Four Advanced Screenwriting Techniques used in The Social Network
1) Angel and Devil.
The use of two supporting characters who push and pull the Protagonist between Good and Evil.
In The Social Network, we’ve got Eduardo (Andrew Garfield), Mark Zuckerberg’s (Jesse Eisenberg) best friend from the dorm days and Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), who sweeps in and tempts Mark into his world of nightclubs and high-rollers. Not coincidentally, Eduardo and Sean hate one another.
2) Sympathy for the Villain.
Fleshing out your villains so they are not just carbon cut-outs.
In The Social Network, even though the Winklevoss twins are arrogant jerks, we still sympathize when they lose their rowing match in front of their hyper-critical father and we respect Cameron Winklevoss for conducting himself like a “Harvard Gentleman” and refusing to sue Mark Zuckerberg for so long.
Building a cohesive setup and payoff scenario into your Opening and Ending that answers the Central Dramatic Question.
In the opening of The Social Network, Mark declares his goal of increasing his social status, he insults Ericka for going to a lesser college (“Why don’t I need to study?” “Because you go to B.U.”), she calls him an asshole and she breaks up with him. He then sets out to get his revenge on her and in the process creates his first website (the Inciting Incident of the script), which will seemingly push her away from him forever. In the end, he is told by the young lawyer (Rashida Jones) that he’s not an asshole, he “just tries really hard to be one.” In the final moment, Mark opens up Ericka’s Facebook page and requests her as a friend. He’s come full circle.
4) “Shown” Devices.
The use of visual devices to communicate story beats and advance the story. This is particular challenging in a talky character piece — As Good as it Gets is a great example of using shown devices.
In The Social Network, Sean Parker appeals to Mark’s need for status by telling him he needs to declare to the world “I’m CEO, bitch!” In the final act, immediately following the firing of his best friend, Eduardo, Mark opens up his box of new business cards which read “I’m CEO, Bitch.” Has he become Sean?
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