Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Tropes You'll Need To Know When Writing Your Dystopian Movie Script

Handy hints from a 2014 post:

If you score we would appreciate a producer credit and maybe a point or two of participation.

From Vanity Fair:


The Complete List: Everything You Will Find in a Dystopian Movie
The box office’s obsession with teen-centric dystopian films (all teens think the world revolves around them, especially teens trapped in evil oppressive societies) rages steadily onward, thanks to this week’s new release The Giver. Like The Hunger Games and Divergent, the Phillip Noyce film features pulls from some well-read source material: this time around, it’s Lois Lowry’s classic novel of the same name.

Lowry’s book has got more years on it than either Divergent or The Hunger Games, which are still basically in literary infancy, making it far more similar to other standards of the genre, the kind liable to be taught in classrooms, not spawning giddy sold-out crowds at the local multiplex. The hallmarks of the novel are more in line with other classics such as Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World, books that all made the leap to feature films long before the name “Katniss Everdeen” was on anyone’s lips (and conceivably before the name was even invented). The Giver is the kind of dystopian novel you’d find on a reading list decades ago, but it’s now been gussied up to appeal to a mass audience, thanks to casting choices that include Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites, Meryl Streep, and even Taylor Swift.

Will audiences turn out to see the story of a boy saddled with all the memories and emotions of his future society? Or will they just cobble the movie together based on what came before it? See, The Giver comes from a long line of big-screen dystopias that, over 40 years or so, sure start to look the same after a while.

The Government Is Evil

If there’s one trait that holds together great swathes of dystopian features, it’s a healthy fear of the government. And no, not just a vague sense that your rights might be threatened by your elected overlords, but the deep and unshakable truth that your entire life has been dictated by whole groups of people who ostensibly have your best interests at heart. Whether they’re telling you what to do and who to marry or forcing you to battle to the death as part of a televised event or just plain old killing you off in your prime, dystopian governments are perennial big bads who don’t care if you’re paying their salaries with your taxes.

Check out: A Clockwork Orange, Brave New World, Brazil, Divergent, the Hunger Games series, Fahrenheit 451, Gattaca, The Giver, The Handmaid’s Tale, In Time, Logan’s Run, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Soylent Green, V for Vendetta, THX 1138

Humans Aren’t on Top Anymore

Hey, if it’s not one thing, it’s the other. If it’s not evil governments oppressing the people, it’s monkeys or machines or random dudes in suits. Sometimes, it’s even humans who have evolved into something pretty gross—like the albino freaks of The Omega Man or the thirsty zombies of I Am Legend. You just can’t win.

Check out: The Planet of the Apes, Zardoz, I Am Legend, Dark City, the Terminator series, The Matrix series, The Omega Man

Really Unflattering Outfits

If the world has ended, it’s logical to assume that most of the planet’s clothing manufacturers have also gone belly up. Who has time to make rayon or polyester or silk when there are so many other things to worry about, like burning books or trying to find a snack to eat that’s not human in nature? There’s definitely no Gap around, and forget about anything high-end. Even dystopian societies that have fresh duds don’t always exhibit the best sartorial taste—everything is either uniformly boring (and just plain, well, uniform-y) or too militaristic and metal to feasibly move around in. Still worse? Scavenged clothing: necessary for protection, probably filled with bedbugs.

Check out: Snowpiercer, The Road, Battlefield Earth, Brave New World, A Clockwork Orange, THX 1138, Zardoz, the Hunger Games series
And if you have time, learn to write like William Goldman.
Two Academy awards and three other movies that didn't win: "Misery," "Maverick" and "The Princess Bride".
Here's one of his scripts:

Rocks. Cactus. The occasional tree.
Not a place you'd like to spend your summer vacation.

Now there are sounds: A WHIPPING WIND begins to get LOUDER. And in the distance, but GROWING: THUNDER.


SLOWLY, INEXORABLY, ACROSS this dead place --

-- suddenly it STOPS. We are in a Sergio Leone TIGHT CLOSEUP of just a hideous looking man. One eye looks straight ahead. The other wanders.


The wind is really kicking up --
-- suddenly, another STOP.

Another Leone CLOSEUP.

A second man. This guy makes the first one look handsome. Both his eyes work, which is an improvement. But his neck has been horribly burned as if from a noose.


LOUDER THUNDER. A storm is coming fast.


We are LOOKING AT the least appetizing of the three. Not that he's scarred, not that all his parts aren't in proper working order -- it's just that he's so damn frightening.
Not to mention huge.

This is THE ANGEL and like the other two, he is seated on a horse. And he is staring intently at something.

FROM The Angel -- we go to...

for this is who the trio is looking at.
Learn to write like that and the screenplay itself is the sales tool so you don't have to read: