Best Use of Character: “The Princess Who Would Not Listen”

Princess-RobWard-01Rob Ward,

was the president of “It Can’t Happen” club and a required character in The Princess Who Would Not Listen (2014).  How to fit a story around the required element is one of the most crucial decisions a director makes.

Without knowing yet the genre or character chosen, directors know in their heart if they are story or character driven.  They are not always synonymous. When you know the genre, you have to decide to circle the story around your character or shoehorn him in.  Coming up with a good story matching the genre is difficult enough.  Many choose a quick, cameo appearance meeting the requirements.  Others, take up on the challenge fitting the character’s profession with the genre.

When given a “club president” at Inland Empire, 2014, I thought how do we make him fit into a world with the given genre, Inspirational Film?  I can confess, the story came first.   I wanted to make a film about someone overcoming a challenge.  In The Princess Who Would Not Listen, it was simply a hobbled girl trying to make up a staircase alone.  But she needed an antagonist, something more than a physical impediment.  Her adversary had to be spiritual and was personified by Rob Ward, club president of It Can’t Happen Club.

Rob Ward is introduced at the start of the film by voice.  The camera makes an Ethereal appearance introducing our never-named princess in lying in her bed staring up into empty space.  Only a cut later do we realize she is looking at a television where Rob Ward is delivering a brutally demoralizing speech.  A club president is someone you would expect to see on television, the depiction seemed apt.  But it is not his presence that haunts our little girl.  It will be his words.

“No.  Never.  Nowhere.” – Rob Ward

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While Rob Ward makes one appearance and disappears, his words echo throughout the film.  As the title implies, they are words ignored by the princess.  She would not listen.  The required character’s spirit lingers throughout film, including the finale.

What I hoped would have been thought unique, is having Rob Ward as an antagonist.  When required characters play lead roles, there is a tendency to make them heroes.  Who would think a club president could be so cruel?  However, I think differently.  My films are often more dark relatively to others.  This wasn’t my first film where the required character played the villain.

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Ryan Coccinelle, Entomologist, from Clever Girl (2007).

The portrayal of Rob Ward, club president, earned RadioActive Studios Best Use of Character in the 48-Hour Film Project in Inland Empire, 2014.