Monday, January 25, 2016

2016 OSCARS: Ex Machina (2015) - Freeing Yourself from Too Much Back Story

[Quick Summary: A computer programmer goes encounters new artificial intelligence on a remote island.]

I like that this script is quite light on its feet, even though it's a four-hander.*

I suspect one reason might be something writer/director Alex Garland mentioned in passing (here).

In this interview, he talks about his how his first idea for Caleb (protagonist) was that he was a university professor specializing in consciousness, and married.

However, Garland found that explaining Caleb's back story took time away from what interested him, i.e., the relationships between the four main characters.

He changed Caleb to a computer programmer, single, no family.

This seemed have to freed him up to focus more on the present than the past. 

ex. "CALEB: Some believe language exists in the brain from birth, and what is learned is the ability to attach words and structure to the latent ability.

Beat.

CALEB (cont'd): Would you agree?

AVA: ...I don't know. I have no opinion on that.

Beat.

AVA (cont'd): I like to draw.

CALEB says nothing.

Just watches AVA. Again, lets the non-sequitur sit.

AVA (cont'd): I don't have any of my pictures with me now, but I can show you them tomorrow.

CALEB: That sounds good. I'd like to see them.

AVA: Yes.

Beat.

AVA (cont'd): Will you come back tomorrow, Caleb?

CALEB smiles slightly.

CALEB: Yeah. Definitely.

AVA also smiles.

And suddenly -

- there is a strong sense of something very human there. In the way the smile lights up her face.

AVA: Good."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Sometime heavy back story is necessary. Sometimes it's not (here). Use the right tool for the right situation.

Ex Machina (2015)
by Alex Garland

*Four (main/important) characters

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