When I write movies I tend to have to – wait. When I write screenplays. No, when I write a screenplay. When I write a particular screenplay. Hang on, let me rephrase this. Let me rephrase that. For any given movie I write I often like to immerse myself into the setting. Right, let me start again. Sometimes I write movies that are set in, that require me to research the shit out of it because of where it is set. I write screenplays. Stop, stop, stop. You see how hard this writing game is. This screenwriting game.
If I set a screenplay in, let’s say, off the top of my head, er, Boston, MA. Not off the top of my head at all actually. I am currently redrafting a screenplay I set in Boston. A Gentle Rise and Fall. A screenplay I started writing maybe eight years ago. Now, I am from the UK, and have never stepped foot on Massachusetts soil. I have idolised Boston, the city, and its culture, and the Red Sox, and the rest of it for a long, long time. But I have never been to Boston. So this movie is set there, partly due to the reason I love the city. A love story right there.
So I go ahead and set a movie about two people that fall in love in Boston. The story takes place, or rather begins, in the year before the famous Red Sox triumph, thus crushing the eighty-six year curse. I am sure, and I have seen it with my own eyes in film, that writers just simply want to capture these little personal moments in history. Like Princess Diana. Like 9/11. Like the Olympic games. Like the World Series. It is not necessarily integral to the plot, but it is there. Characters talking baseball. These people who have followed the Red Sox, that talk with that disappointment not winning for so long. But a disappointment that just whiffs of encouragement and hope. This is the year the curse is lifted. That’s what they said. And they were right that time. And that is something cinematic. It feeds you something hopeful for that character. Okay, so right now, he does not have the girl, he barely knows the girl, but that baseball dream. That will come true for him. Very soon. We know he will live that love story.
These characters though, when they talk, they have to talk like they are from Boston. Sure, that’s not my job. Let the casting director deal with that. The voice coach. Ben Affleck. What I love to do though when I write (even though is does make it much harder work for me, or at least gives me more work that perhaps I need) is to have the characters talk the way they ought to talk. So, if need be, and it is need be here, I would want to write dialogue that when read aloud has that Boston twang from whoever shall read it. Okay, so I don’t expect them to suddenly sound like Tim Robbins in Mystic River. But there are certain words, or a way with words, that would distinguish them as from Boston.
I don’t want to give any examples now, nor do I want to teach you how to speak Boston. I’m still the student remember. Trying to write dialogue in a Boston accent. I want it to be authentic, my characters, and what they say. I want it to look and sound real. And this, tweaking and authenticating of the dialogue, is only a small part of what I do. A very small part. And a work in progress. But, its what I do.