Writing a Contained Story

With the coronavirus pandemic showing no signs of ending soon, you can bet that life likely will never return back to the way it was for a while. Even if the coronavirus were to disappear overnight, people will still feel squeamish about gathering together in crowds until more time can pass to show that it’s safe.

With that in mind, Hollywood movie production has been drastically affected. Big crowd scenes are out in favor of scenes involving fewer people in both in front of the camera and behind. That means what Hollywood is looking for right now are movies that can be filmed during a pandemic.

Even without a pandemic, it’s a good idea to write a story based on budgetary concerns. Given a choice between a story that will involve car crashes, airplane stunts, and computer-generated images, or a story that can be shot in an ordinary house or building, guess which one will be more appealing if both stories are equally interesting?

The lower the budget for creating a movie, the easier it can be made. The highest the cost for creating a movie, the riskier it will be to make. That’s just simple economics.

So when writing a screenplay, keep it simple. Think how you might film your screenplay if you had nothing but a shoestring budget. To really learn how to film a movie on a budget, read Robert Rodriguez’s “Rebel Without a Crew,” which explains how he filmed “El Mariachi” with a $7,000 budget.

Rather than rely on special effects or custom sets, Robert Rodriguez focused on telling a compelling story within an ordinary setting. If you watch “El Mariachi,” you’ll see that despite the low budget, the film doesn’t look like a low budget film but looks professional.

Even better, the story in “El Mariachi” is far more interesting than multi-million dollar blockbusters that Hollywood churns out regularly. The lessons is clear. More money never equals better movies.

So start writing screenplays that won’t cost much to film. The lower the budget, the more likely your screenplay can be produced and the more creative you have to be in writing, which can only help you become a better screenwriting in the first place.

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