Archive for February 2008

This just in…

February 28, 2008

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You don’t have to explain everything…

February 28, 2008

Three things an aspiring movie maker needs to know about writing:

  1. Each movie operates by its own set of rules.
  2. You can’t make up the rules as you go, but you can make them up.
  3. The rules don’t have to be explained, but the audience does need to know what they are.

Let’s look at each point, briefly.

Number 1: each movie operates by its own set of rules. This point applies more to science fiction/fantasy/horror than to your average coming-of-age’r or costume drama. Many movies have rules in common: gravity works, for instance. The hero gets the girl but has to be tested to – but not beyond – the limits of his endurance. The bad guy (or girl) dies at or near the end, onscreen, and in the most spectacular fashion imaginable. In the eighties and early nineties, there was a rule that there was no aphrodisiac more potent than nearly being killed by the bad guy, so about an hour in to the film the hero and heroine would end up in bed and, if us 18-40 year old guys were lucky, having sex in decent lighting.

Unfortunately, it was another rule that sex was poorly lit. See Terminator for a great example.

Next Up: Rule 2, Making up the Rules.


A really good example of rule creation is in the movie 5ive Girls. It’s not a particularly good movie, but it follows this rule almost as if the producers read this blog before hiring a writer.