Thursday, June 27, 2013

9 Elements Common to All Genres

All good movies have certain elements in common. The following contains a few notes and questions compiled by Matt Harry that can help you develop your story and script no matter what genre it falls into.

Nine Elements common to all genres
By Matt Harry

1. Protagonist – The story will always emerge from the protagonist’s journey. There is usually (but not always) ONE protagonist.

 Who is the protagonist of this film?

2. Opposition Force(s) – The protagonist’s story is only interesting to the degree that there are strong forces getting in the way of the protagonist’s goal.

What/who are the internal and external opposition forces getting in the way of the Protagonist’s goal?

3. Type of Conflict – Different genres call for different kinds of struggles to solve conflicts.

Is the struggle in this film: Emotional? Physical? Societal? A battle of wits?

4. Inciting Incident – Each story has a moment that tells the audience what the movie will be about. This is the moment (usually in the first 15 minutes) the protagonist’s world is turned upside down and a new problem or opportunity is presented to the protagonist. It is the moment that creates the Act 2 Question. Genres usually rely on certain types of inciting incidents. Examples: Back to the Future: The moment Marty is sent back to 1955. Finding Nemo: The moment Nemo is scooped up by divers.

What is the Inciting Incident of this film?

5. Protagonist’s Act 2 Goal – Depending on the genre, the protagonist will embark on one type of journey or another. This goal creates hope versus fear.

What is the Protagonist’s Act 2 Goal of this film?

6. Act 3 Goal / Resolution – What is the Protagonist’s Act 3 Goal and HOW DOES (S)HE ACHIEVE OR FAIL TO ACHIEVE IT?

7. Themes/Issue - Every film explores a theme or an issue (personal and/or universal). How the film treats that theme or issue depends greatly on the genre.

What are some themes or issues explored in this film?

8. Setting/Time Frame/Scope –

Setting: Where and when does the film take place?

Time Frame: How much time does the story cover?

Scope: Who is involved in the story, and who is affected by the outcome? 

9. Tone – Different genres call for different tones.

What is the tone of this film? Light? Adventurous? Cynical? Heavy? Romantic? etc.

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