Why Screenwriters Should Understand Screenplay Atmosphere

Se7en Seven and atmosphere in screenplays

Understanding Screenplay Atmosphere Screenplay atmosphere is difficult. At the bottom of the poster for THEY CAME TOGETHER, a spoof of rom-coms, there’s a disclaimer: Please note: New York City plays such …

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OPINION: Why Your Second Act Must Have Escalating Stakes

escalating stakes in Ready Player One

The second act is all about escalating stakes. Absolute urgency. There’s a gap in the classic three act structure as extolled by many screenwriting books and teachers. The problem is …

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OPINION: Finding The Perfect Closure

closure in La La Land

Finding the perfect ending is difficult, even for professional writers and big-budget films. The resolution after the climax provides closure for the audience and characters. Sometimes termed the “denouement,” this scene is …

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OPINION: The Key to a Great Genre Hybrid

Genre hybrid

A genre hybrid, a cross between two or more genres, can be a boon. It’s giving the audience something familiar, tapping into genre conventions, but also fresh. However, it can …

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OPINION: Lessons For Screenwriters From Films About Writers

Adaptation - films about writers

Films about writers, more than films about any other profession, can lay claim to accuracy. After all, who better to understand how writers think and feel than writers themselves? The …

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Why Screenwriters Should Tell Stories about Everyday Heroes

everyday heroes Sully

With the dominance of superhero and tentpole films, sometimes it seems like there’s no place in cinema for everyday heroes. Most audiences don’t want their reality simply reflected back to them. However, …

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Why You Should Never “Spray & Pray” In Screenplay Contests

screenwriting contest screenwriting contests

One common feature of professional screenwriters’ stories is that there is no single magic route into the industry. Everyone’s path is different. Entering screenplay contests, or entering a whole host …

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OPINION: The Perks & Pitfalls of Low Stakes Screenplays

Adam Driver, Paterson, low stakes

Is it possible to have a film that tells a story without conflict? Conventional wisdom would say no. However, this doesn’t mean that every film needs a world-ending threat. Not every film …

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OPINION: Writing a character sacrifice that works

character sacrifice in Wrath of Khan

A character sacrifice is a difficult moment to get right. Audiences today are incredibly cine-literate. They’ve seen it all before, and can tell when a film or TV show has used …

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OPINION: When Screenwriters Should Unsettle Audiences

Screenwriter - Unsettle Audience

There’s an old Hollywood saying to writers that if you want to send a message, use Western Union. The idea is that audiences want films to entertain them, not to …

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OPINION: Screenwriters Should Consider the Cinema Experience

3D audience, cinema experience

It’s a cliché, but the entertainment industry is an industry. Show business is a business. It behoves screenwriters to remember this and to consider why write films in the first place. What …

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OPINION: Flashbacks and the (Rare) Stories that Need Them

Manchester by the Sea, flashbacks

One of the major exceptions to the oft-repeated “show, don’t tell” screenwriting rule is the equally common received wisdom that screenplays should avoid using flashbacks. The criticisms are familiar from scores …

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Nostalgia: Finding the Future of Film & TV, in the Past…

Stranger Things nostalgia

Audience Nostalgia From looking down 2016’s box office results, it’s clear that a certain trend shows no sign of stopping. Sequels, remakes and reboots abound, tapping into audience nostalgia to massive success. …

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Why Screenwriters Should Consider a Second Act Subplot

second act subplot listen up philip

While first and third acts pose their own challenges, it’s in the weeds of the second act that many scripts (and movies for that matter) go astray. Introducing a second …

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OPINION: Screenplay Anachronisms Can Bring the Past to Life

Anachronisms in the Alex Cox film Walker

Films that are set in the past are often judged for their authenticity. The “goofs” section of IMDb is overrun with anachronisms: this porcelain wasn’t made until six years later; or …

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OPINION: Support Your Supporting Characters

Ned, supporting character, Groundhog Day

While it’s true that the star system is not what it once was, actors can still have tremendous power. Many actors have their own production companies, partly as a route for finding interesting …

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Something For Nothing – Writing Spec Scripts

Typewriter - Writing Spec Scripts

Something For Nothing – Writing Spec Scripts There’s a terrific viral that periodically does the rounds where a restaurateur advertises on Craigslist for a solo musician to play in his …

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12 Things Screenwriters Can Learn from Musicals

Music Sheet - Screenwriters & Musicals

12 Things Screenwriters Can Learn from Musicals   I recently ventured from my comfortable world of screenwriting into completely new territory. No, I’m not acting– I’m working on a stage musical. The process …

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My Pain At Being “Replaced” as a Screenwriter

fired as a screenwriter

Being “Replaced” A couple of years ago, I became that person: a replaced screenwriter. It was a screenplay I dearly loved and had put my heart and soul into and, …

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Why Women Screenwriters should Stop Moaning and Just WIN

women screenwriters - Diablo Cody wins her Oscar for Juno

All Screenwriters LOVE Moaning Because there’s been quite a lot in the press lately about the plight (or otherwise) of women screenwriters, I’ve been thinking a bit lately about whether …

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What I’ve Learnt about Screenwriting: Part I, The Idea

kajaki movie

What I’ve Learnt about Screenwriting: Part 1, The Idea So I’ve been doing this for a while now, and for some reason I feel a powerful, hubristic, intimations-of-mortality urge to …

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