Writing Memorable Character Introductions & Creating Likeable Characters for Screenplays & Novels | Marshall Rimmer | Skillshare

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Writing Memorable Character Introductions & Creating Likeable Characters for Screenplays & Novels

teacher avatar Marshall Rimmer, Filmmaker

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (52m)
    • 1. Class Introduction & Overview

    • 2. Likeability - Using what we don't know

    • 3. Likeability - Using what we do know

    • 4. Likeability - Using what we wish we knew

    • 5. Back to the Future - A Case Study

    • 6. BONUS AUDIO LESSON - Ted Lasso - A Case Study

    • 7. Character Likeability Cheat Sheet and Outro

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About This Class

Whether you are new to screenwriting or have been writing creative scripts for a while, it can be easy to overlook some of storytelling's most essential building blocks. If your novel or movie script has an incredible plot with pitch perfect scenes, but you haven't consciously written for your audience many upfront reasons to like your characters, your screenplay or book will fall flat.

Even if your characters redeem themselves by the end of the story, the first fifteen minutes - the character introductions - are absolutely crucial to character likeability, and character likeability is absolutely crucial to the success of your project.

This class dives deep into multiple techniques professional writers and novelists use to create a bond between the audience and fictional characters. Empathy, comedy, and mystery just scratch the surface of successful techniques used in character introductions and this class gives you many practical tools you can write into your story today. Make your audience care about your characters as much as you do!

Meet Your Teacher

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Marshall Rimmer



Marshall Rimmer is a video production professional who has had his work featured on CNN, WIRED, G4TV, and IGN. Additionally, his short films have played at  Academy Award qualifying festivals including South by Southwest, Palm Springs, Austin Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival, and Chicago International Children's.

Sample Projects:

Cinematography Sample

Angry Birds Movie Trailer

Facebook vs. Google+ Sketch

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1. Class Introduction & Overview: Let's talk about why character introductions are so crucial to the success of your project. You could have spent the past six months of your life writing the best screenplay you've ever written. It can have these twists and turns. I get tug at all the heartstrings. It could do everything right? But if the audience doesn't care about your characters, none of it matters. We live in a time of infinite entertainment possibilities. And if you don't hook the audience within the first 10 or 15 minutes, they're just going to go about their day. So character likeability is so crucial and you can divide it up into two categories. The first one is kind of the big picture character likeability. So that's the full two-hour movie, 300 page novel. That is the character moving about throughout the story. How he grows, how he learns his ark, how it relates to the plot and how he interacts with other characters. So the overall character likability is important. But just as important is that character reduction. The first 10 or 15 minutes, we meet our character for the first time. And it's just like real life where you can't make a first impression twice. So today we're just going to talk about the character introduction, the quick interaction, that's a microcosm for your entire characters essence. One thing about character introductions, it's a very similar skill set to like a poet or a songwriter where you have just one sentence here. Once it's there, even though they're quick and short, you want them to stand for a much bigger idea. And so you want to extrapolate who this character is through just one little small scene. So we're going to cover a few different techniques today. And honestly, the more you can use, the better, this isn't like a pick which one is right for you. This is basically a, all these ideas are good and cram in as many of them as you possibly can when introducing your character. So the way I see character introductions is they really fall within three different categories. The first is what we don't know, the second is what we do know, and the third is what we wish we knew. So we're gonna talk about all three of these categories. And then from there, we're going to look at a case study of Martin fly and back to the future, are really going to dissect how the filmmakers used these techniques to make us fall in love with Marty. And just a few quick minutes. 2. Likeability - Using what we don't know: So the first technique is using what we don't know. And what I mean by that is adding the element of intrigue or suspense to the scene. And so if we plant a question in the mind of our audience, if we associate our character with something unknown, whether that's a secret of theirs, whether that's something that will develop later in the plot or in their backstory. But posing a question about the character forces our audience to pay attention to that character because they want the answer. So we've created some tension there. So the audience is forced to pay attention and forced to learn about our character and get to know them as the film progresses. So implanting a question in the mind of our audience is very important. 3. Likeability - Using what we do know: So the first technique using something we don't know, adding that question is very simple, straightforward. The second technique is using something that we know. And what I mean by that is using something that the audience can relate to within the character. And this approach, this does get a little artsy and existential. So hang with me for a little bit. But if we try and think about universal things that people relate to, if we basically distill what it means to be human within like one or two sentences. What do we, what do we arrive at if we try and figure that out? And as a writer, this is something that people think about a lot. And for me what I've kind of boil that down to the human experience or whatever you wanna call it again, a little artsy, a little existential, but it helps us create these things within our characters. So hang with me. But the idea of being human is this idea that you are going through something that is difficult, that you feel like no one else around you fully understands. And you feel that it's necessary to persevere for the people around you who love and care about you. So if I was to distill a scenario that every human would relate to in some respect, even successful people, even happy people go through times where they feel like no one quite understands them. And, you know, part of this is psych psychology rooted into our adolescents were, were kids and we think our parents just don't understand even though they through everything we went through all be it a little bit differently. And so that idea that we're going through something difficult and no one quite gets us, but we need to persevere. That is something that you can really find within any story, any successful story that's ever been told. And so I think that concept, we can begin to pick that apart a little bit and see what elements can the audience relate to and what elements can we use and put inside our characters? And so when the audience watches them, they see themselves within those characters. So working off that idea that you're going through something that no one quite understands. The first thing that we can take away from that is to make your character an underdog. If you make your character and underdog, everyone will immediately route for him or her. You think of famous underdogs threat movie history. You have Frodo who was a little hot, who has to destroy the ring and a volcano miles and miles away past armies of bad guys. Frodo is a huge underdog. You think of 12 Angry Men. You have wonder who isn't quite sold on the idea that the kids guilty. And then 11 jurors who are just ready to completely write them off as guilty. You have in Fargo, you have Marge, The pregnant Cobb, who she's going after the killers while she's pregnant. She's definitely an underdog in that story. And so the idea that you're going through something difficult and no one can relate to you always feel like an underdog in that situation. Past arts, you think of sports. If you don't have a team in the fight, you're always going to be rooting for the little guy. You're going to be rooting for the underdog because it's a great, a great story when the little guy wins. And so making your character and underdog is a great technique to get people to immediately like him or her. So the idea of being an underdog has a lot to do with genre. Actually, if you pick a genre like horror, for instance. Your character is immediately an underdog, right? Every horror movie, they're going up against a killer, a monster, a ghost, whatever. So the main characters in horror movies are always underdogs. Now, similar to making your character on underdog, going back to that idea of going through something difficult that no one quite understands, giving your character a past pain is a very good way to make the audience really route for them. And one thing about giving the character a past pain that's important to note is that it's very powerful in the big picture. We talked about the big picture character likability. You don't necessarily want to open up scene really showing off the character's past pain. You don't want to open up with a scene of the parents dying or or the wife dying or anything like that. Unless, you know, if you're doing a hard drama, if the genre calls for, then that is fine. But it is a little bit of, you know, if you think about it, if someone on the street randomly comes up to you and says, Hey, my dog died this week. I need a little bit of money. Can you help me? You're going to be like, I'm sorry, I don't know you. I wish I could help but I don't I don't know you I don't know if you're telling the truth. I don't know. You don't want to say I don't care about you as a person, but you don't know the person, right? Whereas if a good friend of yours came to you, your best friend came units like, Hey, my dog died and I'm trying to raise a little bit of money for a doggy funeral or whatever, you would be like. Oh, absolutely. And you would you would help them and you would buy them a drink and you want to talk to them and you want to make sure that they're feeling good because they're your friend and you know them and you care about them. And it's the same thing with your characters in a movie. If you introduce this pain too early on and the audience doesn't know and appreciate your character yet. They're not going to be quite as invested. And so a great technique to introduce this past pain is going back to the idea of intrigue or mystery, is creating little question marks about this past pain that you later have to fill out. And so the character, maybe his parents aren't his biological parents. You see that he's raised by someone who's 60 years older than him. And so you wonder what happened to his parents. And later on, we'll learn about that, right? If you see a character who wears a wedding ring, but the spouses never around, you're implanting questions of, well, are they still alive? Are they still on the picture? Is there some tension there? And so adding question marks to this past pain, it's kind of twofold. It one, it makes the audience care about them because of the pain, but also it, again, it adds the element of suspense that the, the audience is forced to pay attention and they want to learn and find out what happened in the past. And so this past pain, again, I don't recommend that you open up with something super dramatic unless that's the toner going for. But implanting questions about the past pain, it also gives you a nice reveal seen down the line as well. Sir, character could be an underdog. He could have some sort of past pain. What else goes along with that idea of going through something difficult that no one quite understands. And a good approach is a fish out of water story. And so our main character is in a world that they don't belong in. It very much ties in with the underdog idea. But it is a specific type of story. And this, this idea, it does usually have a lot more to do with the big picture idea. When you think, you know, Wizard of Oz, Dorothy did not start in all. She started in Kansas. So once she got to the world where things were flips up, flipped upside down, we all understood and it made sense to us. And so usually fish out of water. Stories are a bit more on the big picture character likability. But if we pick certain situations that we intrinsically understand our fish out of water stories, 18 year-old kid in the military who's super nervous. We understand that he just got drafted, he got he signed up. He didn't want to whatever we understand that he's in a place that he's unfamiliar with, that he doesn't really want to be there. Someone who starts a new job, a kid moves to a new town. So these type of events, if we start off with, we understand that it's a fish out of water story. Because typically in a movie and a story, the first 10 minutes, the first 15 minutes, the world is in stasis. We're seeing the character in their everyday life before the inciting incident when everything flips upside down. And so introducing the character in that stasis is a very common traditional technique. And so to use this fish out of water idea, when it comes to character introductions, usually has to be coupled with again, those scenarios that we immediately understand is a fish out of water scenario. So going back to that big umbrella of things that we know using something that we can relate to within our character. And this one is a little bit more for classical stories of like a tragic hero. But if our hero has a flaw, whatever journey, whatever arc going to go through, if it's based on a flaw, we want to make sure that we introduced that flaw as empathetic. And so when we think of finding MIMO, Nemo's dad is over protective about his son and that is flaw. But we can see that the wife is not in the picture. And so we're, we're very empathetic to why he is over protective. The protagonist of Fight Club is this Dull worker drone who's just going through life without questioning anything. Um, and we relate to that because it's, it's comfortable, it's easy. You know, we we empathize with that. Yeah, we've been there, we've had that nine to five. And time is just slipped by, right? So introducing these flaws as empathetic flaws again, allows us to connect with that character and relate to that character. And if we possess some sort of element of that flaw on our own, we're definitely rooting for that character because if they conquer the flaw, then in some, in some weird way we feel like we're closer to conquering that flaw. So I would say the last technique and the big umbrella of using what we know is if our character is a champion of the downtrodden. And what that phrase basically means is if we see a scene with our character petting a dog or saving a cat from a tree, or giving the homeless some money or walking an old lady across the street. If we see this very classical idea of, oh, that's a good person, we are relating to that character on some level. Now, this is a little bit more of an old school thought. In the past, past 20 or 30 years, we've been much more open to our main characters being bad guys and rooting for the bad guy. And so this has been diluted a little bit. It is a little bit of a cop-out just to have 0 the characters good with pets. So I guess, I guess we're rooting for them. But it may be a cop-out, but it's effective. So it's an effective way of just having a little bit of, Oh, they must be a good person in there. So that is kind of the last technique of the, what we know approach. 4. Likeability - Using what we wish we knew: So we've talked about things we don't know. We've talked about things we do know. Let's talk about things we wish we knew. And what I mean by that is, instead of adding elements to your character that you relate to directly, a lot of times we want our character to be a better version of ourselves. We want our character to be someone we aspire to be. Because if the character was just someone we completely related to and basically new on a personal level, the movie would not be super interesting. Movie characters are super smart, sometimes they're super funny sometimes. And that's because a whole team of people have been working on this script for months. And so it's, it's always something that we want to see in our characters, is having them be a better version of who we are. So most likely my favorite one of these is the idea of being resourceful. A resourceful character is someone that we automatically latch onto because the concepts and the ability of being resourceful is a bit of like cleverness plus width, plus intrigue. Like there's so many elements mashed together in a resourceful character. I think of Ferris Bueller is incredibly resourceful. He builds the whole mannequin thing in his bed that when the mom opens the door like rolls over and it moves and it's tied to the snoring. He goes in the fancy restaurant and sees the guest list and pretends he's a Froman. Ferris Bueller is, is so resourceful and clever. He's so much fun to watch because we're, it's kinda like that question thing of he's so smart and clever in this situation. Housing gonna get out of the next situation, housing and a top himself. What's he going to do now? So it does add that, that question mark that we talked about. We think of the movie Momento, the main character has tattooed himself with the clues to the mystery he's trying to solve. That's incredibly smart that we wouldn't have thought of on our own. It would take a whole team of writers months to create something like that. You know, Indiana Jones has the whole bag of sand that he replaces the artifact with. He also brings a gun to a knife fight. Indiana Jones is resourceful again. His is kind of comedic. And so because he's funny and resourceful, We like that and we want to watch that. So that kind of brings me to my next point of what we wish we knew. And that is make your characters funny. It is always a good time to watch a funny character. If the audience is laughing, they're interested in, they're going to want to continue watching. So unless you're making a super hard hitting drama with not a lot of levity, even though you should have seen that make your characters funny. Because if the audience's laughing, they're having a good time. And especially when it comes to characters with a very flawed when it comes to anti heroes. If Deadpool was not funny, we would turn it off within ten minutes because it would be very difficult to watch. So humor is kinda his magic bullet of character likability. You want to keep the character within the tone of the movie. But honestly it's never bad to have jokes. Okay, So what we wish we knew, and this one is. Very nebulous and hard to pin down. And it is a sign of a great writer. And this is something that people constantly forget to have with their characters. But just the cool factor, it factor, the, something unique and interesting factor about the character. And whether this is actually like a cool factor, like a Han Solo or Tyler dirt or Baby Driver, something like that. It can be an actual cool factor or it can be like a quirky, interesting, something is unique about this character factor. So you think of Napoleon Dynamite or the dude from Big Lebowski or even joker. These characters are off in a way that is intriguing and makes us want to continue to watch these characters. So this one is the most difficult to actually articulate because it's impossible to say, Oh, this character has it. This character is it not have it. It's just giving them something unique about them, the way they talk, the way they hold themselves. Giving your character the cool factor, I don't know how to describe it, but thinking about that is definitely important because if you don't even consider that idea, you end up writing very typical traditional characters that we've seen 1000 times. So these characters that are super cool and interesting, they're very similar to what we've seen before, but just 10 percent their own thing. So always think about that when crafting your character's leaning more into what we wish we knew. Sometimes it's interesting to have our character be an introduction into a world that we haven't seen before. So when we think of those, you know, those mob movies from the sixties and seventies, Scorsese movies, that, that was a look into a world that we hadn't seen in cinema before. And so that's why it was so appealing and some, at some point. But now we're so accustomed to those types of movies were accustomed Two ER, TV shows. And so trying to have our characters introduce us to a world that we really know nothing about it is getting more difficult. But when you can achieve that, again, people are curious so they want to learn about things they don't know. So if the character is a way into a world that's new to us, we want to continue watching what we want to continue learning about that world. So you think of TV shows like pawn Stars or ice road truckers. These are worlds that we knew nothing about before those shows. Jurassic Park introduced us to the world of paleontology, Night Crawler, and just introduced us to the world of making money off filming for tragic news stories. So if a character can really pull the veil back and allow us to see into a world we haven't seen before. It's always a great angle. Another thing we wish we knew is the idea of a self-aware character. A character who knows their flaws and is able to address them and overcome them. Whether they're doing this in a dramatic way or a comedic way, self-deprecating way. Knowing your flaws is something that we all wish we had a better grasp on. Because if we had that ability, we would address the flaws and get rid of them, right? So a self-aware character is always pretty good too. So another thing we wish we knew is having to do with a character with lofty yet attainable goals, noble goals that make us really want the good guy to win at the end of the day. And we want these goals to be attainable goals and tangible goals. Because we, we wish the world worked like that. We wish it was very easy to see our goals and vision are goals and then achieve our goals. And so when we see a character with that ability, we want to route for them. And lastly, the element we wish we knew, and this is probably the most important, one of these, something that shows up in every great story. And that is the quality of resilience. Going back to that idea that we're going through something difficult and we need to persevere for the people around us. The idea of resilience is something that we always, always, always root for. We know life is difficult and we know there are certain things that we, we just want to give up on. But we know that if someone can fight through the pain and achieve the goal, that really is such a human, a human thing that we can all connect with. And so the idea of resilience, again, the character basically always has to win at the end, right? Unless you're doing some art movie. That is not the traditional Western storytelling, the character. We want them to triumph at the end because we want to feel good. Like we helped. Even though you've just watched. We want to feel like we succeeded in some way. And so the idea of resilience is so important. 5. Back to the Future - A Case Study: So this is a case study in character likability, specifically the character introduction of Marty me fly in Back to the future, a movie we all know and love. So when it comes to Back to the Future, the DeLorean actually goes back in time at about minute 22. So before minute 22 we are with Marty. We're learning about Marty or getting to know him, falling in love with him. Because the filmmakers have used so many different techniques to really increase the character likeability. So that's what I want to dive into today and pick apart. So let's jump into it. So the first little moment of the movie before we even see Marty is the camera goes through this failed Rube Goldberg machine in Docs garage lab. And this basically sets the tone of the movie. It lets us know that it's going to be a movie that doesn't take itself very seriously. It's going to be funny, but also it's going to have something to do with science or engineering or something like that. We also see on the TV. Newscaster talks about stolen plutonium. And at that point we've created a question mark in the mind of our audience. We basically created a contract with them, basically telling them by the end of the movie, at least some point before the end of the movie, you'll understand what happened to the stolen plutonium. So it really just primed the audience for comedy and some element of mystery. So Marty's initial introduction about three minutes into the movie, it actually opens up on his feet and we don't even see his face yet. And so we see that it's some kid who's wearing cool Nike's. He's holding a skateboard. So we already had some sort of like edge cool factor to him. He's walking into the lab, he notices that everything is kinda messed up. He puts the skateboard on the ground and escape more roles and hits a case that says plutonium. So already we've answered the question, What happened to the stolen plutonium from the newscast. We've just answered it, but what we've done is we've added the element of mystery to Marty. Marty is now associated in some way with this plutonium. So even though it's not him stealing it or anything like that, we've put him in a location that has the stolen plutonium in it. So we want to know more about it. We want to know how Marty is involved with this plutonium. So we've created a question in the mind of our audience. So we've given him a cool factor. We've created a question, and we've also, we've also made them funny. He walks in, he notices everything is gone wrong, and he plugs in his guitar to this giant speaker that's like the size of the wall. And it takes everything up as far as it can go. And Easter trumps the guitar and he flies back across the room. It's a silly sequence. And he looks up and the speaker is completely destroyed. And he pulls down as aviators. Again. He's wearing aviators. He's a cool guy, but he's cool and clumsy. He's like a blend of the two, which is interesting. It pulls down the aviators. He looks at the destroyed speaker and he says, rock and roll. And that moment is just a fun, silly moment that as comedy to his character again, we're blending this kinda cool guy with this kind of clumsy guy. And he's funny. So in that scene alone, we've given an element of mystery. We've made him cool, and we've made them funny. And then there's a quick moment, we're doc calls on the phone. They have an exchange. They talk about meeting up that night. And really that quick little interaction is a little bit more about exposition, but we do keep Marty funny in that scene, doc tells him that he shouldn't mess with the AMP. And Marty's like all keep that in mind. And so we've added, again, we've added a little bit more comedy in that scene. And that's a good example too, of anytime you have an interaction that's basically just for exposition, make some jokes in there, have some fun, add some comedy because of its strain exposition with no comedy, it's boring to watch. And we add another element of comedy where all the clocks are late for 30 minutes or something like that. Marty realizes he's late for school, so he panics and he runs out. The next little bit is just him getting to school before it gets caught by Strickland. And what's interesting in that scene is that's like when the power of love search jamming out. And he runs outside and he starts sketching on the back of a truck, I believe, in that scene. So it takes a skateboard he's grabbing onto the truck and he's going down the street. And as a kid who I had never seen anything like that before when I first saw this movie, you know, since then I'd played Tony Hawk and the world. Skateboarding was more popular later on. But seeing someone on a skateboard grabbing onto a car going down the street. That was so cool the first time you saw. So again, you're adding a cool factor, some sort of edge factor. And also the resourcefulness is really impressive there. So Marty is resourceful because he's late to school. And the fastest way he can get there instead of just skateboarding the entire way. He grabs onto a car while he skateboarding, a very resourceful thing. And we like seeing resourcefulness there. There's also a bit of comedy. When he's on his way to school, he sees some women in a yoga class and the link waves to them. The driver of the car looks back and sees him and he just kinda like he's like, Yeah, what are you gonna do about it? So there again, there's more elements of comedy. The song, everything in that scene is just like exciting and fun. And then he gets to the school and Jennifer stops him at the front. She starts with the front. She's like Strickland looking for you. We gotta go around back. So they sneaking around back that going down the halls. He says something about Doc Brown and that's when Strickland jumps in and grabs and he's like, Oh, you're still hanging around with Doc. And this scene with Strickland is very good. It is such a quick scene that adds in so many different character likability moments. It's really impressive. So the first thing that happens is Strickland gives them both tardy slips. So strict line is now in power and Marty we realized, is an underdog in that moment. So the second thing that happens is that Strickland says, if you keep hanging around with Doc Brown, you're going to end up in big trouble. And Marty just blows him off and he says, oh yes, sir. And that example of Marty being flippant to authority again gives him a little bit more edge. So we like that edge, especially with an underdog. We know that that he shouldn't be mouthing off to the principal. And the next thing that happens is that Strickland says you're a slacker. You remind me of your father, he was a slacker two. And that again adds an element of Marty being an underdog. It also adds an element of past pain. So we talked about past pain being present, but not in your face melodramatic. Well, if he's saying that Marty's dad is a slacker, we now know that for 1617 years, however, all Marty is for his entire life, he's been raised by a slacker. He's been raised by someone who was not respected by authority. And so we understand there could be some past pain there. And then Strickland goes on to say that gnomic fly has ever amounted to anything in the history of Hill Valley. So in this very quick scene, it's just Marty being caught by Strickland late for school. We've implemented five or six different things to make us like Marty, it's a great scene, even though it, it doesn't on, on paper. There's no giant plot points here. There's no huge character development here. But as far as Exposition, as far as Exposition, working in a character, likability light. This is a beautiful scene. The very next scene is Marty's band trying out for the school talent show. And really what this is is setting up that Marty will play guitar at the end of the movie, right? But because the band doesn't make it because they're too loud, this is another good example. They don't make the cut here, so they are underdogs. And we also understand that Marty is going to continue playing his guitar and that resiliency we latch onto as well. So here we're showing underdog and we're showing resiliency. So the very next scene, he is walking around the town square with Jennifer. He's living his wounds and they're kinda talking about their future and where they're at emotionally and everything like that. So Marty is kinda bummed that he's, he's getting rejected. And right now we like him because he's self-aware. He says that maybe this isn't even any good for me, maybe I don't have a future here and she tells him to stick with it. So she, as an outside element, she's saying that he has the talent to stick with it. So we like that. We like we like confirmation of talent by an outside party. That's nice. We like the self-awareness that Mari showing in that moment as well. And then Marty seems like a cool truck going into a shop across the street or something like that. And he's like one day Jennifer, you and me, we're going to have a truck like that. We're going to go out to the leg, it's going to be grade. And so he like seeing Marty aspiring to the future with his girlfriend. The noble goal of taking her on a nice date. What's kinda interesting about some of the stuff early on is that even though some of these things feel kinda like setups, they don't really play out. We don't really see Marty take Jennifer to the lake that night because he goes on the journey. We don't see too much at school. We don't even see him in any classrooms. We don't really find out what happened to his band. We just know that it kind of sets up for him playing Johnny, be good at the end. And so a lot of these setups, even though they're setting up two things that we don't even see on screen. They're really being used more for this character likeability aspect and allowing us to bond with Marty before he goes on his journey. Another underdog element here, Jennifer asked him if his mom knows about going out tomorrow night and Marty says Get out of town and my mom's and none, she'd kill me if she knew I was out with a girl. So we understand Marty wanting to be with his high school girlfriend and his mother is over protective. That is another, you know, he's in high school and that's, you know, that's the underdog in high school. And your parents won't let you do certain things you wanna do. So Marty's definitely the underdog here. And then we add some more comedy. Marty says, I think the woman was born and none. Jennifer says she's just trying to keep your respectable and he says she's doing a bad job. So again, a little bit of edge, some good comedy. We're enjoying watching Marty on screen. And then right before they're about to kiss, the older woman runs in there with the money, wanting them to fund the clock tower. And this is purely expositional. And again, the filmmakers get away with this pure exposition because Marty's responsive, kinda blowing her off and he's like, Hey, I'm in the middle of something here, is fun to watch. So we add comedy to Exposition. It allows us to get through it. And then he donates to the clock tower to kind of get her to move along, which adds an element to the champion of the downtrodden he's donating to a good cause. So even though he's just trying to get her out of the way, there is that scene of he's he's donating to an elderly person. And then the next bit is he kisses Jennifer any sketches home on the back of the cop car? So we add a few things here. It's the cool factor. You know, he's, he's a cool high-school kid, kissing his girlfriend. He is sketching on the back of a cop car. So now we're adding a little bit of edge to that character as well. And it's, again, it's also resourceful. The idea of sketching on a car. So we add a lot of likeability points right there. And the very next bit is George's introduction. And he's introduced with Biff. He's introduced because Biff crashed George's car. Beef is blaming this on George and biff is making George pay for his crashed car. So, so George's getting completely bullied here. He says complete doormat. And we see Mari kinda walk in in the middle of that. And so what this does is again, it establishes Marty as an underdog because now he doesn't have a car to take Jennifer out to the lake. It also establishes him as an underdog because his dad is such a loser. This guy is agreeing to pay for the other guy wrecking his car. So again, this idea of underdog and past pain, it's all kind of combined right there because again, Marty has been living with George as a dad his whole life. And George is just such an incredible loser. And even though this scene is really George's introduction, we're seeing Marty observe everything. So Marty's reaction. To this, what's unfolding is really what we're getting out of this scene here. And the very next scene is a dinner scene, and it's Marty's moms introduction, Lorraine. And this scene really does come off as a little long and a bit just exposition. There are some fun moments of comedy. Joey didn't make parole. They made a cake forum and that's a setup to a joke later when Joey's in the crib, we have a Marty's mom say when I was your age, I never called a boy. Which is just a funny line. And it's funny to when the rains recounting meeting George for the first time and she's kinda like fondly thinking about it. She's like and then I knew I was going to spend the rest of my life with him. And then it cuts to George, he's like laughing at something stupid on the TV and he's just a total buffoon. So there's some good, funny moments there. But because we're not seeing a ton of Marty's interaction like we did in George's introduction. We're not really seeing how all this relates to Marty Stuart, just seeing this kind of as a character introduction of Lorraine. The very next scene, Marty's embed, he gets a call from donkey. He slept, he was supposed to stay up to meet with Doc. He accidentally slept. This scene we see some comedy because he's sleeping in a funny way. But we also realized that Marty is helpful and reliable. So even though he kinda slept in, a doc asked him to go back to his place and pick up a camera to take the camera to the location to the twin pines mall. And so we'd like Marty because he's funny and we like Marty because he's helpful or reliable. And then Marty shows up at the mall. And what is Marty do First thing he goes and he pets Einstein's. So we have a character petting a dog. So we think he must be a good person. So another silly little thing. But back to the future, did it back to the future, had Marty pet a dog to add some of those character likeability points. Marty pets Einstein, and then the very next little bit is Docs intro. Now docs intro is lead with a DeLorean coming in for the first time. And there's a few moments of kind of light comedy there. We introduce doc for the first time before we have the DeLorean hit 80 miles an hour and go back in time. So this is the stasis of Back to the future. This is what the world is like before. The world gets flipped upside down by the DeLorean going back in time. And so throughout this introduction where we're staying with marty the entire time. And Marty is clever. He's resourceful, he's funny. He's an underdog with some past pain, helpful and reliable. He's cool, he has some edge. I mean, everything that you can think of to make a character likable. They specifically went in and made sure they checked all these boxes. That is why Marty but phi is one of the greatest characters of all time. They do such a good job of Megan's like Marty, that were totally rooting for Marty by the time he sits down in that DeLorean and takes off. So that was a quick overview of Bach's the future and how the filmmakers use so many different techniques to make us like Marty in the first 20 minutes of that movie. 6. BONUS AUDIO LESSON - Ted Lasso - A Case Study: Hi all doing. I'm Ted Lasso, your new coach. The show Ted Lasso was an instant success, both commercially and critically. And the Emmy for outstanding comedy series goes to Ted Lasso. And in fact, it's very first season garner 20 Emmy nominations and seven wins, including both outstanding comedy series and the coveted outstanding lead actor in a comedy series for Jason today, because his portrayal of our eponymous hero. I wanted to thank folks at SNL. I want thank Lauren who went to go take a dump. Now, Perfect. While Sadiq is rightly deserves as a war for his comedic timing and nuanced choices. He was not without immense help from the show's writing department, which is also Jason today because he has the help of brendan haunt who plays beard, and Brett Goldstein who plays ROI. Now, on the surface, you could dismiss Ted Lasso as a silly comedy series. After all, the first time we see him in-person on camera coincides with the sound of a toilet flush. But if you examine the series a little further, you soon realize that Sidak is, is acting is not the most impressive part of the show. It's his writing. This little team of six created an Emmy nominated pilot episode that not only moves with excellent pacing filled with solid humor and a dash of dramatic irony. But the writers of this first episode hone in on eight crucial character traits. But Ted Lasso, these well-developed traits make us as an audience Instantaneously fall in love with Ted. My name is Marshall, and this is how to write strong characters. The Ted Lasso pilot episode. Let's forget for a second about the NBC brand and spot done for the Premier League back in 2013. And I'd like to talk to the queen, please. Yes, this apple plus TV show is based on a character from an ad campaign, but no, it's nothing like caveman, sorry caveman. Let's also disregard the audience opinion of Jason. So Degas, the sport of soccer itself, and even Mumford and Sons and their epic interesting. All those things are finally good. But today we're just looking at the character of Ted Lasso in the pilot episode. And this script is airtight. Start to finish. The first time we see Ted Lasso is through the sports center clip. It's about three minutes into the first episode and we've just witnessed Rebecca fire the existing head coach. Now the very first information we get about Ted, his immediate introduction to the audience Is this an American football? I took the shocker from a garbage program all the way to the promised land in his very first seasons head coach. Now, even though we don't ever explicitly return to this concept, I'd like to propose that Ted Lasso is introduced to us as a bit of a chosen one. He's our Frodo Baggins or Luke Skywalker. And look on the surface, it might sound silly. It might sound like we're over examining a dumb comedy, but let's think about it. He led a garbage D2 football team to their first ever championship and just as first years head coach. So based on this, we know that Ted can pull off the impossible when we later see people to ride him for being in over his head, having no business at the helm of a sports program. We know that if he's done at once, he can do it again and sure it was in another sport, but we have confidence and Ted, do us proud, gum America. And besides being a gifted chosen one, Ted Lasso has another less obvious character trait that helps us connect with him. And that's that TED has self-awareness about a personal insecurity. Are we nuts for doing this? Yeah, this is nuts. Just prior to this vulnerable moment with beard, we as an audience are already questioning Ted's career move. That's even further supported by the young man who approaches them on the plane. You coaching football, maybe you are a legend for doing something says Jesus, I mean it's mental in murder you. So Ted is aware of the optics and he's concerned for the future. And because he recognizes the elephant in the room, we don't sympathize with him, but rather we empathize with him. Now, this insecurity is very important as it relates to our next character trait. That's because Ted Lasso is insecure about being a fish out of water. I got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. In fact, the very first meaningful words out of Ted's mouth in this entire series are no background from way back where I'm from. This fish out of water element is the character development technique that is most obvious when watching the show. And maybe that's because this character trait is multi-tiered. You're an American who's never set foot in England, whose athletic success has only come at the amateur level. A second to one, and is now being charged with the leadership of a Premier League football club despite clearly possessing very little knowledge of the game. Now if Ted is a fish out of water, what did his original state look like? Well, before Ted flew across the pond, he was beloved by his players, his assistant coaches, and presumably the school who's working for. He had a successful career and a video that was viral enough to make ESPN. But now he's in a country where he doesn't understand the customs. How do you take your teeth? Well, usually I'd take it right back to the counter because someone's made a horrible mistake. I expect fizzy water there. Sorry. He must be from England. Yeah. Well, then another country. Yes or no. How many countries are in this country? I love his guard down invisible stern whale. He's coaching a sport whose rules he doesn't understand. Watch practice, training, chiropractors training. I'll keep a gaffer from his pitch. You can say that again. I'm open to in that sense. He's also away from his family, the very people that make home feel like home. And we'll touch more on that later. Now, something that goes hand in hand with being a fish out of water is being an underdog. And as an audience, we feel for an underdog all the more when he's being bullied about an insecurity. And that is the exact situation here. This is a bit of a spoiler, but our midpoint in the story is when it's revealed that Rebecca is taking a chapter from the producers. She's intentionally doing everything she can to destroy the football club. In my ex husband truly loved only one thing his entire life. This club. And Ted Lasso, he's going to help me burn it to the ground, starting with firing the coach and hiring Ted, the man who has no experience coaching soccer whatsoever? No, I have never coached the sport that you folks call football at any level. Heck, you could fill two Internets with what I don't know about football. Ted is an underdog who was operating in good faith. He's uprooting his entire life, leaving behind his family to pursue a career opportunity about which he has his doubts. And this is being met by a woman who is using him as a pawn to get back at her ex husband. My apologies. Head. We should have ordered you a car. Oh, no, that's okay. So when a miscommunication results in Ted being completely unprepared to give a big press conference. Well, upon second watch, we realized that this was not a miscommunication, but rather a setup by Rebecca. I thought you knew that already for you. Now, they're not only is Ted being bullied by his boss, but he's being bullied by the very Players he's expected to coach how they fell is don't stop what you're doing. My name is Ted Lasso. When ted tries to get the team's attention, star player Jamie tart leaves and disrespect. Stay if you want. Now that's okay. As an audience, we know that TED has done nothing to deserve being bullied like this. This is because underdog Ted Lasso is carrying. He's thoughtful and kind. He does not consider himself better than anyone. I mean, anyone not even the driver who offers to carries luggage. Oh, no, no, no, No, Ollie pack them, won't carry him. Twice in the episode we see Ted being thoughtful about his family back home, but he's not just thoughtful towards the people he knows and loves. He's also thoughtful towards those less fortunate. This can be seen when he covers up the pin-up photo of Keeley in the boys locker room. And perhaps most obviously this can be seen by his taking interest in the equipment manager Nathan. What's your name by the way? No one ever asked my name. I mean, whenever you're ready. Okay. Nathan. Nathan. I love that name, Ted things highly of Nathan, complimenting him and remembering his name, but you continue to impress. You remember, in fact, head is so kind and caring that he loves to give compliments regardless of how they're received. For one trunk cram from the independent, I liked your glasses, puts away his glasses after Ted says that he likes them, and after he's made a laughing stock at the press conference, TED still tells the journalists that it was nice to meet them, spitting on all your stuff up here. And then ROI can't cause Ted a clown after he compliments his life's work. Doesn't surprise me though. You've had a heck of a career. Thank you. Before we would m being coached by Ronald McDonald, Ted Lutz, all this criticism roll off his back, which is especially impressive for something he's insecure about. You don't let them call you that. Not only is Ted thoughtful towards those he loves and those less fortunate, but Ted also has a reference for the game itself, even though his experiences in American football, when Ted sets foot on the field for the first time and in the locker room for the first time. The musical score lets us feel Ted's quiet adoration towards athletic achievement. I do love a locker room. Smells like potential. Market notes of Axe body spray. Though his personality is caring and his heart is tender. Ted Lasso was genuinely funny. That's one quality that keeps us glued to the screen. Do you believe in ghosts stood? I do, but more importantly, I think they need to believe in themselves. His charming interactions with Rebecca are probably the best examples of how he blends a caring heart with whimsical laugh out loud comedy. Girls and the Champagne, everything. He looks like a good time. That's my ex-husband. Well, good times aren't always a good time. I've found this is where Sadiq is really elevates the role and having virtually anyone else play the part just wouldn't be the same. You must be MS. Well, no. Please call me Rebecca. Mr. Yeltsin's my father. That's a joke. I love it. If not, I cannot wait to unpack that with you. And also let's keep in mind that this show was released in August of 2020, a time when laughs were very hard to come by. The world was in a lot of pain and a must watch comedy was a cathartic healing process for many, many people. So Ted is carrying, Ted is funny, but Ted's absolute best cinematic quality is his resiliency, equality that every hero must have. They're going to murder you. Well, you know, I've heard that term before, but here I am still dance legend. Throughout the episode, Ted gets rejected over and over, but he keeps in good spirits. And before we would m being coached by Ronald McDonald, you won't let him call you. I don't think he was referring to me. Thanks, man. Now, why did we win them over? He'll be furious when Jamie disrespects him in front of the other players, what is his reaction? He rolls up his sleeves and he goes to work. He bounces back after every punch. Are we nuts for doing this? Yeah, this is nuts. Hey, taken on the challenge is a lot like rotten horse. And if you're comfortable while you're doing it, probably doing it wrong. We know that deep down, if anyone is equipped to go through this professionally difficult and awkward experience, it's Ted Lasso. And the final reason we love Ted Lasso and the pilot episode actually has very little to do with Ted himself. And that is the writers use of intrigue. Not even three minutes after meeting TED for the first time, we see Ted check his phone to see a picture of a woman and child, prompting us with so many questions. Is this his wife and kid? What does Ted doing, taking a job halfway across the world if he's still involved with these two. Well, they meet him in London. As an audience, we are forced to pay attention to TED because we want these questions answered as more time passes and we don't see his family, we feel more and more for him. We even see Ted asked Rebecca about her own failed marriage in a moment of emotional honesty, not usually seen between an employee and his boss on his first day of work. I eat. I heard about all of that. How you hold note is this because Ted can relate to a failed relationship. His question for Rebecca may be more revealing about his own situation. And then about two-thirds of the way through the episode in a less subtle way. We were reminded of his family by a drawing his kid did. And then finally 30 minutes into the episode, the final scene of the pilot in his hotel room. We finally get answers. Hey big guy, I don't know how school day visually, the scene is presented through a door frame as if we're listening to a conversation we really shouldn't be. And we realized that this resilient, talented, charming guy who was 4 thousand miles from home, who has been tricked into coaching a team that has no respect for him in a sport he knows nothing about, talks to his wife and tells her, Yeah, you in little guy gotta get on over here, come check it out. Wouldn't know what I say. That's what I'm doing on giving you that space. And then Ted tells his wife that he loves her, but she doesn't say it back. I love you. That's okay. You don't have to. Everything is going poorly for a man who has done no harm. In fact, this fish out of water has done nothing but lead us to a championship. Show us the utmost respect, protect our dignity. Ask if we're okay. Remember our names and make us laugh over and over. The pilot episode of Ted Lasso is truly a masterclass in how to create a likable character. My hats off to the team. 7. Character Likeability Cheat Sheet and Outro: So that's pretty much it. That is my toolkit of how to make characters likable. Again, like I said before, this isn't quite a pick and choose what works for you. This is a take as many as you can and cram them all into one character and the quickest way possible, because the more of these that you're able to check off, the more the audience will like the character. And again, in a world of competing entertainment, you have five to ten minutes to really capture the imagination of your audience. So use these tools, put them in your characters. And I know you guys are going to come up with something great.