Every screenplay needs a protagonist. Well, not every screenplay, I guess. You can occasionally get away with a movie that doesn’t have a protagonist. I mean, every 20 years or so there’s another Slacker.
But, no one ever saw Slacker, so yeah, you’re going to need a protagonist. And, if you want your movie to appeal to the masses, that protagonist should be rather populist and endearing as well.
NEXT UP… STRUCTURE!
Every script should be planned out thoroughly in advance.
Without the right story-
Your protagonist has to be engaging and relatable to the average person, but that doesn’t mean he has to be a man. Or a woman. Or a boy. Or a girl.
A protagonist can be pretty much anything: a group of people, a car, a school of fish, an alien robot, a leprechaun, anything at all.
Just so long as you give your protagonist a quest to accomplish.
There’s a reason why most Hollywood movies have a 20 or 30-
You don’t have to follow the racist and sexist conventions of Hollywood, just be aware that these factors do affect your livelihood. Don’t expect to write a movie about Burmese midgets and have Hollywood come rushing to your door the same as they would if your story was about rich young people in Manhattan.
I probably don’t need to mention, but you should almost certainly write your screenplay in English. American-
You don’t have to follow this xenophobic convention, but again, be aware of it. It does actually affect your business-
Try not to list any potential actors or actresses in your script. The one exception would be when describing a character, you might want to say that they are a ‘John Goodman-
Remember how I mentioned earlier that directing is not your job?
Well, casting is not your job either. At all. The director and producers and casting director are the ones who get to do that, not the writer.
Don’t cast your main-
They won’t take your calls. And, you can’t afford them anyway, even if you could get a hold of them. And, besides, they’re probably booked for the next three years straight anyhow.
Now that you have your protagonist (aka the main-
Probably the most famous example of this is the down-
So, he finally sees the error of his ways and gets sober. This allows him to be in peak form in court and win the lawsuit with some ingenious legal wrangling at the last second.
A racist protagonist will have to overcome his prejudices before he can win.
A protagonist who treats his family poorly and neglects them all the time -
Your protagonist doesn’t necessarily have to change by the
end of your script, but he should be given the opportunity to change. He can choose not to change, if he wants. You can have him choose bad. But, of course, that will drastically alter the feel of your story (and could possibly add a bit of a black-
Also, your main-
Just make sure your main-
He’s finally overcome the flaw that was holding him back.
Your story, your entire screenplay, is really about this change. The plot and all that other stuff is really secondary to your protagonist’s character-
Take Trainspotting, for example. The movie’s really about Renton finally giving up heroin, not about him stealing the money from his friends, Begby, diarrhea, or whatever. The film isn’t about stealing money or any of that other stuff at all. It’s about Renton realizing that his friends are bad for him, and that his life will never change and that he’ll be a heroin-
And, that’s just what he does at the end.
The movie isn’t about heroin, it’s about him choosing life. ‘Choose life’ is even the very first thing on the movie poster!
Before you create your protagonist and his or her backstory -
Do this -
This is what your film is really about. This change. Your screenplay’s not about the asteroid on a collision-
Or, well, you get my point anyway…