1. claytaylor

    claytaylor New Member

    Aug 19, 2015
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    Could use a little help with a roadblock

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by claytaylor, Aug 19, 2015.

    Hello everyone. I'm new here and hopefully it's ok to ask for help. I'm a filmmaker and have been wanting to make a short film in the post-apocalyptic genre for quite some time. I get an idea running, but end up hitting a block. The only rule that I have is that it has to be kept within 15 pages (translates to roughly 15 minutes of film).

    The setting of the story will be rural/woods in the country that used to be the good ol' U.S. of A. World War 3 brought about the collapse of society (all of the details of who/what started it won't come into play - no time for establishing a lot of backstory in 15 pages - I kind of have to open in the middle of the story and run with it).

    My previous draft had a female lead. In THAT story women were a scarce commodity and highly sought after by "traders" - they were taken back to the cities to be sold for slaves or amusement. Her sister was captured by a group and she was on a mission to free her. Kept running into road blocks on that one and it didn't go where I wanted it to.

    I've also tossed around the idea of a male lead who is protecting another character and trying to lead him/her to a new civilization - but I'm stuck on why this person is important and where the urgency is. I know - hard to have a story if you can't make the character or the cause matter. Along the save vein is a man trying to reach a new society with his step daughter - he swore her mother he'd take care of her, but she blames him for her mother's death somehow (still post-apoc setting). Her change is coming to realize how much she does care about him.

    Any ideas? I know these are basic and blah - If I can get help creating a solid logline or breaking through this block on WHAT my story is, I can run with it. I just need that initial nudge to get across the starting line.

    Thank you so much for your help and thoughts!!
  2. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
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    Ralph's side of the island.
    Hi, welcome to the forum.

    I suggest perhaps you hold back on the details and work on the story arc first.

    You speak of trying to get to a new civilization, a reasonable goal for your characters in a short film.

    But what is the theme, the message, the reason for the story? I don't mean you need a moral or anything like that. You have one possible framework, the man, stepdaughter and the stepdaughter changes. That's a story arc.

    With the sister rescuing the sister, that's OK for events, a challenge, a success or failure, but there is no opportunity for character growth.

    I would look for the underlying story arc then fill it out with characters and events.
  3. jorel

    jorel Member

    Jun 14, 2013
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    A short film is not a feature film shown in less time.

    15 minutes (or 7 or 22 etc.) are often not enough time to tell an entire story in the sense of how we tell it in novels or full-length movies. And while you require an entire plot for a larger project, with a short I would focus more on a situation and work from there.

    The challenge is that screen time and story time are often the same here and so there isn't that much time for (inner) character growth.
    If you show your characters at a pivotal point of their journey, you can catch the essence of your plot without making it too long or complicated.
    Tesoro likes this.
  4. BurningPaws

    BurningPaws Member

    Aug 27, 2015
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    Wollongong, Australia
    When I think about short films, the thing that comes to mind ultimately is the ending, everything is barreling full speed toward this. Even when writing a short story or attempting to write a novel I personally start there. Like in Harry Potter 'I open at the close'.

    I think if you want to find out where your thoughts are trying to lead you, maybe focus on how you would like your story to end. Another suggestion is, start general, then go into specifics. For example, Do you want it to end like a rhetorical question, leaving the audience making up the next stage in their mind, or do you want to tie everything together nicely?

    If option one then maybe your story arc might lead a man and his child looking for a new civilization but when they top the last hill that will bring them to paradise the place is a ruin and the child looks to his father and asks 'What now, Daddy?'

    Or, if you chose option two, maybe these same two people reach the top of the hill and they find the civilization they were searching for and the story finishes with all the threads coming together nicely.

    These are things I keep in mind when writing, I hope they help, should keep us updated on what you choose to do!

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