Student and independent filmmakers, more often than not, have an annoying and unrelenting ability to make films without a plot. I’ve never really understood it. It drives me crazy! Currently, in film school, I see this happen all the time. The worse part is that these filmmakers don’t even notice that their films are sometimes downright hard to get through. Yes, making a movie is hard. Yes, that dolly shot was beautiful. Yes, you 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 conflict, and questions that you want to be answered!
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.