Genre & Conflict

Way back in January I completed my first Mini Documentary titled “Pursuing The Dream” an educational look at the DACA program. So I figured Id leave that here for everyone to enjoy. It was for work at Solidarity Strategies and got the most views out of anything I’ve ever done.

I also started Aaron Sorkins Master Class. I (had) just wrote my first short film script and sent it into my mentor. Though it is not my movies first Act, I turned it in at school. I figured I’d write on the big gipper soon but for now I was moving on quickly to making a short film in February (March) so I had to be on the ball. Sorkin calls writing instructors like himself schmucks. I learned that from lessons 25- 34 it’s gonna be sort of writers room group projects…. That will be interesting.

Intentions & Obstacles are the basis of drama & a foundation for doing what you love to do in your voice. Who wants what and what is stopping them from getting it? Without them, you are just writing clever things that happen that don’t move forward. You can’t just have a weak problem, make the steaks high, urgent yet compelling and believable. To test what you have chosen you have to press on it. You have to have the audience on the edge of their seat wanting you to complete your goal. Both have to be formidable.

When you first step into writing a story, you have to pick your Genre. This is essentially the most important part because from your Genre comes your Theme. From these two things arise your Intention/Obstacle, your central idea and all of your subject matter. So your story lives or dies based off of your Genre. You have to pick the right one to fit your story/idea or it will fail. Hollywood buys and sells Genres because people are subliminally going to the movies to see a specific Genre more so than a specific movie. They know what they like.  The different Genre’s have been around so long that people already fully comprehend their predominant themes, how their story beats land and how the characters should act. These days there is no longer just one Genre to a movie, more like 3 or 4. What Hollywood really wants is for you to pump out a Genre mashing picture that could reinvigorate their studio. But that can get chaotic because each Genre has its own way to go about achieving the end result.

Boil down the multiple Ideas you are trying to convey into a theme. If a character or a scene doesn’t fit the theme, you should essentially take them out.

The chapter this week was about Genre Mastery and Genre Bending. Another short section (only 9 pages). There has to be a Genre you are most interested in. This is the Genre you should try and stick to, especially early on in your writing. It also gave some decent examples of genre mash-ups like Eternal Sunshine.., genre tear downs like Kill Bill 1 & 2. And those films who have crashed trying – because mashing together 2 Genre’s can go terribly wrong if not well executed. It also touches on remakes and how most every idea is recycled. Hone in on the conflict. Take what you find interesting from the genres and smash them together (while staying true to your characters and story).

I wrote my first short, which my screenwriting mentor called “festival worthy” but that was the only compliment he gave it. I felt his critiques were worthy of writing down and coming back to when I started my next screenplay: Don’t Put In Every Facial Expression, Every nuance, Every Movement.
More Description of the Characters.
Be Less On The Money.
Every Scene Must Move The Story Forward.
Don’t use AND or ING words in the Action portion of the script. – Quick, short sentences.
Put A Button On The Scenes with short, well-rounded conclusions.
Don’t restate shit, every time you do it gets less effective.
W/ every single scene, ask yourself “How does it move the story forward”.
Less words is better in dialogue & actions.
Use proper punctuation.
I can tell from this that my dialogue is terrible, it’s too straight forward. I will redraft (14 times) and soon. – [By the time it was all finalized, these were his most general pointers]

I decided to watch one more Aaron Sorkin Master Class and he spoke about “Finding the Conflict”. Having a good Idea doesn’t make a good story. I want to make a movie about Music Festivals but that isn’t an idea, it’s a setting. You have to add conflict. Then he compares TV verses movie ideas. If you want to base it around a setting, you more than likely have a TV idea. I was tasked with the assignment of crafting a short screenplay out of an old story to get the hang of it.
He also has some tips for writers.
Make your actions take as long to read as the action takes to do.
If it’s auto-biographical, detach yourself from the character.
What’s realist is not always interesting, but if you make something feel realistic, it goes a long way. Insert bits of realism to get the audience on board with the proceedings.
A probable impossibility (Accepting everything that comes after something impossible) is preferable to a possible Improbability (something that could happen, but is unlikely). The get out of jail free car is to face it, like Hawkeye in AgeofUltron.
The audience knows more than they think they know. Layout explanations of certain unlikely things when they occur of the audience will have a hard time suspending disbelief. (ex. bomb on a plane.. how did a bomb get on a plane in this day and age?). – Ask someone who would know.
Defy Convention. Try for the new and unexpected. Make it special (mostly meaning different)
Layout motivations fairly early. Use your own discretion, but if a task needs done, explain the character motivations.
Give small roles (Mustache Guy, Waiter # 2) names, for the dignity of the actors




More from the Film Connection Blog:

Day 1
A lil on Editing
Event Planning
Motivation in Writing
Camera Functions
Lil on Crew & Budget
Setting a Story In Motion (w/ Audio)

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