Saturday, March 24, 2012

21 Jump Street - story set-up

After watching Doctor Who for 6 hours this afternoon I decided to get up off my butt and go do something. I ended up sitting back down onto my butt and seeing 21 Jump Street.

The other day I was reading a post from The Bitter Script Reader about this film. The post revolved around the amazing job that the writer (Michael Bacall) did setting up the story in the first ten pages of the screenplay and after seeing the film tonight - I can't agree more.

The first 10 pages of a screenplay are CRUCIAL - we all know this. It's extremely important that the story is up and moving by the time that script is at pg. 11. By the tenth minute in the film the audience should have a clear vision of:

- Who the characters are

- What they're doing

- Why they're doing it

- Where they fall into the central story

It's important that when writing a screenplay you leave clues for the audience to fill in the blanks. It makes the audiences get more of an experience. Rather than just getting information shoved into their ears, they can put the pieces together like a puzzle. I definitely felt this way when watching 21 Jump Street. It felt like the first 10 minutes of the film was the quickest and most entertaining puzzle I've ever assembled. 

20-30 pages are not needed to fully set up the premise. If you can set up a premise in 10 minutes and do it well, then you're golden for another 100 pages to tell your story. You don't want to take 40 pages just for background then only have 60 pages to actually tell the story. Background is important, but it should be brief - leave as much room for story development as possible.

Anyways, I loved the film. Great screenplay by Michael Bacall - many unique approaches going on throughout. Very funny. Channing Tatum surprised me as a good comedy actor.

Go see it! Laugh and understand the premise at the same time!

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