The most neglected area of the average screenplay is the theme. Young writers just never write scripts that are deep with meaning. They rarely ever have a theme.
It doesn’t have to be much, you can do it mostly with short beats here and there, but there should be something there. There should be a theme.
The theme is really what your movie’s all about. Not the plot. Just like how your main-
Take District 9, for example. It’s not about aliens crash-
Avatar is similar. It’s not about humans fighting a war on another planet -
It’s about how we are destroying the Earth, not Pandora.
Notice how, throughout the film, James Cameron constantly shows us bad little things caused by our disregard for the environment? It’s rarely ever in-
NEXT UP… THE PROTAGONIST’S CHARACTER-
Also known as the protagonist’s internal-
Every great protagonist needs a flaw overcome. Something that’s been holding him back. Something that needs fixing.
You can reinforce your theme using motifs.
In the Godfather, whenever you see an orange, death is usually around the corner. Right before Don Vito dies, he eats an orange, he buys two oranges before he’s shot, etc… There are more than a dozen scenes that have something to do with oranges in The Godfather. Coppola also uses doors and windows to separate the characters from their environment and give a sense of foreboding. Et cetera.
The Shawshank Redemption is an interesting one.
The theme is actually redemption. Just like it says in the title. The movie isn’t about the Shawshank Prison Escape, it’s about the Shawshank Redemption.
But, here’s the interesting part... It’s not the main-
This is why the movie has that extremely long third act and you don’t really know what’s going on. The audience thinks the story is about Tim Robbins’ character -
Tim Robbins, despite being the protagonist, isn’t really the one with the character-
It’s a highly-
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest isn’t about a mental hospital, it’s about oppression by people in power.
You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘love conquers all’ about a thousand times relating to different movies. Well, that’s their theme right there!
The theme of Groundhog Day isn’t a time-
Every time Bill Murray does something dishonest or tries to make the world fit to his whims -
The theme doesn’t necessarily have to be life-
The Truman Show’s theme is about the ubiquity of surveillance in our society.
Dances With Wolves is about racism and environmentalism.
Rocky isn’t about winning a fight -
The Seven Samurai (the Magnificent Seven) is about standing up for the oppressed. It’s not a kung-
Rudy’s theme would be about never giving up.
12 Angry Men’s or To Kill A Mockingbird’s themes are both about racism and doing the right thing.
The theme of any ‘message movie’ is whatever that message is.
The theme of Fox News is that liberals are all evil and need to be stopped no matter what (themes don’t have to be true either).
Your plot gets all the attention. That’s where all the bells and whistles are. The car-
|No Writing Yet|
|The First Act|
|The Inciting Incident|
|The Supporting Cast|
|The First Turning-Point|
|The Second Act|
|The Love Story|
|Screenplay Page Counts|
|Everything is Looking Good!...|
|False-Victory or False-Defeat|
|The Pit of Despair|
|The Second Turning Point|
|The Third Act|
|All Is Not Lost|
|Wind It All Up|
|Wrapping Up Your Sub-Plots|
|The Final Battle|
|Actually Writing Your Script|
|Back to the Future|
|Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them|
|T2 - Terminator 2|