It ain’t easy, but if you strive for excellence and you put in the time, you just may write something that’s not just good but great.
I don’t see any other goal. You’re here to create a great movie that will stand the test of time. Seems obvious to me.
But…we all know those newbies who are only in it to write one screenplay and sell it for the “big money.” Well, they can keep dreaming because this is a very unique, detailed, demanding, difficult and rewarding craft and it takes more than just one script to get it down.
It takes a strong commitment to being the best. Writing the best Thriller to blow away all Thrillers. The most hilarious, relevant Comedy. The most stirring Drama. The most kleenex-wetting Romance.
And here’s where it begins. Right here, in this article.
Yes, it’s true, let there be no more speculation and no more confusion. Why?
I’ve got a list.
And everybody loves lists. (Don’t they?)
My list was built over years of reading screenplays for actual production companies and studios that made major movies.
A lot of really, really bad screenplays. The kind that bleed your soul just one more drop on your inescapable trek toward oblivion.
But a bunch of good ones, too. The kind that make your pulse race and keep you up at night.
And patterns started to emerge; what to do and what not to do.
So here it is. So simple, yet… so… hard… to… achieve.
The Great Script (in no particular order of awesomeness):
Compelling CONCEPT (Urgency of concept)
COMMERCIAL appeal to a specific audience
strong STORY ENGINE (crisp, clear, compelling throughline: your main line of action)
engaging PROTAGONIST (rootability)
unique GOALS (External and Internal)
unique, ACTIVE DECISIONS made by Protagonist
unique, escalating CONFLICT
focused CONTROLLING THEME expressed in action
strong Classical 4-act STRUCTURE
quick PACING (short scenes that push the story and bring about change)
short LENGTH (100 – 110 pages)
ACT ONE ends by page 30
urgent time deadline: a “CLOCK”
great, satisfying, inevitable CLIMAX
LOW to mid-range BUDGET
So, basically, you just do all of that and boom: great one. Classic for the ages. You’ve got Ridley holding on line three.
Yes, your script is so bad-ass you’ve got Ridley ON HOLD.
Okay, you got me: it’s not quite that easy.