“Hey, we should make a movie!” is a phrase said all over the world by aspiring young filmmakers and video camera owners. But most of these movies never happen, get canned by lunch time or are so unwatchable that the only person engaged by the story is the filmmaker’s elderly grandmother. Don’t waste your time and your audience’s time – learn the basics of making a good film.
How to Write a Good Script
The biggest mistake young filmmakers make is shooting without knowing their story. This causes a willy-nilly story line that often ends with someone waking up from a dream, because the filmmaker shot himself into a corner. You just enough information to make sure everyone on set knows what’s going to happen.
You need an audience, this means, you need to know who you are making the film for. Children aren’t going to enjoy a couple talking about their commitment phobias.
How to Construct the Hero’s Journey
Assuming that your script won’t be reviewed by professionals or investors, the format isn’t too important. What is important is a Good Structure! All films adhere to the Hero’s Journey – a few steps in three Acts that every character goes through in the story. You will find these steps in Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Saving Private Ryan…you name them. All the steps (as well as the proper script format) can be found in any good scriptwriting website or book on the subject, but these are the important ones:
– Ordinary World: Here you establish your Character in his day-to-day life. You also establish the personal issues that your character needs to overcome.
– Call to Adventure: Here the Hero hears about a problem facing either himself or the world he lives in. Frodo learns about the ring, Captain Miller gets briefed on Private Ryan.
– Refusal of the Call: Like any normal person, your Hero will try to find a way out of going on this journey. Frodo will suggest hiding the ring, Captain Millers Squad argues over the logic of their mission.
– Help from the Mentor: At this point someone in your story persuades your Hero to go on the adventure. Gandalf convinces Frodo that he should take the ring, As does Captain Miller his Squad.
– Point of No Return: Your Hero has decided to accept the challenge and goes on the adventure. At this point your Hero can’t turn back. This was beautifully portrayed in Lord of the Rings when Sam reaches the farthest point he’s ever been from home.
– First Climax: This will be your Hero’s first confrontation – a smaller version of the big battle to come. Frodo and the hobbits battle the Nazgul on Weathertop – a foreshadowing of the big battle.
– Friends, Allies and Enemies: Now you are in the second act of you script. This is the bulk of your story where your Hero learns who he can trust. Halfway through this act you need to have a turning point where the game changes for you character.
– Second Climax: This is where your hero prematurely faces his enemy…and fails. Captain Miller decides to take the Radio Tower and loses a man. Gandalf faces the Balrog and falls into the abyss.
Belly of the Beast: Now you’re in the third and final act. Your Hero has just lost the battle and is despondent. This could also be the point where your Hero has to face his demon/ego.
Third Climax: Your Hero manages to make change Within Himself and slay the beast/enemy.
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