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Idea IS the format

The occasional downtime of Daniel W. E. Light

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Monday, 12 November 2007

The Basic Film Paradigm

This is a diagram of Syd Field's Basic Film Paradigm - he presents this as the required format of any successful screenplay.

This has raised a number of questions in relation to WEATHERMAN.

Does the paradigm apply to short films? Does it scale from a 120-page screenplay down to one consisting of only 15-30 pages? Can the current draft be remodelled and transposed onto this paradigm? And, if so, is that what I should be doing? Is a short film adopting this paradigm even the right format for this idea? If not, what is?

In search of some answers I went for a drink recently with an old schoolfriend - Dan Outram - who has some experience working as a director of commercials and short films. I pitched him the concept as concisely as possible and he was quick to draw my attention to a number of issues, the foremost of which is that a screenwriter has to be constantly aware of what the audience doesn't know. 15-30 pages (i.e. minutes) isn't a long time to deliver a complete narrative, particularly one that is established in an unfamiliar social or cultural context.

Maybe that's why I've decided to post the first few pages of the current draft here, for whomever finds it, and cares to read it - in the hope that any comments will help me gauge what you know; what you want to know; what you need to know. You don't have to post them below - you can always email them to me. Anonymously, if you prefer :)


posted by Dan Light  # 12:06
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