Rodriguez broke into Hollywood with his film “El Mariachi,” which is about a mariachi singer who comes to town at the same time as an assassin who carries his weapons in a guitar case. When the assassin gets killed, the mariachi accidentally gets this guitar case filled with weapons, and now all the assassin’s enemies come after the mariachi, thinking he’s the assassin.
Surprisingly, the mariachi finds he has a talent for killing and winds up becoming an even more effective assassin than the original assassin. Amazingly, Robert Rodriguez filmed this entire movie on a budget of $7,000 and it’s far more entertaining than any multi-million dollar disaster that Hollywood parades out every weekend.
The problem is that you can never tell a great story without a great story. No amount of sex, violence, and special effects will ever overcome a poor story structure in the first place. Rather than pile on more layers of special effects and stunts, Hollywood would do better to simply take their time to write a great screenplay.
As budding screenwriters, take your time. While it’s natural to want your screenplay produced as quickly as possibly, it won’t happen if your story sucks. Focus on telling a great story first and think of keeping costs down to a minimum as much as possible.
In 2017, a Japanese film called “One Cut of the Dead” came out and earned millions of dollars along with rave reviews. Yet the film only cost $25,000 to make.
“One Cut of the Dead” relies on structure to tell a great story, which is about a director filming a zombie movie when a real zombie apocalypse breaks out. Now the director keeps the cameras rolling to capture the real look of fear and terror on the actors’ faces since it will make his film look more authentic.
Movies like “El Mariachi” and “One Cut of the Dead” aren’t great because they’re low budget, but because they tell great stories that no amount of special effects can replace.
Special effects are secondary to a great story, so focus on your story first and foremost. That’s the heart of your screenplay anyway.