Writing The First Kiss In A Screenplay by Author Pamela Jaye Smith

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Film Courage:  How important is the first kiss in a romantic comedy?

Pamela Jaye Smith:  It is…maybe…the…MOST important moment followed closely by the one towards the end where the two people realize and admit to each other their love for each other. But that first kiss, wow that’s amazing! That’s when you’re standing on the threshold of paradise and that’s when you know whether or not if it’s going to work. Because if that kiss does not transport your characters, it does not turn on all the lights and all the bells and whistles and the fireworks and all that people talk about in poetry and literature for thousands and thousands of years, if that’s not there, there is no story, there is no story.

So building up to the first kiss, you need to have that tension, that push-pull so that when you get there and the positive and the negative come together, sparks do fly.

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Film Courage: I’m thinking of [the movie] PRETTY WOMAN. So there’s the implication of sex. There’s definitely the agreement the sort of business arrangement, but I’m trying to remember does that actually happen until they have the first kiss and feel something for one another?

Pamela Jaye Smith: That’s when it happens, at that first kiss.  Now I think they’ve been feeling a comradeship, they’ve been feeling admiration, they’ve been having fun, they’ve been finding that they do agree on some things and not others, and so there is an affinity, there’s definitely an affinity.

And you’re right, they presumably have been having sex. And she’s a pro, so okay. You figure it’s got to be pretty good. But that moment of actually kissing is when the magic really starts to happen.

Now remember, she was a professional escort. There is a reason why people who are sex workers, there is no kissing allowed because that creates let’s say an energetic, electrical, etheric, esoteric connection between people that really does something, it can change everything.

Film Courage:  It seems like two with those two characters [in the movie PRETTY WOMAN – Vivian and Edward] once they got out of their roles, because his role was of “Here, I’m going to pay you. You are kind of beneath me and I’m this prestigious business man.” And she’s like “Who do you think you are?” And “I’ve seen guys like you, you’re a dime a dozen.”  But once they got out of those identities and they became real, that’s when it seemed like the real kiss and the real relationship happened because they stopped being in their element.

Pamela Jaye Smith:  Yeah, that’s a good point, when they just became themselves and not the masks and not the costumes.

Film Courage:  I like that.

The Four “E’ Method for Pitching a Movie Idea

Pamela Jaye Smith: And there’s a wonderful line in JERRY MAGUIRE before they have sex the first time. And he says “You know, sex changes everything?” And she says “Oh, I hope so!”

Film Courage: And what I love is the sister in JERRY MAGUIRE [Actress Bonnie Hunt as Laurel Boyd] and I want to talk about that…the sister in JERRY MAGUIRE and that wonderful scene where she’s having her women’s group [in the living room] and he comes in and there are a few women in the group that look at him [Tom Cruise as Jerry Maguire] but there are just dagger pointed his way.

And then the Jiminy Cricket friend [in most romantic comedies], I want to talk about that role, the third person who is either trying to talk them into getting together or separate them.

Pamela Jaye Smith:  When I first started selecting films for this book [Romantic Comedies: These Films Can Save Your Love Life], Ken Lee, the publisher [Michael Wiese Productions] said “You have to include TRAINWRECK.” And I went “TRAINWRECK? I wouldn’t even go see that. Why would I…? No! This is about people’s relationships getting better. You don’t want to see TRAINWRECK.”  And he said “Go see TRAINWRECK.”

I could not believe it.  It’s really good! And it has in it the qualities of joy and dignity and passion and integrity. I was so surprised.

Now one of the reasons it does it because the Jiminy Cricket character, the best friend is LeBron James, okay! That works! And he is best friends with Bill Hader and sees something in Amy Schumer. He sees what she can be. And he convinces the two of them to get back together. And to admit their feelings for each other.

So that’s a wonderful instance of that different kind of love triangle (that you’ve pointed out), where you’ve got the lovers and then that third person who helps them see what it is that they have or what they could have.

Film Courage:  Let’s say when that third person is actually trying to prevent them from being together because…like if you take PRETTY WOMAN and I forget his name [in the movie] but George Constanza’s character on SEINFELD, the one that is Edward’s business partner. And he’s kind of this negative force and antagonizing them. So that third person as the one who is trying to prevent them from being together?

Pamela Jaye Smith: Yes, you need the third person either helping them because they they’re not wanting to get together or (as you described) trying to keep them apart. Well you need that for dramatic tension. And also we need the secondary characters to help tell us things about the main characters so they can make those statements. You know when you say “Oh, I can’t have him saying that? He’d never say that about himself.” Well give that line to his friend. Or give the line to her friend. Who would say “Ahh! Have you no idea what this guy is like?”

So the third character is very, very important in any script. All of the secondary characters need somehow to be showing us something about the main characters or they don’t need to be there.

Now whether it’s they are people that the main characters do something to or with or for, but they are there to service the main characters in the storytelling.

Question for the Viewers: Which movie has the best kiss?


Check out Pamela’s book Romantic Comedies: These Films Can Save Your Love Life!

Check out Pamela’s book The Power of the Dark Side:

Creating Great Villains, Dangerous Situations, & Dramatic Conflict

More books by Pamela Jaye Smith