Great openings in scripts grab you by the throat. Master writers know this, and write accordingly. A consistent theme we see at ScriptArsenal in scripts from newer writers is a gradual warming up of conflict, where “the good stuff” tends to come later in the read. This is a dangerous place to position your writing, as industry readers are notoriously impatient and distracted by the next new thing. Don’t give them the chance to drift away. Grab them by the throat. Let’s consider some examples below: THE SOCIAL NETWORK (Oscar winner for Best Adapted Screenplay, by Aaron Sorkin). Arguably the...

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Big-budget spec scripts, High buget, intellectual property, Low concept, opportunity cost, Perfect a screenplay, screenwriting, spec script, THE DEPARTED -

Letting a script die is probably the single hardest thing for a screenwriter to do. You’ve spent months, maybe years working on this material. The dream of what this script could be has fueled that process. But some scripts are in trouble from the point of conception, because their inherent nature makes them an uphill battle. This has become especially true in the feature realm, in a post-Marvel age. The overwhelming majority of big-budget films are based on pre-existing intellectual property. For writers with a big-budget spec script, this presents a significant problem. What it means, practically-speaking, is that a...

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balanced intellectualism, screenwriting, screenwriting tips, storytelling, Taylor Sheridan, THE DEPARTED, William Monahan -

William Monahan bust onto the scene as a screenwriter in the mid 2000s, writing KINGDOM OF HEAVEN for Ridley Scott and then winning the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED. He has since written the Mel Gibson film EDGE OF DARKNESS, The Leonardo DiCaprio film BODY OF LIES, LONDON BOULEVARD with Colin Farrell, and THE GAMBLER with Mark Wahlberg. How did he get there? As with other screenwriters in this series of articles, Monahan would probably contest the notion that he suddenly appeared on the scene in the mid 2000s. In fact, his experience as a...

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great movies, great scenes, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Matt Damon, One Great Scene, scene work, THE DEPARTED -

In this series of articles, we’re going to do a deep-dive on one knockout scene from a great movie. Today’s movie is THE DEPARTED. The scene is when Leonardo DiCaprio’s character interviews to join the police force. Here’s a link to the scene as a refresher ( The scene is really about Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg recruiting DiCaprio to become an undercover cop. But they never say that out loud, throughout the entire scene. Matt Damon’s character interviews first, quickly. Dignam and Queenan speak to him briefly. Things are markedly different when DiCaprio’s character enters. Wahlberg asks about DiCaprio’s...

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