A GUIDE TO FEATURE FILM WRITING

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A GUIDE TOFEATURE FILM WRITINGa screenwriter’s workbookby j.t. velikovskywww.joeteevee.com2003This work is intended as a critical review of theory in the field of feature film screenwriting.It is not intended for sale. Wherever possible, please buy and read all the texts referenced within.Guide to Writing Feature Films1

INTRODUCTIONSo, Feature Screenwriting: big field. Twenty years ago, there were two books on thesubject. Now there are hundreds. Where to start? Right here is a good beginning First of all, I should say that this workbook is just an Overview of the field. It is intendedmore as an introduction, than a set of free tools’ for feature film writers it is certainlynot meant to replace the original texts themselves.- It contains various facts and figures about the Australian and world film industries (allcurrent at the time of writing, Jan 2003), and various story templates’, but most usefully- it contains summaries of the most important texts on Writing Feature Scripts.This booklet also contains an Overview’ of all the basic career info you need as a featurescreenwriter, ranging from: contact info for the Writer’s Guild, to getting an Agent, andthe Funding Bodies URL’s - right through to formatting and binding your feature script.Perhaps most usefully, it also has tables and worksheets, where you can fill out your ownfilm’s plot beats and character info’ in preparation for writing your masterpiece.But, for the actual nuts-and-bolts of all these writing theories (and let’s face it, that’s allthey are - there are no magic formulae, or else all writers would always write perfectscripts. But if there is one formula, it’s this: Learn all the rules, the forget ‘em and writefrom the heart.) - I implore you, please buy and read the actual original texts themselves.- I don’t wish to deny the likes of Linda Aronsen, Syd Field, Linda Seger, Viki King,John Truby, or Robert McKee their dues. - Lord knows, they all sweated blood for them.(And this also goes for John Lonie, Ron Blair and Helen Carmichael too, from my days atAFTRS. Thank you to a wonderful, hugely-talented, amazingly generous bunch of bornteachers.)So. Hopefully this Workbook will be useful for you, whether you’re a new, or anexperienced screenwriter.- We need great scripts, and more of them; they make great films, which the world needsmost right now Our film stories are our myths. Our myths are what we live by.And just remember, screenplays are never finished - they are only ever abandoned!But hey, you can sure have a blast in the meantime ; )cheerz,j.t. velikovskyscreenwriterwww.joeteevee.comGuide to Writing Feature Films2

THE AUSTRALIAN WRITERS GUILD . 5AUSTRALIAN BOX OFFICE HITS. 6TOP TEN AUSTRALIAN FILMS OF ALL TIME IN AUSTRALIA . 6THE TOP TEN HIGHEST-GROSSING FILMS OF ALL TIME IN AUSTRALIA: (BOX OFFICEGROSS) . 6TOP 50 FILMS in AUSTRALIA. 7U.S. BOX OFFICE MEGAHITS. 8U.S. BOX OFFICE HITS (INFLATION-ADJUSTED). 9TOP 100 AUSTRALIAN FILMS AT THE AUST. BOX OFFICE,1966 TO 11 JULY 2002 . 10AFI WINNERS for BEST SCREENPLAY. 12OSCAR -WINNING SCREENPLAYS. 13A FEW OTHER FILM CLASSICS. 14ONLINE SOURCES FOR FILM SCREENPLAYS. 15WHAT IS A SCREENPLAY?. 16AN OVERVIEW OF THE PROCESS:. 17WHERE TO START?. 18THEME. 19THE CREATIVE PROCESS. 20THE GREEK LEGACY: 3-ACT STORY STRUCTURE. 20THE PREMISE. 21CREATE A GREAT CHARACTER. 22SCREENPLAY CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS. 23CHARACTER DESCRIPTION TEMPLATE:. 26EXAMPLE SYNOPSIS:. 27THIS FILM’S PREMISE:. 27THE HOOK – and THE VERBAL PITCH. 28ONE-PAGE PITCH’ CASE STUDY: OMMADAWN. 29CONFLICT IS DRAMA . 31CHARACTER. 32ENNEAGRAMS. 33THE 4 HIPPOCRATIC HUMOURS. 34PHYSICALITY: SOMATYPES. 34JUNG’S PERSONALITY TYPES . 35ASTROLOGICAL STAR SIGNS. 36HERO'S JOURNEY CHARACTER ARCHETYPES . 38SYD FIELD'S CHARACTER TEMPLATE. 393-D CHARACTER PROFILE - STRIKING POINTS. 40CHARACTER ARCS . 41STAKES . 42THE HERO or PROTAGONIST . 43CHARACTER PROFILE WORKSHEETS. 44CHARACTER INTERVIEW . 46CREATE 5 MEMORABLE SCENES . 50A CHARACTER’S BACKSTORY. 51JOHN CARROLL’S “9 CORE THEMES”. 52TOBIAS’ 20 PLOTS . 53POLTI’S THE 36 DRAMATIC SITUATIONS’. 54JOHNSTON/BLAKE’S 9 PLOTS. 55GENRE IN FILMS. 56FILMS PRODUCED (BY GENRE) IN AUSTRALIA since 1990. 57AUSTRALIAN FEATURE FILM GENRES . 58STRUCTURE. 59THE HERO’S JOURNEY. 60ROBERT McKEE’S SCREENWRITING METHOD . 63THE STORY MAP. 63BARRY PEARSON’S STRUCTURE. 64ECO & THE JAMES BOND PLOTS . 65DAVID SIEGEL’S NINE-ACT STRUCTURE. 65RICHARD MICHAELS – MEGAHIT STRUCTURE. 66ON THEMATIC VISUAL METAPHORS. 66Guide to Writing Feature Films3

Viki King's INNER MOVIE METHOD. 67THE SCREENPLAY BEAT SHEET’. 68PLOTS and SUBPLOTS - or A,B and C stories . 69QUESTIONS TO ANSWER BEFORE YOU WRITE:. 70THE 15 COMMANDMENTS’. 71OF FEATURE FILM SCREENWRITING. 71SCENE LENGTH. 72EXPOSITION. 73FEATURE FILM LAYOUT. 74BINDING. 74SCREENPLAY TERMS - GLOSSARY. 75DIALOG. 77SOME OTHER DIALOG RULES’: . 78SUBTEXT. 79FAMOUS LINES from films of the 1990’s . 80MEMORABLE LINES FROM AUSTRALIAN FILMS. 80GREAT MOVIE LINES. 81SCRIPT EDITING QUESTIONS:. 87SCRIPT EDITING: THE SCENE-BY-SCENE ANALYSIS . 88SCRIPT ANALYSIS (by SCRIPT ASSESSORS or READERS) . 89USEFUL SCREENWRITING WEBSITES . 90GOVERNMENT FILM BODIES . 90NATIONAL FILM FUNDING BODIES. 90STATE FUNDING BODIES . 90OTHER SITES . 90NEWS & REVIEWS. 90HOLLYWOOD FILM RUMOURS . 90GENERAL FILM INFO. 90BOOKS ABOUT SCRIPTWRITING. 91SCREENWRITING SOFTWARE. 92KEEPING IT LOW BUDGET . 93RESEARCH YOUR LOW BUDGET MOVIE!. 94THE QUERY LETTER* .101FINDING AGENTS, PRODUCERS, DIRECTORS, ACTORS.102RELEASE FORM.103NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT.105Guide to Writing Feature Films4

ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN WRITERS GUILDWhat is the AWG? The AWG is the professional association for all performance writers that is, writers for film, television, radio, theatre, video and new media.The AWG was established in 1962, and is recognised throughout the industry in Australiaas being the voice of performance writers. And AWGIE awards are coveted, nation-wide.MEMBERSHIP FEES:Full MembershipYour membership fee is based on your Gross Income as per the following tables:Gross IncomeUnder 25 000 25 000 - 45 000 45 000 - 55 000Above 55 000Annual Membership275.00412.50550.00687.50Half-Yearly Membership154225.50291.50360.25Associate MembershipTermFull YearHalf YearCost137.5082.50Script RegistrationYou've soaked each page of your script with effort and inspiration. Don't let your hard work fallprey to opportunism. AWG registration of a work costs 27.50 and is valid for 10 years.With nearly 10 000 scripts given additional protection, it's no surprise script registration is one ofthe most popular services we offer to writers at all career stages. Each script is assigned a uniquenumber in our electronic registration tracking system, then archived in a document storage vaultfor ten years. By printing this registration number on the front page of your script, you'll make itclear you've taken all the right steps to make sure your work remains protected. Scriptregistration through the AWG is only open to financial Guild members.AWG – in South AustraliaBranch Manager: Gabrielle Aujard187 Rundle Street Adelaide SA 5000Postal Address: PO Box 43 Rundle Mall SA 5000Tel 08 8232 6852 Hours 1pm – 5pm (Tuesday And Thursday)email: [email protected]: http://www.awg.com.auGuide to Writing Feature Films5

AUSTRALIAN BOX OFFICE HITSTop ten highest-grossing films of all time in Australia in 2001 (adjusted for inflation):1. The Sound of Music2. Gone With The Wind3. Crocodile Dundee4. E.T.5. Star Wars6. Titanic7. Jaws8. The Sting9. Dr Zhivago10. GreaseTOP TEN AUSTRALIAN FILMS OF ALL TIME IN AUSTRALIA1. Crocodile Dundee2. Babe3. The Man From Snowy River4. Crocodile Dundee 25. Gallipoli6. Alvin Purple7. Mad Max 28. Strictly Ballroom9. Picnic At Hanging Rock10. They’re A Weird MobSource: Ash, R. (1997), The Top 10 of Everything, 2001, Dorling Kindersley,St Leonards, AustraliaTHE TOP TEN HIGHEST-GROSSING FILMS OF ALL TIME INAUSTRALIA: (BOX OFFICE GROSS)1. Titanic2. Crocodile Dundee3. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone5. Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace6. Babe7. Jurassic Park8. Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones19. E.T.10. ShrekSource : http://www.afc.gov.au/gtp/wctopalltime.htmlGuide to Writing Feature Films6

TOP 50 FILMS in AUSTRALIARelease date Box office ( )1TitanicFox18 Dec 199757,642,943Crocodile DundeeHoyts30 Apr 198647,707,045Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Roadshow26 Dec 200146,671,216Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s StoneWarner Bros29 Nov 200142,302,657Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom MenaceFox3 Jun 199938,828,310BabeUIP/Universal14 Dec 199536,776,544Jurassic ParkUIP/Universal2 Sep 199333,002,776Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones 1Fox16 May 200232,716,351E.T.UIP/Universal1 Nov 198232,662,000ShrekUIP/Universal21 Jun 200132,045,840GladiatorUIP/Universal4 May 200031,092,305Forrest GumpUIP/Paramount17 Nov 199430,562,133Star Wars (incl. special edit)Fox27 Oct 7729,649,700Independence DayFox29 Aug 199629,496,567The Sixth SenseBVI7 Oct 199929,182,473Moulin RougeFox24 May 200127,675,530The Lion KingBVI/Disney25 Aug 199427,082,5551SpidermanColumbia6 Jun 200226,470,402Mrs DoubtfireFox16 Dec 199326,241,675Pretty WomanBVI/Touchstone3 May 199026,156,134Monsters Inc.BVI26 Dec 200125,621,308Crocodile Dundee IIHoyts26 May 198824,916,805Saving Private RyanUIP/Paramount19 Nov 199824,172,708TwisterUIP30 May 199623,438,404The Full MontyFox16 Oct 199723,197,810The MatrixRoadshow8 Apr 199922,827,645Men in BlackColumbia11 Sep 199722,789,539What Women WantRoadshow8 Jan 200122,533,750Mission Impossible 2UIP/Paramount1 June 200022,478,131Bridget Jones’s DiaryUIP/Universal26 Jul 200122,404,421Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged MeRoadshow17 Jun 199922,380,168Ocean’s ElevenRoadshow10 Jan 200222,251,208Strictly BallroomRonin20 Aug 199221,760,400Four Weddings and a FuneralREP5 May 199421,471,077GhostUIP/Paramount25 Oct 199021,311,049Meet the ParentsUIP/Universal26 Dec 200021,221,469Liar, LiarUIP/Universal12 Jun 199721,117,778Notting HillPolygram/Universal 10 Jun 199920,831,399Sister ActBVI/Touchstone19 Nov 199220,505,775Stuart LittleColumbia6 Apr 200020,389,690Ice AgeFox21 Mar 200220,370,385Cast AwayUIP/Universal18 Jan 200120,261,501Toy Story 2BVI2 Dec 199920,131,422The MaskRoadshow8 Dec 199420,084,763The Lost WorldUIP/Universal29 May 199720,071,203Miss CongenialityRoadshow15 Mar 200120,049,198A Bug’s LifeBVI3 Dec 199820,015,072There’s Something about MaryFox3 Sep 199820,007,019Dances with Wolves (incl. special edit)Hoyts14 Feb 199119,863,653A Beautiful MindUIP/Universal7 Mar 200219,706,136TitleDistributorSource: http://www.afc.gov.au/gtp/wctopalltime.htmlGuide to Writing Feature Films7

U.S. BOX OFFICE MEGAHITSThis is a list of the 22 Hollywood movies that have box-office grosses of over 250million in the U.S., reported on the www site of the Box Office Guru, as at 2002.1. TITANIC ( 600 million)2. STAR WARS ( 461 million)3. E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL ( 434 million)4. THE PHANTOM MENACE ( 431 million)5. SPIDER-MAN ( 404 million)6. JURASSIC PARK ( 357 million)7. FORREST GUMP ( 329 million)8. HARRY POTTER ( 317 million)9. LORD OF THE RINGS ( 313 million)10. LION KING ( 312 million)11. RETURN OF JEDI ( 309 million)12. INDEPENDENCE DAY ( 306 million)13. ATTACK OF THE CLONES ( 300 million)14. THE SIXTH SENSE ( 293 million)15. EMPIRE STRIKES BACK ( 290 million)16. HOME ALONE ( 285 million)17. SHREK ( 265 million)18. THE GRINCH ( 260 million)19. JAWS ( 260 million)20. MONSTERS INC ( 255 million)21. BATMAN ( 251 million)22. MEN IN BLACK ( 250 million)Source: www.boxofficeguru.com/blockbusters.htmGuide to Writing Feature Films8

U.S. BOX OFFICE HITS (INFLATION-ADJUSTED)Rank1 million208.1TitleGone With the WindYear(1939)Studio(MGM)2198.6Star Wars(1977)(Fox)3170.6The Sound of Music(1965)(Fox)4151.6E.T.(1982)(Univ)5132.8The Ten Commandments(1956)(Para)6126.3The Jungle 1975)(Univ)9122.7Doctor Zhivago(1965)(MGM)10119.6101 Dalmatians(1961)(Disney)11118.5Snow White and the Seven .0Return of the Jedi(1983)(Fox)14102.6The Empire Strikes Back(1980)(Fox)1595.9The Exorcist(1973)(WB)1694.8Raiders of the Lost Ark(1981)(Para)1790.2The Sting(1973)(Univ)1889.1The Phantom Menace(1999)(Fox)1988.8The Lion ce: http://home.earthlink.net/ mrob/pub/movies/topadj.htmlGuide to Writing Feature Films9

TOP 100 AUSTRALIAN FILMS AT THE AUST. BOX OFFICE,1966 TO 11 JULY 2002The no. 1 Australian film at the Australian box office is Crocodile Dundee (1986), withearnings of 47,707,045. Crocodile Dundee is also no. 2 on the list of top films from anycountry, not just Australian itleCrocodile DundeeBabeMoulin RougeCrocodile Dundee IIStrictly BallroomThe DishThe Man from Snowy RiverThe Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the DesertMuriel's WeddingYoung EinsteinLantanaGallipoliThe Wog BoyThe PianoMad Max IIGreen Card (Australia/France)The CastleShinePhar LapThe Man Who Sued GodLooking for AlibrandiBabe: Pig in the CityCrocodile Dundee in Los Angeles (Australia/US)The Man from Snowy River IIRabbit Proof FenceLightning JackChopperTwo HandsReckless KellyMad MaxThe CraicPicnic at Hanging Rock3Breaker MorantAlvin PurpleMad Max, Beyond ThunderdomePuberty BluesCharlotte Gray (Australia/UK)2AntarcticaMalcolmAfrica's Elephant KingdomThe DelinquentsDark CityThe Sum of UsRomper StomperWe of the Never NeverMy Brilliant CareerEvil AngelsParadise RoadCosiGuide to Writing Feature FilmsDistributorRelease date Box office ( ow199416,459,245Roadshow199415,765,571Warner rner ,720,000Warner max19983,475,107Greater r Union19793,052,000Warner 2,896,98010

100CaddieThe Hard Word 2Sirens (Australia/UK)Death in BrunswickBootmenMe, Myself, IThe WigglesThe Heartbreak KidStorm BoyDating the EnemyHostage: The Christine Maresch StoryThe BankDead CalmCareful He Might Hear YouThey're a Weird MobThe Year of Living DangerouslyThe Big StealProofNapoleonBlack Robe (Australia/Canada)Far EastBlinky BillAlvin Rides AgainJoeyHead OnOscar and LucindaEliza FrazerFlirtingLove and Other CatastrophesLighthorsemenMr AccidentNewsfrontStoneBurke and WillsStarstruckThe Silver BrumbyThe Year My Voice BrokeThe Magic RiddleSpotswoodTravelling NorthBarry Mckenzie Holds His OwnHoly SmokePaperback HeroCoolangatta GoldPetersenSunday Too Far AwaySally Marshall Is Not an Alien (Australia/Canada)The Last WaveCrackersDad and Dave on Our SelectionRunning on EmptyRoadshowRoadshowBuena dshowFootprintWarner BrosHoytsGreater showRoadshowRoadshowPalaceFoxRoadshowWarner BrosNew 31,222,0511,218,000Source: www.afc.gov.au/Guide to Writing Feature Films11

AFI WINNERS for BEST SCREENPLAYBEST SCREENPLAY (ORIGINAL OR ADAPTED)1976 The Devil’s Playground1977 Don’s Party1980 Breaker Morant1981 Gallipoli1982 Goodbye Paradise1983-89 – NOT A CATEGORY1990 The Big Steal1991 Proof1992 Strictly Ballroom1993-96 NOT A CATEGORYBEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY1978 Newsfront1979 In Search of Anna1983 Buddies1984 My First Wife1985 Fran1986 Malcolm1987 The Year My Voice Broke1988 NO NOMINATIONS or AWARDS1989 Sweetie1990-92 NOT A CATEGORY1993 The Piano1994 Bad Boy Bubby1995 Angel Baby1996 Shine1997 The Castle1998 The Interview1999 Two Hands2000 Russian Doll2001 The BankBEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY1978 The Getting of Wisdom1979 My Brilliant Career1983 Careful, He Might Hear You1984 Annie’s Coming Out1985 Bliss1986 The Fringe Dwellers1987 Travelling North1988 NO NOMINATIONS or AWARDS1989 Evil Angels1990-92 NOT A CATEGORY1993 Blackfellas1994 The Sum of Us1995 Hotel Sorrento1996 Cosi1997 The Well1998 The Boys1999 Praise2000 Looking for Alibrandi2001 LantanaSource: http://www.afi.org.au/Guide to Writing Feature Films12

OSCAR -WINNING SCREENPLAYSHere are the Best Screenplay’ Academy Award-winners, since their inception in 1927.The first title is for Winner, Screenplay written directly for the screen, and the secondtitle is for Winner, Screenplay based on material previously produced or published.2001--Gosford Park, A Beautiful Mind2000--Almost Famous, Traffic1999--American Beauty, The Cider House Rules1998--Shakespeare In Love, Gods and Monsters1997--Good Will Hunting, LA Confidential1996--Fargo, Sling Blade1995--The Usual Suspects, Sense and Sensibility1994--Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump1993--The Piano, Schindler's List1992--The Crying Game, Howard’s End1991--Thelma & Louise, The Silence of the Lambs1990--Gho