MA Screenwriting – module 2 week 2, 2022

So, it’s week 2, and, to be honest, I’m struggling so far this term. The assignment is to write another short film, and present a video pitch, due in week 5, together with premise, treatment, and reflective essay at the end of term.

So what’s my problem? It’s not like I don’t have ideas. I have a lot. The two I am considering for this project are a romantic comedy and a rite of passage crime drama. I can’t decide which to pursue. I’ve written a premise for both, a treatment for both, and a step outline for both, but I’m still undecided.

The romantic comedy gives me more enjoyment. It’s fun and full of light. The rite of passage crime drama is dark. No light. If I’m to write this story I need to find a way of allowing the light in. If I go with the romantic comedy I need to figure out how to squeeze it into the rules of the genre.

As for genre, we have been pointed to Philip Parker and The Art and Science of Screenwriting, which is next on my buy-list. Initial readings of the rules of the three ‘romance’ genres seems to slot my story into comedy, as opposed to romantic drama or romantic tragedy (in this case art doesn’t imitate life).

Of the romantic comedy, our genre reading states this:

“The aim of the plot is to provide as many comedic moments as possible between the two central protagonists and their environment or other characters.

But my question is this: comedic to whom?

Interviewed about his play The Comedians playwright Richard Griffiths paraphrases Mark Twain when he says the source of all comedy is pain. Just because we are laughing, it doesn’t mean the character finds what’s happening funny. Don’t we often laugh at people schadenfreude style? Not laughing with them, but rather at them? At least, that is how it seems to work in Soap Operas.

Which gives me a task, to take a romantic comedy and see if I am laughing with the characters, or at them? What is your screenwriting task this week?

What do you think?

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