Missed Opportunities In Love, What Screenwriters Should Know by
Pamela Jaye Smith
Film Courage: Missed opportunities scenario, when I was a little girl there was a section in our town newspaper where I grew up about “Missed Opportunities.” I’ll never forget this one post was about a man who saw some woman and he described her in great detail and said “We shared a moment” and if this is you, can you please call me?” And I’ve never forgotten that post. This was pre-Craigslist, and I know all those posts exist now online. But why are we so inthralled with this idea of missed opportunity?
Pamela Jaye Smith: A missed opportunity is a factor of idealism because that opportunity is not fact. It’s an opportunity. It’s a possibility. An onto that we can cast all of our dreams. And I think most of us have all had those moments, you glance across a room, you’re crossing a street you look at them and they look at you and you go “Yeah….???!!” And then you both walk on. And you think “Should just go stand on that street corner and wait for them to come by again?” And so people do. But I think the thing about a missed opportunity most at its core, it offers that question “What If?” Might that have been perfection that deep in our hearts we are all striving for?
Film Courage: So do most romantic comedies feature the missed opportunity or even if it’s just a friend at a wedding that they see across the table that they say hello to. Isn’t that sort of the core? Because of the “What If?”
Pamela Jaye Smith: Yes…the Missed Opportunity can be the entire storyline of an entire film or the main story or the main storyline of it. For instance in FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, the Hugh Grant character definitely has a missed opportunity through line. And fortunately he resolves it and he and Andie MacDowell get together…again.
But within the 3-part structure of the romantic comedy, that’s the sad part about and the tense part about that second section. Yeah! You saw what it could be and now it’s gone. Because one of you had to move or somebody got in the way or someone else’s impositions of propriety are keeping you apart. And so that missed opportunity is a vessel (if you will) for idealism and perfection really bothers us and we are driven to pursue what might be a perfect situation.
And now…it’s a romantic comedy and they always stop when the people get together, right? We don’t have to get into the part about disillusion and domesticity and all that stuff. But we get to keep that illusion of perfection and idealism.
Question for the Viewers: When you think of missed opportunities in romantic comedies, which one comes to mind first?
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