Thinking about a monologue for your script? Wondering if it’s too much?
Writing for the visual medium of film, you have to be half-crazy and really good, along with having a riverboat gambler’s mentality, to pull this off. That monologue you’re writing is going to take multiple screen minutes. How are you planning to visualize it?
I was going to do a Top 10 monologues, but there are too many great ones. We’ll do a few posts on this subject. I’ve gotten through A to O on the Drew’s Script-O-Rama list and am working outward in search of the constant variety of screenwriting Sport. Let’s look at how the pros handle it and imitate where we can. Vamos..
So your plan is to not just write a monologue but open the movie with it? What are production company–agency–screenwriting contest readers giving spec scripts these days, 5 pages? You’re basically laying down an all or nothing Red/Black roulette bet opening with a monologue. Unless you’re Woody Allen, and just kill it…
Abrupt medium close-up of Alvy Singer doing a comedy monologue. He
wearing a crumbled sports jacket and tieless shirt; the background is stark.
There’s an old joke. Uh, two elderly
women are at a Catskills mountain
resort, and one of ’em says: “Boy, the
food at this place is really terrible.”
The other one says, “Yeah, I know, and
such … small portions.” Well, that’s
essentially how I feel about life. Full
of loneliness and misery and suffering
and unhappiness, and it’s all over much
too quickly. The-the other important
joke for me is one that’s, uh, usually
attributed to Groucho Marx, but I think
it appears originally in Freud’s wit and
its relation to the unconscious. And it
goes like this-I’m paraphrasing: Uh …
“I would never wanna belong to any club
that would have someone like me for a
member.” That’s the key joke of my adult
life in terms of my relationships with
women. Tsch, you know, lately the
strangest things have been going
through my mind, ’cause I turned forty,
tsch, and I guess I’m going through a
life crisis or something, I don’t know.
I, uh … and I’m not worried about aging.
I’m not one o’ those characters, you know.
Although I’m balding slightly on top, that’s
about the worst you can say about me. I,
uh, I think I’m gonna get better as I get
older, you know? I think I’m gonna be the-
the balding virile type, you know, as
opposed to say the, uh, distinguished
gray, for instance, you know? ‘Less I’m
neither o’ those two. Unless I’m one o’
those guys with saliva dribbling out of
his mouth who wanders into a cafeteria
with a shopping bag screaming about
Annie and I broke up and I-I still can’t
get my mind around that. You know, I-I
keep sifting the pieces of the relationship
through my mind and-and examining my life
and tryin’ to figure out where did the
screw-up come, you know, and a year ago we
were… tsch, in love. You know, and-and-and
… And it’s funny, I’m not-I’m not a
morose type. I’m not a depressive character.
you know, I was a reasonably happy kid,
I guess. I was brought up in Brooklyn
during World War II.
- HUSTLE AND FLOW
Here’s another riverboat gambler, Craig Brewer, with his script for Hustle and Flow. This monologue comes right at the top, and accomplishes multiple goals: Defining the world, the tone, and a key character, D. Jay, in one page.
- LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS
The best of monologues are essential. They don’t just for giving us insight into character or the tone/world. They also drive story. This monologue from Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels not only defines all of the above, but it plays out in story later on when we see another character sitting at the bar in the same scene. They even pull a Preston Sturges, who was notable for giving major dialogue or the best lines to the 3rd guy on the left. This monologue comes from a BARMAN character we never see before or again. Cool stuff.
This next section is subtitled. This is to keep everyone, even those familiar with cockney rhyming slang up to speed with the narration, of which even Tom is unsure. As with the police scene earlier this is a voice-over and we cut to the relevant scenes.
Rory’s got few interests in life; darky music, football, bees and honey
and kicking the shit out of anyone that interferes with that shortlist.
A few nights ago Rory’s Roger iron rusted, so he has gone to the
battle-cruiser to watch the end of a football game. Nobody is watching
the custard so he has turned the channel over. A fat man’s north opens
and he wanders up and turns the Liza over. `Now fuck off and watch it
somewhere else.’ Rory knows claret is imminent, but he doesn’t want to
miss the end of the game; so, calm as a coma, he stands and picks up a
fire extinguisher and he walks straight past the jam rolls who are
ready for action, then he plonks it outside the entrance. He then
orders an Aristotle of the most ping pong oddly in the nuclear sub and
switches back to his footer. `That’s fucking it,’ says the man. Rory
gobs out a mouthful of booze covering fatty; he flicks a flaming match
into his bird’s nest and the man lit up like a leaking gas pipe. Rory,
unfazed, turned back to watch his game. The flaming man and his chinos
ran outside to extinguish the flames, and Rory cheered on. His team won