Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Susan Everett and Character Development

We recently had a talk from scriptwriter Susan Everett. She wrote a short film titled 'Mother, Mine' in 2008, about an adoptee who loses her foster mother, and attempts to reconnect with her natural mother. The film was very dark, and Susan spoke of how he she likes to explore ordinary people being pushed to extreme measures. She spoke of characters having layers which can be peeled away, and how she likes to give her characters baggage. This discussion on creating characters interested me, particularly with my interests lying in character development for games.


The troubled Girl in 'Mother, Mine' was a killer, yet we as an audience felt sympathy for her, as she tried to find a mother figure to accept her. This got me thinking of other complex characters and the layers that create their deep personalities. I am currently watching the Showtime series 'Dexter', and was reminded of Michael C. Hall's lead role as the killer turned avenger by Susan's adoptee character.

'Dexter' is a blood spatter analysts working for Miami Metro. We learn in the series that when he was a small boy, his mother was executed with a chainsaw right in front of him. Police detective Harry Morgan found young Dexter in a shipping container filled with his mother's blood. Although Dexter barely remembers the ordeal, it leaves him with a obsession with blood, and the desire to kill and chop up his victims. Harry Morgan, who sees this killer inside his adopted son Dexter, enforces a code, teaching him to kill only those who deserve to die. The series follows dexter as an adult. His stepfather Harry has deceased, yet his code still keeps Dexter's 'dark passenger' (desire to kill) in check. Because of this, Dexter becomes something a vigilante, an antihero. What is challenging about this concept is that dexter doesn't desire justice when he kills serial killers, he simply has a thirst for blood, yet has been taught how to channel it into arguably doing good.

Through the series, Dexters bond with his girlfriend Rita (original sought out as a disguise to hide Dexter's detached and monstrous true self) and her children grows stronger. Harry convinced Dexter that he was monster through his childhood. He made him feel damaged beyond repair. Dexter grows gradually more human through the series, and begins to ask himself whether he is destined to kill to keep his darkness at bay, or whether some day he can be rid of the dark passenger and live like a normal human.

With Dexters complex character comes various themes: Is there a dark passenger in all of us sitting dormant? Who deserves to live or die? How well do we know the ones close to us?  We all have our secrets and Dexter's character really explores these key themes.

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