Day 2: Dallas and Character Ages

DALLAS

Today I spent the day fleshing out and creating the first of the scouts. This one is named after the city of Dallas.

Dallas is a pretty important figure in Eternal Camping. He will not only be one of the leaders among the troop but he will be play a key part in how Act Three turns out. In fact, the story would probably take a darker turn if it wasn’t for Dallas’ strong moral compass.

Figuring out Austin’s character arc was important because as the protagonist, the main plot of the movie is his arc. The other characters arcs are important but they do have to fit within the context of Austin’s arc if you want a cohesive, focused story. So the question became: what’s the arc for Dallas?

The first step is establishing where he is when the movie begins. He’s a young teenager who has a dream. When zombies destroy civilization, what he feels has been his destiny is ripped away from him. Like the rest of the characters, he didn’t just lose his family and friends but also the life he was planning to lead.

Zombie movies are known for being about survival. There is very little time, if any at all, dedicated to actually giving these characters something to build their life towards. Eternal Camping is different: this is a movie about a group of characters that not only have to survive but who also have to figure out what they will do with their lives. The absence of zombies from the movies allows us to explore this.

So Dallas has to figure out: what do I do now? The movie has some answer for him in the end, at least in the short-term. He’ll continue to play a vital role in the group’s survival long after the movie is over.

Once I had who he was and where he was going to end up, the final part was figuring out who he is. I think I created a pretty unique character: one who will continue to surprise you throughout the movie.

Character Ages

One of the first decisions I have to make is knowing the general age range of the characters. I know that Austin is going be an adult: probably in his late twenties or early thirties. The real question is how old to make the scouts?

This is a really tough question. I wanted to make them all the same age. I needed them to be old enough to act well but not so old that Austin’s role in the movie is subverted. Austin has to be the adult figure of the movie. Making the scouts 16-18 not only jeopardizes that but I feel like the scouts are less cool once you get your driver’s license.

This hasn’t been one hundred percent decided but I’m thinking 12-14 for the characters. They are old enough that they can act, that the characters can be somewhat independent, but also that they are still dependent on an adult. This also allows Eternal Camping to act as a coming-of-age story for them.

That’s all for now!