TERMS AND DEFINITIONS FOR FILM DIRECTORS/ACTORS
(The terms come from Mark Travis’s workshops “The Directors Journey”)
- OBJECTIVE: the objective the character is trying to achieve throughout the film
- SUPER OBJECTIVE: The overall OBJECTIVE that carries the character through the entire story.
b. ACT OBJECTIVE: The OBJECTIVE that carries the character through a single act of the story.
c. SCENE OBJECTIVE: The OBJECTIVE that carries the character through a single scene of the story. The SCENE OBJECTIVE must be something that the character can achieve within the scene. There is only one SCENE OBJECTIVE for each character in each scene. If that OBJECTIVE is achieved (more often it is not), it can only be achieved at the end of the scene.
d. UNCONSCIOUS OBJECTIVE: (also known as the PSYCHOLOGICAL OBJECTIVE) The thing that is unconsciously driving the character. This is often the opposite of the CONSCIOUS OBJECTIVE. By definition, the character is unaware of the UNCONSCIOUS OBJECTIVE. However the actor is aware of it, and as a result, it will affect his or her performance.
- OBSTACLE: that which resists the efforts of the character in his or her attempt to achieve the OBJECTIVE.
- CHARACTER OBSTACLE: (also known as PROBLEM) The OBSTACLE created by the behaviour of other characters in the scene.
a. INTERNAL OBSTACLE: Something in the character’s psychological makeup
b. ENVIRONMENTAL OBSTACLE: An external force that is getting in the way of the character achieving his or her OBJECTIVE.
c. PHYSICAL OBSTACLE: An OBSTACLE created by the physical environment (location, weather, time, natural disaster, etc.)
d. SOCIETAL OBSTACLE: An OBSTACLE shaped by social values, customs and mores.
- ACTION: The means a character uses to achieve his or her OBJECTIVE. The ACTION must take the form of an active verb: i.e. to charm, to the needle, to seduce, pressure, to conceal, etc.
- ADJUSTMENT: A shift in the ACTION of the character, a new tactic. When an ACTION does not seem to be working the character makes an ADJUSTMENT and choose a further ACTION in a continuing effort to achieve their OBJECTIVE.
- BEAT: A significant change in the scene.
a.) CHARACTER BEAT: The difference created when a single character makes an ADJUSTMENT and chooses a new ACTION.
b.) SCENE BEAT: The change created when a significant event or piece of information is introduced into a scene causing all of the characters to make ADJUSTMENTS and find new ACTIONS.
- ACTIVITY: A physical task.
a) INDEPENDENT ACTIVITY: A physical task that is not directly connected to the character’s OBJECTIVE, and in fact may appear to be contrary to the character’s ACTION at the time, thus creating an additional OBSTACLE.
b) MOTIVATED ACTIVITY: A task that is the actual physical and behavioural manifestation of the character’s efforts to achieve their OBJECTIVE.
- WINDOW OF TRUE NATURE: Moments within the scene where the exact nature or true feelings or thoughts of the character are revealed. This is often the place where the UNCONSCIOUS OBJECTIVE of the character makes itself know.
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