Author Topic: Screenplay Structure  (Read 4370 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

socketlevel

  • The Master of Two Worlds
  • *****
  • Posts: 1428
  • Respect: +75
Re: Screenplay Structure
« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2013, 12:35:46 PM »
+2
i've noticed as i've written more and more throughout my life, screenplays end up stronger if you don't outline. like have an outline in your head, start writing and if it deviates let it go where it's gonna go. the more and more you force it into what you think it is before characters start talking, the more heavy handed and guided it comes across. its a to each his/her own kinda thing, but i'd give it a shot.
the one last hit that spent you...

Pubrick

  • Admin
  • *****
  • Posts: 12170
  • Lynchian identity mystery
  • Respect: +769
Re: Screenplay Structure
« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2013, 01:43:03 PM »
+2
the real question is why the hell are we all writing screenplays that will never get made or even seen by anyone else?

I'm always embarrassed to say,  when asked  by random people what I do with my spare time, "I write stories that are incredible and screenplays for films that would sweep Cannes if they ever got made. And possibly change the world as we know it."

to which they invariably say "pfft anyone can write a screenplay, my MUM can write a screenplay."

and then I go, "yeah well your mum's Elaine May."

and they reply, "I've seen Mike Nichols' nutsack."
endless 'nothing is what it seems'-isms

socketlevel

  • The Master of Two Worlds
  • *****
  • Posts: 1428
  • Respect: +75
Re: Screenplay Structure
« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2013, 02:26:51 PM »
+1
keep the dream alive!
the one last hit that spent you...

Cloudy

  • The Meeting with the Goddess
  • ***
  • Posts: 367
  • Respect: +253
Re: Screenplay Structure
« Reply #18 on: April 22, 2013, 03:16:50 PM »
0
I find it impossible to write a screenplay for a film I wouldn't have the resources to produce.

Lottery

  • The Return Threshold
  • ****
  • Posts: 905
  • You're Dead!
  • Respect: +412
Re: Screenplay Structure
« Reply #19 on: April 22, 2013, 05:08:24 PM »
0
I've deluded myself into thinking that my stories are better than the stories of others so I assume that's what keeps me going. Also, perhaps it has something to do with Australia's film industry being crippled and withered and soon they'll be even more desperate for original material.

polkablues

  • Child of Myth
  • Admin
  • *****
  • Posts: 6881
  • Respect: +1577
Re: Screenplay Structure
« Reply #20 on: April 22, 2013, 05:39:41 PM »
0
I'm so hypercritical of the stuff I write, if I ever end up genuinely liking something, it'll be a sign that either it's the greatest movie of all time, or my brain has finally snapped like a twig and I actually just wrote "SRIRACHA BONER" over and over again for 110 pages.

"Sriracha" is probably trademarked, too. Production issues.
HOT CUBE

DBeyond

  • The Call to Adventure
  • *
  • Posts: 14
  • Respect: +1
    • Vimeo's Account
Re: Screenplay Structure
« Reply #21 on: April 22, 2013, 08:04:26 PM »
+1
Whatever I do, I just do it because it has to be done. It's what I do, what I need to do. For me it's what really matters.

Reelist

  • Shoutbox Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2570
  • Respect: +876
Re: Screenplay Structure
« Reply #22 on: April 22, 2013, 11:09:25 PM »
+2
Everytime I read your posts I get a contact high

Reelist

  • Shoutbox Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2570
  • Respect: +876
Re: Screenplay Structure
« Reply #23 on: April 22, 2013, 11:37:14 PM »
0
I'm so stoned.

socketlevel

  • The Master of Two Worlds
  • *****
  • Posts: 1428
  • Respect: +75
Re: Screenplay Structure
« Reply #24 on: May 21, 2013, 11:40:42 AM »
0
I find it impossible to write a screenplay for a film I wouldn't have the resources to produce.

then just sell it, get your name out there, let someone else get the resources to fuck it up or make it genius.
the one last hit that spent you...

Reelist

  • Shoutbox Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2570
  • Respect: +876
Re: Screenplay Structure
« Reply #25 on: May 21, 2013, 01:15:33 PM »
0
I find it impossible to write a screenplay for a film I wouldn't have the resources to produce.

I feel like I'm having this dilemma where although I enjoy writing my first feature script, the times I actually work on it are so few and far between, and it's definitely down the road a ways before I'd be able to finance it. So, I'm really itching to do something within my means, that I can see the results of and get feedback on immediately. I'm not abandoning my script, but I want to experiment with different storytelling techniques that will maybe give me a fresh take on what I've written when I come back to it. I just hate the idea of starting something else when I'm not even halfway through this one, like somewhere along the line my enthusiasm to finish it will get lost in the process. Tinkering away alone on this project seems to have lost it's creative spark, though. I think that collaborating with people and getting something made will be the sort of push I need to get inspired to see a final product and want to do more things. What's your guys' experience been like with taking breaks from your 'passion projects' to do other stuff, were you able to bounce back?

wilder

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 3159
  • Respect: +1435
Re: Screenplay Structure
« Reply #26 on: May 21, 2013, 02:07:40 PM »
+3
Think about writing a contained, more easily executable short not directly related to but still set in the world of your story. Look at the relationship between the short film Mary Last Seen > Martha Marcy May Marlene (which is on the blu-ray, not sure if it's available anywhere online)

Cloudy

  • The Meeting with the Goddess
  • ***
  • Posts: 367
  • Respect: +253
Re: Screenplay Structure
« Reply #27 on: May 21, 2013, 09:34:51 PM »
0
Think about writing a contained, more easily executable short not directly related to but still set in the world of your story.
I'm doing the same ^ except the other way around. Wrote the short first (as the beginning of the film), and now digging into it and finding all sorts of shit that's turning into a feature.

Reelist

  • Shoutbox Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2570
  • Respect: +876
Re: Screenplay Structure
« Reply #28 on: May 22, 2013, 09:12:35 AM »
0
Good tip, Wilder. I've had this idea for awhile that I could do with my friend, but every time I start writing it I notice a lot of similar themes to my script, so I decide I should just concentrate on making it one story. However, I feel a lot more comfortable inhabiting the characters in the short because they're so familiar to me. Also, since I would most likely play the lead in that film, it forces me to be realistic about the acting and dialogue I'd feasibly be able to deliver, as well as the tools and locations available to me...So if I could just get a tight 20 minute film out of this, I think it be a good launching pad in helping me understand how to execute the larger idea, and also create a story that's grounded in the characters, with HUMOR! Because as it stands now, my scrip ain't funny  :yabbse-undecided:

jenkins

  • The Master of Two Worlds
  • *****
  • Posts: 2080
  • Respect: +1207
Re: Screenplay Structure
« Reply #29 on: March 12, 2014, 04:48:26 PM »
0
[omitted story about how i found this on my computer in a folder with writing of mine]
[opinion about there not being a 'proper' way to write a script]
[opinion about there being 'bad' ways to write a script]
[opinion about this being a good read: http://badassdigest.com/2012/01/12/screenwriting-101-1-of-2/]
quotes from a text doc i have, what i guess are my favorite parts from the above article, andoh i just realized i no doubt made the text doc because this was written by the hulk critic and fuck those upper-case letters man:
(my bolds of course)

Quote
At one point he links to a great Parker/Stone video:
http://www.mtvu.com/video/?vid=689002

You cannot simply say "i want to write about this textured, interesting person." and it will magically produce a textured, interesting story. So often, a lot of recent movies have had trouble when they assume texture and character detail somehow is the same thing as motive. The whole hatred for "indie movies" has nothing to do with them being quirky, or maudlin, or saccharine. It's because they're often so empty. It's not that their characteristics don't "feel real" it's that so often these characteristics try to hide a lack of narrative or thematic purpose. It is character-detail apropos of nothing. You have to go further than that. With real life stories sometimes the "facts" get in the way of good stories. Hulk will get balls deep into why that is later, but hulk just have to make sure we understand that the construction of narrative is something more specific to narrative itself.

Ultimately, a good narrative is born by combining these macro and micro approaches into one singular, coherent idea. Your characters and the story they inhabit should be in complete alignment with the intention of your themes. Which means your narrative is essentially "what you are saying." so when you have a germ of an idea that compels you, whether it's a detail, a person, a concept, or a theme, you must then zero in and figure out how that germ then becomes a story.

Again, reinforcing the theme of confronting mortality in every possible way.

Sadly, there are a lot of people in the filmmaking industry who confuse "empathy" with "likability." the mistake is understandable, but please understand that the two are not the same thing in the slightest. Empathy is about relation and understanding. They think likability amounts to "not having your characters do anything bad." this assumption is counter-productive because without having a character do "the wrong / fallible thing" you will end up creating some real shit drama if you ask hulk. In fact, this grave misunderstanding about empathy / likability is responsible for the legions of doormat main characters that movie audiences are treated to time and time again.

Ask yourself bold questions: what is it that makes this character good? What is it that makes them troubled?

(and all main characters push their boundaries)
the story needs to give them wholly valid reasons to do so.


That is because, as the creator, it is often hard to separate oneself from the power and control over what you are writing. "of course the character would do that! That's what i'm making them do!" but to the audience, who only gets to learn about the character through the very different lens of experience, it doesn't work like that. They don't know what is inside your head. They only see what comes out from the story. As such, they are actually much better at reading "who the characters are" as well as their capacities for good and bad.

What are the other base wants?
what do they need?
A character's heart is likely the key to the ending catharsis.
what is their intelligence? How does it manifest itself? How do they problem solve?
piece together an actual psychology
3d characterization

Take the inspirations and events and filter them into real storytelling models and beats that make sense (we'll explore this later in the structure section).  Don't just be lazy and assume the reader knows the event is equally "true."

fiction is built for what feels true.

Don't write the story of your life with the lines you wish you said...

characters that push through discovering the narrative itself
The event becomes the character.


The specific details give the air of veracity. And sometimes great truths are arrived at when you work backward from that veracity.

start people in the midst of a world already in conflict

One enters a world that already feels lived-in and with history.

Urgency is born from clarity
Mystery makes an audience member go "oooh, what the heck is going on here?"and brings people into their minds to ponder.
(^jenkins note: interesting he talks about clarity, then mystery. makes me realize the mystery needs clarity)

urgency, with all its dull simplicity, allows the audience to "skip" the use of their brain and just experience the film in the most primal and exciting way

It wasn't that we wanted "answers" it was that we wanted clear stakes and something that mattered. Mystery truly has a short-term lifespan. If you try to sustain it for too long, you're sunk.

Ultimately, there's clear reasons to use both mystery and urgency, but hulk just want you to be aware of, you know, how to use it and why. Ask yourself, what would make this scene work better? Not understanding the urgency and engaging the audience on cerebral level? Or totally understanding it and engaging the audience viscerally?

And even if you just want your movie to be fun and not overwhelm your audience with "messages" there is a way to do that too.  You can post-modernly thumb your nose at the idea of "saying something," avoid what you think is trite or didactic, and implore that very thematic message into your film. Hulk mean, if that's what you actually think, isn't the script just an opportunity to make that clear? (jenkins note: this is basically what xixax frequently reminds me to do)

The film's ending is powerful, resonant, and re-shapes the entire film you saw just before it.

Endings always matter

writers today don't know how to combine characterization with plotting

In every kind of story, even the most casual charter pieces, even films with a leisurely editing pace, you still want the character's evolution to be propulsive. Even with the most intimate, human stories, you always want to enter each scene with a new sense of purpose and interest.

An act is any time a character makes a decision from which they can no longer go back.
As such, a film can have any number of acts.

With shakespeare, there is act 1 - the introduction, which establishes pre-existing conflicts and the needs and wants of the main characters. Act 2 - the instigation, which introduces how the main conflict of the story comes to be, which is often something that complicates the pre-existing conflict to boot. Then there is act 3 - the turn, in which there is some grave turning point that flips the conflict on its head and has grave consequences for all (these are often shakespeare's best acts. They are full of large, bold action that are normally reserved for "climaxes" of most 3 act films. By moving these grand gesture to earlier in the story, they thus have the power to both shock the audience and shape the story further. It's brilliant storytelling). Then there is act 4 - the spiral, in which the results of the turn gain steam and propel toward the ending (what is interesting is how most act 4s look like the entire act 2s of 3 act structure. Which means there a lot of back and forth and set up for finale, but it works much better in shakespeare because the acts are so short, and hectic and feels like time is running out. Meanwhile, it doesn't work in 3 act structure because they try to do this for 40 pages in the middle of the movie and it just completely lacks importance). Finally there is act 5 - the climax, which brings the narrative to a resolution and hammers home the final thematic messages of the entire piece (the ending is the conceit!).

Simply put: "therefore's" and "buts" create the sense of propulsion.

The "and thens" stop the narrative cold.

"what are the scenarios in which my core idea would best manifest itself?"

At this juncture, you may have realized that whole point of these structures is to have as many different ways of attacking different kinds of story problems. This is perfect because writing is largely about problem solving. You write. Everything seems great. You hit a snag. You try and figure it out.

They would not simply be "elements" of a larger story, but their own complete stories, independent of anything else.

5 main characters. 5 different sets of relationships. They all have motives to relate to each other. They all have reasons to dislike each other and provide conflict. But best of all they are all "interested parties" in the main plot

We need stakes and different wants all centering around the central setting and narrative. We need to find our unifying concept of a "dragon scroll" even though it probably won't be a tangible object and instead some concept that is far more ethereal.

It is the merging of conflicting arcs. And it is how one writes one singular story.

30. "page 17"
The term "page 17" is a strange phenomenon revealed to hulk by an old mentor.
He said that if you look through most good screenplays, for some reason the movie's main plot or action kicks into place on exactly page 17... He spent a career looking into it... Hulk checked into it too... He's actually right.

It's almost bizarre, but if your read a ton of scripts, "page 17" of these 90-120+ page screenplays seem to be this naturally occurring point in the main plot where the story really gets going. Even something as non traditional as the first chapter of inglorious basterds is 17 pages (sorry, hulk just checked, it's 17.5). It's like the "screenwriting pi" or something, this naturally occurring page number were it "feels right" to really start embarking down the main narrative path.

You should always try to look for opportunities to make all the characters have as much relevancy to the story as possible.

Sure, the coen brothers defy expectations of storytelling constantly, but they do so only to engage deep questions behind life.
They don't sit around and go "wouldn't it be cool if?"

So do what makes sense for the kind of story you want to tell.

Always try to always say something. Even try to say multiple things at once.
Every detail in your script can matter if you really want it to. Don't waste opportunities to say something!
"I must whisper it to you—not because Im ashamed but because it is so Dear to me that I must keep it close to me by whispering—"

 

DMCA & Copyright | Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy