Student and independent film makers, more often than not, have an annoying unrelenting ability to make films without plot. I’ve never really understood it. In fact, it drives me crazy! Being in film school at the moment I see this happen all the time. The worse part is that these film makers seem to not even notice that their films are sometimes downright hard to get through. Yes, making a film is hard. Yes, that dolly shot was beautiful. Yes, you really did a good job pulling some great emotion out of those actors. Wow, that location was great! Very artistic cinematography! Holy shit! You did a sweet crane shot!
BUT WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!? There is absolutely nothing going on in your story to keep me watching.
I talk about this now because I happened to read a great article by John August that you can read right now HERE.
No. Really. Read it. Now.
Read the script Buried. I did a small review on it a while back. The entire script takes place in a coffin. ONE LOCATION. ONE ACTOR. Yet you keep reading because it is full of story, conflict, and questions that you want answered!
When all is said and done, your crane shot doesn’t matter, your witty metaphorical dialogue doesn’t matter, your million dollar location doesn’t matter. Not even your actors matter more than the ability to tell a clear and concise story that keeps your viewers intrigued and watching. Story is the backbone of any successful film.
Story, Story, Story.