Scenes To Avoid…

Just Trying to Help Out the Filmmakers… After the Break…

Scenes To Avoid…

I’ve seen a lot of movies in my time. In all honesty, probably too many.

Yet, since I’ve seen a whole bunch more movies than an honest person ought to have, I’ve also arrived at some fairly brutal conclusions about what makes a good or bad movie. No one likes to read pure opinions but I thought that I would share my reasonings here in case there are any amateur filmmakers looking to avoid some fairly obvious pitfalls in their next great movie:

  • No Opening Narrative. Ever. Is the movie that you are making called “Star Wars”? No? Then guess what – Don’t start your movie with a spoken or written narrative. It almost never works. People go to the movies to watch a movie, not listen to an audiobook or read one. If your movie needs an opening narrative for people to understand what is going on… Remake the movie until it doesn’t.
  • Put Down Your Grandma’s Digital Camcorder. Now. Film cameras are expensive. Camera lenses are notoriously expensive. Film stock is grotesquely expensive. All of them are fickle to weather and humidity and lighting and… And unless you have a really good digital camcorder that can emulate the look of film stock, you should use one. Yes, digital movie cameras have improved dramatically but a lot of cheap films use movie cameras akin to “Grandma’s Digital Camcorder” that she got straight from QVC or HSN or some other shopping channel because it was the ‘Deal of the Day.’ Don’t do it. Your movie is already lean and hungry as it is; Don’t make your film look cheap as well.
  • Doing Too Much With Too Little. I’ve seen a lot of movies that always try to stretch their budgets well past the breaking point. Low-budget films that attempt to film car chases or alien monsters or a large crowd scene or something that would otherwise take a lot of time, money and expertise to stage and execute properly. I get it; You want your movie to stand out – You’re different. Other bank robbery movies are a dime a dozen but your bank robbery movies is special. Your car chase scene is special. Your spaceship is special. No it isn’t. Cheap special effects or action sequences done on the cheap make a borderline movie look really bad. It takes you out of the movie and breaks viewer immersion. Re-write your movie so that there are effects shots or action sequences that you can afford. One properly filmed action scene is better then five of them that all look like they were filmed behind an abandoned strip mall during a single afternoon. Quality over quantity.
  • “Why is this scene in here?” Take a look at your script. Break that script down by each scene. Write next to each scene the explicit reason for why that scene must be in the movie. MUST. Not optional. Not “because it’s cool.” A tangible, logical reason for why that scene must be in the movie for the sake of the characters or the plot. If you are struggling to find a reason… That scene needs to be re-written or eliminated. I can’t tell you how many movies I’ve seen where the movie shows how much a character is a jerk or how the blonde is a ditz or how dangerous a section of town is or how many dogs a villain will kick in order to get his or her way or… Stop. Overkill is bad. Yes, I get it – The police officer is corrupt and will do whatever it takes to cover up the crime. Yes, I get it – The guy is a sleazeball and is willing to say anything to land in bed with anyone who possesses all of their lady parts. Don’t write a scene into a movie unless it absolutely, positively must be in there to move the plot forward.

These are just a few of the suggestions I have in mind. I don’t want to sound bossy but I’m tired of watching low-budget movies (and many big-budget movies) make the exact same mistakes over… And over… And over again.


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