Here are some specific ways to think about your screenplay’s tone.
In a screenplay, tone is the most elusive element. It doesn’t necessarily have a physical form on the page, but emerges from between the lines as a conglomeration of dialogue, structure, character, and narrative development. It manifests as a feeling rather than a tangible entity. For these reasons, tone often escapes even the best writers. But when a script has a precise and compelling tone, it raises the final cut of the film considerably.
When you’re in the early processes of drafting your script—either outlining or simply thinking of ideas—it’s important to understand how form enables tone (and vice versa). Tone is a byproduct of your screenplay’s structure; the way your script will feel to your reader is a result of how you choose to dole out information. An easy example of this is Moonlight. The chapter structure coupled with the distinct choice to withhold information by exiting scenes earlier than expected adds to the free-flowing, “memory-like” tone of the film. (Of course, this tone is later enhanced by the sweeping cinematography and music.)
In every scene, something happens. A plot point is a scene or group of scenes in which something major happens, an event that impacts the narrative causing it to turn in a new direction.
A relevant anecdote. Years ago, I was on the phone with a writer discussing a script project. My son Will, who was about four years old at the time, must have been listening to me talking about “plot points” during the conversation because after I hung up, he asked, “Daddy, what’s a plop point?”
That’s in effect what a plot point is. It’s an event that ‘plops’ into the narrative and changes its course. So when you think Plot Point, think Plop Point!
The value of this exercise:
To identify the backbone of the story structure.
To examine each major plot point and see how it is effective as an individual event.
To analyze the major plot points in aggregate to determine why they work together as the central plot.
This week: Arrival. You may download a PDF of the script here.
Screenplay by Eric Heisserer, short story by Ted Chiang.
IMDb plot summary: When 12 mysterious spacecraft appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors.
Writing Exercise: Go through the scene-by-scene breakdown of Arrival and identify the major plot points. Post your thoughts in comments and we’ll see if we can come up with a consensus.
Major kudos to Ashish Chand for doing this week’s scene-by-scene breakdown.
For Part 1, to read the Scene-By-Scene Breakdown, go here.
To download a PDF of the breakdown for Arrival, go here.
Tomorrow we shift our focus to the script’s key characters.
I am looking for volunteers to read a script and provide a scene-by-scene breakdown for it to be used as part of our weekly series. What do you get out from it? Beyond your name being noted here, my personal thanks, and some creative juju sent your way, hopefully you will learn something about story structure and develop another skill set which is super helpful in learning and practicing the craft.
The latest volunteers:
A Monster Calls / Andrew Turner
Anthropoid / Marija Nielsen
Arrival / Ashish Chand
Captain Fantastic / Despina Karintis
Denial / Gina Gomez
Eye in the Skye / Abhinav Tiwari and Bruce Gordon
Fences / Matt Cowley
The Founder / Eric Rodriguez
Hail, Caesar! / Brianne VanTuyle
Hell or High Water / Andrew Lightfoot
The Invitation / Joni Trumpold Brainerd
Jackie / Karen Dantas
Kubo and the Two Strings / Nikki Syreeta
Loving / Liz Correal
Maggie’s Plan / Monique Mata
Manchester by the Sea / Ashley Lara
Miles Ahead / Alecia Hodges
Moonlight / Ryan Canty
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 / Nikki Leydecker
The Secret Life of Pets / Paul Huffman
Victor Frankenstein / Lisa Gomez
Zootopia / Will King
Italics = Turned in scene-by-scene breakdown
Bold = Have used scene-by-scene breakdown in week-long analysis
Now is YOUR chance to contribute to this most worthy cause and provide an additional resource for the online screenwriting community.
Even if you do not participate in the analysis, discussion, or write up a scene-by-scene breakdown, I strongly encourage you to read these scripts.
So seize this opportunity and join in the conversation!
I hope to see you in the RESPONSE section about this week’s script: Arrival.
It has been well over a decade now since the end of the U.K. Office, which centered around bad boss David Brent and the poor underlings forced to work with him. So what’s the old chap been up to since then? A new Netflix movie promises to answer that question.
Written by, directed by, and starring Ricky Gervais, David Brent: Life on the Road reveals the former Wernham-Hogg manager is now a traveling salesman for a cleaning products company. When he isn’t pushing mops and brushes, he’s pursuing his dreams of rock stardom with his band, Foregone Conclusion. The mockumentary follows the group on their self-financed U.K. tour, with predictably cringeworthy results. Watch the David Brent: Life on the Road trailer below.
David Brent: Life on the Road Trailer
Yep, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, it turns out David Brent is as bad a rock star as he was a paper company manager. “You think it’s painful to watch? I have to stand next to him,” laments a band mate at one point. And it doesn’t seem like he’s all that great at selling cleaning products, either, based on the horrified expression on his client’s face.
David Brent: Life on the Road premiered in the U.K. last year to lukewarm reviews. The Telegraph liked it quite a bit, praising “the same mix of uproarious failure and sledgehammer pathos that Brent at his best was always all about,” while Empire reports that “in the end, it mostly feels like a faint photocopy of what we’ve seen before.” What everyone seems to agree on is that after all these years, David Brent still fits Ricky Gervais like a glove. Your appreciation of the movie, then, will probably depend on how well you think that schtick has aged.
David Brent: Life on the Road hits Netflix February 10.
Directed, written by and starring Ricky Gervais, “DAVID BRENT: LIFE ON THE ROAD” is a feature length film which sees a documentary crew catching up with David Brent twelve years on from the mockumentary ‘The Office’. Brent is now a travelling salesman, chasing his dream of rock stardom by self-financing a UK tour with his band, ‘Foregone Conclusion’.
The first film’s director Rob Letterman (Shark Tale, Monsters vs. Aliens) and screenwriter Darren Lemke (Turbo) will return for Goosebumps 2, with Deborah Forte (The Golden Compass) and Neal H. Moritz (22 Jump Street) also coming back as producers. While Jack Black has yet to sign on, the hope is he will also come back to the fold for more monster mayhem.
The first Goosebumps made $ 156.7 million on a $ 58 million budget, and hit #1 on the sales charts when it was released on home video . Since there are 62 books in the original “Goosebumps” series, the filmmakers will have plenty of material to wade through in order to craft a story.
Based on Scholastic’s worldwide best-selling book series, with over 400 million copies in print, Goosebumps starred Jack Black (School of Rock) as “Goosebumps” author R.L. Stine, along with Dylan Minnette (Prisoners), Ryan Lee (Super 8) and Odeya Rush (The Giver). When Zach (Minnette) unwittingly unleashes magical monsters on the town, he must team with his new friends Champ (Lee), Hannah (Rush) and Stine (Black) to send the ghouls back where they came from before it’s too late.
Ace screenwriting team Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski (Big Eyes, “The People v OJ Simpson”) penned the story for the original, with Lemke writing the screenplay.
Dylan Minnette in Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps,” starring Jack Black.
Ryan Lee in Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps,” starring Jack Black.
Jack Black stars in Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps.”
Jillian Bell, left, and Amy Ryan in Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps,” starring Jack Black.
Things are starting to unravel for Stine and the kids as Slappy burns a manuscript
Odeya Rush, left, and Dylan Minnette in Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps,” staring Jack Black.
L-r, Ryan Lee, Odeya Rush, Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Director Rob Letterman with camera operator Jacques Jouffret on the set of Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps.”
L-r, Jack Black, Ryan Lee, Dylan Minnette and Odeya Rush star in Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps.”
L-r, Ryan Lee, Jack Black, Dylan Minnette and Odeya Rush star in Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps.”
Top to bottom, Ryan Lee, Odeya Rush and Dylan Minnette in Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps,” starring Jack Black.
Odeya Rush in Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps,” starring Jack Black.
Director Rob Letterman on the set of Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps,” starring Jack Black.
Jillian Bell in Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps,” starring Jack Black.
L-r, Odeya Rush, Jack Black, Ryan Lee and Dylan Minnette star in Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps.”
Dylan Minnette and Amy Ryan in Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps,” starring Jack Black.
L-r, Ryan Lee, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush and Jack Black star in Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps.”
Jack Black, left, and R.L. Stine on the set of Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps.”
Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps,” starring Jack Black.
When the creatures from R.L. Stine’s (Jack Black) Goosebumps series come to life – including the Abominable Snowman (pictured) – it’s up to Stine to team up with three teenagers to get these figments of Black’s imagination back in the books where they belong and save the town.
Jack Black, left, and Dylan Minnette star in Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps.”
Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps,” starring Jack Black.
Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps,” starring Jack Black.
When the creatures from R.L. Stine’s (Jack Black) Goosebumps series come to life – including the Praying Mantis (pictured) – it’s up to Stine to team up with three teenagers to get these figments of Black’s imagination back in the books where they belong and save the town.
When the creatures from R.L. Stine’s (Jack Black) Goosebumps series come to life – including the Vampire Poodle (pictured) – it’s up to Stine to team up with three teenagers to get these figments of Black’s imagination back in the books where they belong and save the town.
Jack Black stars in Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps.”
L-r, Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Ryan Lee and Odeya Rush star in Columbia Pictures’ “Goosebumps.”
David Cronenberg was originally going to shoot the Eastern Promises sequel towards the end of 2012. For undisclosed reasons, Focus Features pulled the plug on the film, which would’ve brought back Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassel, and other actors from the excellent 2007 crime movie. Now, new details suggest the sequel might happen after all.
Below, learn more about the Eastern Promises sequel.
Cronenberg thought the sequel was done for a few years ago, but a casting site, My Entertainment World (via Omega Underground), claims it has a March start date. The sequel is currently titled Body Cross, and it is written by the original film’s screenwriter, Steven Knight, known for Peaky Blinders, Locke, Taboo, Allied, and other quality dramas.
My Entertainment World provides this plot synopsis, which is the same as the one we got a few years ago:
Picking up where the 2007 film left off with the incompetent underboss Kirill thinking that he and his henchman driver Nikolai really have inherited the throne from his crime-lord father, without knowing that Nikolai is actually a clandestine agent working undercover in Russia’s federal security service.
That’s all the info there is on the casting site. There’s no mention of Cronenberg, Mortensen, or anybody else who worked on the original film. In 2012, Cronenberg told Indiewire he was no longer involved and explained why he wanted to make the sequel:
It was something I really wanted to explore because it was the first time I had ever been tempted to do a sequel because I felt I wasn’t finished with the character of Nikolai, played by Viggo Mortensen, and Kirill played by Vincent Cassel. I really wanted to see Nikolai go back to Russia, because one of the things I wanted in the first movie was that you see a bunch of Russians in London but you never see them in Russia. In other words, you experience their exile and they are trying to recreate some of Russia within London. In the original screenplay, there were some scenes in Russia and I thought it was better if we don’t see that – they long for Russia but we never see that.
The sequel fell apart due to budget disputes. The director said the “lovely script” was very ambitious, but he couldn’t do it properly with the budget Focus had in mind. In 2014, Indiewire asked Knight, if the sequel was revitalized, whether Cronenberg would still make it. The Locke and Hummingbird director said he didn’t know, and then gave a vague response when asked if he’d consider directing it. Cronenberg doesn’t have any projects happening in the immediate future that we know of, but we’ll likely know soon whether Cronenberg is involved and if the sequel is moving forward again.
Here’s a look at some of the movies and TV shows filming on location on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017: Filming in California Movie: Labyrinth Stars: Johnny Depp Location: 200 N Spring St, Los Angeles (4:30 AM – 10:00 PM) TV Series: How To Get Away With Murder Stars: Viola Davis Location: 725 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles (4:00 PM – 3:00 AM) TV Series: Kingdom Stars: Frank Grillo Location: 600 block of S. Spring St in Los Angeles (4:00 AM – 11:00 PM Filming in Illinois TV Series: Chicago Fire Stars: Taylor Kinney Location: permit all week at 1360 S. Blue Island, Chicago (firehouse) TV Series: Chicago Med Stars: Torrey DeVitto Location: 3521 W Congress Parkway, Chicago TV Series: Empire Stars: Taraji P. Henson Location: 4900 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago Filming in New York TV Series: Quantico Stars: Priyanka Chopra Location: Silvercup Studios, Long Island City TV Series: Law and Order: SVU Stars: Mariska Hargitay Location: Centre St and Chambers St, NYC TV Series: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Stars: Ellie Kemper Location: Greenpoint Ave between Manhattan and Franklin in Brooklyn Credit: @asacredprofane TV Series: Blindspot Stars: Jaimie Alexander Location: Myrtle Ave and Washington Ave, Brooklyn Credit: @KeriHenare Movie: The Greatest Showman Stars: Hugh Jackman Location:University..
The Justice League Dark movie begins when innocent civilians start to commit unthinkable crimes across Metropolis, Gotham City and beyond. In response, Batman must call upon mystical counterparts to eradicate this demonic threat to the planet. Enter Justice League Dark, reluctantly led by the Hellblazer himself, John Constantine. Like Batman, Constantine is a cunning, often cynical loner who is the best at his chosen profession – but quickly realizes the sinister forces plaguing the planet will require help from other supernatural alliances. Forming a new “league” with sorceress Zatanna, otherworldly Deadman, and Jason Blood and his powerful alter ego Etrigan the Demon, this team of Dark Arts specialists must unravel the mystery of Earth’s supernatural plague and contend with the rising, powerful villainous forces behind the siege – before it’s too late for all of mankind.
Actor Matt Ryan returns to the role of John Constantine in animated form alongside Jason O’Mara as Batman, Camilla Luddington as Zatanna, Nicholas Turturro as Deadman, Ray Chase as Jason Blood/Etrigan, Roger R. Cross as John Stewart/Swamp Thing, Jeremy Davies as Ritchie Simpson, Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman, Jerry O’Connell as Superman, Enrico Colantoni as Felix Faust, and Alfred Molina as Destiny.
The Justice League Dark moviewill debut on Digital HD on January 24, 2017 and on Blu-ray Deluxe Giftset, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on February 7, 2017. You can pre-order your copy by clicking here.
What do you think of this latest clip? Are you planning on checking out the DC Comics animated film? Let us know in the comments below!
Horror thriller Wish Upon is coming to theaters this June
Broad Green Pictures has just announced the June 30, 2017 wide release of John (Annabelle) Leonetti’s Joey (The Conjuring, Fargo) King chiller Wish Upon which is currently wrapping production in Toronto.
Synopsis:Twelve years after discovering her mother’s suicide, 17-year-old Clare Shannon (Joey King) is bullied in high school, embarrassed by her manic, hoarder father Jonathan (Ryan Phillippe) and ignored by her longtime crush. All that changes when her father comes home with an old music box whose inscription promises to grant its owner seven wishes. While Clare is initially skeptical of this magic box, she can’t help but be seduced by its dark powers, and is thrilled as her life radically improves with each wish. Clare finally has the life she’s always wanted and everything seems perfect – until the people closest to her begin dying in violent and elaborate ways after each wish. Clare realizes that she must get rid of the box, but finds herself unable and unwilling to part with her new-and-improved life – leading her down a dark and dangerous path.
Wish Upon stars King, Ryan Phillippe, Ki Hong Lee, Mitchell Slaggert, Shannon Purser, Sydney Park, Kevin Hanchard and the ever-awesome Sherilyn Fenn. The film is written by Barbara Marshall and directed by Leonetti.
For more on Wish Upon visit the official Facebook page. We were on set for the film so expect plenty of in-depth coverage closer to the film’s release.
The new Cinemartin Loyal range of FHD and UHD monitors offers key features like waveform and false color monitoring, at an amazing $ 99 price point.
They say if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. However, with technology, prices mostly keep getting better and better as quality increases. Case in point: for only $ 99, Cinemartin has released the Loyal series of monitors which come with a whole pack of features filmmakers want, including very useful exposure tools like false color and waveform monitor, and a color selectable focus peaking tool. For $ 99. Let that sink in.