John Lee Hancock
We’ve talked about dialogue and reality. Does it sound real? What is dialogue? Is it real? Of course it’s not. It’s hyper-realized real. You know all these kind of things, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how unrealistic dialogue is in another way – and I think
this is particularly important during a political season – but, how many lies we tell a day. I mean half truths and I’m not saying in a malicious way. I’m just saying we kind of reveal ourselves through the lies we tell. I mean I don’t know, how many to I tell a day, 50, a hundred? I don’t know. I mean somebody says, “How’re you doing?” Fine… They’re little ones. They’re big ones. I don’t know. I’m not sure if that matters but I started thinking about it in terms of screenplays and going how can my characters reveal themselves through the lies they tell when it seems like in screenplays…if they’re lying, you know it. They always state their intentions fairly clearly… It’s just a question is that important to do? How hard is it to do? Is it just a part and parcel of writing good dialogue?
I think a lot of times when you have two characters talking, a husband and wife talking, it’s not that what they’re saying isn’t important but really what you’re watching is what is the interaction between those two and are you giving them a thing that they can interact without and so they could theoretically be talking about like you know, the cat needs to go to the vet but how you’re shaping that scene is going to tell us what the nature of their relationship is and how truthful they’re being and sort of what’s really going on. What’s the subtext of what’s happening there and I think you know subtext is sort of one of those dangerous words because it feels like you know, oh you just layer up your dialogue with more subtext and it’s generally not the goal is to tell all your scene but your subtext is sort of why this moment is happening the way it’s happening generally between two characters.