The other day I sent my assistant to buy crimini mushrooms at the store. She came back empty handed. I couldn’t believe the store wouldn’t have crimini mushrooms and I made her go back again. She came back empty handed again. At this point I began to question why I had hired her in the first place, explained I had seen them there just yesterday, and sent her back one…more…time. She came back without them again. As I was contemplating the best way to find a new assistant, it dawned on me that when I was saying crimini mushrooms, I actually meant portobello mushrooms. I was the idiot, not her. And now, when she doesn’t understand something, or I don’t know how to explain something, we just say “mushroom.”
This got me thinking about the power of misunderstanding and mistaken identity, particularly in films.
In Slumdog Millionaire the authorities believed Jamal is a criminal, in Galaxy Quest extraterrestrials believe that Jason is actually a space commander and in Aladdin Princess Jasmine thinks Aladdin is wealthy.
Take a moment to think of your own script and the relationship between two of the characters. Could some sort of a misunderstanding help to heighten the conflict?
Maybe a mother finds drugs in their child’s room and doesn’t believe they’re just “holding it for a friend,” someone overhears a conversation and misunderstands it, or a character on a date misinterprets what the other person really means.
Let me know what you come up with.