This is one  of my treatments for a 3 part TV drama a wrote over the last two years.


The story is a period drama about a handsome youth who seduces women for money but complications arise by his conscience, lovers and his past.

Period drama where a poor but confident youth seduces a rich woman for money but falls in love with someone else.

Key points of interest

  • The impression is given that he feels for Mrs Lawrence even though his only intention was to use her.
  • The antagonising characters are Mrs Lawrence and Richard, who complicate James’s struggle by making his double life even more complicated.
  • Mrs Lawrence never shows her emotions although her loneliness encourages her to manipulate events to help her keep him.
  • The flashbacks reveal that James was once a nice person but is slowly manipulated to change by his sister Kate, and his Mother.
  • The story has the feel of a traditionally loved literature plot with the contradictions of riches.
  • Sexual scenes are intense as Mrs Lawrence is emotionless as we question if James is really enjoying it after all.
  • James is a struggling poet which represents his true feelings and gives the story an added romantic atmosphere.
  • We are gradually informed of his rich tragic past where he fell in love with a girl his mother disapproved of who is revealed to be Kate, his sister. So when he mercifully kills Kate he is also killing his lover which permanently alters his persona.
  • Possession is set at the turn of the twentieth century on the beautiful Devon coast. To contrast with this the people’s fashion is poor and crude.
  • The theme of the story is timeless as money is a dominate feature of our culture as is affairs of the heart.

3 part 1hour series

Part 1                                                            Time Chart

Sequence 1: Arrival                                                Time                        Scene             Len            Seq/TOTAL

1.     Train/ Putsborough            1900      =             : 2/1 min

2.     Restaurant 1/ pub 1                  =             : 2/1 min

3.     Sister whore house                  =             : 3/2 min

4.     Café 1                              =             : 3/4 min            14 min

5.     Pub 2                              =             : 3/2 min

6.     Seaside/ bench                        =            : 3/1.5 min

7.     Hotel/ bedroom                        =             : 2/2.5 min

8.     Flash 1: Party                        =             : 2/2 min

9.     Carriage/ home                        = 23            : 2/2 min            4 min

Sequence 2: Idea

10.  Office                              = 26            : 3/2.5 min

11.  Hotel                              = 28            : 2/2 min

12.  Hotel bar                              = 30            : 2/2 min            : 7 min

13.  Bedroom                              = 31            : 1/0.5 min

14.  Flash 2: Mansion                        = 34            : 3/3 min            3 min

Sequence 3: Theory into practice

15.  Reception                              = 36            : 2/2 min

16.  Kitchen/ restaurant 2/ Office            = 39            : 3/3 min

17.  Kate beach                        = 41            : 2/2 min

18.  sitting room/ bedroom                  = 44            : 3/3 min            :14.5 min

19.  Promenade                        = 45            : 1/1 min

20.  Flash 3: home kiss                  = 47            : 2/2 min            2 min

21.  Office/ Bedroom                        = 50            : 3/1 min

22.  Balcony                              = 52            : 2/1.5 min

23.  Bedroom                              = 53            : 1/1 min

Part 2                                                                                                                        44.5 min

Sequence 4: More Seduction

24. Flash 4: Home                        = 2            : 2/2 min            2 min

25.  Café 2                              = 5            : 3/3 min

26.  Office                              = 6            : 1/2 min

27.  Her bedroom                        = 13            : 7/7 min            :13 min

28.  Hotel kitchen                         = 14            : 1/1 min

29.  Flash 5: Home visit/ library            = 17            : 3/3 min            3 min

Sequence 5: Change of heart

30.  Her bedroom/ sneak out                  = 18            : 1/2 min

31.  Clothes shop/ pub                        = 20            : 2/2 min

32.  Beach                              = 22            : 2/3 min

33.  Restaurant 3/ walks                  = 25            : 3/3 min

34.  L Bedroom/ café/ L office/ bench            = 30            : 5/3 min            :26 min

35.  Front/ market/ bench                  = 33            : 3/2.5 min

36.  Hotel office                        = 34            : 1/0.5 min

37.  Flash 6: Park                        = 36            : 2/2 min            2.5 min

38.  Field                              = 38            : 2/2.5 min

39.  Café closing 3                        = 40            : 2/2 min

40.  Kate street                              = 42            : 2/2 min

41.  Balcony                              = 44            : 2/2.5 min

42.  His bedroom                        = 45            : 1/1 min

43.  Flash 7: Home/ library                  = 46            : 1/1 min

44.  Mansion                              = 47            : 1/1 min            2 min

Part 3                                                                                                                        48.5 min

Sequence 6: Richard

45. Flash 8: Home                        = 1            : 1/1 min      1 min

46.  Alleyway                              = 2            : 1/1 min

47.  Chase                              = 2            : 0/0.5 min

48.  Alleyway                              = 3            : 1/1 min

49.  Walks                              = 5            : 2/2 min      :9.5 min

50.  Bench/ old man                        = 6            : 1/1.5 min

51.  Hotel                              = 8            : 2/1.5 min

52.  Seaside                              = 10            : 2/1 min

53.  Bench                              = 11            : 1/1 min

54.  Flash 9: Mansion                        = 13            : 2/2 min      2 min

Sequence 7: Too late

55.  Kate bedroom                        = 19            : 6/5 min

56.  Restaurant 4                        = 20            : 1/1 min      :10.5 min

57.  Cafe                              = 23            : 3/2.5 min

58.  Seaside                              = 25            : 2/2 min

59. Flash 10: Home/ bedroom            = 27            : 2/2 min      2.5 min

Sequence 8: Final Choice

60.  Café 5                              = 29            : 2/2 min

61.  Hotel Office                        = 31            : 2/3.5 min

62.  Bench                              = 32            : 1/1.5 min

63.  Hotel                              = 33            : 1/1 min

64.  Train                              = 35            : 2/3 min            : 14.5 min

65.  Office                              = 36            : 1/1 min

66.  Her bedroom                        = 37            : 1/1.5 min

67.  Flash 11: Home                        = 40            : 3/2 min            2 min

68.  Putsborough                        = 41            : 1/2 min

: 43 min

TOTAL : 136 min

136/ 150 = 14.5 needed in film format

One Page Synopsis

Part 1

James arrives at the Devon seaside town, he visits his sister Kate, who is a prostitute and offers him her to live, but he refuses. In a café he meets Miss Merton who thinks Richard isn’t good enough for her beautiful niece Jane. James is running out of money and overhears that the café safe doesn’t work. In the pub he meets Arthur who tells him of a job at the hotel where he works. At night he is on his way to rob the café when he finds Jane. They talk and begin to grow fond of each other therefore preventing him from robbing the cafe. James goes to the hotel meeting Mrs Lawrence who is stern to her workers although he persists for an interview which she agrees to the next morning.

We flashback three years earlier to a London party where James and Kate are established and socialising. James is innocently pompous as Kate is rebellious yet they are close. At their elegant home their mother is told that they are going bankrupt and says they must marry into money.  Resuming to Devon, Mrs Lawrence hassles her ridiculous husband and gives James the job due to his charm. He works all day in the hotel doing various tasks then disappointingly counts his money. Talking to Arthur in the hotel bar he seems get an idea.

We flashback to James and Kate trying to woe a rich suitor though James feels very uncomfortable. Resuming to Devon, James makes Mrs Lawrence hear a conversation he is having to Arthur about her attractiveness and respect he feels for her. Later, Mr Lawrence asks him for advice to seduce his wife. Mr Lawrence tries James’s bad advice over a perfect dinner that results in devastation. Later, James recites his poetry which impresses her.

We flashback where Kate is telling boring James to have more fun and stop worrying, he seems to find interest in her sisterly kissing him. In Devon, James panders to Mrs Lawrence all day then leaves a message in her room to see him. She enters his room to view him in his underwear. Later he tells her it must have been a trick and that he respects her and that if she wants get rid of him she is to see him in his room. James waits in his room as she eventually enters telling him to leave, but touches him.

Part 2

We flashback to James, Kate and their mother having breakfast and worrying about money. In the present James is in the café, Jane flirts with him. Her aunt, Miss Merton, encourages them to go on a date that he reluctantly accepts. He enters Mrs Lawrence’s office sternly demanding to see her in her bedroom. After a while she enters her room where he aggressively makes love to her against the door. Later they are naked in bed, she is still emotionless as they lay still next to each other. James reveals a convincing story of his poor miserable life responding in her giving him some money, which he pretends not to want. Her husband nearly catches them though James has time to hide under the bed. Later James asks her about her past. She describes a harsh past which he truly sympathies with then gives her some of her money back feeling guilty. We flashback to a social party where James is genuinely sweet with Emily, the girl he must marry and it seems to be working.

That night he goes to her room yet she insists on him just laying with her until she falls to sleep making him regretfully emotionally attached. He spends his money on new clothes and expensive drinks. James and Jane go on their date; he is indifferent to her yet she slowly begins to charm him. As the date continues, Jane seduces him into revealing his true feelings bringing them closer even though he tries to resist her. James now tries to spend time with both of them, yet increasingly finds it difficult emotionally and punctually. Mrs Lawrence continues to supply him, as jealous Richard watches. We flashback where innocent James is feeling guilty for being dishonest yet Kate is supportive. In the present James is nervous as he makes love to Jane. Miss Merton warns James of hurting Jane, as she is fragile. So James wants to finish with Mrs Lawrence yet she blackmails him, saying she’ll tell Jane. Mrs Lawrence seduces him taking control. We flashback as Kate says her suitor has left her and it is up to James so he proposes to Emily and she accepts.

Part 3

We flashback where James is upset that he is becoming malicious. In the present, James begins seeing Jane in secret yet Richard stalks them. James fights him as Jane becomes suspicious. Richard seeks Mrs Lawrence for information revealing their affair. James threatens Richard with a death threat as Mrs Lawrence is pleased with his aggression.

We flashback where James meets Emily’s family and begins to play the horrid act convincingly. In the present, James gets a message to see Kate where he finds her dying of TB. She asks him to kill her but he doesn’t want to. They reveal their sexual love for each other and how they separated due to the guilt on their mother. He unwittingly gives her poison and so she dies. From this trauma, James has become apathetic as he wonders the streets until morning. James finds out that Mrs Lawrence has gone to tell Jane so rushes to prevent it and gets there in time yet he dares her to tell Jane which she does. He tries to convince Jane that he loves her. We flashback where James and Kate become sexually involved and are discovered by Emily and their Mother.

Jane won’t forgive James. Mrs Lawrence reveals that she knew about his seducing for money and that if he stays she will give him a money and a promotion. Jane is at the station with Miss Merton and ignores him. She gets on the train and leaves as James becomes more emotional. He nearly jumps in front of a train yet steps back just in time. He is introduced to the business by Mr Lawrence and continues to be seduced by Mrs Lawrence who wants him to be sincere. We flashback where Kate is going to leave saying he should let go of the sincerity he has left in order to survive. James goes to his Mother who calls him a monster, he breaks down in front of her. In the present, at night James is walking the beach as we view one of his poems of great sadness.



He is the protagonist of the story whose ambitions it is to be rich by any means but with the least effort. His strengths are that he is confident, educated and intelligent and uses this manner to manipulate and control. One of his warmer features is the love for his sister KATE which is unrivalled. His only weakness is his search for riches. He is twenty one years old and is very attractive with dark hair and tall stature although appears in working class clothes as most people do in this era. His obstacles are that of his conscience and his love interest JANE. His dialogue is clear and upper class due to his background.


She becomes the main antagonist of the story as her ambitions are to own JAMES and remain in control of her rich hotel. Her strengths are that she is often emotionless with her pride and ruthlessness. Her main weakness is that she is secretly lonely. She is forty six with a cold and dark appearance but capable of being beautiful with her long dark hair she always ties back. Her obstacles are JANE, who is JAMES love interest and her husband who wants more power over her. She also has to keep JAMES’S conscience at bay. Her dialogue is clear and precise although often deep and haunting.


Her ambitions are to marry JAMES. Her strengths are in her ability to care and think outside of money. Her weakness is that she is fragile and sometimes naïve but not stupid. She is eighteen and is beautiful although taken down by her often ragged working class clothes. Her obstacles are Mrs LAWRENCE who wants JAMES and his ability to follow his heart instead of his desire for money. She has a cockney accent as she is from London.


She is JAMES’S sister who is a whore who lives in a retched whore house. She hasn’t any ambitions as she is traumatised by the past death of their MOTHER. Her strengths are that she is strong minded and outspoken and another strength is her love for her brother JAMES. Her weaknesses is that she is a whore and considers herself trapped. She is nineteen with long brunette hair and she is pretty and thin. Her obstacles are that of infectious men and her living environment. She is well spoken as JAMES is due to their background.


He is Mrs LAWRENCE’S pompous husband whose ambitions it is to have a successful business independent from his wife. One of his strengths are that he is a good businessman even though he is dull. He is fifty-five and is large and rapidly ageing.


He is JAMES’S ally friend who he works with at the hotel. His ambitions are for riches although he is unintelligent and stuck in working class. He is twenty three with a working class accent and his strengths are that he is a good worker.


She is JANE’S comedy aunt who owns a café and whose ambitions it is to find her a partner. Her strengths are that she is confident although unintelligent. She is forty-five and is large and bulbous. Her obstacles are JAMES and his motives.


He is JAMES’S antagonist who is after JANE’S affections. He is confident although unintelligent. He is twenty-three and is working class.

  • Statement of Intent

I created this story in mind of the traditional literary texts created by writers such as Henry James with a style that does not diminish over time.



1.     JAMES arrives by train wearing poor clothes telling us that he is working class. The steam train and the fashion establish the time and atmosphere of general poverty.

2.     We view him buying expensive lunch’s and seems to have money which he is spending easily. The rich girls ignore him due to their class division although his confident manner is also evident to us.

3.     JAMES visits his sister KATE who is a prostitute and living poorly which establishes the desperation for money.  They are very pleased to see each other showing us they are close. JAMES disapproves of the situation showing his anger towards poverty and his ambiguity on what to do next for money.  She offers him to stay with her in her bed and kisses him as he leaves suggesting to us that they might be closer than normal.

4.     JAMES is in the café as we view MISS MERTON arguing with RICHARD that he isn’t good enough for JANE who is her niece and servant there. RICHARD continues to try and persuade them both showing us his passion and determination for JANE’S affections. MISS MERTON establishes herself as a comedy character as she repeatedly directs witty comments toward RICHARD. JAMES counts his money showing us he is running out and desperate. MISS MERTON reveals that the safe has broken not realising he is there. RICHARD quizzes him beginning his suspicion towards JAMES.

5.     JAMES buys ARTHUR a drink who tells him about a job at the posh hotel he works at. They also talk about harsh poverty and the TB problem which tells us that the times were hard and desperate.

6.     On the way to the café he meets JANE on the bench who is sad. He cheers her up with his confident jokes showing us he is kind and sympathetic. JANE flirts with him revealing to us that she likes him.  JAMES leaves her then stands by the café windows tempted to break in although doesn’t showing his warmth for JANE.

7.     JAMES enters the hotel to find MRS LAWRENCE shouting and antagonising her workers telling us she is a stern and cold woman. JAMES tells her of his history of education to try and get a job revealing to us he was once established and upper class. He is also cleaver in persuading her revealing he uses his confidence to succeed. He recites some of his own poetry as we view her slightly break her stern mould revealing she might be humanistic after all. She grants him an interview in the morning as he surprises her again as he can pay for a bed.

8.     We flashback to three years earlier. James is passionately talking to a Man about poetry. His sister, Kate takes him away saying how boring the gathering is and how Mother is enjoying it. James says she is too brash as she says he is too rigid. This scene reveals James to be a different, nicer character.

9.     Kate teases him who he likes but James won’t say. At home an accountant says that they will be without money within a year due to gross expenditures. Mother tells them to marry to money. James appears worried.

10.  We resume to Devon. In the interview she continues to be stern although her husband MR LAWRENCE shows himself to be an idiot and embarrasses her. JAMES uses his attractive and intelligent manner to convince her showing his manipulation and power over her. She treats her husband poorly revealing to us that they don’t have a loving relationship.

11.  JAMES works hard all day then gets his pay at the end felling disappointed showing us his ambition and greed for more.

12.  JAMES is talking to ARTHUR about money showing us their desperation. ARTHUR jokes about being MRS LAWRENCE who is rich as JAMES gets an idea.

13.  In his bedroom he is reading and thinking as he looks out to the horizon showing us his calculating and sophisticated manner.

14.  They arrive at a extravagant mansion. James is feeling sinful, Kate reassures him. They immediately separate. James walks with Emily, Kate with John. James talks about pure love which she is impressed with. James invites her his home.

15.  We resume to Devon. JAMES is watching the stairs as he talks to ARTHUR at reception. He sees MRS LAWRENCE coming down then talks of how much he admires her and thinks how good looking she is. She stops on the stairs listening with a emotionless expression telling us that his vindictive idea is to seduce her for her money.

16.  MR LAWRENCE wants to have a perfect lunch to get in good favour with his wife revealing to us his lack of power. He asks JAMES for advice although he tells him to be demanding and powerful. At the lunch JAMES makes sure he serves them as MR LAWRENCE builds his confidence as she is bossy. JAMES talks to ARTHUR about how he will make a fool of himself which we realise is part of hi plan. He serves them again as MR LAWRENCE starts demanding and shouting at her. She slaps him then pours her drink all over him then leaves as JAMES appears sinister and smiling.

17.  KATE joins him on a bench as he asks how to seduce someone. She says he has to pretend to care and love. She violently coughs signalling to a later development in the story. He then says how he will get her out of there showing his passion top succeed although she is pessimistic.

18.  JAMES continues to flirt with MRS LAWRENCE with gestures although she appears to be unmoved. As he is helping MAID make the beds they flirt with each other showing how lusting he is. James sees Mrs Lawrence coming so he brings up a conversation about her then has a go at a maid for joking about her. She over hears the end still unmoved.

19.  On the front Mrs Lawrence is walking. James watches her as he looks through his hand-written book. He stops at a page smiling. He approaches her then asks her to hear his poem for approval. He reads it to her as she doesn’t react but the poem is warm and loving. We are moved by the beauty of the poem as we feel she is. She says she agrees with it then leaves. He smiles watching her.

20.  James is reading in the library as Kate enters and lies by him. She encourages him to be more wild although he doesn’t want to. She kisses him. He touches the kiss as she leaves. This makes us confused as to what he is thinking.

21.  We resume to Devon. It is the evening as he leaves a message in her office to see James in his room. She arrives then goes to his room opening the door seeing him in his underwear. James denies the message as a trick on him as she goes embarrassed

22.  She is sitting on a deck chair on the balcony. He apologises saying that one of them must have noticed that he likes her. She is mostly silent as he says see him in his room if he can keep his job

23.  James waits in his open shirt on the bed. Mrs Laurence knocks then enters his room saying he should leave although she then touches him. He delicately touches her back then kisses her hand. She acts emotionless revealing how the outside is just a mask. JAMES has succeeded in manipulating her as he uses her empty life as tool.


24.  We flashback. James and Kate are having breakfast. Mother calls James aside. She tells him how important it is for him to succeed. James kisses his Mother’s hand. This shows how he cares for his Mother and their situation.

25.  We resume to Devon. JAMES is happily having breakfast in café as JANE serves him. She flirts and says she came from London & going back in a few weeks. She serves some other people as he admires her body showing how he finds her attractive. MISS MERTON encourages them to go on date as JANE is embarrassed. He is reluctant but agrees

26.  In her office he talks to her emotionless as he slowly walks around putting his waist near her face. She asks if he has done his duties revealing how unconfident she is. He says he is going to her room wanting her to come. He talks romantically and elegant as he slowly leaves as she does the books pretending she hasn’t heard.

27.  She keeps him waiting although she comes so he passionately has sex with her against the door although she remains impassive. Later they are naked in bed as he kisses her as she is still emotionless. She asks why he left London and education. He says about family troubles and how he ran out of money and still is broke wanting to live enthusiastically which she responds too by giving him money which he pretends to reluctantly accept. JAMES has succeeded in his objectives. Mr Lawrence knocks on the door wondering where she is. He hides under the bed as he unlocks the door then enters. She wants to be alone as she has a headache although he needs help with the books. We view seaside scenes to break the atmosphere and time. They are in bed finishing off. JAMES makes her talk about her youth which she is reluctant to talk about. She married for riches as he wonders the room naked. Her parents made her do it and she talks about her sad youth which makes JAMES feel sympathetic. He says he has only been in love once with a girl his mother disapproved of. Mother died due to her proposed poverty and disapproval of me. He gives some of the money back as he doesn’t want her to think he did it for her money. We feel confused by JAMES’S character as he is vindictive for her money yet gives her some of it back making us think if he really does care for her.

28.  They look at each other as they work. She shouts at them as he then organises a late night gathering as she tells him off especially on his own. They seem to be enjoying the affair.

29.  We flashback. They greet Emily and John and have tea with Mother. Kate is forward with hint of marriage. John protests as James smiles at Emily. They go into the library where James talks of his love for books.

30.  We resume to Devon. He enters her room then gets undressed although she says she just wants him to lay with her until she falls to sleep. This reveals that she cares for him for more than just sex. He watches her pleasantly sleep and smiles and touches her face then backs off. We are inclined to believe that he is beginning to care for her as well.

31.  In the daytime he buys new clothes. He looks at children coughing & begging in streets acting as a reminder from where he came from. One of the children die in the street although he ignores it revealing his ignorance. He buys expensive drinks for Arthur in the pub as they talk about where he gets his money from which he won’t reveal. He then talks about his boring date with JANE as the poor people snigger at him.

32.  JAMES and JANE are walking along the beach talking. He is indifferent but says pleasant things to make her happy as she talks about poverty. She holds his hand talking of the future. She says how wonderful he is as he smiles then is confused. This reveals that she is falling for him and he is resistant but cannot help but like her. RICHARD looks jealous from a far which builds up the tension as we know he doesn’t like him and loves her.

33.  At lunch she says how beautiful he is. He won’t talk about his past. As walks and look over the cliff she cuddles him as we like her for her love for him. He smiles then loses it realising he cannot fall for her. He smiles and kisses her hair saying she is beautiful. Jane reads some of his work about his past from his book. He tries to make a poem for her which she likes although he says is too up in the clouds. He watches her with a smile.

34.  JAMES is finding it difficult to spend time with both of them as he has sex with MRS LAWRENCE and dates JANE. He kisses Mrs Lawrence in her bedroom. He meets Jane in café jokingly trying to distract her while working. Mrs Lawrence calls him to her office wondering where he got to. She gives him more money wanting him to have fun then has sex with her on the table. He meets Jane on the bench having an ice-cream delicacy. We realise he wants both of them. RICHARD aggressively confronts them as JAMES becomes angry as well.

35.  He watches her work from outside then looks out to sea. He follows her around the streets as she smiles. She buys some things from the market then has lunch on a bench. He bumps into ARTHUR who asks what he is doing. JAMES says that he cannot get bored of her and that he wants to. They both watch her admiring her.

36.  JAMES sits down thinking as MRS LAWRENCE asks what is on his mind. He says it will pass then kisses her and jokes with her.

37.  We flashback. James and Kate are walking in the park. He says how he is very fond of her but cannot love her without knowing her. Kate says he is too innocent. They hold arms. They sit at bench. She says at least there will be sex. She makes him worried but excited.

38.  We resume to Devon. They are walking in a long hey field holding hands. She asks what happened to his Mother. James doesn’t answer. She asks about poetry as he tries to explain. He says how nice it would be to run like a kid like he used to be. She pushes him then makes her chase her. She falls over then he gets on top. He says he has been with many girls but he feels different about her. He says he loves her. She tells him to make love to her, he is unsure but she is certain. They make love. We are now sure they love each other although we are also aware of the problems. He is unsure about having sex with her which reveals he cares for her as he uses sex as a tool with MRS LAWRENCE.

39.  James drops her off at the café. Miss Merton talks to him about his intentions and Jane’s fragility & how she was used in London by a labourer. He says he has none but to make her happy. She seriously warns him. He agrees to be true as she is worth it. This reveals a problem as MISS MERTON can cause problems and he doesn’t want to lose JANE.

40.  James slowly walks around thinking. On the way back he sees Kate working the streets. She is very ill but won’t go home. James gets angry giving her some money to pay her board. They walk a while as she talks about his achievements with job and a nice girl as we feel she is jealous. She goes but then returns when he has gone showing how her illness can only get worse.

41.  He is sitting on the balcony with Mrs Lawrence thinking. She asks if he is alright as he says he might not be able to see her anymore which tells us that he cares for JANE more than money. They never look at each other as she says JANE is a charming girl but not worth it. She offers him more money and the threat that she will tell JANE. He questions her ability as we do as she is emotionless and proud.

42.  He walks into his room shutting the door then looks out the window then sits on his bed. He then lies. She enters then slowly walks to the window shutting the curtains although he tells her not to revealing that she is in control. She takes off her clothes then climbs into bed then makes love to him as he is numb as we understand that he is no longer manipulating her, she has power over him.

43.  We flashback. James is putting a book away. Kate storms in saying John has ended their relationship. She is upset due to caring for her Mother. James comforts her saying he must succeed for her and Mother.

44.  James arrives at mansion. He proposes to Emily declaring his love and saying how inappropriate his sister can be.


45.  We flashback. They are having tea and remind us of the pressure with James. James doesn’t want to marry but must.

46.  We resume to Devon. James sees Jane in the alleyway saying her had to see as he kisses her all over. She questions this as he says her aunt scared him. We realise that he feels passionate about her as he is risking everything.

47.  Richard tries to catch them so they run away. He tells Jane to go in different direction which she does thinking it is fun. We realise that RICHARD is now a problem.

48.  James fights him & wins. Richard says he’ll find something to separate them as he now has two enemies.

49.  They are walking the hills talking of his problem which he won’t reveal. She asks what happened to his Mother. James doesn’t answer and says he hates her. A man falls over which James helps. The man takes a photograph of them. She is suspicious and says so as we realise there is now a rift between them as he is worried about losing her.

50.  A man with TB falls on James who he helps to a bench. He talks to him about problem & how he doesn’t want poverty but loves her as much as someone he used to feel for as we feel sympathetic to his cause. The Man doesn’t have any answers but says money is unfortunately needed. He is slowly dying as we feel JAMES should follow his heart but needs money to stay out of harsh poverty.

51.  Richard sees Mrs Lawrence in her office for information telling of James dating. Mrs Lawrence tells him about her & James affair showing us that she is desperate to keep him at any cost.

52.  In the evening JAMES threatens RICHARD with death threat if he tells JANE revealing to us that he will do anything to keep JANE.

53.  Richard tells Mrs Lawrence who is pleased with James’s courage but has to do something about it revealing to us that things are about to change and JAMES doesn’t know and how MRS LAWRENCE is now manipulative and vindictive.

54.  We flashback. At the mansion James talks to John and her Father about his intentions. Emily and James kiss.

55.  At night he gets a message from a whore to see his sister. James visits her as she is very ill. He says she can go to a hospital he has money now. She says its too late. She wants to kiss him as he is the only person she has ever loved revealing to us that she loves him more than brother. She has TB. She wants him to kill her as she is dying anyway and she says she has had enough of life. He says he should have come earlier to help her out making us feel his guilt in forgetting her. He lies on her as he tries to convince her otherwise. She says she can’t do it herself as she might survive. His sister calls him her poet. He gives her the poison as he and we feel sad for his loss and what he had to do.

56.  In the morning Arthur tells him that Mrs Lawrence has left in a hurry going to the café      as we realise she has gone to tell JANE.

57.  James tries to get to Jane before it’s too late. Mrs Lawrence talks to Jane about James. James gets there worried but not too late. Mrs Lawrence plays with him as he dares her to tell which she does then walks away. JAMES has become an emotionless person due to his loss which we understand.

58.  Jane hits him as she runs away with James chasing and arguing about harsh poor life & how he’s not going to be struggling. Jane shouts “you disgust me” He shouts at her saying how he has never felt about any one else like he feels for her. James walks away saying he doesn’t care anymore as we sympathise with him.

59.  We flashback to James’s bedroom. James says he wish he could marry Kate as joke. Kate then kisses him. They make love. Mother and Emily walk in on them when they are asleep. James wakes to see them.

60.  We resume to Devon. He gets the photo back of them on the cliff. JAMES talks to JANE trying to explain and how he needed a day to think. She won’t forgive him as he has no excuse but the reason he keeps on coming back.

61.  In her office MRS LAWRENCE talks to him as if it were a business meeting with an offer of promotion if he stays. She says she knew he wanted her money from the start as he denies that she did. He talks to her with anger and aggressive manners as she is emotionless with her persuasion.

62.  JANE is to return home wanting JAMES to go with her. He is subdued and has nothing but will survive some how so agrees to go.

63.  He leaves with small bag as Mrs Lawrence acts normal “I’m leaving” She says he will come back as they both are calm. She tries to convince him a final emotionless time then he goes.

64.  She are waiting for the train as he kisses her all over ignoring the people. They get on the train and sit waiting for it to go as MISS MERTON leaves. She leaves on the train. He stays on the platform a while as the next rain is in the distance. He steps nearer the edge waiting for the speedily coming towards him. At the last moment he steps back as the train rushes by showing how suicidal he feels.

65.  In the evening JAMES is being introduced to the business by Mr Lawrence as we feel that he has made the wrong decision although necessary for his future. Kisses maid without reaction.

66.  At night he looks at photo then goes to her room where she takes off her clothes as he is num. She wants him to love her like he used to. MRS LAWRENCE who says she loves him & wants to know how to love. JAMES lays with straight face knowing he has succeeded but he has changed. He turns to the sounds of the sea.

67.  We flashback to Devon. Mother will not see them. Kate is going to runaway without him but he wants to go with her. She says she cannot live with the thought of their mother. Will write. James finds his mother who wants nothing to do with him.

68.  We resume to Devon. View scenes of the area and the sea hitting rocks as we sympathise with all the main characters and the hurt they feel. We view him walking along the beach with one of his poems on the screen. He can now be a poet of his devastation and sorrow.


JAMES READING (protagonist)

Ambitions                        : to be rich/ Jane

Strengths                        : confident/ literary/ Love for sister

Weaknesses            :

Age                                    : 21

Appearance                        : attractive/ middle class

Possible obstacles            : conscience/ Jane

Dialogue                         : Clear/ half posh

End characteristics            : confused/ wants riches/ wants Jane

MRS. LAWRENCE (hotel owner)

Ambitions                        : to have James

Strengths                        : boisterous/ emotionless/ proud/ rich/ ruthless

Weaknesses            : lonely

Age                                    : 46

Appearance                        : cold/ dark & sometimes beautiful/ dark long hair

Possible obstacles            : Jane/ husband

Dialogue                         : clear/ precise/ haunting & deep

End characteristics            : able to be human with James


Ambitions                        : to marry James

Strengths                        : kind/ caring

Weaknesses            : fragile

Age                                    : 18

Appearance                        : beautiful/ working class/ blonde

Possible obstacles            : Mrs Lawrence

Dialogue                         : clear

End characteristics            : hurt/ betrayed


Ambitions                        : non

Strengths                        : strong mind/ love for brother

Weaknesses            : trapped/ whore/ traumatised by the death of their MOTHER

Age                                    : 19

Appearance                        : brunette/ pretty/ thin

Possible obstacles            : infectious men

Dialogue                         : clear

End characteristics            : dead

MR LAWRENCE (hotel owner)

Ambitions                        : to have a successful business/ to own business independently

Strengths                        : businessman

Weaknesses            : dull, stupid

Age                                    : 55

Appearance                        : large/ aging

Possible obstacles            : Mrs Lawrence

Dialogue                         : heavy

End characteristics            : same

ARTHUR (worker friend)

Ambitions                        : for riches                                    Strengths                        : worker

Weaknesses            : unintelligent                                    Age                                    : 23

Appearance                        : working class Possible obstacles            : unintelligent

Dialogue                         : working class End characteristics            : same

MISS MERTON (Jane’s Aunt)

Ambitions                        : for Jane to be happy                        Strengths                        : confident

Weaknesses            : unintelligent/ dizzy                        Age                                    : 45

Appearance                        : large/ bulbous Possible obstacles            : James

Dialogue                         : working class End characteristics            : failed

RICHARD (rival for Jane’s love)

Ambitions                        : Jane                                                Strengths                        : confident

Weaknesses            : unintelligent                                    Age                                    : 23

Appearance                        : working class Possible obstacles            : James

Dialogue                         : working class                        End characteristics            : same


There are four sections for a good treatment

1. The Introduction

  • A brief statement about the project
  • Why would anyone want to see it?
  • Cross link
  • 10 Selling points of interest
  • Why does it simply HAVE to be told?  Why does it have special meaning for you?  And why will audiences flock to see it? Does it explore themes the world needs to hear?  Does it grow out of your own personal pain, or longing, or ideals?  Is it the type of film that made you want to be a screenwriter?
  • Possibly the character and key dramatic event to create interest
  • Possibly dialogue
  • 5 – 20 lines

2. Character Biographies

  • There should be short biographies of all the major characters. 5 – 20 lines each
  • Basic physical descriptions
  • Desires, possible obstacles, motivation
  • Psychological and personal insights into the characters
  • Possibly a full five page bio if asked for
  • For minor characters 5 – 10 lines

3. Statement of Intent

  • Idiosyncratic: Why I want to write about this. How I can. Frame your picture
  • I love this screenplay because…

4. The Storyline

  • Present tense.
  • It should be a narrative, flowing, relatively brief description of a story of your script
  • It is particularly important for the synopsis to convey ‘emotion’ not just plot
  • State what scenes do for the audience. Intention
  • It is also possible to discuss rewrites and changes
  • No character descriptions or biographies
  • This should mirror the pace and style

  • Additional section: a few pages
  • It could be the opening or climax. Never bits

  • Length
  • 10 – 25 pages long
  • 2 or 3 pages is a pitch document
  • 40 – 60 pages is too long


9 Patterns of short film:

1.     Sting in tail            – usually shorter, based on joke, twist end

2.     Journey film            – A – B or metaphorical

3.     Events or ritual            – familiar to audience, or not

4.     What happens next?      – propels the narrative, problem aims to resolve

5.     Snap shot film

6.     Exert of larger film

7.     Following a trail

8.     New angle of old story

9.     What if…

10 Point Pitch

1.     Genre/ tone

2.     Setting – time/place

3.     Hero

4.     Catalyst

5.     Hero’s goal

6.     Obstacles

7.     Climax

8.     Resolution

9.     How do you want the audience to feel

10.  Title that summarises problem/ story


  • BULLET IN THE HEAD:  An overly cleaver English teacher goes into a bank which is robbed.  He responds to their aggression with grammar correction which annoys them to the point where they shoot him.  We then view his life flash before him to find the best moment in his life.  The moment is when as a child a group of boys allow him to play baseball and say, “ain’t it all that”.
  • ABOUT A GIRL: we follow an ambitious darkly comic girl as she wants to become a pop star though is stuck in a poor dwelling.  She puts up with her visiting dad, local thugs and her environment.
  • NEXT STOP: a lonely woman gets on a train where a man suddenly announces to everyone that he is lonely so asks if anyone will go on a date with him. He says how he will try to be good as the woman secretly warms to him.  He says if anyone wants to date him, she should get off at the next stop.  The train stops, the woman gets out excited, only to see the man look surprised. He says it was a comedy sketch and starts to collect the money as the train leaves the sad woman behind.

PITCHING: Confidence

  • Pitch as if you have just seen the film and liked it
  • Be very passionate and excited about the qualities of your film
  • Ask to be part of the process possibly wanting to be a director in future
  • Always take three pitches in case of failure
  • Get out of the meeting as soon as possible after agreement
  • Never talk money “the person you need to speak to regarding money will contact you later”
  • You have to ask for the deal “is this the type o thing you are looking for?”
  • “What if…”
  • Cross fire: “Jaws in space = aliens”
  • Summary: passion is everything, be persuasive, be clear and precise
  • Why does it simply HAVE to be told?  Why does it have special meaning for you?  And why will audiences flock to see it? Does it explore themes the world needs to hear?  Does it grow out of your own personal pain, or longing, or ideals?  Is it the type of film that made you want to be a screenwriter?

The Succinct Pitch

  • You should be able to make your initial pitch in less than one minute
  • What is it about? Just indicate what sort of story it is
  • Why it will appeal to audiences and to which audiences will it appeal

Three words are better than four

  • The shorter and more memorable the pitch line the better
  • Taglines (log-line) aren’t usually initial pitches
  • A story concept encapsulates the central character and the key action of the film. ‘This is a story about a man who did something…’  Formula, ‘This is a film about X who Y.’
  • ‘Love means never having to say you are sorry’ Love Story
  • You need to let them know the story in a few deft strokes
  • Have a back-up
  • The pitch isn’t a story
  • Stories are generally about characters that audiences can identify
  • Why would someone want to see this film?

Before going into a meeting

Checklist 1: Know Yourself

  • Perception of how you pitch
  • Learn negotiating techniques
  • Learn to relax

Checklist 2: Know your buyers

  • Know whom you are meeting. Business card
  • Know what they have done
  • Know what they want, if not ask

Checklist 3: Non verbal communication

  • Shaking hands is important
  • Have a good body language. Have direct eye contact, arms open
  • Make notes about what there saying

Checklist 4: Handling meetings

  • Ask about their company, films, or country. It breaks the ice
  • Encourage criticism
  • If they ask a difficult question, tell them you’ll get back to them. Don’t get caught out
  • Accept criticism, say that’s interesting
  • I am not a one story writer

Checklist 5: The Pitch

  • Passion and clarity are the two most important qualities in your pitch
  • Know when you are running over time
  • Don’t over sell. Never… and then… and then
  • High Concept means putting something easily grasped
  • The pitch should sell the story the treatment should tell it
  • Three rules about pitching:


What is it about?

What does the main character want? (what’s stopping him)

How does the character get it?

b)             Why and whom will the story appeal?

c)             Where do you think the finance will come from?

  • Everything will ultimately depend on your script

I read this book and here is my summary.


  • The job of the screenwriter is to create tension and release it. Create new tension and release it. Over and over again until the end.
  • “I have never read a script that was a bad idea. What I did read, on a daily basis, were scripts that were a poor execution of these ideas.”
  • Every scene, every line, every word in your script should be brimming with violence. In terms of violence, think of the following words – taunt, tense, violent emotion, contradiction, conflict – in every scene and line. There are 3 types of violence:

1.     Physical violence

2.     Sociological violence: loss of ones place in society, work, and home. The study of structures that cause winning and losing.

3.     Psychological violence: put into a position where all values, beliefs, are challenged to the point of uselessness and function.


  • This story is about (describe your hero) who (what she wants more than anyone else does) but (name the overwhelming obstacles preventing the realisation of your goal) and (tease us with the ending).
  • Don’t name the hero, describe who they are
  • Make it a tease, advertise
  • E.g. Banker realises that that to win the girl of he loves, he must love his job less. OR Young banker realises he loves a girl more than his job, only to discover that the girl loves his job more than him.

HIGH CONCEPT – film that can be summarised is a few words: Jaws in space etc.


  • What is the basic action which changes your story?
  • What is forcing your character to change? Remember the stronger these qualities, the stronger your character.

1.     Positive:            brave, honest

2.     Negative:             Jealous, indecisive, dishonest etc


  • A good story has a character beginning with a variety of handicaps
  • The larger the weakness, the stronger the conflict
  • List the character weaknesses at the start that guide the story


  • What struggle does your hero have to surmount in order to accomplish the basic action?
  • What is the worst thing that can happen?
  • What is the worst thing your hero could face?


  • What is the past incident that forms your situation?
  • An event in the past that the hero must get over to achieve their goal

HERO’S POTENTIAL – What is your characters potential?

Choosing the WORLD

  • Wilderness     Hero travelling alone, or with a band of disciples.
  • Village          Nostalgic past time community is under constant threat from industrialisation, possible to see the entire village at once. A stranger disturbs everything.
  • City          City dwellers are divided by strength and power, the weak and strong, have it all and not.
  • Oppressive city  Anti-hero pursued to conform to ridiculousness.

What does the hero WANT?

  • Most screenplays fail as the hero does not have a clearly defined wants and need
  • Give the character a secret.


  • The reader must identify with all the characters in your script
  • Put the character in a predicament, small and large
  • Teach the audience something new


  • An event that must occur within a specific time
  • Double time lock: build the bridge, blow it up

SWITCH – when you think something will happen, something else does

STACKING and LAYERING – One problem after another, layered


1.     Physical            health

2.     Social            losing ones place

3.     Psychological       forced to abandon ones beliefs

FORESHADOWING – Something at the start of the film, sequence or scene predicts the end

BIG GLOOM – the point where the hero is going to give up, the lowest point


Page 1 – set time and place

Page 3 – something that refers directly to the theme

Page 10 – who is the hero? What do they want? How are they going to get it?

Page 30 – something happens to directly turn the story around

Page 45 – the new plan fails again needing more commitment

Page 60 – point of no return

Page 75 – the new plan didn’t work: big gloom

Page 90 – last and largest struggle for success

  • Screenplays fail when the hero does not have a goal in the first 10 pages.

1.     Problem – at the start of the story             =

Need – inner problem preventing your hero             =

2.     Goal – this cannot change                   =

3.     Motive                                    =

4.     Stakes                                     =

5.     Opponent – how will they attack                  =

6.     Plan – hero’s and opponents

7.     Big gloom                                    =

8.     Self – Revelation

Psychological – learns about self                        =

Moral – treating others                                                =

Actual decision based on these                        =


Name                                    =

Age                                    =

Resume (summary)            =

Role                                    =

Goal (specific)                        =

Appearance                         =

Traits                                    =

Nightmare                        =

Positive values            =

Negative values            =

Outer motivation            =

Inner motivation            =

Before                                    =

After                                    =

  • Character must first overcome the inner need before outer
  • Hero learns from the opponent


  • Conflicts between the hero and other characters, and the values they stand for should be mapped out through the story.


1.     PREMISE

  • Premise is fractured
  • Premise is not referred to in enough scenes
  • Premise is not commercial

2.     ACTION

  • Action is not integrated into the story
  • Action is contrived
  • There is no action

3.     GHOST

  • Story has no ghost
  • The ghost is not painful to the hero
  • Hero overcomes it too easily

4.     HERO

  • Hero is too passive
  • Hero is too reactive
  • Hero is cold

5.     HERO’S GOAL

  • Goal arc begins too late
  • Goal arc is not specific
  • Goal arc does not build
  • Goal is unimportant


  • There is no psychological weakness
  • The weakness is not painful to the hero
  • The moral need does not effect other characters


  • There is no opponent
  • Story lacks conflict

8.     WRITING

  • Great descriptive writing describes people and objects moving with emotion
  • Show your character doing things as much as possible
  • You cannot write “Elliot is depressed”, instead “a tear splats on Elliot’s feet”.
  • You aren’t describing things, you are describing things happening.
  • Mix the description with action “Elliot slumps into his chair amongst cluttered”
  • Avoid plain verbs “walks in” “rushes, ponders etc”
  • Cut loose under hanging words
  • No and or buts
  • Towards the end of each page, build something to make you turn the page
  • You cannot say “it’s very cold” because how do you show cold? “Hail bounces off the windscreen”.

9.     Dialogue

  • Don’t write in dialect/ accent
  • One character is ignorant of others questions
  • No parenthetical directions
  • Split all dialogue and descriptions into 4’s
  • No on the nose
  • Start on page 3: to be different

Step 1 – basic premise

This story is about (describe your hero) who (what they want more than anything) but (obstacle) and (tease us with the ending).

Step 2 – Characters

1.     How old is your character?

2.     Where were they born?

3.     Where did they go to school?

4.     What grades did they get?

5.     What does their father do?

6.     Who is their closest friend?

7.     What is there favourite TV programme?

8.     If they were a magazine, what title?

9.     What would they wear to go to the theatre?

10.  What is there favourite music?

11.  If they were to buy a spontaneous gift for their lover, what would it be?

  • Character essays

Step 3 – the plan

1.              What is your hero’s goal? (specific)

2.              How does your hero plan to achieve this goal? (method)

3.              Who opposes the plan?

4.              How does your hero protect himself?

5.              How does the opponent counter the hero’s plan?

6.              How does your hero protect himself?

7.              How does the opponent counter the hero’s plan?

STEP 4 – Scene Outline

  • Use scene index cards to develop the sequence as effective as possible.
  • Use the scene analysis sheet to maximise each scene

STEP 6 – Writing

STEP 7 – Rewrite


  • Certificate of Registration – writers guild of America £20 – to send full script to receive serial number
  • BECTU & Raindance in UK
  • When you discuss your script with someone send them a letter:

Russell Whitehead

9 The Birches etc


Dear Elliot

It was a pleasure meeting you at the cinema last night, and I enjoyed discussing with you my forthcoming screenplay “its title”

I look forward to working with you.

Yours sincerely, Russell Whitehead

  • If they make the same film – send this:

After my client spoke to you on dd/mm/yy, I am surprised to hear that you are making a film based on their idea without them.

I look forward to hearing from you.


  • Go through your script noting everything that does not directly fit into the goal of your main character. You will be amazed how much energy it has.
  • Feedback – 10 copies – 9 to anyone. If a professional liked it, send it with it.
  • Copy down the credits and production company details of a good film similar.


  • Most pitch meetings are 15 to 20 minutes long
  • Never read from notes
  • Direct eye contact
  • Take 3 fully developed pitches


  • Break the ice: talk about people they work with, or a successful film.
  • Are they an intellectual or emotional person
  • Place your one page synopsis on the table
  • You know when you are at the end of this part hen they say “how can I help you” “what do you have”


  • Basic Premise
  • If they don’t like it, now find out why?
  • Pitch your other stories


  • No thanks or get your agent to contact us
  • Leave as quickly as possible


1.     Never say a number – say the person will contact them later

2.     Never go to money – never suggest lunch, go for a coffee

3.     You don’t ask, you don’t get – never directly ask will they buy it, ask if they are looking for this type of thing. Did you find it any good?


  • Visualise your story
  • WHAT IF?
  • Movie Cross: jaws in space: My story is a cross between … …
  • Pop a question: did you know? Have you ever?
  • Sell the sizzle not the steak: advertise: never “and then”


  • Find out who to send it to
  • After the 8 line letter, they might call so be prepared


Dear Sir or Madam,

3 lines to describe yourself. It must grab attention, funny.

3 lines for Premise: 25 words or less – sell not tell. My (first) feature script is the story about (describe hero) who (what they want most) but (what is preventing them) and (tease with the ending).

I would like to submit my project to your company for consideration,

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Russell Whitehead


  • Three ways: Outright purchase, Option and Step
  • Make them option it before they promote it
  • Get this book if you need layout for contracts

Outright Purchase – They buy it outright

Option – producer rents it (10%) for a period of time (1 year)

Step – writer is hired to write – you will have a meeting to set story – you will have 3 weeks to write treatment.


  • Don’t try and write a masterpiece every time
  • – for genre
  • Possibly work for radio or theatre
  • Much has been made of the great artists of the last century. Picasso and Lennon. I do not believe that any artist was more talented than any other mortals on this planet were. What I do believe is that these artists were in touch with their alpha state – thoughts while doing things.


  • Submit 3 screenplays – an existing half-hour episodic TV script – a 90 page script for low budget – and a 120 page script letting yourself loose.


  • Use 12 point Courier
  • Never number scenes
  • Don’t split into acts
  • Screenplays are bound with beige, white or grey card
  • Write your name small caps
  • Wire clip through the 2 holes is adequate
  • No other than DAY or NIGHT, specify in description if necessary
  • EXT. LOS ANGLES (1939) – NIGHT
  • Fade out at end of act or script
  • The first sound cue word does not need to be capitalised
  • After a small role fan 1 (carpenter)
  • Little or no Parenthetical
  • Continuing when broken by descriptions
  • Spell out everything
  • If dialogue needs to be carried over, use (more) and (cont’d)
  • Never capitalise new characters in dialogue
  • Never begin a scene with dialogue


  • Alternative Scriptwriting: Writing beyond the rules by Ken Dancyger

Checklist for Reading And Evaluating Screenplays


1. High concept; big canvas for films; intimate drama for TV.

2. Imagine the trailer. Is the concept marketable?

3. Is it compelling? Screenplay should deal with the most important event in these particular characters’ lives.

4. What’s at stake? Life and death situations are the most dramatic. Potential for characters’ lives to be changed.

5. Screenplay should create constant questions: Will he make it? Did he do it? Hook an audience with a ‘need to know’, and they will watch the rest of the film.

6. Original. Please, no more screenplays that start with a character waking up in the morning, so we can see what kind of person he is by the junk he has in his room and his walls. No more genre parodies.

7. Is there a goal? Is there pacing? Does it build?

8. Begin with a punch, end with a flurry.

9. What are the obstacles? Is there a challenge for the heroes?

10. What is the screenplay trying to say, and is it worth it?

11. Audience wants to see people who care, not two hours of gimmicks.

12. One scene where the emotional conflict of the main character comes to a crisis point.

13. Hero must have a choice, the ability to affect the outcome.

14. Non-predictable; reversals within major plot and within individual scenes.

15. Once reality parameters are built, do not violate. Limitations call for interesting solutions.

16. A decisive, inevitable, set-up ending that is completely unexpected. Best example, of course, is ‘Body Heat.’

17. Action and comedy emanate from character, not from off stage.

18. Is it believable? Realistic?

19. Happy ending or at least a definite resolution one way or other.

20. Castable parts. Roles that stars want to play.

21. Young characters. Older audiences can relate to young people, because they were young once, and young audiences can relate too. But young audiences have trouble relating to older characters.

22. Heart. Good screenplays have strong emotions at their center. An almost subliminal quality; need to read between the lines. Films with heart – ‘The World According To Garp’, ‘Diner’, ‘Local Hero’, ‘American Graffiti’, ‘Terms Of Endearment’, etc., and, of course, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. Heart can be negative emotions: ‘Body Heat’, ‘Chinatown’. Avoid mean-spirited films.


1. Story construction and structure; three acts, two plot points.

2. No scenes off the spine of the story; no matter how good they are, they will simply die, and destroy the momentum of the film.

3. Screenplay should direct the reader’s eye, not the camera.

4. Begin screenplay as far into the story as possible.

5. Begin a scene as late as possible, end it as early as possible. A screenplay is like a piece of string that you can cut up and tie together – the trick is to tell the entire story using as little string as possible. No shots of cars driving up to houses, people getting out and walking to the door. Use cuts.

6. Visual, Aural, Verbal — in that order. The expression of someone who has just been shot is best; the sound of the gun going off is second best; the person saying ‘I’ve been shot’ is only third best.

7. The Hook; inciting incident. You’ve got ten pages (or ten minutes) to grab an audience.

8. Triple repetition of key points: get through the story as quickly as possible, but for the audience’s sake, work on the essential points two or even three times.

9. Echoes. Audience looks for repetition. Useful for tagging characters: ‘Annie Hall’ (‘La De Dah’); ‘Indiana Jones’ (‘I hate snakes’); In ‘Body Heat,’ Lowenstein’s dance steps. Dangerous element; if it’s not done right, it looks real stupid.

10. Not all scenes have to run five pages of dialog or action. In a good screenplay, there are lots of two-inch scenes.

11. Repetition of locale — mark of a well-structured screenplay. Helps atmosphere; allows audience to get comfortable. Saves money.

12. Small details add reality. Research.

13. No false plot points; no backtracking.

14. Silent solution; tell with pictures.  Reference: the last seven seconds of ‘North by Northwest’.


1. Character entrance should be indicative of character traits. first impression of people is most important. Great entrances: Rebecca De Mornay’s character in ‘Risky Business’, strolling into the house, posing in front of the open window; Indiana Jones in ‘Raiders’, leading the way through the jungle, using his whip to snap the gun from a traitor’s hand.

2. Root for characters; sympathetic. Recent example of this: Karen Alien’s character in ‘Star-man’ . Screenplay opens with her watching a home movie of her dead husband. From that point on, it is no contest; the audience is hopelessly sympathetic and on her side — all in less than a minute of screen time.

3. Dramatic need — what are the characters wants and needs?  Should be strong, definite; clear to audience.

4. What does audience want for the characters?  Are we for or against this character, or could we care less one way or the other?

5. Character action — what a person is is what he does, and not what he says.

6. Character faults; characters should be ‘this but also that’; complex. No black and whites, please. Characters with doubts and faults are more believable.

7. Characters can be understood in terms of ‘what is their greatest fear?’ Gittes, in ‘Chinatown’ was afraid of being played for the fool. In ‘Splash’, the Tom Hanks character was afraid he couldn’t fall in love. In ‘Body Heat’ Racine was afraid he’d never make the

big time.

8. Character traits independent of character role. A banker who fiddles with his gold watch is memorable, but cliched; a banker who has a hacking cough and chainsmokes is still memorable, and more realistic.

9. Conflicts, both internal and external. Characters struggle with themselves, and with others.

10. Character ‘points of view’ distinctive within an individual screenplay. Characters should not all think the same. Each character needs to have a definite point of view, in order to act, and not just react.

11. Run each character through as many emotions as possible — love, hate, laugh, cry, revenge.

12. Characters must change.


Development and Realisation

Reflective Report

From the beginning of the module we were encouraged to develop the concept of ideas based on the guidelines of narrative in context of short film.  I have done screenwriting before, though the dynamics can be quiet different with the considerations of structure, style and themes.  I found it particularly difficult to think of short film ideas that work and interest the audience, as feature length narratives have longer expositions and development points.  The creative thinking is a pleasurable process with idea mapping, step outline and treatment, though can be lengthy and demanding.  One of the criticisms of my idea ‘Justify’, was that there is an open ending. I wanted to leave it open to make the audience ask themselves who would they choose to live or die, and to ask themselves the questions that are put forward in the story.  My aim was to create a more active audience, and to oppose the classic narrative structure that Hollywood imposes.

In class we discussed the adaptation vs originality debates and looked at interesting legal and aesthetic issues surrounding them. It could be a good thing that stories are adapted to improve them, though at a loss of possible original ideas that are ignored, mainly by the Hollywood system.  Referring to my film ‘Justify’, I adapted the idea from a Japanese film ‘After Life’ where when people have died, they have to choose one memory to take with them. This interview based style film has been done before, though provided an interesting base to develop.

We watched many different styles of short films in the attempt to develop our own ideas, though I still found it difficult to create a good short film idea. This possibly reflects the industry as there are many poor films that have, and are created.  However, what I did learn is to recognise common structures, which helped me develop a backbone for my ideas.  I wasn’t particularly happy with te concept of my film, in that in an over populated world, the government kill people off based on a criteria, though I think the premise is interesting to explore.

The development of character is the most important things to develop to create a successful production.  I learnt that it is necessary to create an entire biography and more importantly a psychology for each character to create convincing roles, which the audience will engage with.  Of course it is important to point out that the actors ability will play some part, though if you have a good character arch and qualities, the chances of a good film are vastly improved. Referring to ‘Justify’ the characters were adequately developed, though needed to be easily obtainable to the audience in their particular place in society so therefore lost some of their complexities.  We managed to get a few actors, though mainly we used our friends which is generous of them, though did produce some ‘hamy’ performances at times.

I didn’t find writing dialogue too difficult though as it is commonly said, it is easy to write badly.  Atul helped me with the dialogue as he said the lines out loud which immediately made aware the problems in consistency and believability.  I tried to use dialogue as exposition to expose the story’s reality, with it being set in the fictional future etc.  I believe this added an interesting surprise to the reader and audience, as when we played it back to people, it made them react questioningly.

There were three re-writes for the script, and surprisingly I didn’t take anything away apart from editing dialogue etc, as my writing style is concise and to the point.  This is what I prefer compared to over-exposition and dialogue that doesn’t lead to a significant point after-all, every line of a script should be of a significant visual importance.  The things we did add were things like more exposition and used the dialogue to create rounder characters.

The production side of the module was the most enjoyable part.  We each assigned the group a specific role and began researching and practicing the needs to be successful.  There was some confusion over who is the director between Atul and I, though it was clear that Atul should be director due to his people skills and ideas he brought to the role.  I was happy playing the interviewer in the film as I didn’t want the character on-screen anyway to reflect the style of the Japanese film I was influenced by.  The issues of production were technically things like we didn’t have a new HD tape to record with as I didn’t realise you couldn’t really record over footage as it loses quality.  The problem was solved by Nathan owning a Panasonic 1080P camera which is the highest quality HD even better than the 1080I camera.  It was much more convenient for editing as it was hard-drive based rather than tape, as tape needs to digitise etc.  There were also issues with the version of the script we were filming from.  I emailed everyone version three, though for some unknown reason it didn’t get through properly so we had to print out and relearn the new script as shooting.

The post production side was also enjoyable as you can see the original ideas taking form.  Yaisr edited the footage originally in a more documentary method, where Atul created a new version of this in a more stylistic way.  It was important for me to go back to the original script and follow its intended dramatic style and mood.  I taken away some of the special effects and taken my voice-over away using on-screen questions, with the intention to make the audience more active and directed towards them.  I also added some music towards the end to create atmosphere which I believe it did by viewer reaction and comment.

The things I would change about the project is to dedicate more time to the story development though I do understand that a story is never finished and it is difficult to know when to stop to prevent over-development.  On the editing side it would have been better to work on the soundtrack more as I think it could have flowed more at the beginning.  Also, I would have been more credible story to employ professional actors to make the film more engaging.

Overall I enjoyed the module and have learned a method of development which I can possibly transfer to other projects.  Furthermore, I learnt practical techniques that will progress my understand and abilities with filmmaking.

tue, 23, March, 2010.

We met at 10am to collect the equipment from Ellen Terry Media Loan shop.  At the film set in the Graduate building classroom, we began to set up the interview based scene, though realised we didn’t have a new HDV tape to film onto as i didn’t realise the quality is lost as you film over passed recordings.  Yasir and I went into town and university shops hoping to find one yet did not as most shops only have DV tapes.  We called Nathen who owns a Panasonic HDP2 camera which works off a hardrive. As it happens, the P2 camera is full HD quality which is superior to the SonyZ1.

A small problem came apparent when the roles of the group became confusing. I thought it was previously agreed that i was the director and Atul was the producer, and Yasir was the cameraman.  It worked out better that Atul was the director as he produced a shooting script and worked with the actors before which i was happy with as i wanted to play the interviewer.  Yasir became the second cameraman to allow Nathan to become first. Yasir would then edit the film. Sai would now be the sound engineer.

The second major issue was that the script that everyone was following was the wrong draft, as i updated it to incorporate the new considerations. We then printed out the new version which wasn’t too different and began filming.

Once  the filming began it seemed to go well, as the lines where quite short and the actors seemed to get into character sufficiently.


We have decided to make my film, ‘Justify’, as it will be relatively easy to shoot as it on;t requires one location. We plan to make other films over easter.

We discussed that we need four actors, and a technical rehearsal to practice.

I will need to write a 2nd draft of the script to modify dialogue and add some exposition.

Atul will contact some actors he  knows to play the parts.


We are desiring to film in the next two weeks to move on to the next film, so we need to move quickly in arranging camera hire, location recce, and prepare the actors for their scenes.

I will write a 3rd draft in tightening the dialogue.

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