Welcome to my new blog about screenplay structure. Why am I doing this?
Every year since the digital filmmaking revolution began, cameras have gotten better and cheaper. Non-linear editing systems, once exotic creatures, now come bundled with operating systems. Computer graphics and desktop compositing now allow just about anybody to create a stunning epic movie. The internet now allows filmmakers to completely bypass traditional media distribution and advertising bottlenecks. Hollywood, by all accounts, should be dead.
However, in that same time frame, there has been no similar technological advance in writing a screenplay. As good as Final Draft (or other designated screenwriting software) may be, it doesn't profoundly cut the amount of time it takes to write a good script. Why? Because good writing is actually re-writing, or re-thinking and re-seeing your script. Writing a good script is essentially just as hard today as it was ten years ago and fifty years ago.
With the proliferation of cheap HD cameras, more movies are being made than at any time perhaps since the golden age of cinema. But most of these digital movies are at a significant disadvantage in the story department. With digital production and post-production so (relatively) quick and easy now, digital filmmakers have a tendency to write and shoot the first thing that pops into the head. This might mean that fresher stories will inevitably make it to the screen. But it also might mean that new movies will get worse and worse. Why? Because screenplays have rules that help make stories good, and a lot of new filmmakers tend to ignore this basic fact.
Hollywood still has the advantage of knowing the rules. This blog is about the rules of screenwriting. Don't think of them as Hollywood's rules. Think of them as deeply human rules of refined storytelling on which Hollywood has been profiteering for nearly a century.
I know a lot of good screenwriting books out there, and I know a lot of film schools that will be happy to take your money for pointing out the obvious. But let's do it for free instead, and let's do it in blog form.
Next post... The rules.