Class 28: Starting the Movie Process: Developing a Story Concept

Today we are going to begin the filmmaking process by brainstorming possible ideas for short, narrative films.

We will look at:

  1. story structure
  2. The One-Liner
  3. Pitches

Some Notes About Story Structure

This content is adapted from Screenwriting, by Raymond G. Frensham, available in the school library.

Most popular movies are divided into three acts:

  • ACT 1: Establishes main character(s), setting, the goals of the protagonist or hero are established. (First 1/4 of movie)
  • ACT 2: Development of the main story. Obstacles to the hero’s goals are presented. (1/2 of movie)
  • ACT 3: Main goal achieved, sub-plots and character relationships are resolved. (Last 1/4 of movie)

See Tootsie handout from Frensham (paper copies only)

The One-Liner: The idea for your movie expressed in 25 or so words

Example: A dislikable man is forced to repeat the same day over and over again and cannot escape; can he find a way out – and love? (Groundhog Day)

Activity: Pick 2 movies you have seen from this list of top grossing films and spend a few minutes trying to come up with a sensible one-liner for each:

  • Avatar
  • Titanic
  • The Avengers
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
  • Toy Story 3
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
  • Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • The Dark Knight
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I
  • The Lion King
  • Finding Nemo
  • Shrek 2
  • Jurassic Park
  • Spider-Man 3
  • Inception
  • E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
  • 2012
  • The Da Vinci Code
  • The Matrix Reloaded
  • Up

The Pitch


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