Tag Archives: Kevin Williamson

Teen Films In the New Millennium – A Dying Art

12 Feb

dionne-cher-clueless

I first discovered my favourite film genre when I was 7 years old and I went to see ‘Clueless’ with mother. It was rated M and ticket attendant warned my mum that it was a bit too adult for me and she should, as a responsible parent take me to see something else, like ‘Toy Story’. But as my mum has told me many times, she doesn’t believe in censorship so she took me anyway.

The brilliantly written ‘Clueless’ is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma and is peppered with rich and authentic dialogue, that director and writer Amy Heckling had collected from actual classrooms in Beverly Hills . This cinema experience crowned ‘Cluelsss’ as my favorite film of all time and thanks to it’s timelessness and  a good helping of nostalgia, it remains in top spot to this day.

But Clueless wasn’t the only great teen film that I feel in love with during my youth. In fact in the year 1999, a bumper year for teen films, I welcomed these gems into my life: ‘Cruel Intentions’, ’10 Things I Hate About You’, ‘American Pie’, ‘She’s All That’ and the hilariously  twisted ‘Election’. That was also the year I developed a love of cheesy teen horror flicks and as such spent my weekends watching ‘Scream’, ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ and ‘The Faculty’.

Between 12 and 13  I spent most of my Saturdays at the video shop and finally discovered the master of the teen genre, the maker of Molly Ringwald, John Hughes.  He became my god and I had to see every film the man had ever made. ‘Pretty In Pink’, ‘Weird Science’, ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful’ and of course what some argue is the best teen film ever, ‘The Breakfast Club’. These films along with a back catalog of 90s favorites were the instruction guides by which I tried to navigate my adolescence.

I’d learnt so much, if only I could apply it. Unfortunately compared to the fictional paradises that Hughes created, being a real teenager is very disappointing. Popular boys don’t notice outcasts,  male best friends aren’t anywhere near as charming as Ducky from ‘Pretty In Pink’ and no matter how hard you try, you can’t create the perfect woman or man on your computer like ‘Weird Science’.  It was then I learnt the hardest lesson of all, teen films are way better than being a teenager. Yes it was a sad time but at least I had John Hughes to comfort me.

Recently after watching a terrible attempt at the teen genre, a little stinker called ‘The To Do List’, I wondered if that lesson still holds true or have teen films become so awful that being a teenager actually looks good in comparison. Sure there are a few films that capture that magic I felt back in the 90s, ‘Mean Girls’, ‘The Perks Of Being a Wallflower’ and ‘Easy A’ are brilliant additions to the genre. But on whole  the depictions of the teenage generation have really gone downhill.

Teen films used to be a place where emerging writers could cut their teeth, make a little low budget feature and if it was a hit, reap a a massive return. Take writer Cameron Crowe’s directorial debut ‘Say Anything’, a great script, some unknown actors,  a small budget and boom 20 million dollars and he can pick his next project. Teen horror films were another way to break in, ‘Kevin Williamson’ broke into the industry with a little script called Scream.

But now this way of breaking into the industry seems to have died and teen films as a genre have been almost entirely replaced with young adult novel adaptations. Films like ‘Twilight’, ‘The Hunger Games’ are reaping in the dollars with an already devoted audience, huge budgets and script writing guns for hire (whose real job is to condense 400 pages of well written young adult fiction into 120 pages of confusing plot and under developed characters).  Sure some of these franchises are better than others but they aren’t teen films. They are sprawling action epics.

Whatever happened to scripts written about the horror and hilarity filled place that is high school. Scripts that make tweens imagine there perfect teenage life and create a great escape for those poor teenagers trying to make it out alive. I can only hope that that they resurface in time for my daughter, otherwise unlike me, she’ll have no relief for the pain of growing up.

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The Vampire Diaries: Kevin Williamson is a Master of the Love Triangle

25 Apr

Has anyone seen last weeks episode of ‘The Vampire Diaries’, because if you missed it you are missing out. It was hot, steaming hot. I haven’t seen anything that hot on TV for quite sometime and I’ve watched every episode of ‘Secret Diary of a Call Girl’.

The moment when two characters finally get together is a vital one in the success or failure of any TV series. In some series it happens too quick, everything seems meant to be and after a few minor obstacles the couple gets together 6 episodes in, 10 episodes later the couple has broken up and no matter how much you loved them to begin with, the on again off again can never compete with that pre kiss, pre anything sexual tension.

The OC is a perfect example of this Marissa and Ryan get together eight episodes in and sure it was great but for longevity’s sake it was terrible move. They became a super annoying couple and Marissa’s constant flakiness is no longer seen as damsel in distress but as an idiot looking for trouble.

Getting your meant to be couple together too early, burns through story lines too quickly and doesn’t allow for the vital ingredient in any successful TV romance, the longing. And no I don’t mean the longing between the characters I mean the longing from the audience for it to finally happen. That longing or hope or obsession from an audience member is a powerful tool, it can turn minor flirting into major entertainment and it can power otherwise dull stories, but if you don’t build the longing you can’t use its power.

But that is not to say that you should never get your couple together, the excessive use of the longing is also a crime. Shows like the X Files, Gilmore Girls, Castle are massive abusers of the longing. Once the audience begins to feel that the couple who are essentially perfect for each other will never get together simply because the writing team don’t want them to, the power of the longing disappears and is simply replaced by irritation. Characters can only have so many interrupted moments and lost opportunities before the possibilities of the sexual tension grows stale.

So what’s the solution, how can we have the longing without the irritation, without the feeling that nothing is happening and nothing ever will. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the love triangle. The love triangle allows for there always to be longing for one side or the other and for there always to be action, for the point of the triangle to be swinging from side to side with never ending romantic fodder. Kevin Williamson the writer of Dawson’s Creek, Scream 1-4, Teaching Mrs Tingle and of course The Vampire Diaries is the master of the love triangle. BTW the love triangle always works better with two guys, just saying.

The best thing about Mr Williamson’s love triangles is the slow burn, he totally convinces you that one pairing is meant to be and then slowly and subtly manipulates the story and the characters until you are on the edge of your seat voting for pairing number two. Dawson’s Creek is the first time I was introduced to Mr Williamson’s talents. I was 100% Dawson and Joey all the way but then slowly and sneakily they didn’t seem right anymore. Dawson was immature, he didn’t love Joey enough and Pacey, he was self sacrificing, gentle and rugged. The next thing you know Dawson was chopped liver and I would have been fine with Pacey killing him. And so we have the beauty of the love triangle we get to do the longing over and over again, the writer gently manipulating us one way or the other.

Well fool me once same on you, fool me twice shame on me. Mr Williamson’s new series The Vampire Diaries, is pretty damn awesome but even I didn’t see how Elena and Stefan we ever going to end up in a triangle. Sure Damon has always wanted Elena but given that Stefan is perfection and incredibly moral and Damon on occasion snaps and kills people it seemed unlikely Elena would make the jump. But this season when Stefan agrees to help the evil Klaus to save his brother Damon and gets hooked on killing again, Mr Williamson got a chance to weave his magic once more.

The most important thing is that the switch seems plausible, your character can’t just throw over the love of their life, they have to slowly fall in love with someone else without knowing it. And that is what happened to Elena. Stefan is evil now and Damon is trying to help Elena get through it. Her influence is turning him around and he’s challenging her. Suddenly even when Stefan comes back to the light, Elena is torn and so am I. And so Mr Williamson does it again, turned my sympathies and put me into a truly awesome love triangle.

And this week was the reward, the forbidden make out that finally confirms what the rest of us have known for weeks, Elena has feelings for Damon. Beautifully staged with very little dialogue and tonnes of sexual tension, the couple explode off the screen in a scene, that I had to rewind and watch a second time. Hats off Mr Williamson you’ve done it again.

The LA Complex: Canada Does It Better

15 Apr

From the creators of Degrassi High and Instant Star comes ‘The LA Complex”. I have to say I love Canadian Drama, whether is be ‘Being Erica’ or ‘Instant Star’ or ‘Rookie Blue’, I can not get enough of what Canada is making these days. Unlike Australia, it manages to achieve a perfect balance of being home grown and international. You know it’s Canadian but the show isn’t trying to shove that fact down your throat like they do in Australia. The story and the characters are what matters not the fact that it’s Canadian.

This series is a great show for people considering moving to LA to make it in Hollywood. I myself have considered moving on many occasions, how else am I going to achieve my dream of being the next Joss Whedon, Shonda Rhimes or Kevin Williamson. In case you don’t know these people create and executive produce television, which is my dream.

All living in a tiny one bedroom apartments in a Melrose Place type establishment called the Lux, these young up and comers many of whom are Canadian try to make it in LA and achieve their dreams.

They are wannabe dancers, actors, comedians, writers and hip hop producers, a lot with their own shadow of a chance of making it in a saturated market. We follow this group through the grind of auditions, showcases, tempting but immoral opportunities and the trials of following your dreams and making it on your own in a strange city. While a lot of this series is dictated by the demands of complex characters, it’s good to see as a basis some reflection of what it might be like trying to make it in Hollywood.

This series takes a lot of what is great about Degrassi, characters involved in controversial and timely issues, and amps it up for an adult audience.  This show hasn’t fallen for a lot of the cliches that it could of and isn’t like watching Fame. The stories are different and out there while still feeling realistic making it very compelling viewing. I watched the first 6 episodes in two days.

It’s coming back to the US network the CW at the end of April so I encourage you to get out there and watch this show it’s like Degrassi High but for adults.