Throughout my research, I have found that the first thing that many experienced filmmakers advise beginning filmmakers to do when starting out in the film world is to expand one’s knowledge on story telling for a film. After gaining criteria within the bases of filmmaking, which is to have the hunger and passion for this career as well as watch different films to get a better understanding of them, one must first know how to plan and structure the story. On the website, LAvideomaking.com, the first tip for independent filmmakers who are just starting out was writing the screenplay and the editor explained that,”Beautiful lighting, creative camerawork and smooth editing are pointless if the story isn’t compelling.” Writing the script for a film is the basis of the entire production and this process is not an easy task. This process entails one of the most difficult tasks in film making due to the many variables one must fill in when creating the story.
One would think that it is simple but it is much more complex than merely writing a beginning and an end. One valuable principle that experienced filmmakers feel is very helpful to screenwriting is the Three Act Structure.
The Three Act Structure is labeled as such:
Act I: Setup
Act II: Confrontation
Act III: Resolution
The first act, Act I, is where the writer introduces all of the main characters and the writer can be free to create any setting or reality and establish any genre they want. For example, this act can show the viewer whether it is realistic or distorted with animation, fantasy, or broad imaginative ideas. The movie ratatouille opens with a talking mouse and due to being at the beginning of the story this introduction is not disapproved because at this point the audience basically has their mind open to anything. With this framing of the movie, it is easier for the audience to accept what is plausible and congruent. This act also entails a hook or something that grabs the audience’s attention and interest which could contain an inciting incident. This act ends with the first plot point of the movie and then leads into act II.
Act II, which is the longest act of the three, is the time where the writer must take on the challenge of keeping the story moving forward without boring the audience. This act also encompasses the pivotal element of raising the stakes which is also known as the moment of crisis.
Act III is usually the shortest in length because after the turning points take place, the main character comes face to face with the problem and then the resolution and conclusion occur. This part also gives more information within the resolutions of the subplots and gives a more elaborate character.
Another tool that one must use when writing a screenplay is the character arc. This is the process of evolution or growth of the characters.
There are many other tips one can learn with story telling of their film and some work better for different people.
This is a video on a few more tips that are a bit more elaborate.
These are all important principles to hold when writing a good script and although laid out in 500 words like this seems easy, it is highly complex and difficult to accomplish without racking your head a few times and changing a rearranging your idea or character motivation a lot. However, this process being the base to a film is probably the best way to set everything up and get the ball rolling.