It’s All About Story Structure

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.

Just Read: BURIED

BURIED

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!

The Good.

  • 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.

The Bad.

  • 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.

The Verdict.

READ IT!

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?

Script Link

(UPDATE: Apparently the script over at script shadow was taken down. Sorry folks.)