Writing A Screenplay- Rules and Structure

Guidelines When Writing A Screenplay

  • Feature- length screenplays are 90- 120 pages. When formulated correctly this equals 90- 120 minutes on screen.
  • Industry Standard Formatting
    • Act 1 = pages 1-30
    • Act 2 = pages 31-90
    • Act 3 = pages 91-120

The Five and Dime Rule

Typically studios and producers look at the first five pages and the last ten pages of a screenplay to determine if they will produce it.

The Basics of Writing a Screenplay | The Film Look - YouTube

Act 1

  • Introduction to your screen world
  • Begin with an image
  • The first few moments are the most important because they will immerse the audience into your production
  • The inciting incident will occur in Act 1 and this is the catalyst that begins the main conflict of the movie
  • The “World” of your film goes from order to chaos
  • What does your character want? Will he/she succeed?
  • End of Act 1 = the first big turning point or Plot Point 1
  • Remember the end of Act 1 should occur around page 30

Act Two

  • Act 2 is the middle of the movie. Remember, according to industry standards Act 2 occurs from pages 31-90.
  • The focus is how the plot point will be resolved.
  • More complications should develop that are keeping the main character from reaching their goal or objective.
  • Plot Point 2 will occur right at the end of Act 2 (around page 90). Plot Point 2 needs to be dramatic and drastic as it will lead to the climax of the film. For example, maybe someone dies, and the main character is battling internally with whether or not he would continue. Raise the stakes!!!

Act 3

  • Act 3 is the resolution of the film
  • Remember Act 3 usually occurs between pages 91 and 120 in a feature length film.
  • An epiphany needs to happen as well as a resolution and wrapping up of loose ends.

Review

Screenplay Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

This is the typical industry format for a feature length film. Keep in mind that one minute of script should equal one minute of screen time. Also, make sure you have two plot points as this will drive forth the action of your film and captivate the audience. It’s also important to note that these ruled are more of a guide than a formula you must strictly follow. However, there is a reason these rules have become the standard, and it’s because it works. Audience members are used to this formula, and it’s what we expect when watching a film. However, ruled can be broken successfully. Especially for starting out with writing a feature-length film, these guidelines are really helpful to follow.


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FireFly lane (2021) review

Synopsis: Tully and Kate meet as young girls on Firefly Lane and become inseparable friends throughout 30 years of ups and downs. First episode date: February 3, 2021 Network: Netflix Program creator: Maggie Friedman Executive producers: Maggie Friedman, Stephanie Germain, Katherine Heigl, Lee Rose, Shawn Williamson, Peter O’Fallon My Review: After watching the first few episodes of this series, I was not sucked into …

Alien(s) (1986) Review

Synopsis After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). But even these battle-hardened marines with all the latest weaponry are no match for the hundreds …

Alien (1979) Review

Synopsis In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate a distress call from an alien vessel. The terror begins when the crew encounters a nest of eggs inside the alien ship. An organism from inside an egg leaps out and …

Onward Film Review (2020) *Spoiler Alert

Synopsis

Teenage elf brothers Ian and Barley embark on a magical quest to spend one more day with their late father. Like any good adventure, their journey is filled with cryptic maps, impossible obstacles, and unimaginable discoveries. But when dear Mom finds out her sons are missing, she teams up with the legendary manticore to bring her beloved boys back home.

Onward (2020) - IMDb

Release date: March 6, 2020

(USA)DirectorDan ScanlonBox office: $103.2 million

Budget: $175–200 million

ScreenplayDan ScanlonJason HeadleyKeith Bunin

My Review

I was so excited when Disney released this film for streaming instead of pulling the plug on its release. As a Disney Pixar movie, I figured this film would not disappoint. However, it far extended my expectations.

Pixar's Onward: Release date, plot, cast, pictures, trailers ...

The thing that stood out to me the most about this movie was the message of family and the bond between siblings. The whole movie Ian and Barley Lightfoot are trying to bring there dead father back for just one day. As the older brother, Barley has a few special memories of his father. Ian was still not born when his father dies, and he makes a list of everything he wants to do with his father. However, the spell to bring their dad back goes wrong, and it leaves them with their father only from the waist down. The two must go on an elaborate and dangerous journey to complete the spell.

The whole movie the boys are so fixated on bringing back the rest of their father, they lose sight of trying to make the most of the situation they were given. Later on in the movie the two boys have a bonding moment with their father through dancing. Since their father can feel the vibration of the music. This was such a precious moment, and I wish there would have been more like it.

Read the first Onward movie reviews | Cineworld cinemas

It drove me crazy to think of all the moments the two boys were missing out on with their father. However, through their adventure we see the two brothers bond and grow closer than ever. It became apparent while watching the film that Barley had become a father like figure to Ian over the years. Ian himself does not come to this realization until the end of the film. While it was painful to watch him come to this realization so late, it was a heart full and tear jerking moment for the audience.

I thoroughly enjoyed the characterization of this film. Each character had distinct character traits and they each stayed true to those through the entire movie. However, that’s not to say there wasn’t any character growth. In fact, we see each character in the film grow on an extensive level. Overall, this was a very fun and lighthearted film. It had me laughing and crying at others. I recommend watching this film, and I would for sure watch it again.

My Rating

4.8 out of 5

Onward lawsuit | why Disney and Pixar are being sued for a van ...

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What Did I Just Watch? The Platform (2019) Analysis

Synopsis

Prisoners housed in vertical cells watch as inmates in the upper cells are fed while those below starve.

The Platform review: Angrily scratches the Snowpiercer and ...

Initial release: February 21, 2020

(Taiwan)DirectorGalder Gaztelu-Urrutia

Language: Spanish

NominationsGoya Award for Best New Director

AwardsGoya Award for Best Special EffectsGaudí Award for Best Visual Effects

My Review/ Analysis

Wow. There is a lot to this film. Overall, this film is making lots of statements on society and humanity. In the film, prisoners are kept in a cell like blocks with a roommate for an extended amount of time. Every day a platform full of food travels down the platforms from top to bottom. The more food the top levels eat, the less food there is for the lower levels.

The Platform (Netflix Movie Review)

The film is making jabs and comments on the society of the real-world, however; the filmmakers created a society all of its own within the pit itself. There is a set of rules to follow within the society of the pit. For example, each level has two minutes to eat as much food as they want before the platform will move to another level. If any food is kept on your platform and being saved for later, the people in charge will either freeze you to death or heat you to death until you return the food to where it belongs. Despite these strict rules, the citizens of the pit are free to do as they choose. There seems to be no repercussions for murder, or psychically harming another person within the pit.

There are 333 platforms in the pit, and with two people per level that equals 666 lives living within this hellish society. This is symbolic of the hellish society humans have created in the real world. The people in the film are very individualistic minded and are very little for one another. If everybody ate only what they needed, everyone would have enough. But the people in the pit seem to have very little regard for one another.

Trailer per The Platform (Il Buco): una prigione verticale porta ...

Despite those at the top platforms, having experiences life at the bottom, they still hoard food and hold no regard for those below them. Even though the members of the pit physically get to experience life at every level they still posses strong selfish actions when at the top.

Immediately this made me think of the recent Pandemic the world is facing. People hoard food and toilet paper, leaving very little for others. It was a scary parallel realization. The film is stating that as a society we only look out for ourselves, and the majority rarely consider how those around us are doing. While we don’t live in a pit like society, the film suggests no matter who is put in the pit the same pattern will occur over and over again. Those at the top will always take too much and cause pain and suffering for those below them.

Towards the end of the film the audience meets a little girl who is hiding in one of the lower platforms. She appears to be the daughter of the woman who rides down the platform every month looking for her child. The audience is told that they accept no kids to take part in the pit, causing the audience to believe the child was born within the pit. Therefore, making her a direct product of the pits society.

The Platform Movie Ending Explained (2019 Netflix Film) | This is ...

At the end of the film, the child is sent back up on the platform to serve as a message to those in charge of the pit. This suggests that the only hope for a change in society lies within the younger generations of the world. However, the girl in the movie has to go on this journey alone since she solely is the message. The girl represents the hope of humanity to overcome the darkest truths of human nature. The only hope for change is through youthful eyes and innocence.

My Rating

3.5 out of 5

I highly reccomend giving this film a watch. However, I don’t think I would ever sit down to watch it again.

Reasons to watch 'The Platform,' a Spanish thriller now on Netflix ...

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Lucas Hagar: The Influence of NArrative Storytelling on Documentaries

In a podcast with Film Riot, Lucas Harger talked in-depth about his filmmaking process as well as the creative cross between narrative film and documentary filmmaking. As a filmmaker, Lucas has been successful in crossing between editing both documentary and narrative stories to produce unique and creative content. According to Lucas, being able to create …

Newsies (1992) Film Review

Synopsis

In this musical, homeless New York City newsboy Jack “Cowboy” Kelly (Christian Bale) befriends two newcomers to his trade, brothers David (David Moscow) and Les Jacobs (Luke Edwards). When publisher Joseph Pulitzer (Robert Duvall) sets new rules that make it harder for the young newspaper salesmen to make a buck, the boys go on strike. Bryan Denton (Bill Pullman), a journalist who’s sympathetic to their plight, gives them some tips in public relations, as the newsboys’ battle grips the city.

Newsies (film) - D23

Release date: April 10, 1992

(USA)DirectorKenny Ortega

ScreenplayNoni WhiteBob Tzudiker

Music composed byAlan MenkenJ. A. C. Redford

My Review

This is a very lighthearted and enjoyable film. The actors of the movie all do such an incredible job, and it’s easy to buy into the world of the movie. I’m sure watching this production onstage or on Broadway would be a more enjoyable experience, but the movie is a close second.

Newsies (1992) - Rotten Tomatoes

For a Disney film, I was surprised by the amount of violence and ideas the film suggested. There are several times in the movie when the Newsies get a little rouged up on the streets of New York. However, the newsie strike is a historical event that led to lots of riots and rough housing, so I appreciated the historical accuracy of this movie. This is definitely an emotionally heavy film that will make you frustrated.

I was most curious to see Christian Bale in this film because I have never seen him sing and dance. I’ve seen him in a wide range of acting roles, and I wanted to see how he would live up to the hype. He is definitely not the best singer. But his dancing blew me away. In fact, all the dance numbers of this film are incredibly well filmed and choreographed. From an acting stand point Bale carried most of the weight. Bale plays the hero and protagonist of the film, and I found myself emotionally invested in his story from the very beginning.

Sometimes in this movie when the plot felt rushed, and my investment into the story lessened a little each time. I also wish there would have been more character development for the kids. There’s so much development giving to Bales character that all the others are pushed to the side. Another thing that drove me crazy about this movie was the forced relationship between Bale and his love interest. The audience saw no interaction between the two at all, and then the first scene we see between them Bale asks if she would miss him if he were to leave. This made no sense to me! Their relationship came out of nowhere and was completely forced since the filmmakers were trying to stick to the Broadway plot line.

My Rating

2 out of 5

5 Movies To Help Get You Through Social Distancing

The world right now is a stressful and scary place. Everywhere you look there is news and talk of the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s easy to fall into a state of depression and gloom, and to let the stress of everything get the best of you. However, I’m hoping this list of feel- good films can bring a little happiness to your day. As movie lovers film can be a good place to go to for a mental and emotional break from the world.

Frozen 2

Frozen 2 Details | POPSUGAR Entertainment

I think it’s awesome that Disney Plus released this film early on its streaming database. If you have not seen this movie yet, I strongly recommend you go watch it. I have seen this movie twice now and enjoyed it equally both times. No matter how old you are, it’s a light-hearted and enjoyable watch. If you have Disney Plus, go watch it! I guarantee you it will brighten up your day during this stressful time.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Ferris Bueller's Day Off | Gorton Community Center

No matter how many times you watch this film, you will fall in love with it a little more every time. All around this is the definition of a feel good movie. It will have you laughing till your eyes water, sitting on the edge of your seat, and keep captivated until the credits roll.

The Hunger Games (Series)

A 'Hunger Games' Prequel Book Is Officially Coming Out In 2020

These movies are endearing and suspenseful. After watching the first movie of the series, you will not be able to stop until you have seen them all. Which will end up killing a lot of time and allow you an escape from reality. It’s easy to get emotionally invested in these movies, and the story line is very action packed and exciting!

Mrs. Doubtfire

Mrs. Doubtfire' Review: Movie (1993) | Hollywood Reporter

If you need a good laugh, then this film is a must see. Robin Williams once again does a fantastic job in this film, and will have you laughing until your stomach hurts. Not only that, but this is also a very good feel good movie, and it has a powerful message to it.

The Shawshank Redemption

After A 25 Year Hiatus, A Chance To Finally See 'The Shawshank ...

If you need a movie, that will make you cry, then definitely go check this one out. This movie will suck you in from the first scene of the entire movie. It’s a very tear jerking and a feel good film. Check out my full review of this film under the film reviews section of my blog.

Let me know if you give any of these films a try or if you have any more recommendations of films to watch during this time of quarantine and social distancing.

Saving Private Ryan (1998) Film Review

Synopsis

Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) takes his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat. Surrounded by the brutal realties of war, while searching for Ryan, each man embarks upon a personal journey and discovers their own strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honor, decency and courage.
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Release dateJuly 24, 1998 (USA)
Budget70 million USD

My Review 

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By far this is one of the best war movies of all time. It’s hard and tear jerking to watch because of how accurate and life like the war scenes are. Something that really adds to the uncomfortable realistic feel of the film is the lack of music. It’s hard to notice when first watching the movie because as an audience member you are so sucked into the action. But if you pay attention during any battle scene, there is absolutely no music playing in the background. In fact, music is used sparingly and only when it adds to the overall emotional impact on the audience. During the bloody war scenes all the audience hears are bullets shooting, men screaming, blood gushing, and orders being given. This makes the audience feel as if they themselves are on the front lines with all the actor’s.

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Another powerful element of this film is the camera work. The cinematography is innovative and creative. However, it’s kept subtle to where you don’t remember your watching a movie on a screen. It feels as if your watching war history in person. A lot of the camera angles are kept eye level, or close to the ground, which adds to this effect. There are very little bird eye shots or hero shots in this film. Which would have only lost the audience’s personal connection into the film. This was a really impactful decision made by the cinematographer of this film.

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This film showcases the darker side of humanity. It allows audience members who have never been on a battle front a chance to experience the realistic horror and intense action. It allows us a look into a world not all of us are familiar with. That makes watching this film such a memorable experience.

My Rating

4.8 out of 5

I recommend everybody watch this film at least once in their life.

Sam I Am TV Series (2019) Review *Spoiler Alert

Summary 

Opposites Guy and Sam take a road trip to save an endangered animal, learning to try new things like hope and friendship — and a certain delectable dish.
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First episode dateNovember 8, 2019
No. of episodes13 (list of episodes)

My Review

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I really liked the idea for this film, and I was really excited for it to become available on Netflix. However, it ended up taking me around three months to finish the season. The show started off very strong. There were a lot of mysteries for the audience to figure out, and that was the engaging element of the film. After the first few episodes, the audience was following Sam and Guy on their journey with the Chickeraffe. This is when the film got boring and repetitive to me, and it lost my attention.

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It isn’t until near the end of the film that we learn the people we thought were the “bad guys” are actually the good guys. To the audience’s surprise, Sam ends up being the bad guy. While this was an unforeseen plot twist. There weren’t enough hints at this twist throughout the tv show, which is where I lost interest. Once the plot twist was revealed, my interest in the tv show peaked again. However, this was not until the second to last episode. I had to force myself to keep watching the show till the very end.

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Netflix is known for throwing in their political beliefs into their original creations. This tv show is no exception. Mr. Snerz it totally based on Donald Trump. This show is totally meant for a more adult audience, as most of the humour and jokes come from an adult sense of humour. Political affiliations aside, I don’t think it was necessary for Netflix to base the evil figurehead of the film on Donald Trump. It felt a little forced and random for most of the season.

I really liked the character growth throughout the season, but it was slow coming and I got sick of waiting for it to happen. Therefore, it was not enough to keep me interested in the film for a long time span.

My Rating

2 out of 5

This show had a lot of potential, however I think Netflix missed the mark.

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Coco (2017) Film Review

Synopsis

Despite his family’s generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead. After meeting a charming trickster named Héctor, the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.
Image result for coco
Release dateNovember 22, 2017 (USA)
Box office807.1 million USD

My Review 

Pixar does not disappoint. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen a Disney Pixar movie I have not fallen in love with. I finally got around to checking this movie off of my must see list, and I loved every second of watching this film.

The animation is top-notch, and the color, music, and overall environment created in this movie was astounding to look and listen to. One of the amazing things about Pixar movies is that no matter how old you are, these movies will always have a special place in your heart. This movie is relatable for a wide age range. Whether you’re a kid balancing life and family, a parent trying to understand your child, or an elderly family member stuck in the past. This movie had a lot of life lessons that could be learned, and I truly feel any audience member will connect with the film on an emotional level.

This film was not predictable for me, and I did not see the plot twists coming. Which is not a typical element of a children’s film. The plot had me interested and engaged throughout the entire movie, starting from the first ten minutes of the movie. If you are interested in learning more about other cultures and their traditions, I strongly recommend you watch this film. I have always been fascinated by the tradition of Day of the Dead. This movie gives an interesting look into this tradition, and how family is valued into Mexican Culture.

Overall, this movie is an incredible feel good movie to watch solo or with the family. It’s a highly emotional story that will tug at your heartstrings.

My Rating

4.5 out of 5

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Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) Film Review

Synopsis

Writer and notorious marriage detractor Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) falls for girl-next-door Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane), and they tie the knot on Halloween. When the newlyweds return to their respective family homes to deliver the news, Brewster finds a corpse hidden in a window seat. With his eccentric aunts (Josephine Hull, Jean Adair), disturbed uncle (John Alexander), and homicidal brother (Raymond Massey), he realizes that his family is even crazier than he thought.
Image result for arsenic and old lace
Release dateSeptember 1, 1944 (USA)

My Review 

If you have not seen this film… Go Watch It Now! This movie has been on my top 10 list of films for years now.

My favorite thing about this film is the plot structure. They based this film off on a play and that shows. This play follows the old style of comedy with dramatic irony. The audience is fully aware of what is going on in the movie, however a lot of the actors are left in the dark. Which leads to a lot of confusion among the characters within the film and adds to the comedic element for the audience.

Something I love about this film that I think more plays and films need to be inspired by is all the comedic timing and use of facial expressions. Image result for arsenic and old laceCary Grant’s facial expressions throughout this film makes for some of the best comedic moments. This is also something that is known to be one of Cary Grant’s signature strengths.

The plot of this film is quick paced, and there are several stories lines going on all at the same time. Newly wed Mortimer Brewster is trying to leave on his honeymoon, his aunts are murdering elderly gentleman, his uncle thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, and his crazy brother Jonathon shows up  on the run from the police. While the overall feel of the movie is left very light and comedic, the action within the play is insane and the audience gets to watch along on the journey.

I absolutely adore the acting in this film. Besides Cary Grant’s amazing performance, everyone else does a fantastic job. There is not a bad acting performance in this entire film. Image result for arsenic and old laceJosephine Hull and Jean Adair as the two aunts is my favorite. These two women do not disappoint in this film, and their characterization is amazing. They are nothing short of being sweet elderly women in this film, which makes it even more of a comedic shock to find they have single-handedly poisoned and buried several men in their cellar. 

Lastly, the camera work and lighting of this film are unique and appealing. Much like the play, this film takes place solely inside the Brewster’s living room. While we see action take place in a few other locations, most of the film is set in one area of the house. However, the film does not get boring and as an audience member it’s hard to notice that the camera has not left the one room. The camera work is very innovative and creative.

My Rating 

4.5 out of 5

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The Shawshank Redemption Review (1994)

Synopsis

Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and her lover and is sentenced to a tough prison. However, only Andy knows he didn’t commit the crimes. While there, he forms a friendship with Red (Morgan Freeman), experiences brutality of prison life, adapts, helps the warden, etc., all in 19 years.
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Release dateSeptember 22, 1994 (Beverly Hills)

My Review

I do not understand why it took me so long to see this film, but I am thrilled I did. This film blew me away. It’s a powerful story, with incredible acting and amazing plot action. I was immediately drawn into this film from the very beginning and only became more captivated in the story the more it went on.

My favorite thing about this film was the powerful acting performances. I was not as familiar with Tim Robbins as I was with Morgan Freeman before watching this movie. However, unlike most movies, neither actor over-shined the other. Image result for the shawshank redemptionBoth of them did such an incredible job, and as an audience member it truly felt like the two actors were feeding off of each other’s performances and energy which only strengthened their acting. The other actors in this film were incredible. There was such distinct and committed character development, which added a lot to the film and made it seem even more lifelike.

This film had a very natural flow to it. The plot points moved effortlessly from one to the other. I never noticed a moment where this film seemed to drag on and lose my attention. I think something that aided in that was Morgan Freeman’s character narrating the film and guiding the audience through the story. As an audience member, this also made me feel more involved within the world of the film and helped me get invested into the story of the film.

Probably the most powerful and affective element of this film is the writing. With it being adapted from a Steven King novel, I knew that the writing would have a strong foundation to base off of. Image result for the shawshank redemptionHowever, the writing of this movie entirely blew me away. The movie is very intense and leaves a huge emotional impact on the audience. Since the audience gets so emotionally invested in the main characters, there are many parts of this story that make you mad. Even after watching this film, the emotional impact will stick with you, and you will think about it long after watching the film.

My Rating

4.5 out of 5

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