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Forced Narratives or FNs give us plot-pertinent information that can't be conveyed through dialogue alone.

This information is forced on-screen through text overlay to ensure the viewer receives the story's full intended experience.


Why does this matter to you?

You are the storyteller, you control the narrative, and you control the experience for your audience. 


1. On-Screen Text ✏️

Any text on the screen that is relevant to the story must be translated and placed on screen. 


Needed Not Needed


Spanish on-screen text is translated into an Arabic FN. This context is crucial to the audience.


Based on their uniforms and shields, we already know they are the police.


2. Dialogue 🗣

Dialogue that is spoken in a different language that is NOT needed or intended for the audience to understand. For example, body language can express what is happening instead of dialogue. 


Needed Not Needed

In this Turkish-dubbed clip of Emily in Paris. When the landlord speaks in French, Turkish FNs appear. This allows the audience to recognize the misunderstanding with the language.

In this Japanese-dubbed clip of the Bourne Identity, a group of men can be seen playing cards. They’re speaking Italian with no forced narratives appearing on screen, but they’re not needed in this case. The dialogue in this scene is not important to the storyline and the viewer gets all the context needed through their actions.


3. Song Lyrics 🎶

Forced narratives should be used for song lyrics that move the plot forward or reveal information about a character. 


Needed Not Needed

The Spanish FNs for these song lyrics tell us the kids are struggling in their relationships with their parents. Without them, we wouldn't know that.

In this English dubbed clip of Fanatico, we’re watching Lorenzo perform at his concert. The lyrics don’t move the story forward. So using FNs here is not beneficial to the viewer.


Songs should only be considered for forcing if the rights have been granted. Always seek clearance from the Netflix Dubbing representative regarding song rights.


4. Archival Footage 🕓

Forced Narratives could be used for archival footage In order to retain its authenticity, integrity, and historical intent.



In this Russian-dubbed clip of Monsters Inside, notice the narration and talking heads are dubbed, but the archival footage isn’t and has FNs instead.


Remember 🧠

When Inserting FNs in your script, always think of your audience and the story you want to tell. Be intentional when using FNs. It’s your story to tell. Less is more.

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