Writing A Horror Protagonist by Daniel Stamm

Film Courage: How do you create a horror protagonist?

Daniel Stamm, Writer/Director: How do you create a horror protagonist? Again I would say the same way you create any other protagonist which means your goal is to have the audience build a relationship with that person, that they are not ambivalent about him or her. They can hate her or love him but there has to be some kind of emotional connection because otherwise none of the horror set pieces that follow will mean anything because it happens to a person we don’t care about. So the audience needs to care.

Then the question is how do you achieve that? There is the Save The Cat kind of concept [Author Blake Snyder] that you have to have that one moment where the protagonist displays some kind of humanity where I see myself, where I recognize myself in that person. Or I kind of want that person to be okay and like that person and there’s humor which is a great weapon I think to make the audience identify with a person. But it’s hard and it’s rarely done. If I have to tell a horror protagonist right now where that is the case, I’d have difficulties with that.

And then you see a script, I just read a script of a friend of mine for a pilot where she achieves that in the first two pages which in that case was very simple if you look at it as someone who has done it and done it well, it’s so…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

[See all 36 questions Daniel asks before directing a scene]

 

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