Peter Langmead's Blog

Film Director, Screenwriter, Composer, Steadicam operator, Social Documentary Photographer. My latest film is The Borderline, released on December 4, 2019.

Writing Film Scripts 8: Read On

So now that you have written lots of scenes, you will notice there are distinct sequences, elements of story that combine to make the full story. Each Act is likely to be one or more sequences that are spaced by time and fade in from black and fade out to black. Tarantino uses these as Brechtian breaks. Have you discovered distanciation yet? Each element is a ‘Short’ film and can be written as such in the script, but there is no explicit formatting for sequences in writing programmes so I use colour coding in scene views/index cards or, in Final Draft, Format > Element Settings > General to start a new page with its own capitalised and underlined italics title for sequences or acts.

The Chief meets with the Minister The Minister and the Chief in a scene from 'The Borderline'.

The transitions at the end of Act 1 and Act 2, and the centre point, are events. Things happen that change everything. Mr. Collins' proposal of marriage was rejected by Elizabeth Bennett but accepted by her closest friend Charlotte Lucas in chapter 22. Since Mr. Collins inherits the Bennett's estate by default, the implied consequences are in chapter 23 and very serious for all.

In Act 2, the situation deteriorates, Mr. Bingley closes Netherfield and returns to London, devastating for Jane and therefore Elizabeth. Typically, bad news continues through Act 2 but finishes with Lydia running away with the regiment and Elizabeth going on a northern tour with Mr and Mrs Gardiner, chapters 41 and 42 at the end of an eventful and miserable Act 2. Elizabeth gets closer to Darcy's family at Pemberley in Act 3.

And the centre point? I would say, chapters 31 and 32. How are you going to emphasise that?

You could not wait to write your first script, which is commendable. The problem is, you did not at anytime wonder about how little you know, even if you are young and know everything, while I wonder if you managed the first Act, even the first eight or so minute sequence. If your name is not Winston Churchill, you are unlikely to have done anything in your life sufficient to justify a biography. Get real, but you have made progress.

Really, do read a lot. The rationale for adaptations is they provide timeline, events, characterisation, colour, wardrobe, hair, pace and all the requirements of film that are absent when you are trying to construct your film, without a clue what you are doing. Making films is one of the world’s greatest challenges – Tarantino, paraphrased, says the first is like climbing Mount Everest. He understated that. Now, I hope you understand why your first film was not going to work. Keep reading!

Best regards,

Peter Langmead

P.S. Please have a look at my website here, for all sorts of interesting things about my film productions, operas and books on social photography. Remember, if there is no spit on the lens, you are not close enough - I do not know who said that but it is true. Write to me if you have a question.

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The Next Movie

The script is prepared for my next movie and pre-production is in progress. This is the most time-consuming part of filmmaking and production is expected to begin at the end of the year,