PDA

View Full Version : Making up Countries


BrianTubbs
07-25-2007, 04:31 AM
I'm writing a political thriller about a US ambassador in what will either be an African, South American, or possibly Asian country.

Can I get away with making up a country?

Or...since modern movie audiences (and thriller readers) seem to prefer a high dose of realism and authenticity, should I pick a real country?

If the latter, this really raises the difficulty level. I will have to be extremely accurate in my research. So, I'd prefer the fictional country.

What do you all think?

dclary
07-25-2007, 04:38 AM
Are you writing The Bourney Identity or The Mouse That Roared?

Let your answer be your guide. God forbid you actually have to research something.

dpaterso
07-25-2007, 04:53 AM
I'd avoid anything that ends in "stan" 'cause sure as ducks float, some obscure country with that exact name is gonna declare jihad on yo ass.

-Derek

BrianTubbs
07-25-2007, 05:00 AM
Are you writing The Bourney Identity or The Mouse That Roared?

Let your answer be your guide. God forbid you actually have to research something.

Ha. Easy now. I've actually done A LOT of research on this. I've got 4 countries that are potential settings for the story, and have researched them quite a bit.

The problems are: 1) I never know when I have done enough research, and 2) There's simply less flexibility with a real country.

dpaterso
07-25-2007, 05:08 AM
I just remembered Wag The Dog (http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Wag-the-Dog.html) and how they blamed the alleged political crisis on Albania. Too funny. Oddly enough Albania didn't sue. Maybe they don't watch films there?

Heck, countries split up and/or rename themselves all the time, just look at Eastern Europe over the past 5 years. I'd make something up and proceed with the script. Model it on an existing country so it sounds real, just change the name.

-Derek

dclary
07-25-2007, 05:13 AM
Ha. Easy now. I've actually done A LOT of research on this. I've got 4 countries that are potential settings for the story, and have researched them quite a bit.

The problems are: 1) I never know when I have done enough research, and 2) There's simply less flexibility with a real country.

Well, console yourself with this:

What's the likelihood that your American audience will have knowledge enough to look at your movie and go "That's not what the emissary in Durkhastan looks like?"

BrianTubbs
07-25-2007, 06:14 AM
Well, console yourself with this:

What's the likelihood that your American audience will have knowledge enough to look at your movie and go "That's not what the emissary in Durkhastan looks like?"

:roll: Good point!

zeprosnepsid
07-25-2007, 06:58 AM
Plenty of films and TV shows make up countries. I don't think it's a big deal to do so. The first examples that come to mind are the West Wing (a fictional Middle Eastern country) and The Interpreter (a fictional African country). The later, like your film, is a political thriller about Ambassadors. Heck, it takes place at the UN. So, it would seem, there's nothing wrong with doing it.

Plot Device
07-25-2007, 07:59 AM
and The Interpreter (a fictional African country).

You beat me to it.

Plot Device
07-25-2007, 08:04 AM
One thing about The Interpreter is that we all read between the lines and "knew" with very little effort that it was all a thinly veiled allusion to Nelson Mandella and South Africa.


So, to the OP, I ask: Do you want us to "know" by sheer intituive reasoning (is that an oxymoron?) what the name of the REAL country is that you are alluding to? Or do you want to keep it completely oblivious to us?

Thin veils and thick shrouds make a lot of difference here.

Plot Device
07-25-2007, 08:06 AM
I just remembered Wag The Dog (http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Wag-the-Dog.html) and how they blamed the alleged political crisis on Albania. Too funny. Oddly enough Albania didn't sue. Maybe they don't watch films there?

Heck, countries split up and/or rename themselves all the time, just look at Eastern Europe over the past 5 years. I'd make something up and proceed with the script. Model it on an existing country so it sounds real, just change the name.

-Derek


Blame Canada! Blame Canada!

WarrenP
07-25-2007, 11:38 PM
I give you permission to use Warrenistan.

scripter1
07-26-2007, 08:47 AM
now THERE is a name!

I'm going with Plot on this one.
Find the perfect balance between the two AND make it some type of commentary.
EVERYTHING in the script should all be tied together and have some meaning.

Movies are supposed to be ENTERTAINING, not educational.
They can be, it's cool to learn something, but it's really all about the fun.

Make it ALL UP!!

poetinahat
07-26-2007, 08:57 AM
I'd avoid anything that ends in "stan" 'cause sure as ducks float, some obscure country with that exact name is gonna declare jihad on yo ass.

-Derek

Unless it's this place (http://spamusement.com/index.php/comics/view/222). Spamusement - an answer for everything.

beezle
07-26-2007, 08:59 AM
Yes, a lot of movies and TV shows make countries up, and that nearly always ticks me off. Especially when it's obvious they're basing their fictional nation on a real-life-there-on-the-map-nation, making it clear it's all a bit of "don't offend the Saudi's/Poles/Malaysians. Eh. There's also an element of "we can make up any old place. I mean, who's ever gonna know?" People do know.

DanielD
07-26-2007, 11:08 AM
Hey! At least nobody will take offence.
Unless of course, someones(things) passing through from a galaxy far, far away.
Headline ET SUES, BIG TIME!!!
Daniel.

Hillgate
07-28-2007, 02:36 PM
I only ever write about a real country if I've actually been there AND done lots of research because otherwise the person reading your script MAY have been there too and it's just another reason for them to discard it for lack of autheniticity.

Write about places you really know and understand because cultural differences, unless you really understand them, will make your script sound cliched and unreal. You will also find difficulty making your dialogue really stick.

If in doubt, make it all up, which means your story will have to be that little bit better to compensate!

nmstevens
08-01-2007, 03:55 AM
Yes, a lot of movies and TV shows make countries up, and that nearly always ticks me off. Especially when it's obvious they're basing their fictional nation on a real-life-there-on-the-map-nation, making it clear it's all a bit of "don't offend the Saudi's/Poles/Malaysians. Eh. There's also an element of "we can make up any old place. I mean, who's ever gonna know?" People do know.


The problem is, especially if you're dealing with a politically active or unstable region of the world, is that movies can take a couple years to move from script to finished film -- and that can be an eternity when it comes to current events.

Friends can become enemies, enemies friends.

Just think how short a period of time it took for the Berlin wall to collapse -- for the Soviet Union to fall. And nobody in the west really knew that it was going to happen.


Set a movie in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Iraq or Iran -- who knows what's going to be happening in those places a couple years from now or whether the events that you describe in your script - which may make perfect sense given the situation in those place today, will be rendered completely out of date by events that might happen six months, or eighteen months or two weeks before the movie is about to come out.

Fictionalizing the country gives at least some nominal immunity against that kind of thing from happening.

NMS