to self improve. They take orders from the villian and can be the arms of the villian. If the hero is most afraid of a broken heart then the minions may help execute the small jobs of breaking the hero’s heart. These illustrations serve as proof of the villains agenda to apply more and more pressure. Minions often are represented by noise. The noise of the news, the noise of gossip. The chattering of people. These dramatically add to the pressurizing for the hero.
What or who represents your minions? Are they a few people or might they represent a mob of people?
Shapeshifters: These suckers are really helpful in tricking the hero. The often work directly for the villain, carrying out directives. The often pretend to the allies of the hero. This bond the hero has with the shapeshifter can be traced back if you rewatch a movie. There are often clues, or red flags the hero should have caught. The pressure from the villain weakens the hero, allowing the shapeshifter to go to work. The best kinds of shapeshifters appear to the audience as allies and when the trick is complete the hero should feel like the hero… burned. In the end this burning really burns away the hero’s fears.
Who might your shapeshifter/s be? Have you been tricked or fooled by someone you trusted only to find out later they were working for evil?
Prince/ Princess: The loss of a prince or princess to the hero represents the hero’s greatest loss. The potential loss of the hero’s princess is unbearable. It’s this way because it represents the hero’s reason or motivation. While it represents the greatest loss, it also represents the greatest reward. The joys the saving of the prince or princess represents is worth fighting for. For each film and for each of us this can shift, as the perception of our prince or princess changes.
Who is your prince or princess? What in your life represents something worth fighting for, living for?
The Ally: When it comes to pressure our allies are ready to ride, ready to endure, ready to help the hero fight. They represent adventure, for there is a great one for the hero if they choose to quest. They have an uncanny resilience to the pressure often through real sympathy for what the hero is facing. They know the prince or princess that the hero is seeking to rescue. Their loyalty to the hero’s humanity is what they are fighting for. They share the hero’s vision, even when the hero themselves submerge. Allies are up for the adventure and represent the thrill of life, the excitement of learning, the joys of life’s dramatic journey.
Who are your allies?
The Mentor: Mentors enter when the hero becomes ready. TRUE mentors provide a kind of neutral remedy, tempered with an unbelievable kind of compassion. They have walked your path, they deeply understand the strain of pressure but they, in their lives have overcome it’s causes and thus its effects. Mentors want other mentors. It is their own heroic journey. They have a higher calling and you are the sound they hear. You are worth the mentors efforts. The business of your good in you deserves to be your release from pressure.
Who is your mentor right now? Who or what is calling to you, challenging you to seek peace, or a zen like garden of the soul?
Pressure is a powerful element to bring your story. The more the pressure, the more sympathy you will earn from your audience. We ALL understand it. We ALL deal with it. If you sugar coat pressure your story may feel to “on the surface”. You can take this singular energy and imagine how your entire movie play out. How does pressure apply itself? Why did the hero seem to attract the pressure? What instruments does the villain use to help the hero understand their weaknesses?
How can you work towards eliminating pressure in your own life? How can you clarify, how can you take accountability, how can look inside yourself to adjust these pressures?
Pressure leads to stress, stress shows up in the body, our bodies are our vehicles we have been given to ride through this life. Take care of yourself. Follow the golden rule.
Heads up! We will be appearing Dec 1&2 for a workshop weekend in coordination with Voiceovercity. Details coming soon!