I’m doing a two week free screenwriting course with futurelearn.com. I know very little about screenwriting but there’s a significant ‘read across’ from playwriting. I’m now at the beginning of week two and we’ve been asked to analyse a screenplay. I’ve chosen Lee Hall’s Rocketman (the Elton John bio-pic). My answers are below.
List the character’s major actions. Start from the end and work backwards. (Don’t analyse how or why; just create a list of actions.)
- Elton hugs his younger self (Reg)
- He goes into rehab (this has also been a framing device for the plot)
- He is to play Madison Square Gardens but walks out
- He has a heart attack caused by drug abuse
- He rejects Bernie’s attempt to help him
- He has a break up with his mother and step father
- He marries Renate and regrets it
- He has an HIV test (negative)
- He enjoys sexual excess
- Bernie asks for time out and he pushes him away
- He plays the biggest gig of his career at the Dodgers’ stadium
- He attempts suicide
- He comes out to his family (they already knew). He’s determined no one else should know
- He tries to reconnect with his father but there’s no connection
- He buys everything in sight
- Reid becomes his manager
- He falls for John Reid emotionally and physically
- He has a massive success at the Troubadour club in LA
- He persuades Dick James to manage and promote him
- He forms a team with Bernie Taupin
- He approaches Dick James (music manager and promoter) but is turned down
- He becomes a successful backing musician on tour and leaves the Royal Academy of Music
- He plays a gig in a pub and becomes a performer
- He passes the audition to go to the Royal Academy of Music
- His father comes home but he can’t make him be affectionate
- He displays a gift for the piano and ‘earns’ lessons
- He yearns for his father’s affection
Analyse the list to reveal the character’s wants and needs. Is the character aware of what they want?
- Elton/Reg wants success, acclaim, wealth, fame and experiences. What he needs is affection and self-worth. He only becomes aware of this during rehab.
Describe how the character thinks and look at his or her basic psychology. Intelligent? Intellectually engaged? Cognitive Biases? Impulsive? Cautious?
- He is impulsive, creative, needy, self-sabotaging, self-destructive, lonely, a shy exhibitionist, emotional and demanding.
Describe the character’s superficial affect. How might a casual acquaintance describe them?
- Outrageous, talented, full of fun and boisterous.
List any important physical characteristics
- A tendency to put on weight. Hair loss. Energetic / hyperactive.