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By Derek Ruth · January 25, 2010
FIVE AREAS OF SCRIPT ANALYSIS
Here is a quick checklist of the five major areas we consider when evaluating a screenplay. Each major category will be addressed, at least in passing, in our comments:
Is it original? Unique? Something we haven’t seen before?
Is it easily explained in a few words? Is it a quick pitch?
Is there a clear theme? What is the movie about?
Will the main idea of the film “grab” an audience? Is there a “hook”? Is there a reason people would want to see this movie?
Is the idea timely? Does it relate to something currently in the public awareness. Or is it something the public needs to be aware about?
Is there a strong conflict?
Are there other films with similar themes that can be used for comparison?
Does the script work “on its own terms”? It may be a schlocky, exploitive horror flick, but is it a GOOD schlocky, exploitive horror flick?
Are there elements on which to build an advertising campaign?
Are the characters believable?
Is their behavior consistent with human nature?
Is character revealed through what people do (visually) rather than what they say? (Film is a visual medium; it moves).
Is it clear who the story is about? Who are we rooting for?
Can we identify in some way with the main character (hero/protagonist)? Is he or she likable? Sympathetic? Empathetic?
Does the main character change, grow, learn, or develop?
Is the main character active or passive?
Are the supporting characters good “foils” for the protagonist?
Are the hero and the antagonist evenly matched?
What’s at stake for the main characters? What do they want/need?
Are there too many characters for the size of the story?
Is it a good story? Is it compelling? Is it involving?
Is the conflict, and what the story is about, clear in the first few pages?
Does it flow? Or are the scenes choppy or confusing?
Does it have strong narrative drive? Or does it ramble?
Does the story develop or unfold in an interesting way?
Are the scene transitions smooth or visually interesting?
Is the opening exciting?
How is the exposition handled?
Does the story “get rolling” quickly enough?
Does the second act sustain interest?
Are major characters introduced too late?
Does the climax pay off on the promise of the beginning?
Do the villains get what’s coming to them? Does the punishment fit the crime?
Does the writer “follow through” on all story lines? Do minor characters work out their problems?
Does the structure feel balanced, or is something out of place?
Is the ending satisfying?
Does it sound the way people really talk?
Is it consistent? Do people stay “in character?”
Do all the characters sound the same?
Is the dialogue appropriate to the period of the film?
If it’s supposed to be a comedy, is it funny?
Does the dialogue “track well”; that is, does one speech flow naturally into the next?
Is the script too “stagey” or too “talky”, relying too much on dialogue and not enough on visuals?
Are the speeches or monologues relatively short and easy to follow?
Would the production be prohibitively expensive? (A cast of thousands, crowd scenes, exotic locales, lots of special effects, extensive underwater or nautical sequences, etc.)
Are there any special sequences that would drive up the budget or that could be trimmed to save money?
Is a low budget a plus for the project, or will it simply look cheap?
Would “star” actors, directors, or other talent be required to make the project work?
What other films does this resemble in terms of potential budget?
Who is the intended audience for the film? Is that audience large enough to justify the cost of the picture?