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Screenplays come in three sizes: Long, Too Long and Much Too Long.

Exposition is BORING unless it is in the context of some present dramatic tension or crisis.  So start with an action that creates tension, then provide the exposition in terms of the present developments.

PASSIVITY is a capital crime in drama.

'Comedy is hard' (last words of Edmund Kean).  Comedy plays out best in the master-shot.  Comic structure is simply dramatic structure but MORE SO: neater, shorter, faster.  Don't attempt comedy until you are really expert in structuring dramatic material.


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PROPS are the director's key to the design of 'incidental business':  unspoken suggestions for behaviour that can prevent 'Theatricality'.

The writer should consider this as well.

A character in isolation is hard to make dramatic.  Drama usually involves CONFLICT.  If the conflict is internal, then the dramatist needs to personify it though the clash with other individuals.

Self-pity in a character does not evoke sympathy.

BEWARE OF SYMPATHY between characters.  That is the end of drama.

excerpts from 'On Film-making' by Alexander Mackendrick.  Edited by Paul Cronin.