STRUCTURING A SCRIPT
ACT I: The first act of a screenplay is usually 25–35 pages long. The first 10 minutes should present the “normal world” of your film, before everything goes haywire. The end of Act I should be a “point of no return.” Usually something is taken away from your protagonist, and they can never go back to the way things were. They have no choice but to continue into Act II.
ACT II: It can be helpful to think of Act II as two parts – Act 2a and Act 2b. Act 2a is usually about 30 pages long. This is the part of the film where your protagonist is ‘reacting’ to the pressures of their changed world. Act 2b begins when your protagonist’s worst fears nearly come true. After that, they sit up and say “wait a minute! I can handle this!” They stop “reacting” and take control of the situation. Act 2b can be short: Even 15 pages long. It ends when the plot ensnares your protagonist and propels them toward a “mini-climax.” This is a high point for your protagonist. Everything’s working out as sweet as a Sunday ham…
ACT III: Reality returns at the beginning of Act III when your protagonist’s false victory is immediately undone by a huge setback. This is their “all is lost” moment. The Ghostbusters go to jail—their gig is up! But wait, what’s that you say? A call from the mayor? New York needs the boys in grey and their radioactive weaponry? You got it. After “all is lost,” your protagonist will usually receive some new information. They see the light, and will now race toward the resolution of their journey.
Knowing how to create characters for film is crucial. All screenplays begin with believable heroes and villains. Without compelling characters, the audience will not care about what happens in the story and there is no film.
In the distant future, a small waste collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.
I really like Wall-E, I think it’s a really nice film, very enjoyable. We follow a small waste collecter called Wall-E, rummaging around the deserted wasteland looking for anything he can find. He eventually comes across a plant, not knowing its importance, he takes it with him anyway and carries on looking around. Shortly followed by this comes the arrival of Eve, a more polished and futuristic robot that has been sent to earth to look for plants in order to save the human race that are living on a huge ship in space.
When watching we see that Wall-E is alone and looking for love and a partner to share his life with, and when Eve arrives, he instantly falls in love with her, but she, at the beginning shows that she is not interested and is focussed on finding the plant.
Working title: “INCURSION”
The song I chose was “Bigger Than Us” by White Lies, the music video is a re-imagining of the classic scene in “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” where E.T. is dying and the doctors are trying to save him, with Elliot by his side, but in the video they replaced E.T. with a giant chocolate bar with a little girl trapped inside. I love the video being a huge fan of E.T. for obvious reasons, and it’s interesting because the lyrics in the song don’t really have anything to do with aliens or anything like that, but the sound of it really takes you to another place, for me anyway, and it helps me invision my film when I listen to it.
Also the photographs, all by Gregory Crewdson, showcase the style I want in my film and the sort of look and feel im looking for, they are very similar to the feel of the films I have talked about above such as; “Fire in the Sky” and “The Fourth Kind”.
Mike Hiller is the main protagonist in the film, with the story basing around him and his families’ account and experience of the alien encounters.
6ft tall, medium build, blue eyes, short brown/grey hair.
Mike is a 41 year old widower, and father of two. He works and lives at his farm with his two children; Emily Hiller (7 years old) and Steven Hiller (16 years old). His wife; Jasmine Hiller, died of brain cancer when Emily was 5 and Steven was 14, and he has troubles coming to terms with his loss. He has become a recluse, and has shut himself away emotionally from the outside world.
He had a bumpy marriage with Jasmine, they often disputed because they wanted different things out of life, and it only got worse when she was diagnosed with brain cancer. They both broke down emotionally and he wishes their time together from the lead up to her death was spent differently.
He is a good father, hard-working, but gives no time to himself to relax or have some time to think, he’s always keeping himself busy on the farm because this is the only way he knows how to deal with the loss of his wife and he doesn’t want to be found doing nothing because he knows all he’ll do is think about it.
He didn’t have the best relationship with his father growing up, they never saw eye to eye, mainly because his father was a hard worker and forced him to work with him on his farm at an early age.
5ft 9, athletic build, long brown hair, brown eyes.
Steven Hiller is Mike’s 16 year old son. He has an on and off relationship with his father, mainly due to the fact that Steven doesn’t like how Mike has changed because of the loss of Jasmine. He thinks Mike needs to step up and carry on being the father he used to be, especially for Emily’s sake.
He had an amazing relationship with his mother and loved her very much, he has dealt with her death really well and stays strong for his sister.
He has an inseparable bond with his younger sister Emily, and ever since she was born he has made it his duty to look after her and be her friend no matter what, especially as Mike has been in a bad way emotionally ever since Jasmine’s death.
Steven is an aspiring astronomer and plays baseball for his high school team.
4ft 3, small, long blonde hair, blue eyes.
Emily Hiller is Mike’s 7 year old daughter. She is very smart for her age, more so than kids at that age are expected to be. She loves drawing and reading books, and has great knowledge of the world and people’s feelings. She is top of all of her classes in school, Steven and Mike are so proud of her but only Steven shows it. She always talks about wanting to be president of the United States, and Steven always tells her she can be whatever she wants to be.
Emily often shares moments with her father Mike, moments of silent grieving, they just look at each other in silence and they don’t have to say anything, they just embrace each other.
Emily and Jasmine had an unbreakable unity up until her death, Emily wanted to be just like her, she would copy her and play cook when she was cooking everyone dinner, she was attached at the hip to her mother, and when Jasmine died, Emily didn’t shed one tear, she didn’t know how to feel.
Jasmine Hiller (deceased)
5ft 6, medium build, long brown hair, blue eyes.
Jasmine Hiller was Mike Hiller’s wife and the mother of Emily and Steven. She was diagnosed with brain cancer when she was 37 and died when she was 39.
She and Mike’s final years together were very rough, almost ending up in divorce, causing Mike to become estranged to their two children.
Although the last years were rough, their previous lives together were spent happily raising their children in a good home, both loving towards each other and Emily and Steven.
Jasmine worked as a chemist and always let Steven and Emily where her long white lab coat when they were growing up. She carried around a gold pocket watch with a picture of Steven and Emily inside which was left behind for them both when she died.
6ft, slightly overweight, grey balding hair, green eyes
Blake is an old family friend of the Hiller’s, he is Mike’s old college room mate and long time friend. He is 44 years old, slightly older than Mike. He works as a forklift driver at a building supplier firm called Kelvins. He often comes by the farm and helps Mike with anything he needs. He is a loyal friend of Mike, he is Mike’s only friend that he feels he can talk to.
Blake has no children and was divorced when he was 37 after a 13 year long marriage because Blake developed a drinking problem after the death of his father.
He has a great relationship with Emily and Steven, they refer to him as “Uncle Blake” and he cares for them as if they were his very own.
STANDARD SCENE LAYOUT
It opens on a big farm field, the sun is just coming up, we see the house in the distance and see cows grazing. There are around four cows, and there is focus on this certain cow separated from the others, he is not moving and almost completely frozen. The wind picks up and tension builds, trees blow around furiously and the chimes on the outside of the house jingle and jangle. The other cows panic but the lone cow remains frozen. The entire field lights up in a blinding white light, the wind and chimes stop, it is completely silent, the light slowly fades out after about 5 seconds and we see that the lone cow is gone.
Character opening scene:
It’s around 8:30 am the following morning. The opening shot is of a family photo of the Hiller’s, in the photo is Mike, Jasmine, Steven and Emily. We can hear a news report in the background, stating numerous missing animal reports in the Garland area over the past 24 hours, but this is not acknowledged yet. We see Mike in the kitchen alone standing by the kitchen sink with his coat on as he has just prepared cereal for Emily, we see him from behind, and he continues to stare into the sink.
He then walks out the back door to work on the farm.
We then see Emily’s bedroom, pink and girl, and we can hear her talking on a walkie talkie to Steven in his bedroom, establishing his bedroom and all of his astronomy stuff on the walls. They talk about Dad and if he will ever be happy again.
All of my script writing was done entirely on Adobe Story, which is amazing and it’s free. Writing this script was very challenging, I have never done a proper script before, and naturally I was very excited to write one, but during the process of actually planning it out, I had no idea how much discipline it takes and how much you have to think about when writing a script.
One of the most helpful and most fun aspects of the script writing planning was definitely the character bios. It was really fun making characters completely from scratch and making them exactly who you wanted to be. For my characters, I gave them a lot of character traits from my favourite alien films. For example; I wanted a strong, smart young daughter, I based Emily off of Gert from “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” with her strong personality and adult like wit, and I also based her off of Rachael from “War of the Worlds” with her close bond with her older brother. The Hiller surname and Steven’s name came from Will Smith’s character “Steven Hiller” in “Independence Day”. Blake Walton is named after Travis Walton from “Fire in the Sky”, and I liked the idea of the single father character and how that creates conflict between the family which I based slightly off of Graham Hess in “Signs”.
Writing these character bios allowed me to dig deeper into the story and build a family the audience can relate to and connect emotionally to, and without the character bios I would have found it incredibly difficult to do that.
I wrote the script in one single, as I did re-writes as I was going, which looking back, took a lot longer. The hardest part about writing this script was keeping it interesting and still to the characters that I built in my character bios. I wanted to stick solely to the character bios because I knew if I made up random stuff as i was writing it would confuse the story and create messy plot holes.
As I couldn’t write the full feature length script, I wrote it from the beginning until I got as far in as I felt comfortable with and there was enough for the reader to understand the story, and then I wrote the last few pages for the ending. I did the first 16 pages, and then the last four pages.
I really enjoyed this script writing assignment, it has given a greater knowledge and a greater appreciation for script writers and the work that goes into writing a script, I’m also happy because I can use this script for myself in the future if I ever get stuck and need a film idea, having a full professional script is really handy to have.
Overall I am happy with my script, I think I did alright for my first attempt, it was very challenging but really fun and helpful now that I have the confidence and the knowledge now to be able start scripting my own films properly now. I wish I gave myself more time with developing characters, although I am happy with how it turned out and happy with my characters, I just wish I could of made a couple more to create more diversity.
Looking back at my research I feel I implemented my ideas and the stuff from existing film characters just the way I planned, and on the way I feel I moulded them just right to make them new and interesting, hopefully.
NOW HERE ARE MY LAST FOUR PAGES – ENDING