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.
by Chris Sparling
Paul is a U.S. contractor working in Iraq. After an attack by a group of Iraqis he wakes to find he is buried alive inside a coffin. With only a lighter and a cell phone it’s a race against time to escape this claustrophobic death trap.
This entire story takes place in a coffin. From start to finish with no flashbacks or anything. With that said, this script is awesome!
- Being only 79 pages this script is short and fast paced.
- This script is exciting and entertaining! Once I started reading I was sucked in and didn’t stop turning pages until the end.
- There is one part in the script where I almost had to stop reading. It made me squirm and I loved every minute of it.
- The ending was awesome!
- This movie is really unique and proves that locations do not matter if you can tell a good story.
- Paul is running out of oxygen in the coffin. Then he lights a candle. Fire burns O2. This bothered me.
- The script was great, but I’m not sure if an audience is going to be able to watch a dark coffin for an hour and a half.
This script is amazing, short, exciting, unique, entertaining, and the movie will star Ryan Reynolds. One thing I learned from this script is that story is really the only thing that matters. This whole script takes place in a coffin. One actor. One location. If anything, this script is a perfect exercise on relying on story alone. Why don’t you try and write an engaging script with one location. You think you can do it?
(UPDATE: Apparently the script over at script shadow was taken down. Sorry folks.)