Thursday, 14 April 2011

If in doubt - female.

Most of the stories I write are about men. That's because I am one, simple as that. I find it much much easier to think what a man might do than a woman. Just like it's easier for me to imagine what a 22-year-old would say than a 40-year-old. Because I haven't yet been 40 (in this lifetime).

There are some stories where I actively want a male protagonist. The last TV script, for example. And there are some occasions when I actively want a female protagonist - my last feature script.

But when I started planning what I'm working on now (a contained horror script), I saw no reason for either gender. It didn't matter whether the hero was male or female. So, by default, I went for female.

Because, no matter what anyone says, there is still a lack of women in films. Both in them literally, and working in them. One reason is probably similar to what I've said above - I'll wager there are more male screenwriters out there than female (or at least getting their material produced), so they're writing from the comfortable POV of male writer = male hero.

So the female protagonist is now my default. Unless I have an active urge to make her male. In which case, I might call him Jayne or something......

I also planned my characters (for the current script) based on a gender balance. There are more men than women in the main cast, but that still works out at 4 ladies. And many people will die in this film. It's not looking too good for the gents - my current plans have the survival percentage at around 75% for the ladies and only 25% for the blokes.

Anyway, I'm feeling good about this one. I'm sure the film industry will continue to be a male-dominated business for a while yet, but I'm playing my part by writing parts for the ladies. And, for the record, these ladies are not gun-toting "blokes with tits" or scantily-clad sex objects. We have Zack Snyder for that, right?

Over and out!


rob said...

Interesting. I challenged myself to use a female protagonist on a script a couple of years ago, as a development need really, and now it's my default. Unless I specifically need to use a male character.

Also agree it's important to think about mix of genders in projects.

All good practice, I think.

Reece said...

I think a lot of people find it hard to write opposite-gender characters. I certainly do, but a friend of mine wrote a similar post a little while ago and generated some really good discussion. What it boiled down to is that if you think of a character as a person instead of a male or female, it's a lot easier to write characters of the other gender. You can find the post at