Activity or Situation?

Discuss the practical use of Dramatica. Have questions about how throughlines should be used, how to create Complex Characters or even the various combinations of the 12 Essential Questions and how they will affect your story go here.
Mwoll
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Activity or Situation?

Postby Mwoll » Nov 19, 2009 12:41 pm

I've been trying to dissect movies to look for their storyforms, and I realize I'm having difficulty deciding if things are Activities or Situations. And it feels like it should be obvious.

Alien:
Situation (OS): They're on a space ship. Activity: Responding to distress signal and dealing with the Alien.
Situation (OS): They have an alien on board Activity: ?

The problem I have with this is, "Is being on a spaceship really *enough* to count as a situation?" I mean, it's not like we look at Annie Hall and say, "Situation: they live in NYC." (Granted, "they have an alien aboard" doesn't actually cover the whole movie -- no alien in the beginning.)

Likewise, I never would have said that the MC Situation in Kung Fu Panda is "He's fat."

Men Who Stare at Goats:
MC Situation: His life is in the dumps
MC Activity: He's pursing a risky strategy to do something with his life

Any help on how to steer my education here?

Thanks!

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Chris Huntley
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Re: Activity or Situation?

Postby Chris Huntley » Nov 23, 2009 11:18 am

"Alien" is a situation. The problem is that the people are TRAPPED on a spaceship with the Alien. Once they are no longer trapped (Alien ejected into space), the conflict is over.

The sequel, "Aliens," on the other hand, is an Activity domain. It is a battle between the two forces and the humans COULD choose to leave (until they get stranded for a while). The battle is then brought up to the spaceship. If it was just a situation, the problem would be over once the humans or the aliens left the planet.

The problem in a situation is that one or more parties are stuck is a bad scenario, which continues to be bad until they become unstuck.

The problem in an activity is that there is a process that creates havoc that will continue to create havoc until it is stopped.

None of the domains work in a vacuum, meaning the other domains are affected by the ripples sent out from the source. However, when picking a throughline domain you identify the SOURCE of the conflict, not all of the effects.
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Mwoll
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Re: Activity or Situation?

Postby Mwoll » Nov 25, 2009 11:01 pm

Since we're on Alien...

Is the Antagonist the Alien itself?

That's sort of a general question for all monster movies. Actually, it's a general question about all disaster movies, too. Is the volcano the antagonist in a movie like "Dante's Inferno", or the "calendar" the antagonist in 2012 (which I haven't seen, so I'm asking just about the trailer... which is lame...)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mwoll
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Re: Activity or Situation?

Postby Mwoll » Nov 27, 2009 7:16 pm

Wait... re: Alien, I just remembered that there is a crew member who knew about the alien -- the robot. I'm assuming he is the antagonist, since he's actually trying to keep the alien alive.

Thinking of other disaster/monster movies:

Halloween... is Mike Meyers the protagonist? He is the one moving the OS plot forward... (His doctor would be the antagonist. The babysitter the MC.)
The Thing... who is the antagonist? The Thing itself?
Sean of the Dead... the zombies are the antagonist?
The 6th Sense?... man,hmmmm... the MC/IC characters seem so clear, almost overwhelmingly so... but Protagonist (the doctor) & Antagonist... nothing leaps out...
Misery... I think MC/IC line up with P/A in this one, given that it's essentially a two-hander

I only ask, because I write these kinds of movies, but also because I find that most horror movies are "incomplete". They lack something, and I'm trying to see if I'm overlooking something Dramatica can help reveal, or if the stories really are deficient.

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Re: Activity or Situation?

Postby Chris Huntley » Nov 29, 2009 1:04 pm

In Alien, the Alien is the antagonist. The "robot" is the contagonist, making it difficult to kill the antagonist.

In Halloween, the opening teaser is a lie and should be discounted when trying to figure out the story. I say this because it is shot from an adult's height even though it turns out to be a child. The closest thing to a protagonist is the doctor -- the one "hunting" him. Either that or the babysitter/MC trying to survive (more traditional take on horror structure). Mike Meyers is the antagonist.

The Things is the antagonist -- both versions.
Sean of the Dead -- zombies.
The 6th Sense -- it really doesn't have archetypes, so you'll see elements of the antagonist pop up in different characters. There are the kids that stuff him in the dumbwaiter, the mom poisoning her children, etc.

Misery - yes. MC/Protagonist, IC/Antagonist.

Many successful horror films use the MC/Protagonist and IC/Antagonist pairings, especially if they are stories in which the characters are picked off one at a time. This leaves the MC and IC standing until the end. However, many good horror films break this mold as well.
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