THE BURIAL - Based on a true story. Now streaming on #AmazonPrime. No spoilers. Finally, a decent film. Jamie Foxx is a character actor and always shines in biographies. Tommy Lee Jones never disappoints. I became a Journee Smollett fan in LOVECRAFT because it seemed she was finally given a role that allowed her to stretch and show off her acting chops. IMO, she's in her bag. I hope she stays there.
But let's talk about genre and tone.
HOW BREAKING DOWN FILMS HELPS YOUR SCREENWRITING
As a screenwriter, you no longer have the privilege of watching movies for pure entertainment. You can try, but it's our goal to ruin it for you. Kidding... well, not really.
Watching films and breaking down the beats is one of the best ways to learn screenwriting. Knowing which beats are present or lacking and how they are functioning or not functioning in any given story strengthens your ability to execute those beats in your story. It's a great exercise.
So the next time you're watching, pull up your notes app and jot down the beats. Are they tracking? Why or why not?
LET'S GET INTO THE BURIAL
I was recently asked if something could be a drama and a comedy. The answer isn't black and white, but let's just say yes because dramedies exist. However, stories are usually dramas with comedic moments or comedies with dramatic moments but not literally a drama and a comedy. The rules of the genres are different enough for them to have their own categories.
So imagine my surprise that Prime listed this film as both a drama and a comedy. It made me watch it closely to see why it would be described as such.
🟢 The tone is light.
🟢 The music reinforces the light tone. It's 90's R&B. It makes you want to dance not cry.
🟢 The dialogue. Willie Gary, the flashy protagonist, is a preacher and lawyer who i often threatens to kick people's a$$. The banter amongst Willie and his boys is perfect comedic timing.
So, yes, I laughed out loud a lot. But, there was no question that this is a drama. What's funny in this film aren't jokes that land, but the great work of understanding characters. The writers understand Willie Gary, black people, and how we relate to each other. Because of that, some period may watch and not laugh. Because it isn't a joke that they're missing. It's relatability.
Also, in dramas, stakes are high, and consequences are real. If Willie Gary loses this case for Jeffery, Jeffery loses everything no matter whose a$$ Willie wants to kick.
With that said, Google has it listed as a Drama/Thriller. 🤣 Why won't they just ask the writers instead of making stuff up? Genres set an expectation. I would've been highly disappointed if I thought this was supposed to be a thriller.
What say you? Comedy or drama?
GET NOTES ON GENRE + TONE
Whether you're writing a comedy, drama, or dramedy, you need Development Notes for constructive feedback that gives you a clear path through your revisions. The Professional Pen is the leading source for Development Notes. Click to submit your script. We want to see you win!