Premise Test Examples

Reader question: You talk about your premise test a lot. How would you apply this to a more character driven piece like Five Easy Pieces or Dog Day Afternoon? Or even Reservoir Dogs. How about the Shining or Taxi Driver. What theme do the protagonists of those stories learn? My premise test:  An <ADJECTIVE> <PROTAGONIST TYPE>... Continue Reading →

The Premise Test

An (ADJECTIVE) (ARCHETYPE) must (GOAL) or else (STAKES) by (DOING) and learns (THEME) . The premise test is simple, useful, and much harder to fill out than you'd think. Its brevity glosses over a lot of complexity and theory. In practice, it's a powerful and merciless tool that exposes flawed or incomplete thinking. Adjective: The... Continue Reading →

The premise of a movie is like a machine that generates entertaining scenes, setpieces and ideas. These are largely explored in the second act.

Your movie concept combined with the genre of movie creates the means by which entertainment is made. For instance, a time travel comedy would probably have a lot of moments where the existence of time travel led to funny set pieces. An avalanche action movie would probably have a lot of gunplay that somehow involved... Continue Reading →

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