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Brit Scribe Dan Bronzite To Helm Thriller ‘Urge’

Filed under: News by Dan @ 8:02 pm on July 4, 2013

British screenwriter Dan Bronzite, best known for penning Working Title’s teen horror ‘Long Time Dead’ starring Marsha Thomason, Alec Newman and Lukas Haas, has been attached to direct the urban psychological thriller ‘Urge’ from his original screenplay based on the story he developed with the film’s producer Sam Alani. This will be his feature directorial debut. Alani produced indie-comedy ‘Booked Out’ and horror ‘Young, High and Dead’ due to hit theaters this month.

The story centers around a young medical student who, following a death in the family, loses his mind and grip on reality. The project is scheduled to shoot early 2014 in London.

Bronzite’s teen horror ‘Do or Die’ is currently in development with Michael Kuhn’s Qwerty Films. He is repped in the UK by Nick Marston of Curtis Brown.

What is the Time Frame of Your Screenplay?

Filed under: Dan Bronzite's Script Tips by Dan @ 2:45 pm on December 26, 2011

When you first get the idea for a story it will probably focus around an interesting character, event, act three plot twist, high concept or thrilling action sequence, but one thing we do not normally consider at the start of the creative writing process is the time frame of the piece. Is your story set in a single day?  During the course of a week?  A month? Or even over several years?  The time frame you choose will have a significant impact on how you tell your story and the pacing of the narrative.

Clarifying the timeline of your story right from the start will save you a great deal of time and effort in rewrites further down the road when you ultimately discover that you have either tried to squeeze too much information into your script or conversely need more scenes to pad it out.  But even if we put the technicalities of the time frame aside, choosing a time frame to suit the genre or story can actually enhance the drama.

Think of a film like John Badham’s Nick of Time in which Johnny Depp has only ninety minutes to save his six-year-old daughter.  And then there’s the excellent TV series 24 which not only uses the time frame of a single day to heighten the tension and suspense but also as a stylistic device by presenting multiple events that are happening in various locations simultaneously through split-screen.

When you plan your script, consider what will be the best time frame for your story.  There’s nothing wrong with having a drama take place over many years.  This will of course slow the overall pacing of the piece but that may be appropriate to your story choice and help an audience identify with your characters as they develop.  However, would the same time frame work for an action movie?  It may, so long as you have given it some thought at the start, understand the possible obstacles your chosen time frame may introduce and create some innovative solutions to these hurdles.

Remember, there are no hard and fast rules and every story is different, principally because every screenwriter has their own voice.  This is what makes screenwriting so interesting.  Just be aware of how important time frame is to storytelling and how the wrong choice at the start could create a mountain of problems either for you as a writer or for an audience trying to engage with your tale.

Does your Story have a Theme?

Filed under: Dan Bronzite's Script Tips by Dan @ 1:48 pm on August 28, 2011

Theme is something writers frequently forget about during the script writing process simply because they are often focused on the other important and often daunting tasks of character development, plot design, act structure and dialogue, but theme is the glue that binds your entire screenplay and must always be well considered.

Many writers like to shoot from the hip and don’t even outline their story before jumping into a full script, and that’s cool, whatever works for you – BUT, that’s no excuse for not sitting down with your completed first draft or even revised second draft and taking the time to analyze it on various storytelling levels with theme being right at the top of the list.

Ideally you would think about it right from the get-go since the theme of a story should permeate through your entire screenplay and influence the shaping of characters, your plot and definitely dialogue.  The truth is, however, that sometimes we, as writers, dot not really know the true theme of our story until the end.  And other times we still do not recognize it and it is up to someone else to point it out to us.  However you discover the theme, make sure you at least try to find it because a story without a theme is like a pastry without egg – you’ll have all the other ingredients which taste great by themselves but you’ll have nothing to bind them together.

Theme can be many things.. Love vs. duty.  The consequences of pride.  Deep-rooted regret from never telling someone how you truly feel.  The atrocities of war and its many forgotten, unsung heroes.  Whatever it is, it is crucial to have a central theme and your story and characters around it.  It is the spine of your script and without it readers and an audience will notice that something is missing or that the characters do not ring true.  Especially important is the dialogue your central characters speak since this should also reflect the theme – through what is said and sometimes more importantly through what is left unspoken.

The great thing about ulteimately pin-pointing your story’s theme, especially if you only stumble upon it late in the day during the first draft, is that sometimes it turns out to be that final element that suddenly puts everything else into place, like the missing piece of a puzzle.  It may be that when you realize your theme, nothing changes.  But more often than not, understanding your theme instantly throws a whole new light on everything you have written and normally leads to some frantic yet exciting rewrites of scenes and dialogue to cement the expression of that theme throughout your screenplay.

Don’t Have Too Many Characters

Filed under: Dan Bronzite's Script Tips by Dan @ 1:43 pm on August 8, 2011

When you’re planning your screenplay make sure you only include the characters you need in order to tell your story.  It may sound like an obvious statement but many writers make this mistake because they just don’t think about it.  It can easily happen.  You outline your story, flesh out the arc of your protagonist, clarify your theme and then dive into the script scene by scene.  The problem arises because as you write event to event you simply introduce characters as they are required and before you know it you may have multiple voices all singing the same song.

Sometimes you may not even realize that this is a problem, let alone the problem with your screenplay and it’s usually left for others with a keen eye to point out.  So if you are certain that each character you create is crucial to your story, just take a little time at the end of the first draft to read through with this task in mind and double-check you haven’t doubled up on essentially the same supporting character.

And watch out for “sounding-boards” – you know, the best friend who literally just waits around off-screen for the hero to enter frame and unload their hopes and fears.  We all have them in our lives so I’m not saying get rid of them, just make sure you handle each “best friend” or “work colleague” in their own way so they have their own voice and own life so we, as an audience, don’t see that you’ve simply invented this guy or gal as a shoulder to cry on.  Make us feel that they have their own lives and even their own character arcs.  That’s right, just because their role in your mind is simply to be a sounding board, doesn’t mean you can’t develop their own journey.

Ask yourself, who is this person?  Why are they in this scene?  What do they contribute to the scene, protagonist/antagonist, plot and movie?  Are they merely a sounding board for you or your central characters?  If so, that’s not necessarily a bad thing so long as their dialogue and actions are handled deftly, but it is a bad thing if their dialogue is on the nose and expositional.  And it’s a really bad thing if they take on the same basic role as another supporting character, i.e. propping up the lead.

If you do find a few characters that don’t really have their own unique voice and personality or even life outside of the movie then perhaps you should consider either rewriting their dialogue and role, cutting them, or combining them with another character who is more clearly defined.

The point to remember with movie writing is that you only have so much time to tell your story – so use it wisely.  Don’t waste screen time on a character that is just there to plug a gap in an awkward silence or tell the audience the plot.  Again, there are always exceptions but generally you need to be succinct in your writing and that means limiting the number of speaking parts to those that are absolutely necessary.

Character Arcs are the Foundation of an Engaging Story

Filed under: Dan Bronzite's Script Tips by Dan @ 1:23 pm on July 9, 2011

So what is a character arc, you ask?  Sounds complicated.  Well, it doesn’t have to be, although a complicated character arc may be just what your screenplay needs. A character arc could also be described as a journey that a person goes on during the course of your movie, or the development in their personality they experience or the evolution of an aspect of their persona – such as emotional, physical or psychological.  All of the above are valid character arcs that could help to engage an audience.

Why does a character need an arc?  Well, it may be intentional that your protagonist (hero or heroine) doesn’t, and if so, that’s fine, so long as it is clear that is the case and that the rest of the story and theme support this choice.  But more often than not a film will lose an audience if the lead character does not go on some kind of transformational journey.

Think of Luke Skywalker in the first Star Wars movie and also in the complete franchise.  He starts off as a naive farm boy with foolish hopes of exploring the solar system. He struggles with authority and even the notion of responsibility and “The Force”. But as the story progresses, obstacles are thrown in his way which he must summon up an inner strength he did not know he had in order to overcome, and by the end of the movie he is living his dream, fighting villains and saving a Princess.  That’s his arc.  That’s his journey.  Without it the movie wouldn’t have been so engaging.

And what’s more, he’s not the only one in the story with an arc – and that’s a key point.  When writing a script, don’t make the mistake of focusing all of your attention on the hero’s arc.  Sometimes it is equally as important to plan an arc for the antagonist (villain) and supporting characters so that they too read as three-dimensional, real-life characters that have their own lives outside of the movie we see and that they are not simply there to support the hero in his quest.

To sum up: if you want your audience to truly identify with your protagonist then create a complex journey for them to take. Everybody has hopes, fears, dreams and flaws.  Make sure your central character has too.  What is their goal?  Is it emotional or physical?  What do they really want? How will they change throughout the story?  What obstacles force them to change?  Ask yourself these important questions as the narrative progresses so that each key event of the story not only serves the plot but is intrinsically linked to the overall “theme” and your central character arc.

Vary your Movie Script Locations

Filed under: Dan Bronzite's Script Tips by Dan @ 1:07 pm on May 30, 2011

In your everyday life, do you sit in one spot and talk to everybody you meet in that same place?  Okay, maybe you do but unless that’s the point of the story you’re writing it’s basically not gonna be the most interesting thing to watch.

When an audience invests their time in a movie they do so to escape and be entertained and part of the way an audience is entertained is by the way you structure your story and develop your characters. Locations are key to character development fro screenwriters because they tell us a lot about a character without words.  They educate us visually about how they live, their habits, where they work, what kind of people they work with and what they experience in their world.

So with that in mind, make sure you use the locations in your screenplay to develop your characters but also use your locations as a means of story progression and pace.

Pace?  What do you mean, “pace”?  I hear you ask.

Well, it’s simple really.  You ever watched a movie where there’s a big tense scene with two people arguing loudly for about five minutes?  And then one of the characters goes outside just to get away from the conflict?  Well, that’s a change of location.  And depending on your choice of location, it may change the pace of your movie and your audience’s engagement.

If the character slams the door and goes into his/her room, well, it’s a pretty static choice of location but it may be the best choice for your character and the story.  If however the character kicks the front door open and bursts outside into the rain then maybe sits alone in the woods while he/she gets drenched.. that’s something different.  Your character could also jump in his/her car and screech off down the road.

Each decision you make about location has an impact on the way the audience will react and the emotions they will feel.  In fact, using the “driving away in the car” as an example, sometimes this actually has a direct impact on an audience, especially if the argument we talked about happened at night and then we cut to the next morning as your character drives off somewhere to get away from it all.  This sometimes causes individuals in an audience to shuffle in their seats, since they subconsciously feel the story is progressing and it’s time to get themselves ready for the next chapter.

So if you find yourself writing your scenes based in the same place then take my word for it, the audience WILL get bored, especially if it’s just “talking heads” — two characters chatting with no action.  Why not try transferring that conversation to a swimming pool while your characters are doing laps?  Or in a moving bus or even on an escalator in a shopping mall.  Use the location as a device in your screenwriting and if you do it cleverly, nobody will ever know what you are up to!

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