Gordy Hoffman on Developing Secondary Characters

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Film Courage: Gordy we had a question come in earlier from Twitter, it’s a lady named Mexie and she’s from Australia (I believe) and she says “I would love to see interviews or discussions on developing secondary characters.” So any thoughts on developing secondary characters?

Gordy Hoffman, Founder/Judge of the Bluecat Screenplay Competition: Well your cast size is always a concern because you have to give each character enough real estate in your script to create enough moments (emotional moments) that the audience can relate to and identify and connect with. And secondary, primary, supporting, if you choose to have a character that you are going to develop, you can arc them out in the same way like what is the beginning, middle and end of this journey of this character.

I wouldn’t get too concerned with theme or how they relate or whatever. But if you’re trying to develop any character, you want to be like Well what is there? Do you have enough scenes where the audience can relate and are they going on an emotional journey, an interior journey, an external journey (whatever), the combination of both?

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

But you build it the same way of any of your characters. You want to create enough moments where the audience can see themselves so it’s plausible, emotional, high stakes stuff where the audience can see themselves reflected and they identify and they sympathize. So it’s the same things, that’s how I look at everything. I don’t get caught up in like formulas as to where things are supposed to happen in stories. I think it’s mostly you want to focus on you know…and I don’t think there’s a lot talked about with character so it’s a very good question but mostly it’s the screenplay only has so long. You only have two to two-and-a-half hours to go right into something like that (an hour-and-a-half). And you want to have as many moments because a relationship is defined by the volume of moments that we have with the person. If you have coffee with the person once a year then if they pass away, you have one kind of emotional response. If you have coffee with somebody every day out of the whole year, that’s going to hit you more. So in the script if we see a secondary character (or any character) and we’re able to see them in a different context go through different things and there is a greater volume of access to them in different days, different times, different locations, doing different things and bouncing through this plot. That’s why cast sizes are small. That’s why with CASABLANCA it’s basically a story about three people. That’s why Harry Potter’s eight movies basically are around three people (really around one guy), there’s three people, I mean there’s other characters but we’re not asked to connect with a bunch.

When you have something longer like GAME OF THRONES you’re able to connect with more people because there’s more real estate. But that’s only because there’s more real estate and that’s how we find our way into the main characters. But still there are a few that garner most of our attention.

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¡CALAMBRE! is a 53 minute episodic black and white film about a poet who returns to his hometown of New York City to rekindle an old flame, only to complicate his return with new women in his life. A film by Carlos Renaso.

 

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