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Archive for the Category "Theme"

5 Big Things To Sweat About May 30

Sweat The Big StuffSweat The Big Stuff

I’m sure you’ve all heard this inspiring set of rules before:

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  2. It’s all small stuff.

The truth of the matter, however, is that when it comes to screenwriting, that message couldn’t be further from the truth. While the devil may be in the details, your script lives or dies in its broad strokes.

Prom Date

Here’s a quick metaphor to illustrate what I’m trying to say…

STUDENT

Is my prom date’s dress hot or what?

CONCERNED FRIEND

I guess. But dude, your date is a chimp.

STUDENT

Okay now you’re just being rude.

CONCERNED FRIEND

No, I mean your date is literally a chimpanzee. Does your dad work for the circus or something?

STUDENT

The zoo.

CONCERNED FRIEND

Ah.

Awkward silence.

STUDENT

Smokin’ hot dress though, right?

It doesn’t matter how hot your scenes are, if your script is a chimp!

5 Things

Here are five BIG things you should sweat over, long before worrying about things like correct formatting, clever descriptions or upping the tension in a particular scene:

Concept

Concept is probably the most important aspect of your script. If you have a fantastic one, readers/producers will be more likely to forgive minor problems.

When you tell people about your concept, do they ooh and ahh? Do their eyes light up? If it’s a comedy, do they smile or laugh? Do they immediately connect with the material. Make sure you have a winning concept before you start writing your screenplay.

True story. I once had a woman pitch me the following sole movie concept: “It’s about a black Hollywood producer who has a small dick.” FAIL!

Character Motivations

By the time a reader reaches the second act of your script, he/she should be able to answer at least two fundamental questions. The first one is: “What does the protagonist want?” Make sure the answer to this question is clear and primal.

“My protagonist is just kinda going with the flow at this stage of the script.” FAIL!

Rooting Interest for Your Main Character

The second question a reader should be able to answer by the start of the second act is: “What do I want for the protagonist?” Depending on your story, this may, or may not, be the same thing as what the protagonist wants. But either way, at this stage, the reader should be rooting for your main character(s).

Moreover the reader should have an implicit understanding of where the story is going, and care about that direction.

READER: “I hate the protagonist, so I don’t care if he finds his lost doughnut… not that I would have been at all interested in that anyway.” FAIL!

Overarching Story

Have you provided a solid structure and an engaging plot?

Do cool or powerful things happen in your story? Have you fulfilled the promise of the premise? Have you executed a story that maximizes the potential of the concept? Thrilled the audience? Shown them something they’ve never seen before, or in a way they’ve never seen it?

“Yes, it’s a global apocalypse movie, but we learn what happens through first person accounts only. It takes place entirely in one interview room.” FAIL!

Theme

Is your movie about something? The movies that leave an impact on us are the ones that teach us something, or, at the very least, have something to say that will resonate with audiences. Something specific.

“The theme is danger.” FAIL!

***

Do you have all of these bases covered in your script? Or are you taking a chimp in a pretty dress to prom?

Any “big stuff” you would add to the list? Please post in the comments section.


Need someone to review your screenplay? Please take a look at my script services.

How NOT To Handle Theme Mar 30

The best movies use theme to subtly convey a viewpoint, message or idea.

Ideally, a theme should behave like parents watching their child perform on stage — easy to spot when looked for, but not so obvious as to be embarrassing.

The dream team of Stephen Baldwin, Tom Berenger, and yes, Dennis Rodman, challenge that assertion in the unintentionally hilarious film, Cutaway.

See if the message becomes clear to you after watching these clips.

Link via Mental Floss


Want me to personally read your script and let you know if it’s ready to go out? Please take a look at my professional script services.

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Category: Diversions, Theme  | 5 Comments