I forsee a huge problem with having 12 princesses. That's just way too many main characters!
Beauty and the Beast had a total of 16 characters! And only about 5 of them were main characters!
Not sure how everyone else feels about this, but I do animation in my spare time and enjoy making 3d characters for games and such, and so I know what twelve characters of the same screen looks like; like a crowd! I find it hilarious with the 12 princesses main picture being all the princesses with December and Yannick in the foreground; they couldn't even sqeeze all the princesses together to fit in the picture! How do they expect to make a two (or so) hour long feature film with so many characters?
With 12 princesses comes, of course, all the little things you'll have to do as an editor to fit them all in; such as, if one gets on a horse, then repeat 12 times; if one has a reaction shot, repeat 12 times; if one begins to dance, repeat 12 times. The audience's eyes will quickly glaze over.
This doesn't even begin to adress the issue of making them look differently! It's not like you can make one caucasian, and another black, or latino, or maybe chinese. They all come from the same father (possibly the same mother), so they will look very similar. This would just add to audience confusion during the movie as to who they think they are watching ("is that December or November? I don't know, let's just sneak out of the theater and watch hunger games again").
I think this is a very serious issue that needs to be adressed. How can anyone manage 12 characters that must look similar, but be distinct, but also not have so many lines as to cause a 5 hour movie?
If we take 12 princesses, give them 12 princes, then have a villian or two, then the king, then the hero, the hero's friend (or pet), then a few more auxilary characters such as a nanny, a few townsfolk, some guards, etc. That already totals to about about 35 characters! Yikes!
Lets just assume that Disney picks this up, which I think is extremely unlikely in it's present form. Disney then makes it into a 'princesses on ice'! It would be a very chaotic skating performance!
And also think of all the little kids, trying to decide who is their favorite princess! I've seen current products in the stores like a coloring book that features the four main princesses; Ariel, Cinderella, Bell, and Snow White! Can you imagine merchandise with twelve new princesses? Heck, I think theres only ever been 12 main princesses total from all Disney movies!
Anyway, I'm very curious in how everyone else is handling this problem.
Yep, 12 are quite a lot of princesses, this is an important issue to be tackled if we ( or anyone) want to make some development for the story.
They are not main characters in the story. One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever received is that every character doesn't think of themselves as a supporting character. It's one way to ensure that you always write three-dimensional characters.
12 will never work as is. You've just got too many characters and personalities to juggle. The only way to work with 12 fairly major characters is to restructure. Get rid of Bob, Franc, and probably even Yannick. In fact, just lose all the secondary and tertiary characters and set up some kind of 7 Brides for 7 Brothers type scenario. Confine them to a single location so you don't have 12 characters on top of a lot of different locales. Put the conflict in the situation rather than having a typical villian so then you have the 12 playing off each other rather than having to balance "which princess gets to say a line in this scene so they don't just fade into the background?". Anybody that tries to write the script as structured with 16 focus characters (12 princesses, Yannick, Bob, Franc, Bad Fairy) is looking at a 3 hour movie or a mess or both.
Actually, my Princesses will be multi-racial. One father, different mothers and all born one month apart in the same year -- Daddy was busy…daddy was insane.
I also have the 12 boyfriends worked out to an extent. An Uncle instead of the father, 4 soldier/teachers, kitchen and maid staff (Hopefully with no lines) and maybe a disgruntled King/antagonist. Of course, I have the opening scene started and an idea of a questionable ending, but haven’t decided on the middle, which could change my ending. To top things off, I don’t think I will get it done by the deadline…Too many things going wrong at home for me to keep my mind on the project. But who knows, maybe I will cram something on the pages and submit it anyway.
There is a way...but if I tell you then you'll know and I won't win. :)
However, perhaps you need to stop thinking in terms of the current movie. The instructions say that all they really want is twelve dancing princesses, a hero's journey, and a love story.
I think you're correct that the current set-up doesn't work. The answer is to create a new one.
Thanks, I like all of your ideas!
I've already submitted my proposal so I'm not here to steal anything.
One potential problem I see with having different mothers for the princesses is that now you have even more characters to deal with, all those mothers! Trying to solve one problem (making the girls different), you've just create a whole bunch of new problems (even more dialogue wasted to either explain away or to give to unimportant characters).
You're absolutely right that having 16 focus characters is one cluster-cluck of a movie! As I previously stated, Beauty and the Beast had a total of 16 characters! You also mention splitting them into different locations, and this isn't such a bad idea. It would be like modern comedy shows that the characters split up into different groups and have their own little subplots while the main plot is developing. I could see some potential in that. It may be difficult to wrap up all the subplots that 12 characters would create while not drawing enough attention away from the main plot, all under 2 hours. But if anyone said writing wasn't difficult never tried.
I am seriously thinking that this movie will never get made in any form if it continues to have 12 princesses.
And especially after I read the actual Grimm's 3 page story. Wow! It amazing that can even be called a story, it practically has no plot whatsoever! Or characters, or substance, or villian!
I'm shocked and surprised that Rob Gardner even threw in his hat to try and write a script, and let alone completely shocked that it won a million dollars!
Damn Amazon! Just a couple more millions and you could've made a movie yourself, forget Warner Bros!
I agree that the Grimm's fairytale offers nothing at all to hang a plot on. It revolves too much coincidence (random people giving out invisibility cloaks?) and ludicrous resolution. Really, a king gives up his kingdom and one of his daughters just because he wants to stop buying shoes? Wow, great basis for a new government. A stranger that just happened upon an invisibility cloak and then sold out the princesses to their father is now the king. And you, princess, now have to marry him. The more anyone tries to use of the original story the more logic and plot holes they'll have to fill in. (on top of trying to do 16 focus characters justice)
A Participant says:
Grrreat name, pal. But please allow me to au contraire you, mon frère. The simplicity is what makes this story! "Tangled" is a great example of this. The highest-grossing Pixar film to date got that way because it was simple. It put Flynn and Rapunzel in a tower together and let the sparks fly. No one walked out of the theater because it wasn't believable that Flynn might stumble upon Rapunzel's tower. Leap, baby, and the audience leaps with you. Dang, that was some deep doo-doo.
Okay. The invisibility cloak. It's not a "coincidence". It's a motif. All fairy tales have 'em.
As for the "plot hole", just think of it as a tiny "plot hole". Now we only have to fill it in a little bit! Bippity boppity bacon.
FINALLY, as for the king and the kingdom and the daughter and the shoes. These are metaphors for what we all want from life whether we know it or not: love, financial stability, to rule our own world, and shoes to take us there.
Fairy tales may seem a bit contrived and paint-by-number or whatever, but that's where the movie magic comes in! We get to paint that ish and create characters. That's what Amazon Studios is asking us to do. I shoulda just said that: create characters. But I couldn't. I had to say all that other stuff to get to this point. That was my hero's journey in this big, messed-up, comment world.
So yeah. CREATE CHARACTERS.
I'm gonna add one called SHANE, 18, a tough nut to crack, but chock full of meaty goodness.
I'd Reference the Little Mermaid. Disney beautifully portrayed 6 sisters, all with different personalities and hair colors. Having a white haired father creates anonymity as to the hair color. 12 princess will be quite a stretch however.
I think we are actually in agreement here. I don't have a problem with 12 Princesses as a fairytale. It's cute. In jack and the beanstalk I always think "Wow, Jack really would have learned a better life lesson if he had been scammed into buying magic beans that didn't work!" But no, the random stranger selling ACTUAL magic beans happened and you get on with it because it's just setup to get Jack to the giant. However, :"Jack and the Giant: THE MOVIE" wouldn't be able to just put it out there like that. Your example of Tangled is perfect. The story of Rapunzel is man and wife steal from witch and have to give up their daughter. Witch locks daughter in tower. Daughter makes out with a prince that stumbles upon her tower. Witch sends her to the desert. Prince gets blinded and wanders till he finds Rapunzel. The moral of that story seems to be "don't piss off a witch". To make it into a movie they had to make the parents of Rapunzel less culpable. They had to motivate the witch beyond just "you ate my special salad". They gave Rapunzel action and goals. They had to downgrade the prince so that he wouldn't serve as the main protagonist. They had to add a bunch of secondary characters to aid in and demonstrate the growth of Rapunzel and her rescuer.
So, yes, fairytales are simple and can get away with coincidence and deus ex machina. Movies can't. Rapunzel has lots of logic holes and lack of motivation that had to be filled in to make a good disney movie. 12 Princesses has even less meat on it than Rapunzel. So, I don't think we disagree with my original sentiment that "The more anyone tries to use of the original story the more logic and plot holes they'll have to fill in." As for the motifs and metaphors, those only have meaning for the movie audience if the writer sets them up appropriately. There are no character arcs in fairytales. If there is a writer than can fill in all the holes of the original story, flesh out 14 leads and 4+ secondary characters, add depth with metaphor, motif, and theme, and deliver that in 90ish pages then, seriously, what are you doing on Amazon? Get to HOLLYWOOD ASAP because they need you.
The great thing about 12 is as a writer you can build your own society. What I mean is you give all the girls very similar characteristics as a whole especially as young girls and then the audience can watch them grow and in very small increments break away revealing the true inner self at the same time building up the group. Think about it; there will be 12 girls all doing their best to stand out but the story will have to hold them all together just so they can get in the scene. I think of them as a “Troop” like the dirty dozen but of course the opposite. I mean the plot line would be never ending especially if they are put in an ultra dark spot where there only defense is to stick together. Don’t forget the energy that will explode off the screen when they sing and dance. Make the audience love all of them with the option to have a favorite. Make the villains mean and plentiful enough that the audience does not even think about turning on one or two girls.
I agree with to many characters, maybe that's why there looking for a new writer?
Only VERY experienced writers can handle so many characters.
Completly agree with you. 12 different princesses with 12 personalities just does not work. It is not a problem of having enough talent to make it work. It's not up to the author -the limit is impossed by the audience's attention.
It can work, actually. It's not a matter of writing talent, per se. It's just a matter of problem solving. Yeah, problem solving by writing, sure. But more of an issue on WHAT to do, not necessarily HOW to do it. I'll let ya know WHAT I did on Tuesday. Hopefully it comes across as elegantly on the page as I've imagined in my head.
?? The story is going to focus on Yannick and December, the other Princesses are secondary characters, not the main character(s), and the main protagonist is the 'bad fairy'. They said they wanted well defined Princesses. The Seven Dwarves were not the main characters of Snow White, but you could tell them apart and they were unique. All of the Little Mermaid's sisters were bulk introduced and forgotten the rest of the story, as they were not the driving part of the story. sort of what you have here with 12 Princesses. I think it is a mute point.
They defined Ariel's sisters better in the prequel movie, not that it makes a difference with the original film. As for 12 being too many and that they wanted them more defined, I think it can be done but it's hard to get that across in a five page synopsis.
You don't have to focus on all the characters -- most of the princesses just need 2 moments of characterization ... one introductory moment that shows their character and a moment of action that proves the character. That's all you need -- after that, it's the child's imagination the builds the character for the brand.
In the '70's a television movie was made from this story. The problem was easily solved. They had 6 princesses rather than 12.
I opted for some mystical symbolism. Used the zodiac signs for the corresponding months as a basis for the princesses personalities. Everything from their basic personality traits, to the color of their clothes and what flowers they wear in their hair can be detailed using the astrology as a starting point. And since there are all these "star sign compatability" charts out there I can even develope a matrix detailing how the 12 interact with one another.
It seemed like an elegant solution to me, and it works well in the fantasy setting I've developed. Now I just hope that AS thinks the same...
Although a challenge, I really don't see the number of sisters as a problem in premise or practice. The sisters are set dressing and serve only to further deepen the main characters through their interactions with each. I actually had fun creating that many different characters and recognized, even in a five page "treatment," ways to exercise their particular personalities in order to propel the narrative forward. It's a lot of folks but, as many folks have said here, you've got to stick and move. Find a way to use their particular personalities as an organic piece of the story.
A few of you have come up with interesting ideas about how to add personalities to the princesses, but none of still seem to get what is the bigger problem is.
When you have this many characters, and AStudios is telling us they want the characters more fleshed out, which means they must be given more speaking roles, that dramatically alters the entire script.
Let's say you just have ten characters in a movie. The MOST speaking time (or just focus time) you can give each character is ten minutes. That makes for one hundred minutes of movie time total.
If you want your main characters to stand out, you of course give them more screen time, let's say, fourty minutes, and they can share some of this time, let's say twenty minutes of sharing. So, twenty minutes each to the two main characters, and another twenty minutes of both together. That's already 60 minutes spent. You then have to add all the other characters in between these times, but their time is substantially reduced to about 6 minutes each. But this still doesn't factor in the villian and even more supplemental characters to move along the bigger plot line.
Let's take the movie 'Shrek', which has a substantial amount of characters, around 18. Running time 92 minutes. Divided evenly, each character has 5 minutes screen time. Obviously screen time was not divided evenly, as Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey got most of the focus. If you look at all the secondary characters, there are major distinctions to be made between all of them. They didn't have to develop rich deep characters for most of them, such as the three blind mice, or the gingerbread man, since their fairy tales are mostly well known. They were allowed to skip many speaking parts because these characters didn't much matter to develop or arch, and were just thrown in to add variety for the audience.
For the 12 princesses, a much, much different approach has to be taken. All of them are princesses, (and therefore very similar) you will have to explain why one of them is more important than all the rest (if you don't, then the audience will be confused as to who is the main character and why they should care), and then you have to arbitrarily create and flesh out distinguishing characteristics that separates them from all the rest. This requires substantial speaking parts and screen time, devoted just to this task. This is screen time that simply does not exist. Some of you have ideas about using the zodiacs to create the characters, but then how will you take the time to let the audience know those characteristics? Where are you getting this extra screen time? Many of you will undoubtedly say that the characters will come out with the progression of the story line, but progressing the story line requires screen time! A good remedy would be is to cut the villain out entirely, and instead have a few of the princesses as the villains, and few of them as comedic relief, and a few others as proactive heroes.
Many of you have not even begun to address these issues and instead have just asserted that it could be worked out. I've always known that an idea that stays in my head seems like a good idea, but when actually put onto paper it turns out to be a bad idea. That is most likely why WB did not buy this script, because it reeks with confusion and poorly thought out execution.
If Amazon Studios is absolutely serious about keeping 12 princesses then they are absolutely deluded to believing this ever has a chance of being made into a movie.
I'm sorry to sound so harsh, but this is my honest analysis of this story.
I think that the key to success with fleshing the characters out enough to define each of them lies within human characteristics. Give each one a flaw that can be portrayed visually as well as verbally and then you don't have to give them much dialogue to get the point across. As an example, someone whom is depressed will have their head down and walk slower and without much effort given.
Give the twelve a strong, a very strong group presence. Have them work as a team but with individual skills that make the team better. That way when the 12 work for a common goal the screen time can be of them working together to build, create, design, plan and execute. There are many male orientated films of such with of course the “Dirty dozen” coming to mind.
In the movie "Cabaret" an actor received the year’s best supporting Oscar and never said a word. I was thinking of having four main girls that are the "Actresses", and then have four girls be the main singers and have four girls be the main dancers, with plenty of stunt doubles for everyone.