On the journey to writing a screenplay

These days I am fully committed to researching and writing a screenplay about desertion and rebellion and everything amok during the Philippine-American War, during the general time frame of 1898-1910, although the end date could allude to what follows in  the 1920s, 30s and beyond.  I have found some wonderful characters in a deeply reticulated chain of conflicted situations, and I feel passionate about the project.   In writing this screenplay I am pondering many difficult and unknown areas of thinking (for myself) about story structure, anti-hero characters, forgiveness, and complex interweaving of story lines.  I came across Billy Wilder’s ten rules–in my plebian words, “make them pay attention and make them care.” Here are Billy Wilder’s ten rules — old fashioned but mighty fine.

  1. The audience is fickle.
  2. Grab ’em by the throat and never let ’em go.
  3. Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
  4. Know where you’re going.
  5. The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
  6. If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.
  7. A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.
  8. In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re seeing.
  9. The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
  10. The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then—that’s it. Don’t hang around.
 It’s a deep journey but that’s the reward.
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