Character Study

I co-teach Directing for Film, a class that focuses on film production –  from writing and casting original scripts, to directing, filming and editing movies based upon the scripts. This year we are in a unique position of having not only our lead teacher and me, but also a creative intern who majored in film, and an upper school senior whose passion is to write original scripts and make movies from them; he is doing an independent study by helping to teach and assist in our class.

For our opening class, Alice (intern) set the tone for the year with an opening activity of writing a character study: What’s in your character’s pocket? Standing before the class, she began to paint a picture of a character as she slowly took objects out of her very deep skirt pockets and placed them on the table in front of us all. From the peckle of ten items, she then asked us to choose four objects that would be found in our character’s pockets. Ponder that, and write about our character. The adults also took part in this activity, and purely for the fun of it I present my character study.


He found himself leaning against a column in the book store. Tall, lean, kind of relaxed looking, staring off into space as if he were contemplating something of great interest. He had just purchased two books on sustainable architecture using the cash in his pocket, but he wasn’t thinking about his new books, the receipt for which he had stashed in a pants pocket, or about the book store.

When he reached into his right pocket to make the payment, he had felt a ring, and it was on this ring that his thoughts were now focused. His bag of books was sitting on the floor, nestled between his feet, and his hands were fiddling with a rubber band, trying to contort it into a form of cat’s cradle. He always seemed to think more clearly when his hands were occupied; perhaps that why he liked building enough to pursue it – at least for now – as a profession.

Where did the ring come from? He hadn’t seen it before, and certainly never noticed it’s arrival in his pocket. Had someone dropped it in there accidentally? Did it fit any of his fingers? He withdrew his fingers from the cat’s cradle and slipped the rubber band over his left hand, settling it onto his wrist. The fingers of his right hand reached back into his right pocket and went on a searching excursion, feeling around in the deep recess of material, passing over the dollar bills and coins until his middle finger alighted upon something smooth and round. He closed his hand around the ring and lifted it out into the open air.

Holding it up before his eyes for closer examination, he noticed the wine colored ring was patterned with a flower and a bird. Nothing about this ring was jogging his memory. It could have come from anywhere – from someone at the Cob Company, from one of the teenagers he mentors at the local penitentiary, from the children of his house mates. The ring might not be jogging his memory, but it was certainly nudging his curiosity.


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