Livvagterne – med livrem og seler

Livvagterne – DRs nye flagskib og Peter Thorsboe og Mai Brostrøms efterfølger til “Rejseholdet” og “Ørnen”. Creme de la creme i dansk krimi-fiktion er forventningen, og den bliver indfriet. Med forbehold. Og så stor er konkurrencen altså heller ikke.

Spændingselementerne fungerer upåklageligt. Flot og dragende filmet, afsnit 3 holdt mig fanget i fuld varighed, hvilket ellers sjældent sker foran fjernsynet – jeg er rastløs og begynder at lave noget på computeren i samme sekund, jeg keder mig. Det gør jeg ofte, men ikke her.

Velspillet, godt med nye ansigter – omsider nye ansigter! Manuskriptet stramt og ambitiøst, vel det mest handlingsmættede og potentielt forvirrende, DR endnu har givet sig i kast med. Jeg var ikke forvirret, selvom jeg ikke har set de to foregående afsnit.

Lidt for mange replikker bærer dog præg af at være eksposition – når man ser en karakter, man ikke har set før, springer der heldigvis en anden karakter til og forklarer hvem det er. “Morten Friis? Var det ikke ham, der i 2006 blev fængslet for at bombe et somalisk kulturcenter” (citeret efter hukommelsen) osv. Det er kluntet, men det går 1-2 gange per afsnit. Ikke 5 eller 6.

Politisk eller kulturkritisk er serien indtil videre for tynd. Der er gået grønt segment i den. Plottet om en velintegreret, sympatisk borgerlig iransk-født kvinde, der bliver kulturminister er fint nok, men så skal der også balanceres balancegang til den helt store guldmedalje. Det er svært, og nok også for svært.

En højreekstremistisk gruppering af vanvittige skydebrødre – alle mænd men ledet af en samvittighedsløs kvindelig partileder (godt nok udbryder af Dansk Folkeparti, men ikke så lidt en klon af Pia-musen) og en ondskabsfuld og beregnende godsejer med en fortid på venstrefløjen (der fik du den, Pittelkow! Eller Hedegaard … eller Camre). De taler om det “rene” Danmark og hader “gode eksempler på integration”, og vil hjertensgerne slå en dansksindet indvandrer ihjel. Undskyld, er vi i 1940? Til Broholmmøde med hofjægermester Jørgen Sehested? Den køber jeg ikke, ikke som hovedplot i hvert fald, og med mindre der kommer et overraskende spin på højrefløjs-historien, burde Thorsboe og Brostrøm heller ikke gøre det. Måske havde det fungeret, hvis Waffa Larsen var blevet justitsminister? Så kunne man i hvert fald stille relevante spørgsmål om sharia. Men minister for gøgl og benspjæt? Who cares…

Hvis vi skal tage historien alvorligt, må vi også kunne tage skurkenes projekt alvorligt. Det er svært her.

Den eneste højtprofilerede indvandrerpolitiker vi har herhjemme er Naser Khader, og han er skam også under PETs beskyttelse – men fra mordlystne islamister. Dem ser vi ikke meget til i serien, selvom det antydes, at frafaldne muslimer kan være i fare. Jasmina, en PET-agent med egyptisk baggrund, er i hvert fald bevidst om, at hun står på dødslisten – men indtil videre er det altså kun danske højreekstremister, der har fingeren på aftrækkeren.

En enkelt vred muslim dukker der op, men han kommer sølle og ensom gennem regnvejret på cykel og råber noget truende efter den nye kulturminister. Undskyld … på cykel!? Hvad med en scooter i det mindste?

En anden radikal muslim skal skydes som syndebuk for drabet på PET-agenten Jasmina. Han er også tidligere fængslet – men frikendt, får vi at vide. I modsætning til den ovennævnte Friis tilføjes der ikke “men vi ved, det var ham”. Om han virkelig var uskyldig får vi nok at se – forhåbentlig. For der må være meget mere i serien end den lidt tynde eksposition, der er kommet ud i afsnittet her.

Som helhed: Lovende. Kan gå begge veje. Bør strammes på det politiske tidssignalement.

P.S. – bruger en højreekstremist virkelig en mac? Den har jeg – også – svært ved at tro på.

Motivation

16 gode råd. Dette her var mest interessant, fordi det virker kontraintuitivt:

Start small. Really small. If you are having a hard time getting started, it may be because you’re thinking too big. If you want to exercise, for example, you may be thinking that you have to do these intense workouts 5 days a week. No — instead, do small, tiny, baby steps. Just do 2 minutes of exercise. I know, that sounds wimpy. But it works.

Via Ethos.

Min egen erfaring er, at motivation (og at bekæmpe manglen på den) i høj grad handler om at sætte grænser. Det vil sige finde nogle ydre begrænsninger, der indrammer den lammende frihed til at gøre hvad som helst. Det er lidt Dogme. Jeg sætter for eksempel begrænsninger på, hvor lang tid jeg skal skrive om dagen. Det har den fordel, at uanset om jeg er motiveret eller ej, så sætter jeg mig foran computeren og stirrer på skærmen. Som reglen dukker der noget op, men selvom der ikke gør, har jeg gjort min pligt. Det betyder også, at man ved, hvornår man skal slutte og har udført dagens gerning.

How to get rid of the Second Act

This weekend I attended an amazing two-day seminar with screenwriter, novellist and teacher Linda Aronson at the Danish Film School. In her book Screenwriting Updated, Aronson covers ‘unconventional’ storytelling, which means storytelling that does not strictly follow the Hollywood model of a single protagonist climing the “three act mountain” of rising suspense in a journey of personal redemption.

In stead, Aronson focuces on films with multiple protagonists (Traffic), group stories (The Big Chill) and stories constructed around flashbacks (Shine). These film obviously work as suspenseful experiences and engages the audience on an emotional level, but the question we should ask as screenwriters is “how”? Aronsons analysis (which I won’t redo here) answers at least some of the questions and her insight into why you don’t necessarily need to have one (1) protagonist or why a character can be both a protagonist and an antagonist at different points in the film was, at least to me, revolutionary. In fact it gave me some whole new ideas for the novel I’m working on at the moment.

To conclude, Aronson announced the Death of the Second Act. For writers this is actually a lot bigger than it sounds, because the Second Act is one of many dreadeds road to development hell. It’s fairly easy to come up with a compelling idea for a story, and it’s fairly easy to device a dramatic endning. The problem is getting those two together in a believable and compelling way. Trough her analysis, Aronson shows that movies like 21 Grams and The Hours simply do not have second acts in the traditional sense of the concept.

Of course, for the audience, these movies do still have openings, middles and ends, and do take the audience on an emotional journey, but if you analyze the stories they do not have the usual three-act structure. The exposition-heavy first act of 21 Grams fills up more than half of the movie, while The Hours is really three first acts of three different stories made into one movie. This shouldn’t work, and yet it does. I think that Aronson’s analysis goes a long way in explaining how. And the funny thing is: she shows how this ‘unconventional’ kind of narrative structure actually goes all the back to Homer. Nothing new under the sun – and yet the concept is so difficult to grasp.

On telling and showing

An often used bon-mot of writers and teachers of writing is “tell don’t show” “Show don’t tell”. This means that a text becomes boring if it tells us what to think about what is going on, instead of showing us this through action. Simply stating “he loved her very much” is boring tell, and furthermore strangely unconvincing because it is a cliché. But showing us how he gives her flowers, or runs in front of a moving train for her, is showing us how much he loves her.

However, things are not so simple. The dictum of “tell don’t show” “show don’t tell” often paralyses a writer, who thinks that he must always come up with imaginative and new ways of showing everything. But please remark how the very telling sentence “he loved her very much” can become very showing by a slight change of perspective to “he used to say that he loved her very much”. The flat telling, clichéd sentence suddenly becomes filled with irony and doubt, and although we know too little about him and her to really know anything, it shows us a much more interesting situation. Did he use to say it because he didn’t mean it? Or because he meant it too much?

A few words of advice to Superman

Earlier I have discussed the dilemmas of Superman, most interestingly the question of “how does superman know/decide who to save?”

But here’s an earlier and by me overlooked funny post by economist/blogger Tyler Cowen on The Macroeconomics of Superman: Meaning which activities by Superman would be most beneficial for society as a whole? It seems that Superman’s crime fighting is really a waste of his super-powers:

Yes he should save the world from evil madmen, but fighting ordinary crime hardly appears worth his trouble. Criminals seek pure transfers, and Superman’s policing doesn’t lower our (inefficient) investments in locks enough to make a difference in the growth rate. It’s about as silly as having Superman sub in for FedEx when the skies get crowded over Memphis.

But what then should he do? Lots of interesting suggestions in the comments thread.

Script Frenzy

The great and inventive novel-writing competion NaNoWriMo (The National Novel Writing Month) which takes place in November, now has a screenwriting/playwriting sibling: The Script Frenzy takes place in June and the deal is as usual that you get one month to write your screenplay/play, and use the site and the community to track your results and give and receive input. You can even use your Nanowrimo login!

It sounds like a lot of fun. The question now is only to find the time…

Monomito Screenwriting Workshop

ArrabidaI got an inviation in my inbox to attend an “International Workshop on Storytelling & Screenwriting” with the Portuguese Screenwriting Cooperative Monomito. The tutor is Patrick Cattrysse. It takes place in July in an old and very scenic monastery in Portugal. Looks good (and expensive), but I don’t know anything about these guys. Anybody knows?

Anatomy of the Hollywood film

David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson on five quick principles crucial to Hollywood-storytelling. As part of an analysis of the action picture Mission Impossible III:

1. Goal orientation.

2. Double plotline

3. Discrete part-structure

4. Planting causes for future effects.

5. Deadlines.

Gotta see the movie and check the boxes!

Bordwell’s Narration In The Fiction Film really made an impact when I read it twelve years ago. Film Art was boring, though.

Sound in Pictures

A new book (in Danish) on sound and music in moving pictures: Lydens rolle. By Per Meinertsen, leader of the Sound Engineer education at the Danish Film School. Looks interesting, especially the really practical parts about when to use music and when not to. From his own introduction (at the link):

Hvorfor opleves nogle film dybere og mere vedkommende og intense end andre, og hvorfor opleves andre film som ligegyldige, banale, klichefyldte eller trættende?

Det er der mange bud på, men at lydsiden og især musikken i disse sammenhænge ofte kan spille en væsentlig rolle, er der kun meget få mennesker som er sig rigtigt bevidste om.

Sound can not only make a good film great, it can also fuck up a really good story. Sound is too often overheard, and yet it plays such a crucial part in our movie experience. Should a screenwriter consider the use of sound and music already in the writing stage? I certainly think so. In fact, why not try to write a whole story from sound and music? I know this guy has inspired me more than once. And this guy too.