If a first act doesn’t set up the goal and the stakes, it’s not doing what a first act should do.

Most of my advice stems from the premise test: An <ADJECTIVE> <PROTAGONIST TYPE> must <GOAL> or else <STAKES>. They do this by <DOING> and learns <THEME>. Most movies break down into some form of this. It may follow a group, not a single protagonist (NASHVILLE), the stakes may be low, purely emotional, or metaphorical (BEFORE... Continue Reading →


Screenwriting is about two things: imagining and then communicating. The problem is that imagination doesn’t work like people think it does.

There's a romantic idea of imagination being like a holodeck, or a magical process. Imagination is actually incredibly limited, because movie making is incredibly limited. Take Star Trek TNG - an entire universe is implied, but most of it was contained in a few sets on a sound stage in Paramount. Imagination is like a... Continue Reading →

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