The Creative Process for Breaking Down a Character/Scene

Hi Everyone!

I was recently cast for a short graduate thesis film at New York Film Academy called Terrorists Anonymous dir. Rafa Garcia.

For every character, I always go through a breakdown which combines facts given by the script with my own creative interpretation of who I am and what am I doing in the scene.

It is a fifteen step process based on the Uta Hagen technique which can be quite time consuming. However, even if it provides me with one moment of pure inspiration during the scene, then it will all be worth it.

First off, here is the factual breakdown of what the plot is and who I am.

Logline: What could not go wrong on a Terrorists Anonymous session? Our 8 terrorists meet another week with their therapist Sean who takes them one step closer to recovery. But they might just be one step closer to death.

[ NAKATOMI ]
(Asian, 20’s)
Nakatomi was born with a computer as his best friend. He never played at a playground with friends, neither practiced any sports. But he had a large group of friends online, he didn’t need anything beyond the world wide web. For him, real life is all fake, and reality is online. He gets what he wants, has cyber sex with models, transfers money to his account when he needs it, and when is required, he messes around with CIA and FBI data archives.

Moreover, I’m  described as very well dressed in the script where is another hint about my personality.

Now we have our facts. Everything else is up to me, the actor, to deliver my creative input. Here we go! We will go through two things: A CHARACTER BREAKDOWN AND A SCENE ANALYSIS.

CHARACTER BREAKDOWN
Autobiography
a. Nakatomi Park, born in Seoul, Korea, 2/14/1990. Valentine’s Day.
b. I was a foster child for the majority of my life until I ran away and came to the United States.
c. Not religious.
d. Did not have much money, but after I got my first laptop it changed my life. I always played games on it, and began to learn how to launder/make money from it.
e. I’m a virgin in real life — but don’t consider myself one because I have cyber sex whenever.
f. I attended high school in Korea, but never completed it.
g. I love computer games and technology. I began assembling computers when I was 12 years old and selling them online. I was an expert at Starcraft. I dislike social events outside of my network online, because I am well known, popular, and liked online. In the real world, I’m a bit insecure because no one knows my achievements.
h. I have a girlfriend online that I met through World of Warcraft. I’m in a relationship with her and plan to meet here in real life soon in the near future. I’m part of a clan in World of Warcraft, and we are incredibly respected to be the best players in the game.
i. I feel like I’m very important, respected and well known in the online world. However, I’m a little curious about this other world that I don’t often go to.
j. I think it is funny to mess with the FBI and confuse them by hacking their site and putting a bunch of funny photos on it. It is even more funny to make top level executives who think they are the shit humiliated by hacking into their private lives. Behind a computer screen, I have power and control.
k. I’m nervous when I get outside of my known world. It is frightening but I don’t want to show this fear because I am so powerful when I get behind a computer.
l. At this point of the script, I am someone who is trying to figure out more about this other world that I haven’t really been in. I’m nervous, curious, and want acceptance and assurance.
m. I changed from earlier in the script — because first I came in a little insecure but overcompensated to try and show people I’m not afraid of anyone. Then I saw the bomb… and thats the beat change…
n. My dreams are to seek respect in not just the online world, but also this one on earth. I’m afraid, but have too much pride to show it. I need human contact. REAL human touch. I’m not satisfied. I want more. I desire a real girlfriend, in real life. One that I can physically touch and hold.
o. HUGE problem is my inability to connect with people in the real world. I create a wall between myself and others in order to protect myself from being hurt. Protect my vulnerabilities. I have so much emotional pain because I’m torn between my reality and I’m beginning to question it.
p. My objective is to seek acceptance and befriend others in this world. Try it for once.

SCENE ANALYSIS

1. Where am I?
I am in a group therapy session with seven other terrorists. I see a bunch of chairs arranged in a circle facing one another. I hear the other terrorists chatting to one another, while some remain silent. The weather outside is dark, gloomy, and cold. It is night-time.
2. What is my imaginary wall?
In this scene, because we are on set and facing each other, I will not need to create an imaginary wall.
3. When does this take place?
This takes place in modern day, October 19th, 2012. It is at 7:00PM. After dinner. It’s a Friday night.
4. Who am I at this point of the script?
I’m a computer genius, but seeking for something more in my life. I decided to come to this meeting because I’ve come to the realization that I want more than just to be with my computer for my entire life. I am someone looking for real human companionship, yet do not want to expose my vulnerability that I have no real friends outside of the computer world.
5. How have I changed from earlier in the script?
This is a short film, so the script encompasses the entire scene. Therefore, earlier before this scene I was someone who spent my entire day on the computer playing MMORPG’s (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) such as World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XI, etc. I frequently visited adult chatrooms, purchased everything I needed from e-commerce, and was an incredible skilled hacker who could access any secure database.
However, I have increasingly changed and become depressed because I want more with my life instead of this fantasy world on my computer. I want companionship that I can physically touch. I’m physically deprived.
6. What are my relationships? How do I feel towards all other people, places, events and things in the scene and script?
I feel like I am smarter and better than the majority of people. I can do almost everything through my computer and many of my primal needs are satisfied.
LUST: I can satisfy my sexual needs through cybersex; power and money through hacking and launching huge terrorist cyber attacks on any website. Access FBI secrets within seconds. I can achieve fame for being one of the most notorious hackers of our generation.
GLUTTONY: I eat, sleep, and do whatever I want whenever I want. I have complete financial security. I have so much excess of everything that much goes to waste.
GREED: I have all the material wealth I need. I can hack any bank and transfer a million dollars to my bank account within minutes. I can buy anything. I wear the most expensive clothes — suits are my choice, and drive the nicest cars.
SLOTH: I rarely go outside because I don’t believe that is real life. I don’t play sports, or hang out with friends — unless it is online.
WRATH: When I am upset, I can blow up buildings, shut-down cities and cause massive havoc.

WHAT I’M MISSING:
PRIDE & ENVY.

ENVY
: No matter how much I can do in the cyber world, I am missing one important thing. I am secretly envious and curious about what I don’t have. Physical relationships with other humans. I can satisfy any emotional relationships, but I am envious that people can feel one another in the non-computer world. I want this — or at least be able to understand it.
PRIDE: It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God).
For me, I fulfilled my desire to be more important and attractive to others in my cyber world. Every in the non-cyber world is inferior to me. However, I have begun to question this fundamental belief that I have had ever since I’ve been a kid. I’m afraid to go out of my box and into a world that I might no longer be the most attractive and powerful person. I may no longer always be in control.

7. What secrets do I have?
My deepest secret is that my confidence that the cyber-world is everything has begun to sink. I’ve achieved everything possible in the cyber-world, and now I find myself thinking more and more about this other world I live in — BUT there is a problem. I’ve never been vulnerable in the cyber-world… but I have a fear of this unknown and perhaps I may find myself in a situation that is out of my control if it isn’t in the cyber-world.

8. What is the moment before?
Where have I just been (the past)
I was playing Diablo III in Inferno mode in my home and just beat the final boss, Diablo, solo.
Where am I now (the present)
I am in a group therapy session for the very first time. This is the most social interaction I’ve had for a long time.
What is the first thing I need (the future)
I need to be accepted by everyone here.

9. What is my scene objective?
Overall script objective?: I want to gain acceptance in this social group.
Internally: I want to gain this acceptance and understood by others. This leads to action and a external objective for me to befriend everyone, charm and defend.

10. What are the obstacles?
I don’t know how everyone will react to me. My social skills are not great outside of the computer world. I don’t how to interact with people in this world.

11. What are the actions?
To befriend. To charm. To defend myself.

12. What is the subtext? The underlining meaning of your character’s lines? Do you mean what you say or do you mean something else? TBD.

13. Do I make any discoveries in the scene? TBD.

14. What techniques might I have to use in this scene?
Inner monologue on what I’m doing here and what I should say. I’m uncomfortable because I have not been accepted by anyone.

15. Do I have any activities to do in the scene?
I’m constantly playing with my phone because it gives me security to hold on to it. It’s like holding onto something that makes me comfortable and allows me to relief tension.

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