This very cool game comes from the folks over at Method of Action. Check it out; it is blazing fun and useful!


Let’s talk about Cloud Atlas; a film which arguably has no real narrative structure. Do we need a narrative story thread to make a film work?

Check out this edit I did and see for yourself.

Does this trailer look substantially odd or different with the inclusion of Forrest Gump cuts? No, not at all. You could cut in any Tom Hanks’ movie and it wouldn’t hurt the film in the least; it might even make it better, why?



Multiply some random numbers on a calculator, then pair them: For example: 35, 98, 21, and 4–as seen below on the calculator. Now go to page 35. Read it–only it. Ask yourself: Is it engaging, can it draw me into the script? If the answer is no, then it needs to be rewritten or cut, more often than not: CUT.  Now 98 and so on.

Play this game whenever you are bored with the linear tasks of writing and editing.  You’ll see your script fresh and honestly this way.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 11.35.00 PM


ELEMENTS OF A GREAT SCREENPLAY  © purple crayon productions llc. 2016


  1. Interesting characters…in;
  2. an amazing world…on;
  3. an incredible journey…to get;
  4. the girl, guy, or thing…and;
  5. become their best selves as they struggle to;
  6. discover the meaning of life.

It all sounds very easy when you put it this way, right? Let us have none of this silly talk about plot points, paradigms, and how many cats that you have to kill—because if you have the six things listed above, then you would have to go out of your way to write a bad story.

But you say: What about great dialogue, or a great ending—and don’t forget the explosions? Sure, great dialogue is important, but does it create a great character or is it the case that great characters have interesting things to say before and after the explosions occur? Don’t put the cart before the horse: an interesting character will write its own great dialogue.

That said; this first article in this series will not focus on characters, instead we will jump the list to amazing worlds, and with good reason: The world we live in shapes us and if we do not understand our character’s world, then we cannot possibly understand our character.

You hear the term: high concept a lot, but what does it really mean? In Hollywood it means big explosions—at least for the lazy writers. Don’t get me wrong, I like explosions as much as the next guy, but I’m not sure that anyone in Hollywood really understands what the term high concept means. Sure, it’s a common buzzword and if asked Hollywood folk will define it with other equally meaningless buzzwords such as: tent-pole, epic, and blockbuster, but none of this gives us any real information. The fact is: Hollywood doesn’t know if a movie is a high concept film until after the box office results come in, and that’s the way it is. So where do we begin? For me, we start with an amazing world.

Avatar’s Pandora, a galaxy far, far, away, and even Forrest Gump’s ordinary earthbound environment were amazing worlds. But was Forrest’s world amazing the way Pandora was amazing? You see, what we are really talking about here is the character’s perspective more than the film’s setting. Think about the film The Sandlot and its beast. The beast was beastly because of perspective. To a small child a big dog is a beast, but to a six-foot adult—not so much.

It is not enough to have a strange world like Pandora to create an amazing world, it’s not just location/genre. You also need a compelling world, and a compelling world comes from having a unique perspective on the world in question.

As viewers we want to see our world differently. Our lives are boring and a good movie shifts our perspective until we see something novel.

What do you think the perspective shift (to coin a phrase) on Pandora is? What do you think the perspective shifts are in Forrest Gump, Star Wars, and Adventureland?

Perspective shift is the key to amazing worlds! If you create a truly unique perspective, on any world, you are well on your way to writing a high concept story.



Are they clever and witty? Do they say interesting things? Are they silver tongued devils? Or is it the case that talk is cheap?

Before your characters even open their mouths we will judge those books by their covers.

Because —


Interesting characters don’t say interesting things: Interesting characters DO INTERESTING THINGS FIRST.

And if you don’t believe me, then just watch this clip from this Dos Equis commercial titled:

The Most Interesting Man in the World Embarks on His Greatest Adventure Yet – Adios Amigo.

Of course good characters will say interesting things and we need great dialogue to get deeper into their motivations and idiosyncrasies. What makes for great characters is hardly exclusive from the other elements of the script, but we are talking about a starting point in our understanding of our characters and we cannot forget that film is a visual medium. Interesting characters start with the visual.

For example, did not the scene in The Breakfast Club where Ally Sheedy uses her dandruft to make snow flakes for her winter landscape drawing create an impression far deeper than her lines? And what about the Cap’n Crunch/Pixie Stix sandwhich?

If a picture is worth a thousand words and in film there are 24 frames per second that equals 24, 000 words a second. Most screenplays are around 22,ooo or less words, these days–Get it?

Interesting characters DO interesting things that we can see on the screen.

Are there exceptions? Well, yes of course use your best judgement as always.