If Your Characters Don’t Care, The Audience Won’t Either by UNARMED MAN Writer/Director Harold Jackson III

[Watch Harold’s video interview here on Youtube and his 2015 Q&A here]

Film Courage: Two characters, one room, one movie. Any tips or lessons you can share?

Harold Jackson III, Writer/Director [UNARMED MAN Movie]:Approaching a two-person, one-room film should essentially be the same approach you take in any other film.

The approach I take is to treat all of my films like action films because my opinion is that action films and westerns are essentially the last true genres. Those are two genres that know exactly what they are there to do and they attempt to deliver it every time. Some of the best action films that you can think of always deliver and they do that not necessarily because people do like action more, but they deliver because they don’t stretch what they are there to do. They know that ultimately they are there to entertain you. The best action films (the ones that stand the test of time) the DIE HARD, THE MATRIX, films like that, they layer on a little something different, they layer on a level of sophistication or approach and that is what makes them interesting.

“When you learn screenwriting, one of the big things they tell you is get in a scene and get out of the scene…The audience already knows where you’re going before you get there anyway. There is no point in hanging out.”

I approach my films the same way or I treat all of my films as action films. How does this relate to a two-person, one room film? You still need the same elements, right? You still need your inciting incidents, your act breaks, your main point, etcetera. You still need all of those things but my development and action scenes are increase in pace or silence are my weapons. Words are my weapons. The way that I pace and placed them in the film [UNARMED MAN movie] is how I would dictate my action scenes and that is a larger picture point of view. If you have the right story…you know everyone says Story, story, story. If you don’t have the right story, you’re in trouble. If you don’t understand the story and the dramatic breaks in the story, you’re in trouble. If you don’t have the right story beats you’re in trouble. The approach is no different when you’re outlining…well everybody doesn’t outline. But when I am outlining the film the approach is the same as if I had 20 characters. You have to get from Point A to Point B and there is a tried-and-true structure that helps you get there efficiently. I try to approach it the same way I approach any other film that I do.

Some of the ways I go about that is understanding what it is that I’m trying to do. When you’re writing, especially when you learn screenwriting, one of the big things they tell you is get in a scene and get out of the scene. That’s very good advice, the audience already knows where you’re going before you get there anyway. There is no point in hanging out. Get in there and get out of there. Especially if you don’t have anything extremely interesting to say, just keep moving. Essentially what they’re telling you when you’re writing a two minute piece…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

Winner of the HBO best feature award and called “absolutely stellar” by Film ThreatUNARMED MAN is a critically acclaimed, awarding-winning film. Superb acting and white knuckle tension ensue when civil unrest erupts after a Police Officer shoots and kills an unarmed man. Forced to give a statement, the Officer recounts his version of events in a scathing examination of fear and violence by writer/director Harold Jackson III. The film stars Shaun Woodland, Danny Gavigan, Scott Arbogast, Paul Cottman, Tia Dae and more.

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Coverage, Ink – Screenplay Analysis, Development and Editing.

UNARMED MAN Movie – Winner of the HBO best feature award. Called “absolutely stellar” by Film Threat. Civil unrest erupts after a Police Officer shoots and kills an unarmed man. Forced to give a statement, the Officer recounts his version of events in a scathing examination of fear and violence by writer/director Harold Jackson, III