4 Rules To Writing A Kick Ass Set Piece

By Armaan Uplekar

What exactly is a set piece? In a nutshell, set pieces are the kind of self-contained, high-octane moments you’ll find primarily in thriller, science-fiction and action-adventure movies. They tend to form the basis of the kind of jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring moments that make you sit up at the edge of your seat in a movie theater. They are often the centerpiece of many trailers, whether it be the collapsing football field in The Dark Knight Rises or an unbroken, death-defying skydive in Mission Impossible: Fallout.

They are, in effect, some of the most logistically difficult and expensive scenes you’ll find in a script. They are car chases, skyscraper rooftop fights, shootouts, major battles and bank heists. They are the climatic Death Star raid in A New Hope and the volcanic lightsaber battle in Revenge of the Sith. They are the kind of stand-out, no-holds-barred sequences that many genre writers dream of writing.

Which begs the question – how exactly do you write a set piece? Do it wrong and you might end up with a complex and confusing assortment of scattered story beats that fail to grab the audience’s attention. But if you pull it off right, you can deliver the kind of bravura moment that gets a reader to imagine your movie unfolding on an IMAX screen. Here are four rules to writing a kick-ass set piece your audience will be sure to remember.


Secrets of Successful Screenwriters.Self Reliance 1000x400

#14 - Self-Reliance/ Resourcefulness

The successful writers I’ve met along the way were all resourceful. They always found a way to get the job done. Whether it was finding a creative solution to plug a logistical hole in their story or finding a way to get their script read by a producer they wanted to meet, there was always a dogged determination to find the course and take action.

Writers who are destined for success don’t wait for anyone and they don’t depend on others. They don’t sign with an agent and wait for the offers to come rolling in.  They don’t win a screenplay competition and wait for the managers to call. They don’t settle for no.

Successful writers hustle; when they are not writing they are networking, researching, strategizing. Successful writers are always pushing forward. They have a goal and they are focused on it. When faced with a problem, they don’t whine, cry or complain. They work with the resources at their disposal, they are creative problem solvers, and they don’t stop until an effective solution has been found.


Write a Killer Horror Script

By Armaan Uplekar

Horror is a hot commodity. It’s a one-of-a-kind genre with a built-in fanbase. It’s led to countless quotable classics from “The Exorcist” to “The Thing” to “Rosemary’s Baby” to “The Sixth Sense” to “The Silence of Lambs”. For decades, horror has been wowing and repelling crowds with its willingness to scare, provoke and shock audiences.

Some might say that horror films are more popular than ever. Recent years have found films like “Get Out” burrow their way into the collective conscious of moviegoers around the world, while movies like “Hereditary” and “Mandy” have captured twisted imaginations and ensnared devoted fanbases. You might be able to say that public appreciation for horror films has never been higher. There’s so much conversation around what constitutes the idea of a “cinematic experience,” but what’s more cinematic than being held in thrall by the kind of surprises and thrills that horror movies have consistently offered up?

That’s not to say that making horror films is an easy undertaking – quite the contrary. Like all genres, horror has its conventions and its mainstays. With that in mind, you probably can’t help but ask yourself: how do you make your horror screenplay standout?


Secrets of Successful Screenwriters.Conviction 1000x400

Conviction is an essential quality for any commercial artist to see their vision through. Conviction is not the same as being stubborn or arrogant and should not be construed so. Stubbornness and arrogance are the ego’s outright rejection of other’s ideas and opinions. Conviction requires the open-mind we discussed previously. With an open-mind, one can put ego aside, analyze the viewpoints of others, to ultimately decide not what is best for themselves, but what is best for the project.


5 Ways to Inject Drama

By Armaan Uplekar

The word “drama” is conventionally defined as “an exciting, emotional, or an unexpected series of events or set of circumstances.” As it relates to film and writing in general, drama is the essential engine that drives all stories and it can take many shapes and forms; its Brody’s failure to protect the townspeople of Amity from a killer great white shark in Jaws. Its Michael Corleone’s decision to avenge his father’s attempted assassination in The Godfather. But one thing is for sure - drama is the cornerstone of all your favorite films and it’s what keeps you interested and engaged for two hours. Drama must be at the core of every page you write, every decision your character makes and every sequence that transpires. It doesn’t matter if you write sci-fi or comedy, period romance or western, there must be inherent drama to drive the story.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easy to stir up drama when you’re writing your own feature-length screenplay. The moments that might seem inevitable when you watch Citizen Kane or Unforgiven are anything but foregone conclusions – creating moments of intense drama are an absolute necessity to note-worthy storytelling, but they can be tricky to put into practice.

There are, however, five ways any writer can flavor their storytelling with added conflict and elevated dramatic stakes, to increase your chances of grabbing people’s attention. Here are five simple ways you can inject a healthy dose of drama into your next screenplay. 


Secrets of Successful Screenwriters. Extrovert 1000x400It is perhaps the greatest paradox of screenwriting. Writing is surely one of the most solitary, introverted jobs I can think of, and yet, the most successful writers I know can switch on the charm and be among the best networkers in the room. They have a relaxed, easy-going nature in social situations that draws people in.  They are observant, curious people watchers. But they are not watching from the corner of the room, but rather they are taking it all in as an active participant, sharing in the joy and pain of other people’s experiences.

In order to be a successful screenwriter, you must get out there, you must be affable, you must “meet and greet” and you have to know how to be “good in a room.”


7 Tips To Navigate A Complex Rewrite 1000x400

by Armaan Uplekar

You’ve written a first draft and have been making small tweaks at the script since. You’ve had some feedback from friends and family and received coverage from a couple of reputable sources. You know the script needs some work and now you’ve got some pretty killer ideas that you want to incorporate into the next draft of your script, but they are going to change things and have ripple effects throughout your story in a pretty big way. Sound familiar?

There’s a saying you’re probably familiar with – writing is rewriting. It might sound like a tired, overused platitude, but it’s also one rooted in truth for several reasons. What this expression is getting at is that writing is, fundamentally, a work in progress. It requires diligence, patience, and the willingness to revisit your ideas in order to get things right. As a result, one of the fundamental aspects of being a screenwriter is the ability to return to your work and improve upon the choices you made in your first draft.


How To Know If You Are Ready To Write

By Armaan Uplekar

There comes an inevitable point in every writer’s process where they are faced with a nagging, vital question – am I ready? Beginning your first draft is an important step in the process of finishing your screenplay, but it’s not always smooth sailing. Many writers struggle with the decision of when to actually commence their first draft.

You might compare the “pre-writing” process to the preparations you take before you go on a trip – after all, when you begin writing that initial draft, you’re going to want to make sure that you have all your bases are covered. With this in mind, here are some checklist items that you’ll want to make sure you have a handle on before you give yourself the green-light to put pen to paper, uh, finger to keyboard - on your next project.


7 Ways to Brainstorm Your Next Script 1000x400

by Armaan Uplekar

There comes a time, in every writer’s work cycle, where they find themselves on the lookout for the next great “spark.” An idea that will not only excite and invigorate their creativity, but that could potentially connect with an audience once the story is translated to the big-screen. By inverse, there’s also the inevitable period in which you, the writer, find yourself struggling to settle on what to write.

Some call it a block, some attribute it to just a part of the creative process, but the search for inspiration is something that is part and parcel of what it means to write. There are a variety of ways you might be able to get the creative juices flowing, but we’re going to dive into seven exercises and ideas you can easily implement in order to focus on your next big script.


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#8 PURPOSE

The greatest writers I know are motivated, driven and constantly wanting to know more, do more and be more. They strive for something beyond themselves. They have a strong sense of purpose and a desire to be the best.

The smartest writers consistently seek out motivation. They are driven by necessity. There is a reason why they write, and there is a reason they continue to write. There is nothing else they’d rather do.

Know your why! Know why you must write and what motivates you to write. Know what you want and how you intend to get it; not just in your story, but in your career, and out of life. Have a purpose greater than writing. Write because it transforms others, write because it transforms you, write because it is an escape, write because it is an answer. Ask yourself, why do you write? And remember, the more purposeful the answer, the better!


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