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Home » Archives » April 2007 » It Wasn't Really a Family Reunion, But I Can't Remember What It Was Exactly
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04/07/2007: It Wasn't Really a Family Reunion, But I Can't Remember What It Was Exactly

Years ago, I was working on a sitcom about a family with three kids. That meant that there were frequent family meal scenes in which everyone had to be given lines. This is a common situation; if you've got a big group scene, you pretty much have to make sure everyone has something to say.

But watch out for this little trap that we fell into. Early in a breakfast scene the older sister said something like "I don't want to go to the family reunion this weekend." Then the other four people in the scene all weighed in with their jokes about this and that, and the next time Big Sister spoke she said something to her brother like, "You're just jealous because we're all going to be having fun at the family reunion." Hmm.

It was an unintentional contradiction, and it actually was in the script that way through at least one run-through without any of us catching it. I think the actress was young enough that she just figured we must want it that way -- I blanch to think of her trying to come up with the story in her head that justified this strange uncommented-upon turn.

The moral is that sometimes it helps to read any big group scene like this to yourself several times, with each character in mind, just to make sure that the character is consistent. It can be surprisingly easy to write the line that comes most naturally off the line preceding it, and that will set up the line that follows, without making sure it lines up with that character's stated attitude.

Lunch: beef shabu shabu


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