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  • Writer's pictureBen Anstruther

Re-Introducing Roll

This trimester I will be focusing on developing my script into a longer form piece rather than taking it into production - although hopefully by the end of this process I will be in a position to take it into production after summer.

So just to recap my idea: it’s a satirical look at the procurator fiscal service which is riddled with a lot of internal and personnel issues. The idea was to have the drama play out in real time leading up to the characters about to enter the courtroom and cut to black there. Now, not having to source a suitable courtroom location to film in, (for now) I have decided to include the courtroom scene in the film which I hope will be the source of tension and great entertainment for audiences and readers. This is also as the current draft has been criticised for being anticlimactic.

Another new addition is to flesh out Nina’s character by introducing her partner Rachel into the narrative. This in actuality came from the character biography I wrote for Nina which explained her determination and consequence lack of self-care. Rachel, will be more of a foil to Nina, highlighting the clashing mindsets of on the one hand someone who dedicates themselves only to their work and wants to have a career which, when all said and done, they can say they were proud of and someone who likes to life moment by moment. Neither are inherently bad but they are in stark juxtaposition to each other, and have hindered their relationship.

Other than those additions, the script will remain more or less the same. The plot will be refined and expanded so it’s crystal clear to most audiences members what the stakes are, what the characters are doing and why they do the things they do. This is particularly important for Nina’s actions and Gordon’s.

In our tutorials together, Chris has been asking me what the theme of the film is, as the films narrative has been carefully ironed out. In my mind, the film is an exploration of the fiscal service and judicial system but done deliberately to be entertaining rather than didactic - the printer scene, which is my favourite, is the prime example of this. The service, particularly in the smaller offices, is in disarray because of the heavily bureaucratic procedures involved, lack of adequate training, and pretty subpar office equipment.

A very interesting thing I was told by someone within the system was that one of their perceived problems of the service, particularly with some individuals, is that fiscals aren’t often tested by top class solicitors or any council for the defence. They likened it to pro-football, in that players get better when they play against better players rather than poorer ones. I want to incorporate this notion into Nina’s character. One of the reasons she feels so oppressed in her job is that she doesn’t feel tested at any point, until now. Moreover, she is colleagues with two individuals, Trevor and Chantelle, who aren’t fussed if their career advances. The same goes for Nina’s partner, which will become a bone of contention between the two of them.

I digress.

The theme of the film is about the abuse of power and an exploration of fierce determination, perhaps to the detriment of one’s health both mental and physical. Throughout the screenplay, we see many different characters abuse power. Nina does when decides to cheat the system and produce a false witness statement. Gordon abuses his power to undermine Nina, and Trevor uses it to make horrific decisions about what goes to trial and what shouldn’t.

Nina is a single-minded character. I don’t even know if she truly does care about anyone, including herself, if it means getting in the way of her goals. This will be worked into the script through the characters who surround her, thereby reflecting her want and desire. I am massive Aaron Sorkin fan and having watched a few Q&As/masterclasses by him online, he strongly iterates that intention and obstacle are the crucial elements to creating great drama. What does the character want? What is stopping them from getting that?

An important thing to note is that this script is not out to get anyone. People are entitled to live their lives in any which way they want to, whether that’s being happy being in a routine job, or being happy in the pursuit of a career that may mean devoting all your time and energy to. What interests me is the conflict that can arise when/if two people - or more - can have strongly opposing beliefs and lifestyles. Nina’s world blends into each other, her work doesn’t have an off switch, and one way I envision we will reflect this is to have her kitchen and office be similar in design, both colour schemes and lots of clutter in the set-dressing.

I am extremely excited to continue to work on this script because I do think it could end up being fantastic now it can be expanded into a longer form.


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