1. barcelonic
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    barcelonic Member

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    Problems with setting in France yet not able to write in French....

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by barcelonic, Jan 4, 2013.

    I have an eccentric drifter character who is supposed to be the protagonist in a screenplay I'm musing over, which fundamentally must be set in France as it involves the Cannes film festival.

    I'm not bilingual and I'm only confident to write in my mother-tongue, so I guess I need to find a plausible reason for this philosophical, immaterialistic man to be in France if he is an American (it is important to the narrative he is not involved in the film industry himself, and is an unemployed, happy drifter - think a cross between the protagonists from 'Jeff Who Lives At Home' and 'Holy Man'.

    Now why would a guy who is so carefree and high on life be in France. I'd rather not give him a trust fund as i think it suits him better that he doesn't care about money. I just can't think of how to get him starting in France.

    Any ideas would be appreciated, thanks :)
     
  2. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    Could he have just been drifting around Europe for a while before ending up in France, picking up odd jobs or whatever to make ends meet?


    Does he have to be American, or could he be British? Just thinking that it might be easier for a poor drifter-type to get from the UK to France.
     
  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe he is one of those middle class American kids who go travelling to India and Europe, who then got into some drugs and discovered feral lifestyle. He's been drifting happily ever since, hitchhiking and even being a stowaway on a boat or a train.
     
  4. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    He might have met someone French on his travels, and wanted to visit him/her.
     
  5. barcelonic
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    barcelonic Member

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    thanks for the suggestions guys - idle i particularly liked yours

    but atm i'm thinking that he was a suburban husband who lost his wife in some tragedy which we don't know about until the end, but it left him traumatised into forgetting it had happened, left him docile, and left him (conveniently) in a position whereby he subconsciously sought to steal an identity without even planning to (the main premise)

    However, it would seem as though I may need to dust up on a little French as there will be other characters i'm sure.

    @prettygood -- Good point - i guess perhaps because i've grown up watching American movies (and/or that British cinema sucks) i don't feel very comfortable or confident writing a British character or story.
    American narratives can be about anything, but it often seems as though British film investors like Film4 and independents only want movies which are inherently 'British' - i hate British culture etc... and no wonder British movies are usually terrible.
    I'm odd i guess - i don't watch British films or TV, i know the geography of USA better than UK, i know the names of more American politicians than British ones and I also read a lot about the US. In some ways I'm more familiar with it than my home country lol.


    Again, thanks all :)
     
  6. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    ^ Hehe, I love our television, or the comedy anyway, but I'm with you on British films; they almost always strike me as being unbearably smug and twee, it's strange.

    I think your idea for how to get him to France sounds great, have you seen the HBO short film Picture Perfect? I've just seen it recently and loved it, and it came to mind when I read your post, although that is about separation rather than grief.

    Best of luck!
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    why do you think you need to know french, to write this script?...

    it's a lot easier to do in a screenplay, than a novel, since if you want characters to say something in french, you do NOT have to write the french words, but only need to note in that character's intro that s/he speaks french... or, if it only occurs now and then, just add the wrylie '(in French)' above the dialog to be spoken in french...
     
  8. barcelonic
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    barcelonic Member

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    thanks maia, i wasn't aware of that :)
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If your character does not know the language either, you can indicate that the speaker said something incomprehensible, instead of writing literal (direct) dialogue.

    EDIT: Right. You said it's a script. Follow Maia's recommendation.
     
  10. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    You could have the character either have French parents who live in the U.S. or one of his parents could be French, the other an American and the character having grown up in the U.S. but having retained French citizenship (I'm not sure what the rules are for France -- you'd have to research, but in many countries, if one parent is a citizen, even if they live abroad, their children are also citizens, or can be citizens if they apply.) So he could be very American, if he grew up in the U.S., but he could be familiar with France through his parent(s) and maybe had visited several or many times, and if he's a citizen, he could take advantage of the pretty generous French social welfare programs.
     
  11. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    He might have some visa problems. How long has he been in France ;)
     
  12. barcelonic
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    barcelonic Member

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    he's not been in France long as he's just an aimless drifter without a plan

    some good ideas tho guys thanks :)
     

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