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Writers Store_ Secrets of Blockbuster Movies - Part I by John Truby

Writers Store_ Secrets of Blockbuster Movies - Part I by John Truby

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Published by vicmalt
Part-I: John Truby reveals the top ten (10) most important ingredients to pen a Hollywood Blockbuster Movie Script. Extremely Useful, especially the rarely stressed focus on choosing the correct Genre.
Part-I: John Truby reveals the top ten (10) most important ingredients to pen a Hollywood Blockbuster Movie Script. Extremely Useful, especially the rarely stressed focus on choosing the correct Genre.

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Published by: vicmalt on Aug 11, 2009
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No matter how good awriter you are, Truby'sBlockbuster softwarewill revolutionize theway you write. JohnTruby, distinguished screenwritingcoach, has integrated acomprehensive story organizer withhis renowned Story Structurecourse (a $200 value).
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Secrets of Blockbuster Movies - Part I
by John TrubyHollywood is interested in one thing: a script withblockbuster potential. Why? Because the revenuefrom films is now global. The typical hit film makesmore money from foreign revenue than it does fromthe U.S. Couple that with the exorbitant cost of makingand selling a film and you've got an entertainmentcommunity that won't even look at a script unless ithas blockbuster written all over it.That's a big problem for most screenwriters. Mostwriters, if they have any training at all, never learn thetechniques for writing hit films. In fact they don't even know such techniquesexist. They go off to write their standard three-act script and think thatblockbusters happen when you're lucky enough to get some big star attached.No question about it, big stars help. But the list of big star vehicles thatbombed at the box office is a long one. And if you look at the best sellingfilms of all time, you'll notice a surprising number have no stars at all.Blockbuster films don't come from big stars. They come from blockbuster stories. They come from writers who USE FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENTTECHNIQUES THAN OTHER WRITERS.I'd like to point out just a few of the key elements found in the best-sellingfilms of all time. These are elements that you can use in your script. Theywon't guarantee you'll have the next hit film, but they will radically increaseyour chances of selling your script to a hungry market.A word of caution: These techniques don't guarantee that you'll write a great script. On the other hand, don'tassume that these techniques force you to write a bad script. There doesn't have to be a contradictionbetween what is good and what is successful.1. Blockbusters use the right genre for the story idea.To see why this is such an important blockbuster technique, you have to understand the first rule of Hollywood. Hollywood doesn't buy and sell stars. It doesn't buy and sell directors. It doesn't buy and sellwriters, much as we might wish it did.The first rule of Hollywood is: it buys and sells genres. A genre is a type of story, like action, love, thriller,detective, etc. There are 11 major film genres and scores of sub-genres. A genre is a brand that the audiencerecognizes. With genres, the studios and the audience don't have to reinvent the wheel for every film.Key point: you can't write a hit film without mastering at least one, and usually two, major genres.
Writers Store: Secrets of Blockbuster Movies - Part I by John...http://www.writersstore.com/article.php?articles_id=151 of 48/8/09 12:41 PM
And for most writers, there's the rub. I've worked with thousands of writers. And I have found that 99% of scripts fail at the premise. Right at the one-line story idea. It's not that the writers failed to come up with anoriginal and commercial story idea. The writers failed to use the right structure/genre to develop the idea froma one-line premise to a two-hour script.You may have great characters and write terrific dialogue. But if you have chosen the wrong genres toexpress your idea in story form, none of the other craft elements will matter. The story will die.Blockbuster scripts always choose the right genres for their story idea. The right genres highlight the inherentstrengths of the idea and hide the inherent weaknesses.Finding the right genre for your idea is not easy. You don't want to make a snap judgment. Often the sameidea could be expressed in five or even ten different story forms. The trick is to find the one or two best formsthat will bring out the 'gold' in your idea.2. Blockbusters use the myth genre or some variation.Myth is one of the 11 most popular genres in movies. Like all genres, myth is a special story structure withunique story beats.A surprisingly large number of hit films are based on the myth genre. Why? Because myth travels better thanany other form. Many of the key beats in a myth story transcend cultural and national boundaries. This is why‘Star Wars is as popular in Japan as it is in the U.S. We see myth elements in such films as ‘The Lion King,’‘Jaws,’ ‘Batman,’ ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ ‘Titanic’ and even ‘Forrest Gump.’But you should keep in mind a key qualifier. Blockbusters almost always combine the myth form with at leastone other major genre, and often two. The other genres help to modernize the myth form, and also overcomemany of the weaknesses inherent to this tricky genre.3. Blockbusters hit the genre beats, but do them in an original way.Writers of hit films know their forms cold. They never underestimate the complexity of their genre. Each genreis a system, with a number of unique story beats, a special hero, opponent, symbols and themes. Hitting allthese unique elements of the genre is essential to success. It's what the audience pays to see. It's where youpay your dues to be in the game.But writers of hit films go a step farther. They know their genres so well they hit the genres' unique story beatsin an original way. Originality is what sets you apart from all the other writers working in your form.Let me give you a couple of examples. ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ and ‘When Harry Met Sally’ are both love stories,romantic comedies to be exact. Love stories are among the trickiest of all genres, with no less than 12 specialstory beats.These two films are very different love stories. Yet each one hits all 12 of those key love story beats. Thewriters paid their dues.But they went farther and did those beats in an original way. Conventional wisdom said you couldn't tell a lovestory where the lovers don't meet until the last scene. Which is why no American film had ever done it. (AFrench film did it about 25 years ago, but that doesn't count). But the writer of ‘Sleepless’ found a way to hit
Writers Store: Secrets of Blockbuster Movies - Part I by John...http://www.writersstore.com/article.php?articles_id=152 of 48/8/09 12:41 PM
all the genre beats of a good love story while keeping the unique element of the lovers not meeting until theend. Result? Smash hit.Conventional wisdom said you couldn't do a love story in which the two leads are friends for ten years beforethey become lovers. The leads are supposed to have an immediate spark followed by a rush to love wherethe man chases the woman. But the writers of ‘When Harry Met Sally’ were able to do the key love storybeats while letting the lovers get to know each other in a slower but deeper way. Result? Smash hit.4. Blockbusters have a strong, single cause-and-effect line with a single, clear character change.Hit films always have a strong spine. A strong spine comes from a single cause-and-effect line: having a maincharacter who takes a series of actions to reach a goal. Action A should lead directly to action B, whichshould lead directly to action C, and so on until the end.Look at your own script, or the script of a film that was not a blockbuster. You may be surprised at how oftenthe actions of the hero are not linked in this relentless kind of way.But linked action is not enough. Audiences want to know how a hero's actions lead him/her to change. Hitfilms always have a clearly recognizable character change. For example, in the hit movie ‘Outbreak,’ the herogoes from being an arrogant, insensitive, egocentric control freak to someone who learns how to love andhow to value others in a more intimate way.This clear character change doesn't have to be positive. In ‘The Godfather,’ Michael changes from beingunconcerned, kind, mainstream, legitimate and outside the family to being the tyrannical, absolute ruler of thefamily.I always recommend that writers spend a lot of time exploring their premise line. One of the best things abouta premise is that it allows you to see clearly whether your idea has a single cause-and-effect line. If it doesn't,it is easy to fix.But the most important thing to find out when exploring your premise is your hero's probable character change. It is embedded in the idea. If you can tease it out, the rest of the writing process will be a lot easier.And you'll have a much better chance of writing a blockbuster script.In future articles, I'll talk about blockbuster techniques for character, plot and theme. In the meantime, keepwriting.
John Truby is the founder of Truby's Writers Studio in Pacific Palisades, CA. John has coached thousands of writers, at various stages of their careers. John's teachings and theories are the basis of the 'Write aBlockbuster' software program.
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Writers Store: Secrets of Blockbuster Movies - Part I by John...http://www.writersstore.com/article.php?articles_id=153 of 48/8/09 12:41 PM

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