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Screenwriting

Posted: Thu, 13th Mar 2008, 2:34am

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Merrick

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Hi everyone! I've been working on a script for my movie and I've had to start over on it four or five times before I even wrote any more than five pages. I'm fine with starting over on it; I'll do whatatever it takes to make my movie good. What I want to ask, though is how do I begin a script? I'm trying to introduce characters through conversation, yet not have any pointless talk that adds nothing to the story. Here's a few pages to the most recent rewrite. (I know it's not all formatted correctly; I had to copy it from my script editor into wordpad.)

http://www.mediafire.com/?2kx9cr3z0zy

I would like to know some of your ideas on this. How fast should I introduce the story? I want this to be a short feature (and yes, I know that'll mean 90 or so pages. wink ) Do you get a slight idea of the character's relationships with one another and their personalities? Does the dialouge sound weird? Should I compress the story or make it longer? Do the characters seem to be saying stuff that adds nothing to the story? Pretty much throw me all the constructive criticizm you have. biggrin
Posted: Thu, 13th Mar 2008, 4:15am

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Mellifluous

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From what I've read, I don't get any of the relationships between the characters (apart from Aron and Hope).

Be more descriptive of the flood and its impact on the village. Describe how Ancelin evades it rather than "pushes his way through the flood". Rather than describing the village as old, describe the time it's set and the buildings, it will give you a sense of the place as well as the reader. Out of interest, when is it set?

It's difficult to know based on this whether you introduce characters well or not. In my opinion, every scene needs to count, and say something about/define a character, but difficult to say with this. As for story, don't know what the story is so can't comment apart from there are two scenes both mentioning waiting for ships.

All of the scenes felt staged - they could easily be part of a play I'm watching because of a lack of a sense of defining cinematic features. Try and make it more dynamic so people are doing and showing things just as much, if not more, than saying things.
Posted: Thu, 13th Mar 2008, 6:44am

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Axeman

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The first rule of screenwriting is "show, don't tell," so its generally best to introduce your characters visually if at all possible, rather than through dialog. On a feature it is almost invariable that you have 17 pages for act 1, to introduce the main characters and general plot. Regardless of the length of the finished film, you will virtually always find that act one ends on page 17. I've not read any of your script, as I don't have the time right now, but these are general rules that you might find helpful. Maybe by the weekend I'll have some time to give your pages a look.
Posted: Thu, 13th Mar 2008, 9:17am

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Simon K Jones

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As Axeman says, try to divulge information in ways other than dialogue. A good example of how to NOT get information across is The Phantom Menace, which relies far too much on dialogue to inform the viewer.

As for how quickly you should reveal characters, it depends entirely on the story itself. Sometimes you'll want to get the basics over ASAP so that you can get on with things, while other times you might make it a more gradual reveal throughout the entire duration.

In either case, the crucial thing is to get people's attention immediately, and then never let go of it. Releasing information can go both ways - it can get people interested, but it can also overwhelm them, or bore them. One effective technique is to trickle out the information one piece at a time, so there's always something new coming along of interest, but you hold enough back to make it still worth watching the rest of the film.

The best way to demonstrate characters is how they react to events, rather than through forced dialogue. A good writing exercise would be to think of a few dramatic scenarios (which might not occur in the actual film - in fact, probably best if they don't), and then write how the characters would react. You need to know your characters well enough to know what they'd do in ANY situation. Once you've got that down character will infuse naturally into the main script.
Posted: Thu, 13th Mar 2008, 4:46pm

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Bryan M Block

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Rating: +6

Hello-
I'll give you Bryan's Screenwriting 101:

First of all you need to develop an OUTLINE that covers how the whole story works out- Take about 40 index cards and Plan for each card to be one scene. You can do this on paper or on the computer too if you want. A FREE outliner program is called Ywriter:
http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter4.html
and it will allow you to add one scene at a time.


Secondly a good script will have multiple storylines- sometimes begining screenwriters don't get this because they only see the one "big picture" story as being the plot or structure of the film. This is NOT the case. Usually there is an INTERNAL journey that the hero is going through and an EXTERNAL journey that the hero is going through.

For example: The INTERNAL journey that Luke Skywalker is going through is stated clearly "I want to learn the ways of the force and become a Jedi like my father." The EXTERNAL journey Luke is going through is the adventure to save the princess and destroy the death star. The EXTERNAL journey serves to structure the INTERNAL journey. For example, Luke's internal journey progresses because of the experiences he has in the external journey. He first learns to feel the force (an INTERNAL awakening) because Obi Wan trains him with the probe on the Millenium Falcon. (Obi Wan confirms this by saying "you've just taken your first step into a larger world...")

I'm a big fan of FOUR seperate storylines: The subjective story (Internal) the objective story (external) the impact character story, and the relationship story between the impact chracter and the main character story (more on those later!). In almost EVERY SINGLE SUCCESSFUL SCRIPT YOU CAN SHOW me I can tell you who those characters are and how the writer has played out those FOUR seperate storylines.

So, I would suggest building an outline first based on TWO storylines that make up the main plot of the story- Your main character (hero's) INTERNAL journey and their EXTERNAL journey.

Another example & Exercise:

Scene 1: Hero finds a strange hole in the woods with his friends.
Is this an INTERNAL or EXTERNAL journey scene? It is EXTERNAL- something in the story world that is part of the plot.

Scene 2: Hero confesses to friends that he has always been afraid of dark cramped places.
Is this an INTERNAL or EXTERNAL journey scene? It is INTERNAL. The hero is revealing something about themselves, their INTERNAL struggle, fears, hopes, etc.


These two journeys also require setup. You need to establish an INTERNAL or MORAL need for your hero to give the internal journey PURPOSE.
What is your hero trying to OVERCOME internally that they will overcome by engaging in the activities EXTERNALLY.

For example:
Luke Skywalker's internal need is: Escape a desperate life on Tatooine and more importantly discover the truth about his father/parents-
He starts to meet this need by engaging in the adventure with Obi Wan.

John McClane (Die Hard) Internal need is: Reconcile with his estranged wife. He tries to meet this need by trying to defeat the terrorists and protecting his wife.

Bruce Wayne's (Batman) internal need is: Make peace with / Get over the death of his parents. (notice that his NEED is not "revenge" - it manifests as "revenge" ) He tries to meet this need by becoming a crimefighter.


So, establish your hero's internal (or moral) need and attempting to meet that need becomes your second story line, the INTERNAL journey.
Now, develop "signposts" or "milestones" for each journey and put them on some index cards or in your outliner.


Once you have done that, let's take a look at fleshing out the OUTLINE with your actual dialoge and script- that will be Bryan's screenwriting 102.
wink
Posted: Thu, 13th Mar 2008, 5:49pm

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pdrg

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Bryan, hurry up with 102, and mods, assemble the lot into a sticky ASAP

Bryan, if I could work out how to +1 you (am I really that dense?), I would. Hey, +2 just because.
Posted: Thu, 13th Mar 2008, 6:04pm

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Merrick

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Thanks for your comments. I'm writing a backstroy right now:

http://www.mediafire.com/?majxkxpb491

It's a prequel to the movie. You don't have to read the whole thing; the introduction tells you pretty much all you need to know about the setting; the rest is some of the first draft of a short book I'm writing about a quest that Hope goes on. The reason I didn't post this before was because I wanted to see your initial reactions regarding the first few minutes of script without knowing of any of the backstory, since that's how the audience will see it.

It never occured to me that it wasn't clear this is a fantasy movie. The setting is on a world called Tialos. The backstory I just posted will give you an idea of that.

It sounds like I'm going to end up starting over on the script again. This time I'll add more visual details and less pointless dialouge. I already have a clear picture of exactly what these scenes will look like; maybe I'm just not writing it down very well. You see, before now I thought screenplays tried to keep the descriptions fairly short and simple.

Ancelin's talk with Thalassa was a short prolouge to the movie set during the flooding of Sodom. I wanted to get the pocketwath in there as early as possible since it's the centerpiece of the story. I also thought begining it with a little action would be a good thing. Do you think I should start the movie this way?

If I'm going to ask all these queshtions, I guesss I'll need to provide a description of the movie. Here goes...
The watch is very old and has been counting for ages. It's nearing a certain time when the evil people (the people left in Sodom) will be destroyed. Whoever has the watch when it reaches this time must die to end the evil. Will Hope have the watch when it runs out? If not, who will? All the characters will have different motivations throughout the story.

As you can see, the ships coming home has pretty much nothing to do with the story. I just thought of it a few days ago as a good way to develop the characters by their reactions to their family and friends returning from battle, as well as establish the fact early on that there is a war. Do you guys think I should keep it? If not, How should I begin the movie?

I actually like my backstory quite a bit. I'm able to use my natural writing style. When I write the script, however, I can't use the past tense, flowery, Lord of the Rings kind of syle anymore.

Last edited Mon, 17th Mar 2008, 1:11pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Sun, 16th Mar 2008, 4:34am

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EvilDonut

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a screenplay has to have a PULL, meaning, a one paragraph description that involves someone saying "Hey! i'd like to watch that"

If the answer to that is "eh" - think of another idea. Too manyu people i see waste months, years on a screenplay that "just doesn't sell" and get pissed and angry.

Before going all out, make 1-2 pages and then get feedback. If you have bosses (producers, teacher, etc.) they'll tell you right away if it's "marketable".

Trust me, write a good short description aobut your story and then get feedback from all.

And then from there - let your creativity be your guiding force.

d
Posted: Mon, 17th Mar 2008, 2:48am

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Merrick

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Thanks! The first page/minute of the movie was meant to be the pull. Wheather its a good pull or not may be hard for you to tell since I didn't include any cinematic details or camera angles. I think my story idea is pretty good and sets me up for a nice, character oriented movie, but I'm still not sure as to how I'm going to begin it.

I posted a description of the movie somewhere in my last post, Donut. The other stuff that I wrote in the prolouge probably won't be included in the movie at all, but just helps to set the scene.

What's your opinion on screenwriting using sequences? (about eight 15-minute mini-stories that work together to form the movie) I recently read some of a book about this technique and it seems like a good idea to me. What are some other methods that I might consider?

Last edited Mon, 17th Mar 2008, 1:12pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Mon, 17th Mar 2008, 12:49pm

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Mellifluous

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Instead of posting the whole story, can't you condense it into a short description? To make it into a decent movie you need to be able to compress it concisely into a short idea that makes people understand perfectly what the film is all about. If you can't do this then your film won't get very far.

E.g. A police chief must overcome his fear of water to save his people from a great white shark, or A policeman must save his estranged wife and marriage, as well as all her colleagues, by defeating a tower block of terrorists.

As far as I can tell, your story is about a world called Tialos which sprung forth from a crystal along with the sun and the moon at the beginning of time. The people on Tialos start a civilisation which later becomes corrupted as they seek to demonstrate their power by digging a large hole into the centre of the earth. This causes bad stuff like floods and lots of deaths.

Then your story gets a bit unclear as you seek to explain backstory involving friendships between an old man and a dragon, and a character called Ancelin who I have no idea who he is and why he does what he does.

What story do you want to tell? If you tell the story of the past via flashbacks, you need to work out how this will work without bogging the present storyline down. Think about what you can put across about the people and their past in present scenes/action without long expisitionary sequences.

My 'mantras' of writing have become very simple:

- all characters must be there for a reason. e.g. there's NO POINT in creating a friend for a main character unless he actually does something.
- every scene is there for a reason. The first scene you write is not there to just start the script, it must start the story towards where you want it to go, there must be a goal that scene or a character gets to/wants to get to.
- everything is there for a reason, from characters in a scene (and exactly what they say and do) to props, locations, extras etc.
- get into characters' heads. A great way to get to know your characters if you're struggling with them is to write what a character CLOSE to them thinks about them. E.g. if your character Joe is husband to Mary, what does Mary think about her husband? What does Joe's friend Mark think about him? What does Joe's dentist think about him?
- cut out 'BIG' plot coincidences that serve the plot to get you where you want, but that actually make little sense and will cause you to lose your audience.
- characters respond and react to what happens to and around them, so don't shoehorn them into doing things that don't make sense.

Just one final note: unless your story has anything to do with the Biblical and historical Sodom, I suggest changing the name.
Posted: Mon, 17th Mar 2008, 2:41pm

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Merrick

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I edited my last post and got rid of the backstory, since it seemed to only cause confusion. As I said before, the backstory is not part of the movie. There will most likely be no flashbacks and very few references to it, so forget the whole thing; it was just my answer to your queshtion of when the movie was set. wink

I wrote:

There is a very old pocketwatch that has been counting for ages. It's nearing a certain time when the evil people (the people left in Sodom) will be destroyed. Whoever has the watch when it reaches this time must die to end evil. Will Hope have the watch when it runs out? If not, who will?
That's my condensed movie. It's all witnessed from Hope's point of view, since I love the idea of telling a huge story of good and evil from the perspective of a young, innocent girl who can't fight, but has some inner strength that will come out.

Mellifluous wrote:

The first scene you write is not there to just start the script, it must start the story towards where you want it to go
This is where I'm running into trouble. Maybe I should begin the movie with Ancelin (Who is a Christ figure, by the way.) being killed in battle and giving the watch to Hope, beginning the main story of the movie right away. The only problem with this would be that the audience would have no idea who Hope and Ancelin are while watching the first scene.

I love my characters and know exactly what they should look and act like, since I modeled most of them on people very close to me. I just have to find ways to express what they're like to others.

Bryan, is the impact character you mentioned above the person that helps the protagonist on their journey, like the instructor in Karate Kid or Obi Wan in Star Wars?

And yes, I did name Sodom after the Biblical Sodom because it is destroyed when its peole turn evil.
Posted: Mon, 17th Mar 2008, 3:00pm

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BlackRider

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Merrick:

You've got the first 10-pages to pull your reader in. If you can't do it in the first 10 pages, then I can tell you this much... it's probably a good bet that your script will be closed and put into a pile that is commonly referred to as the "Slush" pile.

I've read what little bit you have offered and I can almost, and that is ALMOST see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. One thing to keep in mind when writing a script is that every story, every character has a beginning, a history, before you even type the first two words: "FADE IN:".

That means you have to write the backstory first, or if you are one of the very rare few, at least have a good working foundation of the story already worked out in your head. However, I would recommend that you flesh out the story on paper, or computer, first.

My general rule of thumb is usually along the lines of:

A. Character Backstory for ALL of my characters (Major, Minor, Secondary, etc.)

B. The Story Backstory: What's happening before the curtain rises. History, Politics, Economy, Religion, what have you.

C. Work out the Setting Backstory: Where is it taking place? You have to be able to paint a picture with words of the world in which your script takes place. In a sense, you have to create the playground for your "kids" to play on, and in.

D. When you begin to write your first draft - "YOU WRITE IT!" Do not, and I stress... "DO NOT" begin rewriting after just the first few pages. There will be time enough for that in the second draft. And always take notes! You get an idea, write it down. Sooner or later, there is a place for everything. Either in the form of the original thought/idea, or you'll think of a better way to write that thought/idea into a more concise piece of action or dialogue.

And speaking of dialogue... write the way you talk. Throw out the English Grammar Book that you learned from in school. It's not going to do you a damned bit of good. And one more thing, keep your dialogue short, concise, and to the point. It has to move your script from beginning to end. Each scene and dialogue that you write has to move you to the next scene. The picture has to flow.

I hope this helps you.

Bob Teske
a.k.a. BlackRider
Posted: Tue, 18th Mar 2008, 3:51am

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Merrick

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BlackRider wrote:

I've read what little bit you have offered and I can almost, and that is ALMOST see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
Thanks, that's all I need. smile

I'll finish the script this time, BlackRider. I see your point now; as it is I could easily go on forever with rewrites and never even finish more than a few pages.

It seems like my initial queshtion may have been a bit too broad to answer in a thread. I'm taking some courses on screenwriting this summer; I guess I'll wait until then and get my queshtions fully answered in person. Thanks for the replies, you're all great. smile
Posted: Tue, 18th Mar 2008, 8:44am

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EvilDonut

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most producers / studios read the logline, then 1-2 pages of the whole story/synopsis.

maybe even 10 pages.

That's it. If it isn't deemed 'marketable' - it's thrown away. Sad, so many spend 100 pages and wind up creating something no one wants to invest their money in.

d
Posted: Tue, 18th Mar 2008, 4:26pm

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Bryan M Block

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Rating: +3

Hey guys-
Some good advice in this thread Merrick World.

pdrg & everyone thanks for the +'s on my post, and for the kind words pdrg.

Notes on Bryan's Screenwriting 101:

I've read nearly every screenwriting book I could find, I'm pretty familliar with the techniques of Volger (Hero's journey- George Lucas's favorite), John Truby (author of the Blockbuster scriptwriting software and "The anatomy of story"), Syd Field (author of "screenplay" which is a required read for many, but I find it too limited in many ways), Blake Snyder (author of "Save the Cat"), and the "Dramatica" story paradigm (Oy vey that one gives me a headache, but it has great insights!), not to mention several other books, articles, and things by lesser known folks. I've also attended classes and workshops. While none of this has rended up with me actually writing a great script yet, I have some in the works and I have become a skilled "story analyst" - many of my colleagues run their scripts by me for that reason, some which have been published and some that have gone on to the great unknown. The biggest thing I've learned in all of that self-study is that STRUCTURE is THE most important thing to consider when writing a screenplay (of course, you can do it any way you want to- but SUCCESSFUL and SATISFYING stories tend to follow certain structural "rules"). The creativity comes AFTER the structure. Many people invovled in creative fields think that everything should be based on intuition and inspiration, but the truth is that there are underlying systems at work that are propping up that creative/intuitive flow. Think of it like a canal- the canal has walls that prevent the water from going anywhere outside of the path of the canal, but within the canal, the water flows freely. (Is that a Zen enough approach? wink ) So I encourage everyone to stop thinking so much ahoutCONTENT right up front and take a step back and consider STRUCTURE first- the structure is the canal that gives your creativity (content) a destination. If you start with content, sometimes you "write yourself into a corner" because you are focusing on the perspective of your main character and you are allowing the story to "unfold before you" as you write. While this can be exhilirating and fun, and can sometimes even be successful, it has been my experience that you end up with more painful re-writes to make things work than if you would have just planned ahead from the begining. This is why I suggest starting with the two main journeys that the screenplay will cover and defining those up front.

Mellifluous has a point about the logline that is also important. It helps you define those journeys-

You also have to decide if you are planning on making this yourself of trying to pitch/sell this screenplay. If you are planning on making this yourself, you have a lot more room to play around with the way your screenply looks and is formatted, but if you are going to pitch/sell this- you don't put lots of camera angles and things in the script, those scripts are pretty lean to allow for interpretation. For example, when Martin Scorsese writes for himself, he annotates alot of that stuff in the script because it's for HIM- but a screenwriter usually doesn't include all of that stuff if they are pitching it. So it depends on your goals.

Bryan's Screenwriting 102: The Impact character

OK- so having told you all that I've read/explored all of those masters of screenwriting and storytelling I will tell you that I am a synthesist by nature and I am currently in favor of a "blended appraoch" that draws heavily from both Truby and Dramatica. The "Impact Character" is a Dramatica term, although Blake Snyder refers to a similar idea as a "buddy" thing- and it's because the idea WORKS and WORKS well. I like the term "impact character" because it is neutral and it explains the role that character plays in relation to the MAIN CHARACTER or HERO.

What is the impact character? My definition (based on Dramatica's) is:
THE IMPACT CHARACTER IS THE CHARACTER THROUGH WHICH THE MAIN CHARACTER'S INTERNAL JOURNEY IS EXTERNALIZED IN THE CONTEXT OF A RELATIONSHIP.

Does that make sense? Mellifluous hinted at this in his post: "A great way to get to know your characters if you're struggling with them is to write what a character CLOSE to them thinks about them. E.g. if your character Joe is husband to Mary, what does Mary think about her husband? What does Joe's friend Mark think about him? What does Joe's dentist think about him?"

In that case, Mary, Mark, or his dentist can serve as an impact character, although the impact character's role is more complex than just what they think about the main character- they challenge the main character, the recognize the change in the main character, they help the main character through their internal struggles. THis can be in the form of a Mentor, but a mentor is something specific as well- but characters can represent more than one role. For example, in The Karate Kid" Mr. Miyagi is definitely Daniel's mentor, but he also becomes his friend and he is also the impact character. In Star Wars, Obi Wan is the mentor and plays the impact character to a point, but so does Leia and Han to a degree- all challenge Luke in different ways, externalizing his internal journey- but in all truth, the real impact character is DARTH VADER- although this is not fully developed in the first film, Darth Vader and Luke are "shadowy reflections" of each other- the new warrior and the old warrior, the light and dark (even in costumes- Luke is dressed all in white and Darth Vader in black) and that is because Lucas follows the "Hero's journey" Quest model. In the Lord of the Rings (another Quest model but the story has a clearly defined impact character), Gandalf is Frodo's mentor, but the impact character is Samwise. Sam has the relationship with Frodo that externalizes his internal journey.

Many times, the "love interest" plays the role of the impact character, but not always. Marion is Indiana Jones' impact character becasue their relationship externalizes Indy's internal journey which is "Is there anything out there more important than my pursuit of these artifacts?- Yes! Love is!" Indy even says so out loud for the audience when he threatens to blow up the ark with the missle launcher "All I want is the girl." and Belloq challenges him, knowing that he is still conflicted- Indy has the same type of thing going on in The Last Crusade- His father finally says at the end "Indiana...let it go." Meaning that being alive and having the relationship is more valuable than any artifact.

So again, I suggest deciding on the INTERNAL and EXTERNAL journeys that your character will go on and then defining an IMPACT CHARACTER that can have a relationship with the main character that externalizes the internal journey.

This will result in the following 4 storyline structures:

1. The main storyline encompassing ALL of the following, which is the main characters EXTERNAL JOURNEY (what they do, with whom, against whom to accomplish the goal of the story, such as "teaming up with Han, chewie, and Obi Wan to rescue Leia join the rebellion and destroy the death star)
2. The main characters INTERNAL JOURNEY (Such as follow Obi-Wan, find out the truth about my father, learn the ways of the force, and become an accomplished pilot and Jedi Knight)
3. The IMPACT CHARACTER's Journey - more clearly defined in some stories than others- Marion has her own storyline in Raiders of the Lost Ark, she owns a bar that gets destroyed, follows Indy, gets kidnapped, gets romanced by Belloq, tries to escape by getting him drunk, gets thrown in the well of SOuls with Indy, gets kidnapped again, shoots up the place in the flying wing (plane), etc... she has HER OWN STORY. Your Impact character should also have their own storyline.
4. The relationship storyline between the main and impact characters. This is a touchstone for BOTH characters. In Raiders: a. Marion and Indy reunite, yet Marion is mad at Indy because he romanced her when she was young and then left. b. Marion and Indy seem somewhat reconciled in Egypt and stay will Sallah and his family. c. Indy gets jealous when Marion is wearing a nice dress that Belloq gave her. d. Marion and Indy get physical on the ship, finally reconciling. e. Indy confesses "all he wants is the girl" f. Marion invites Indy for a drink at the end, they are together finally.

If you can develop the milestones of each story line and lay them out in paralell you can make sure that each scene is propelling ONE OF THESE storylines forward, and as long as a scene is doing that the scene will be of interest to the audience. So your screenplay will have FOUR stories that need to be reconciled at the end to be satisfying.

so corresponding:

1. Main storyline/External journey: Indy must obtain the ark before the Nazis get it to save the world!
2. Internal Journey: (based on indy's internal NEED): Indy must learn that there are things bigger than himself (love/faith) that are more valuable than chasing some artifact.
3. Impact character's journey (based on her internal NEED): Marion must overcome her internal pain and lonliness (caused by her father) "Abner drug me all over the world looking for his little bits of junk..." (and her first love that broke her heart, Indiana Jones.) "I've learned to hate you in the last ten years. I was a child. I was in love. It was wrong and you knew it..."
4. The relationship between the main/Impact character: Indy and Marion must re-fall in love, reconcile and have to end up together.


Each story line has multiple steps that lead to those conclusions. A complete outline can help you break out each storyline and then you will always have a purpose for each scene as you combine them into your overall story.

-B

Last edited Thu, 20th Mar 2008, 4:28am; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Wed, 19th Mar 2008, 2:35am

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Merrick

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That's a brilliant way to look at writing a story. Thanks a lot. If my last post made it sound like I didn't appreciate the advice in this thread, sorry.

It looks like I've got some choices to make now as to what point of view I want to tell the story from. I could have Hope be the main character and Aron and Ancelin be the impact ones. Or Aron could be the lead because he is the one who ends up with the watch when it runs out.

It may not always be true, but it seems to me that the impact characters are usually the most lovable or memorable to the audience. You have to love Sam, Mr. Miyagi, even Darth Vader. In that case, I'd want to give Hope the role, because she has to be completely beautiful and innocent and be able to relate to the audience; the complete opposite of the sexy dumb blonde that ruins so many movies. Maybe I should make it about Hope, wo has already gone through her journey (in the book that I posted part of above) helping Aron on his.

I wonder if I could try telling the story as seen by the impact character (Hope), like Tolkien told the last part of Frodo's journey through Sam's eyes. It would be sailing right at the edge of the "canal", but it might work. I would love to tell an epic story from the perspective of a small, young girl stuck in the middle of it.

In the end I guess those have to be my choices, since I know the characters better than anyone else. Thanks a million for the replies, especially that last one, Bryan. It really got me thinking about the story and plotlines. I guess I've taken my first step into a larger world. smile (Actually probably the second, reading LOTR was pretty big. biggrin )
Posted: Wed, 19th Mar 2008, 4:19am

Post 17 of 35

Bryan M Block

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Merrick World wrote:



I wonder if I could try telling the story as seen by the impact character (Hope), like Tolkien told the last part of Frodo's journey through Sam's eyes. It would be sailing right at the edge of the "canal", but it might work. I would love to tell an epic story from the perspective of a small, young girl stuck in the middle of it.
Ah! My friend, I feel you are on your way and that you really "get" what I was saying- Thanks for your kind words- I want to also submit that you CAN tell the story that way...look at "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee- the book is great, yes, and in the movie the MAIN character Scout kind of observes what the PROTAGONIST is doing (her father) Her father is the HERO/PROTAGONIST really, she is not an "impact character" per se, but she kind of plays that role for her father- but she is the Main character and the impact character is in a relationship with the main character (in To Kill a Mockingbird it is Boo Radley eecause Scout is the MAIN character) The MAIN character and the protagonist/HERO don't necessarilly have to be the same thing wink So you could structure your story from her point of view, BUT if the audience is emotionally involved with HER inner journey, you may be better served giving her an impact character to play off of.

Another one to consider is "Pirates of the Carribean" - Jack Sparrow is NOT the hero of those stories- Will Turner is! Think about it- Will is the HERO, Jack is one of his helpers, like Han Solo to Luke- Luke is the Hero, but Hans story is also very interesting...


And you are right about the emotional appeal of impact characters, that's partially why they are so important- we cheer the hero on to accomplish their goal, and we all walk away wishing we had the support of someone like (Insert Impact character here) to help us in our own journeys- They humanize the hero by calling them on their bullshit, while also believing in them and supporting them. Who wouldn't want a friend like that? Han Solo flies back to save Luke- "You're all clear kid! Now let's blow this thing and go home..."
Samwise:
Frodo: I can't do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.

Mr. Myiagi:
Daniel: You're the best friend I've ever had.
Miyagi: You... pretty okay, too. smile


-B

Last edited Wed, 19th Mar 2008, 7:15pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Wed, 19th Mar 2008, 6:17am

Post 18 of 35

EvilDonut

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there's a diff between being an 'author' and a 'screenwriter'.

most don't know the difference unfortunately.

they do teach you that in film school i know that.

d
Posted: Wed, 19th Mar 2008, 6:53pm

Post 19 of 35

Merrick

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Bryan M Block wrote:

Another one to consider is "Pirates of the Carribean" - Jack Sparrow is NOT the hero of those stories- Will Turner is! Think about it- Will is the HERO, Jack is one of his helpers, like Han Solo to Luke- Luke is the Hero, but Hans story is also very interesting...
Hehe, Jack is also his own impact character in the third movie, if you know what I mean. biggrin
Posted: Thu, 20th Mar 2008, 5:00am

Post 20 of 35

EvilDonut

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Screenwriters getting in, try to be too complex. They don't understand 'business', 'marketing' and 'profit'. They think a compelling powerful interesting script will equal riches!

Then they discover no one cares about their 120 page civil war conflict in early America. Or that 120 page spy thriller. Stick to authoring books then.

Know how producers in hollywood get interested in movies?

Producer (guy with money, access to studio to get more money): "Hi"

Screenwriter/Director/Producer/whatever "Hey, i'm gonna write a pitch involving Brad Pitt, ex-army guy, now a mountain man, living with his family in the woods, fighting the Govt who wants to take his cottage, bulldoze and build oil there. In the end he rallies his neighbors too".

Producer: "Wow! This involves action, an alpha male fighting a powerful force, drama, conflict with his wife and kids, beautiful scenery in the woods. Easy to sell to audiences. And makes him stand out with great dialogue about sticking to his guns!. Give me 3-page outline of the main storyline"

S/D/P : "Cool. Work on it right now"

Producer: "Sweet. Then i got 3 screenwriters i work on, who'll then throw together a quick 90 page script that we'll send to Brad to look at, then send to Sony to see if they wanna greenlight it".

That's it kids. It's not as complex as you think. smile

btw: That brad pitt idea was just fictional. but u get the point!

d
Posted: Thu, 20th Mar 2008, 1:29pm

Post 21 of 35

Bryan M Block

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EvilDonut wrote:

Screenwriters getting in, try to be too complex. They don't understand 'business', 'marketing' and 'profit'. They think a compelling powerful interesting script will equal riches!

Then they discover no one cares about their 120 page civil war conflict in early America. Or that 120 page spy thriller. Stick to authoring books then.

Know how producers in hollywood get interested in movies?

Producer (guy with money, access to studio to get more money): "Hi"

Screenwriter/Director/Producer/whatever "Hey, i'm gonna write a pitch involving Brad Pitt, ex-army guy, now a mountain man, living with his family in the woods, fighting the Govt who wants to take his cottage, bulldoze and build oil there. In the end he rallies his neighbors too".

Producer: "Wow! This involves action, an alpha male fighting a powerful force, drama, conflict with his wife and kids, beautiful scenery in the woods. Easy to sell to audiences. And makes him stand out with great dialogue about sticking to his guns!. Give me 3-page outline of the main storyline"

S/D/P : "Cool. Work on it right now"

Producer: "Sweet. Then i got 3 screenwriters i work on, who'll then throw together a quick 90 page script that we'll send to Brad to look at, then send to Sony to see if they wanna greenlight it".

That's it kids. It's not as complex as you think. smile

btw: That brad pitt idea was just fictional. but u get the point!

d
Actually that's not how it works in many cases. There is an entire filtering process that usually goes on- if you are a screenwriter, you may very well have your epic Civil War script or your spy thriller, but you will need an agent that can present those scrpits to the studios. The agent is usually the first line of filtering (although some writers (the more established the better) shop directly to producers/directors/actors to get a name attached)- they see thousands of scrpits and they won't risk their own reputations on pitching something that isn't "any good"- in fact they won't even take you on as a client unless you have a significant number of finished screenplays to look at. If you hand an agent a script, the first thing they are going to do is put it aside and say "What else do you have?" Serious writers write ALOT and should have a backlog of materials available. The goal is usually to get a "name" attached to a project, like an actor or director or producer that is interested in doing the project, then it has "legs" and has a better chance of being greenlighted for production. But also understand that a script WILL probaby have several re-writes by "script doctors" that will punch up dilogue, change pieces of the script, even change characters, situations, settings, and plot points. The resulting script may be very different that the one they started with. This impacts the writers % of payment when the script goes to production. Writers are paid however as soon as the studio "options" the script, which means they decide they are interested in the screenplay and pay a fee to get the rights to develop it, and then more money if and when the script goes to production. Also, an option usually has a time limit, so if the studio doesn't follow through with developing it within a specified time, rights to the material usually fall back to the writer and they can re-shop the script. Sometimes other creatives work with a writer to get something out there- like Lucas and Spielberg spent a weekend outlining the story for Raiders of the Lost Ark, but they brought in a screenwriter to make a script out of their story outline. The scenario you outlined above is unlikely because actors, especially big stars have alot of input is selecting their projects, and it is unlikely that some studio head is going to ask some writers to "throw together a 90 page script" and send it to a major star like Brad Pitt and expect him to be interested. Producers are oten more like project managers than true creatives, although there are many exceptions to this and it can be argued that knowing how to put together the right creative teams is being very creative in and of itself.

The more likely scenario would be that the studios would contact some agents (or vise versa) and tell them what they are looking for and the agents would come pitch ideas they have that their clients have written- if one of those sounds great, they will run it past say, a Brad Pitt or a director of choice and get a "name" interested and attached to it- then, if they can do that, they might run it past their script doctors (who actually may not change anything up front, or they may say that it needs tons of work)and then they will option the script and try to get the project greenlighted- but let's say it's something like this big civil war epic and a similar movie comes out in the meantime, and it flops- the studio then might decide not to make the picture, but they would have paid the writer the option fee anyway- and whent the option time expires, the writer is free to re-shop the script, but in the meantime he has probably generated a dozen more scripts to shop anyway.
Posted: Fri, 21st Mar 2008, 8:30am

Post 22 of 35

EvilDonut

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Bryan M Block wrote:


The more likely scenario would be that the studios would contact some agents (or vise versa) and tell them what they are looking for and the agents would come pitch ideas they have that their clients have written
lol.

OMG. I don't know where to even start. Studios don't call William Morris and go "Hey, what movie should we make?"

I'm tired and not even gonna touch this. Hey believe what you want.

I'm talking to kids here. You wanna write drawn out bibles on screenwriting, go ahead. Good luck with years of writing millions of screenplays and trying to 'option' them all over town.

d
Posted: Fri, 21st Mar 2008, 11:03am

Post 23 of 35

ashman

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I'm talking to kids here. You wanna write drawn out bibles on screenwriting, go ahead. Good luck with years of writing millions of screenplays and trying to 'option' them all over town.
Bryan knows what he's talking about as do many others. Not all members here are children, some are professionals who work in the industry full time from all over the world. They help people here by giving good advice, which Bryan has done. What you have said is completely irrelevant and childish.

If you have something to say why not be encouraging about it. Throwing your weight around and force feeding people won't help anyone.

You make out your a professional, I'd like to see you start acting like one.
Posted: Fri, 21st Mar 2008, 1:20pm

Post 24 of 35

Bryan M Block

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EvilDonut wrote:

Bryan M Block wrote:


The more likely scenario would be that the studios would contact some agents (or vise versa) and tell them what they are looking for and the agents would come pitch ideas they have that their clients have written
lol.

OMG. I don't know where to even start. Studios don't call William Morris and go "Hey, what movie should we make?"

I'm tired and not even gonna touch this. Hey believe what you want.

I'm talking to kids here. You wanna write drawn out bibles on screenwriting, go ahead. Good luck with years of writing millions of screenplays and trying to 'option' them all over town.

d
Whatever man- I didn't say they would call and ask the agents what movie they should make- read it again. I said they would find out what is out there that fits their criteria. For example if the producer wanted to make an action picture, they would find out what people were shopping in that genre or if the studio has already optioned something that fits that criteria - of course if there is nothing there, they might comission a writer like you said - but if your scenario was the way it was really always done, it would be a very CLOSED system and new writers would never be found- and that simply isn't true. I know it's hard to break in but the system is not totally closed.

I'm basing the above on the experiences of people I know personally or indirectly (friend of a friend) that are out in Los Angeles and actually doing this stuff and making a living at it- so yes, it's subjective, but very accurate.

The truth is that it is very hard to get anywhere in "the business" that's absolutely true- which is all the more reason to play the game the way you are most likely to be successful, which means STRONG STORY STRUCTURE, WRITE A TON OF SCREENPLAYS, AND GET AN AGENT.

That doesn't gaurantee anything, but that's the game that's being played. You are free to believe that I don't know what I'm talking about and I'll just keep working with the people I know and trust and try to model my path on their successes- This thread was really about how to structure Merrick World's story better or stronger - not how to become a professional screenwriter. I've given the best advice I can based on 10 years of professional experience in video & film production, formal education, experience and self-instruction - obviously I still have a long way to go to reach the success that I'm looking for as much as anyone here.

I'm curious, EvilDonut you obviously have a level of professionalism in working in this field- please send me an emailoutlining your experience and maybe we can network, I always need professional contacts.

Good Luck-
B
Posted: Sat, 22nd Mar 2008, 2:41am

Post 25 of 35

Merrick

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I'm not planning on trying to sell this script. I just am tired of making quick videos and wanted to take a couple of years and make one really nice picture with a good story. This obviously involes writing a script, which I was having some trouble with, so I started this thread.

Donut, the human mind works by putting things into categories. I already had impact characters incorporated into my movie without even knowing it, but defining them and bringing them out into the open helps me answer other queshtions, such as who's point of view should I tell the story from and what is the purpos of each scene. Also, if you look at the profiles of the people on this forum, you'll find that I'm the only kid in this thread. The rest are more experienced people who are kind enough to stop and offer some advice to a beginner. That's what FxHome is all about, so if you don't want to spend time giving kids advice (which is completly understandable) you may be better suited for another forum somewhere else, since FxHome doesn't have much to offer pros other than awesome programs. smile

Anyway, I just started over on the script again based on what I've learned. I cut out the whole thing about the ships coming back from battle and jumped right into the story. I plan to finish writing the entire first draft this time before I do another rewrite. Here goes...
Posted: Sat, 22nd Mar 2008, 3:08am

Post 26 of 35

EvilDonut

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Bryan M Block wrote:


The truth is that it is very hard to get anywhere in "the business" that's absolutely true- which is all the more reason to play the game the way you are most likely to be successful, which means STRONG STORY STRUCTURE, WRITE A TON OF SCREENPLAYS, AND GET AN AGENT.
Yep, that's why at 22 i was already making 6 figures, working at a national TV network in the IT R&D engineering department. Then moved up from there, working for other networks and studios in various other positions. Now i'm branching off by myself. I know, about time huh.

But wow, it was so 'hard to get in the business' - A hard 15 minute job interview!

But hey, ultimately, i don't own you. Feel free to believe whatever you wish to believe.

As for me: Hey, if you ever get to Hollywood - look me up. Nothing to hide here sir!

take care

d
Posted: Sat, 22nd Mar 2008, 5:19am

Post 27 of 35

Bryan M Block

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EvilDonut wrote:

Bryan M Block wrote:


The truth is that it is very hard to get anywhere in "the business" that's absolutely true- which is all the more reason to play the game the way you are most likely to be successful, which means STRONG STORY STRUCTURE, WRITE A TON OF SCREENPLAYS, AND GET AN AGENT.
Yep, that's why at 22 i was already making 6 figures, working at a national TV network in the IT R&D engineering department. Then moved up from there, working for other networks and studios in various other positions. Now i'm branching off by myself. I know, about time huh.

But wow, it was so 'hard to get in the business' - A hard 15 minute job interview!

But hey, ultimately, i don't own you. Feel free to believe whatever you wish to believe.

As for me: Hey, if you ever get to Hollywood - look me up. Nothing to hide here sir!

take care

d
That's awesome man- I repeat my invitation to send me a private email, I'd love to know where you've worked and with whom and what capacity- I'm looking to network. My friend Ben is moving back to Hollywood soon and I'm hoping to continue working with him on some things- shoot me an email-
B
Posted: Sat, 22nd Mar 2008, 5:19am

Post 28 of 35

Bryan M Block

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EvilDonut wrote:

Bryan M Block wrote:


The truth is that it is very hard to get anywhere in "the business" that's absolutely true- which is all the more reason to play the game the way you are most likely to be successful, which means STRONG STORY STRUCTURE, WRITE A TON OF SCREENPLAYS, AND GET AN AGENT.
Yep, that's why at 22 i was already making 6 figures, working at a national TV network in the IT R&D engineering department. Then moved up from there, working for other networks and studios in various other positions. Now i'm branching off by myself. I know, about time huh.

But wow, it was so 'hard to get in the business' - A hard 15 minute job interview!

But hey, ultimately, i don't own you. Feel free to believe whatever you wish to believe.

As for me: Hey, if you ever get to Hollywood - look me up. Nothing to hide here sir!

take care

d
That's awesome man- I repeat my invitation to send me a private email, I'd love to know where you've worked and with whom and what capacity- I'm looking to network. My friend Ben is moving back to Hollywood soon and I'm hoping to continue working with him on some things- shoot me an email-
B
Posted: Sat, 22nd Mar 2008, 5:21am

Post 29 of 35

Sollthar

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EvilDonut wrote:

Hey, if you ever get to Hollywood - look me up. Nothing to hide here sir!
And what would I look you up as, if you don't mind me asking? An evil Donut? A fat girl from ohio, as you claimed in another thread?

You certainly appear to have your head quite high up and you're pretty quick about telling others how they're wrong and how you're successful and in possession of the holy industry truth. Maybe you are successful, maybe you are a fat girl from ohio having her fun. Either way I have to say I find your attitude troubling.

Obviously you're not willing to reveal who you are and what you've done so others can judge your words based on your work instead of just your words. That's ultimately your decision, but I'd appreciate if you could modify your tone a bit. And if you really want to stay anonymous, then stop claiming/talking about your own success. It shouldn't matter then, should it? But you can't go "I'm successfull and know everything but... er... I'll not tell you who I am or what I do you'll just have to take my word for it... did I tell you how awesome I am yet?" and expect people not to wonder. Especially in the tone you appear to choose.

If you're actually trying to help with good advice, excellent. That's always welcome no matter if coming from Mr Spielberg or the fat girl from ohio.

Thanks
Posted: Sat, 22nd Mar 2008, 6:50am

Post 30 of 35

EvilDonut

Force: 200 | Joined: 22nd Feb 2008 | Posts: 595

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Sollthar wrote:

EvilDonut wrote:

Hey, if you ever get to Hollywood - look me up. Nothing to hide here sir!
And what would I look you up as, if you don't mind me asking? An evil Donut? A fat girl from ohio, as you claimed in another thread?

You certainly appear to have your head quite high up and you're pretty quick about telling others how they're wrong and how you're successful and in possession of the holy industry truth. Maybe you are successful, maybe you are a fat girl from ohio having her fun. Either way I have to say I find your attitude troubling.

Obviously you're not willing to reveal who you are and what you've done so others can judge your words based on your work instead of just your words. That's ultimately your decision, but I'd appreciate if you could modify your tone a bit. And if you really want to stay anonymous, then stop claiming/talking about your own success. It shouldn't matter then, should it? But you can't go "I'm successfull and know everything but... er... I'll not tell you who I am or what I do you'll just have to take my word for it... did I tell you how awesome I am yet?" and expect people not to wonder. Especially in the tone you appear to choose.

If you're actually trying to help with good advice, excellent. That's always welcome no matter if coming from Mr Spielberg or the fat girl from ohio.

Thanks
I respect my privacy. This is free advice. There are no warranties implied.

If it makes you feel better: I'm a 14 y/o fat female from korea. Who's also a hello kitty fan. smile

Posting what i've done is pointless. This is the internet. You can claim anything sir.

You get what you pay for in life right?

d
Posted: Sat, 22nd Mar 2008, 6:58am

Post 31 of 35

EvilDonut

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Bryan M Block wrote:


That's awesome man- I repeat my invitation to send me a private email, I'd love to know where you've worked and with whom and what capacity- I'm looking to network. My friend Ben is moving back to Hollywood soon and I'm hoping to continue working with him on some things- shoot me an email-
B
When he gets here, shoot me an em and i'll throw u my #. C, i'm not all that bad! smile

d
Posted: Sat, 22nd Mar 2008, 2:58pm

Post 32 of 35

Bryan M Block

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I think we are stuck at a "you throw me the whip, I'll throw you the idol." moment. I'm not going to waste my time or Ben's contacting you if there is no reason to do so. My experiences are publicly posted on any number of places and I'm working with people "higher up the food chain" than I am, although none of us is Spielberg. So, again please send me a link or a private email and we can connect, but I'm not going to waste my time or my friends time with someone who is hiding behind the internet and mocking amateurs who are looking for advice unless they are truly worth networking with.
Posted: Sat, 22nd Mar 2008, 8:59pm

Post 33 of 35

EvilDonut

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Suit yourself sir.

d
Posted: Sun, 23rd Mar 2008, 6:14pm

Post 34 of 35

jfreedan

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Everyone has different tastes when it comes to stories. Personally, I hate it when stories do not start out interesting.

Take most horror films for example.

An awful lot of films start with an introduction to the characters in their daily lives. Take Evil Dead for example; it begins with a very long car ride with the characters being introduced. While I consider Evil Dead a great film overall, I feel the opening is very weak.

An example of a strong opening in a horror film is the original Nightmare on Elm Street. It starts with a chick being chased by Freddy Krueger in her nightmare. The audience is immediately brought into what the entire film is going to be about in the first 10 minutes of the film. After you've got people's attention you can bore them with background information about your characters.

Most of John Carpenter's movies have great openings. Vampires, Escape from New York, and Cristine being examples that stand out in my mind. But some of his other films have very weak openings too; Big Trouble in Little China begins with the protagonist talking about how cool he is while driving a semi-truck. This is not particularly interesting and comes across as very cheesy to me.

Think of the Star Wars movies. They all start with battles (although ROTJ did take awhile for the battle to begin). This is not a coincidence.

The same type of thing is done with the way LOTR opens. It does not open like the book. It opens with an attention-getting montage that quickly reveals the backstory that otherwise would have been gradually introduced to the characters over the course of the story.

The original poster commented that he was thinking of starting his film with one of the characters dieing. I think that would be the correct thing to do. Later, you can have flashbacks that detail more about the relationship between the dead character and the protagonist(s).

Remember, you don't have to automatically tell everything about the character when they are first introduced to the audience. It is better to make your audience curious about their backstory, and gradually reveal it in small bits, because curiosity about what will happen is equal to that of what has already happened.

For some characters, the "unknown past" of that character is apart of their allure to the audience, and finally knowing that past is the great reward for reading the book / watching the movie to its finale.
Posted: Mon, 24th Mar 2008, 2:40am

Post 35 of 35

Merrick

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jfreedan wrote:

Everyone has different tastes when it comes to stories. Personally, I hate it when stories do not start out interesting.
Thanks. smile That's why I wrote the first page about the flood going on. Maybe I'll expand on it a little, but that'll have to wait until I finish a first draft.

By the way, another new story idea! Hope is the main character now, which I think is a good idea, because she's my most original character. Unfortunately I can't explain it to you right now, because it would ruin the suspense of the movie, and I might want to release it here on FxHome in a year or so. wink

But yeah, my movie is starting to take on the tone and feel of my book, which makes it much easier for me to write the script.

Donut, I won't go on complaining about you, since I think that Bryan and Sollthar did a good job of explaining my thoughts. You can't just go around giving advice to everyone; you have to give them reasons why they should take it from you.