The five part series was originally concieved as a single post. I thought I would be able to make a few pithy comments on each movie and have a nice tight list like you see on cracked.com. It became obvious pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to do that. Maybe I lack the merciless discipline to keep the comments that concise. Even expanding each movie to one post I feel barely scratched the surface. What can I say, I tend toward the rambling rant rather than the short, razored comment.
But that’s part of the point. Movies (good ones) should work on different levels and the really good ones work on a bunch of levels all at once. They need to entertain and engage. They need to make you feel but it’s nice if they make you think. Whatever story they tell has to conform to a rather rigid three act structure. They are a visual medium but are generally worthless without good writing.
With the advent of DVDs it’s much easier to get an in-depth look into how movies are made. Not just special effects how-to’s but the whys of storytelling. Why a writer chose a characters manner of speaking, why a costume looks the way it does, why the director showed an actor’s face or hid it. Learn what really goes into telling a story with film. It’s a bit of a trade-off: the more you know about what goes into a good flick, the less patient you are with crap. But you gain a deeper appreciation of the good ones and really blown away by the great ones.
If you have it in your head to write your own screenplays knowing how hard it is and seeing a couple good ones can be intimidating. Just ride that bull cowboy. Dont’ think about it too much. Screenplay and The Screenwriter’s Workbook by Syd Field are plain-English-just-do-the-work books that should teach you enough to try one. The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler distills and presents Joseph Campbell’s hero and myth structures through the filter of film-making. Or maybe it talks about movies through the filter of Campbell, myth is hard to pin down.
Give it a try and have fun with it. I’ve only written one screenplay myself (I wrote it for ScriptFrenzy last year). If, like me, you’re most comfortable in narrative prose you’ll find the different form exciting and interesting. At worst, your script will suck. If the story’s good you can always use it as an ‘outline’ for your next novel.