CHAPTER 4

Story Structure

One of the best ways to gauge the status of a film in progress is to ask the filmmaker to tell you what it's about. If he or she immediately launches into a lengthy description of the opening shot or an amazing scene—and this happens all the time—the film is probably in trouble. Visuals serve a story; they are not the story. As filmmaker Ronald Blumer has said, “Film is not a visual medium, it's a story medium.”

In previous chapters, we've looked at what a story is. In this chapter, we'll explore ways to see the story at its most basic level, its structure. One good way to do this is through pitching—not just at the start of a project, but throughout shooting and especially editing. Pitching forces you to take everything ...

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