GEEK! The Musical – Part 2

An awesome film, with sadistic dentist, an unlikely couple and a villain that would happily eat vegitarians!

Leading on from the blog post earlier today, is GEEK! The Musical part 2. Musicals aren’t often associated with geekdom, in fact many of them are targeted solely and specifically at women. Others are very much accessible to other groups, such as Little Shop of Horrors. Some are not even available on DVD (Yes, I’m referring to the sublimely awesome Avenue Q). Some are just random and genius like Rocky Horror Picture show. There’s a fair variety out there and I think it’s a little unfair how some have seemingly high-jacked the musical genre.

But regardless, this post is about bringing musicals to geek accessibility. So here goes numbers 6 to 10 of the Musicals tips.

6. Don’t use pitiful characters. Use characters with strength. How can you have a musical outburst when you’re got weak characters? It doesn’t work. The characters in most musicals are usually either strong willed, in a personal conflict or reflecting off someone who is either. Every character that sings matters, and no character who should matter should be pitied (unless in an “he’s evil” type way).

Even Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors had strong conflicts - saying no to the plant, winning the heart of his co-worker and trying to help the business

7. Lyrics that don’t quite make sense still work! They really do. They add to the quirkiness, can help you get out of the trap of repeating words or not saying anything because nothing quite rhymes. They can also add to the humour, and overall can remain memorable. Remember all those songs where you never quite caught the lyrics and you remember them because they didn’t actually make sense?

8. Have development in the video. Get the story to move with the song. Have something happen that affects the story. Otherwise you end up with fairly pointless musical numbers. If nothing happens, it’s probably best to move the song, or rearrange it. These things should be planned carefully, so you should have a decent amount of time to overcome this pitfall.

9. Use counterpoints. Solos are okay, but even they need a reason to be sung – conflict within a character between their wants and reality for example. You could also have direct character counterpoints, male/female, want/don’t want, hero/villain, etc… These can also help create an interesting song when you merge two styles together to simulate how the characters interact.

10. Find actors that can sing (or sound okay when autotuned). I know this one is quite obvious, but it’s so essential it should be on the list. Even if there’s a lot of work to do in post-production, as long as the end product is good, then carry on. This can often mean a lot of practising, reshooting and redubbing. Overall, it will pay off but if you’ve not got somewhere decent to start from, it’s never going to live up to your expectations (and subsequently the audiences as well).

So there you have it. 10 tips for musicals. It’s not something I think a lot of people will get something from, but it’s one of those things that when done right, it’s awesome. Sometimes it feels like making films are a massive risk, and if you’re thinking of doing a musical (even just for fun), then it’s probably a good idea to keep this list in mind.

Bonus Tip: Match the style of the music to the character. Don’t have quiet characters bursting into big numbers. Likewise don’t restrict bigger characters with a simple single instrument and a quiet voice. Obviously there’s no need to stereotype, but match the music to the character. It will feel out of place if you don’t.

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