Daniel D. '20
What strategies do screenwriters use in 1980s teen films to invoke feelings of nostalgia in the audience, and why are those feelings still felt today, nearly 40 years after the films first hit screens?
Writing this script was a challenge, but one I enjoyed. My goal was to write a story that would capture the same feelings as the classics of the genre (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, etc.) while offering my own unique ideas. My story is one that should be familiar to the reader, hopefully reminding them of the other films in the genre, but at the same time should feel different. I feel that my age is a factor that is an advantage over the other films. The classic films were written by older screenwriters, people who were detached from teenage life, whereas I am going through similar problems as my characters. The classic films were older people trying to imagine how teenagers would talk, but my film is straight from the mind of a teenager, which hopefully gives it some more depth than others. The challenging part of writing was the fact that I pre-set boundaries onto the script. I knew from day one that it had to be a teen film, which is different from writing other stories where the mind, and story, are allowed to wander. The main question of the piece is by using some of the many tropes and cliches that appear in teen films, can I make my own teen film that invokes similar feelings of hope, unity and happiness in the audience as the classics did? In my opinion, my script accomplishes this goal. My story isn’t a copy of any others; it’s a new story that borrows ideas from those that came before it. If I did my job well, the reader will experience the same emotions they experience while watching the teen films of the 1980s.
This script contains scenes of characters using illegal substances. I’d like to use this disclaimer to shed some light on what is depicted in these scenes. This is a piece of fiction and in no way is condoning the use of illegal substances.
My senior plan pertains to 1980s teen films (ex. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club) and what factors in the writing made the films resonate with the teen audience and then why that teen audience still enjoys these films years after watching them for the first time. In my research, I found that the reason why these films resonated with teens so much is because they depicted things on screen that the audience saw in their own lives, and the audience then connected to the characters on screen. My goal for my own senior plan was to write a screenplay that is different, but familiar to the movies of the 1980s. I wanted to take the tropes and cliches I researched and put them into my own original story. A very commonly used trope in teen films is the use of illegal substances. I felt that because drug use is so prevalent in teen films, to omit it from my story would detract from the goal of trying to write a film that is reminiscent of the 80s films. In my research, I created two subcategories of drug use in the film, positive uses and negative uses. A positive use is a scene where the drugs are not being glorified and are shown in a realistic manner, and sometimes are even used to help characters. A negative use would be one where drugs are glorified and are not shown to have repercussions.
One of the most famous scenes of all time from a teen film is the scene in The Breakfast Club where the students in detention all gather together and share marijuana. This is a pivotal scene in the film because the characters all open up to each other and realize that they’re not as different as they thought. The use of marijuana in this scene allows the characters to become more vulnerable and talk about things they wouldn’t normally talk about. This is a use I was going for in my screenplay.
My goal was not to portray the use of drugs as cool or edgy, but to use drugs to allow characters to open up to each other and have deep conversations about themselves. The use of drugs in my screenplay is an important part of the story, but is not the main focus. The drugs just allow the main character to talk through his problems in an open way that he would not be able to talk about if he wasn’t under the influence. Hopefully, after reading this, you can understand why I felt the use of drugs was essential for my screenplay.