Babel is this year’s Crash and when you add in another of my faves of 2006, Little Miss Sunshine, it can only mean one thing — more people will be writing and selling ensemble movies.
But apart from the latitude that this type of film allows us by telling many stories, is the structure the same as a “regular” movie? How does something likeCrash follow the BS2?
Well, lemme tell ya how. It’s actually in my new book coming out this fall. Each of its ten chapters covers a different genre. And Crash belongs in the “Institutionalized” category. Why? Because it’s about the problem of being part of a group, as are Magnolia, Short Cuts, Babel,Nashville, Welcome to L.A., The Big Chill, Boogie Nights, Sin City, Eating, A Night On Earth, Husbands, Celebrity, and The Women. These are all movies about “the many” centered on a single compelling theme. It’s not new. And like all good stories, it follows the same rules.
How do you organize four or more intersecting tales? With index cards! And there is no better use for The Board as described in Save the Cat! Each section of The Board represents a different phase in all the characters’ stories and can be used to lay them out no matter how many characters you are dealing with. Phase one: set-up and catalyst. Phase two: entering the “new world”of the problem in question. Phase three: a raising of the stakes of that problem in some kind of climactic moment of truth. And Phase four: resolution.
Because as we know, all stories are about transformation!
How all your stories crisscross and intersect can be laid out on The Board and color-coded (check out our software for this; there is no better use for organizing a complicated story than this software, if I say so myself!)So don’t let the complications of telling an ensemble stop you from trying to write this very popular type of film. It’s all a matter of pre-planning your brilliant movie — just like all the great scripts that have ever been written and made.
And like all creative ventures, the challenge is what makes it fun!
- patricia burroughs
But I thought you’d already written the last book we’d ever need on screenwriting.
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Doesn’t this now extend the BS2 to incorporate Episodic Television (Sopranos, Lost, 24) which is in essence Ensemble screenwriting??