Script: PRINCIPLES Not Rules

Script: PRINCIPLES, Not Rules

In screenplay there are NO rules

Rules say: “things that have to be done a certain way”. Meanwhile principles make reference to what works and has worked for as long as one can remember.

The difference is crucial.

In screenplay, there are no rules, there only exist certain principles that by experience we know have worked and probably will work on the future.

Unexperienced writers

Inexperienced or anxious writers try to do one of two things:

  • Follow the “rules” (that do not even exist) with the hope that there is a magic formula that they can follow that will turn their screenplay in a huge success.
  • Do not follow any rules.

But the truth is that in order not to follow any rules you have to be an experienced artist. And don’t fool yourself by believing you just were born with tremendous talent and therefore you do not even need to know the principles with which your craft was built.

Principles of screenwriting

Principles are so universal that no matter where you come from or what story you are trying to tell, it can have an emotional impact in any part of the world for any given generation.

When writing a screenplay, this is achieved by creating archetypical stories. This is the principle that works and has worked for as long anyone can remember and imagine.

An archetypical story does not mean a story full of stereotypes.

An archetypical story creates places and characters so rare that our sight is pleased with every detail, while the story reveals conflicts so human that they can travel from culture to culture. And it is through those conflicts and those characters that we see ourselves portrayed. It is through this mental “impersonation”  of another “human being”, through their conflicts, their emotions, their character, that we find life and we find ourselves.

Because that is the important part of the whole process of making a movie:

THE AUDIENCE and the principles of screenwriting

Without the audience, this whole process that takes years of one’s life, huge amounts of work and thought, is of no value.

The audience should always be in the mind of the creator.

But not in an abstract way of a bunch of faceless people staring at a blank screen but more like oneself. You should picture yourself watching your movie for the first time, without knowing what it is all about and who had made it.

In this way, you will make a film that can explain itself and that hopefully will emotionally/ intellectually impact people like yourself.

That is the reason why you should always have respect for the audience, have respect for yourself and try to make an original piece of art that transcends in meaning and originality every other meaningless and unoriginal movie that gets made.

When I say original I am not talking about being eccentric.

It is not about showing of what you can do but about serving the story, the meaning of the story and enhance it in every original way you can think of that serves the purpose of the story and that you find strictly necessary.


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