[Quick Summary: Twenty five years after being lost in an Indian railway station, Saroo, who now lives in Australia, struggles to identify his small Indian hometown and family.]
Q: How does one EARN an "all is lost" moment?
A: A character tries, and tries, and tries, but cannot accomplish a goal --> He/she falls into despair, depression, discouragement, i.e., "All is Lost" (AIL).
Q: But then how does he/she RECOVER (or NOT) from it?
A: A few suggestions:
- First, recognize that AIL is a turning point. Now life will either get better (something positive happens) or worse (something negative).
- Second, after the AIL moment, the recovery (or not) moment needs to be truthful.
It does not have to be big, drastic, or unusual.
It's even ok if it seems coincidental because it does happen in life.
In this script, Saroo tries, and tries --> All is Lost --> The recovery seems to happen by coincidence, by chance...but it's the truth!
ex. "INT. LIVING ROOM, BEACH HOUSE - NIGHT
....Saroo slumps down on the couch. End of the road. He has to move on too.
Over on the Wall: that mess he's just made. [Here begins the All is Lost moment.]
The laptop sits open on the couch. He leans across, places his finger on the trackpad, follows a train line -
- then starts to flick the track pad, faster. So that before the station has time to reach full resolution -
- he flicks again, carelessly, without method. [He's mad that all his efforts have failed. He is careless, which is a natural reaction to failure.]
And suddenly - it's a kind of goodbye - he veers off the rail line completely - out over land - and more land - [He's on a destructive spree.]
- doing on the SCREEN what he just did on the WALL -
- random shifts, here, there, left, right. Jerky. EVERYTHING starts cascading in his psyche, as his memories make their final fight for life. So we see MAD SNIPPETS and FLASHES:
GUDDU - COAL THEFT - DAM - JOY - UNDERPASS - STREETS - WATERMELON ACCIDENT - HIDE AND SEEK WITH SHEKILA AND KAMLA.
- and on and on it goes - interwoven with the Google Earth search on screen, as Saroo carelessly continues flicking the cursor, saying goodbye to the search as his past and his memories disintegrate into fragments - [More images that equate to a middle finger, "burn it all down" mentality.]
He stops. Exhausted. His face perfectly blank. Equally randomly now, he tap-tap-taps on that "Zoom Out" minus sign.
He ZOOMS OUT, higher. Higher. We're now staring down on a good chunk of India.
Scrolling, Saroo flicks quite a distance left. Still just random moves. We are now way outside the search perimeter.
Nothing maters. Flick, flick. Who cares? [He's exhausted. All is Lost moment ends.]
And then: something stops him. He tilts his head - [The recovery begins here. Hope?]
ON THE SCREEN: an expanse of ochre fields.
He pulls the laptop onto his thighs. Something about that COLOR. Still as the Sphinx, he stares at the screen." [On the one hand, it seems like coincidence. On the other, it follows naturally from the destructive behavior. Like a phoenix rising from ashes.]
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: The AIL moment is a turning point.
The recovery (or not) moment after AIL can be wild or "coincidental", but must be truthful.
by Luke Davies
Based on the book A Long Way Home, by Saroo Brierley