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format Format help

Hi All,

Previously my latest thriller/horror screenplay was layered with flashbacks from different time periods throughout, and from different people/perspectives.

However, I now find that following feedback, I need to cut down the flashbacks and bring most of it to real-time with not so many cuts to enhance emotional attachment etc.

So now I plan to have an 18 page backstory (1960s) at the start of the screenplay, instead of being layered throughout. Then going to present day around pg.20 (with a final short revealing flashback later in the script).


Is this far too long for a backstory? Is there some sort of rule that prohibits this? (for example flash backs normally start from someone telling a story, or remembering something).

I have been thinking for days how the main characters could actively reveal the back story, but this is the best I could come up with...

The exorcist does a similar thing, with the archaeology dig of the cursed artifact at the beginning, although mine would involve more dialogue and character arcs etc...

I know this isn't the clearest of queries, but any pointers are greatly appreciated.

Thank you

Joe
 
Do you have enough happening in the backstory that it stands alone as the first act of your screenplay?
If not, that's what I'd work on - make that part as interesting and tight as possible.
Hi,
Thank you for your reply!
Interesting!! Hmm I would say it may have too much going on if anything, it was split up in segmants before and spread out through out the script, and now it's all together it may seem rushed and squashed... I agree it should be as tight as possible..

Thank you
 
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directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
indiePRO
I don't see why it couldn't work.

If that first 18 pages is interesting and compelling you will hook the reader.
And that's what's most important, isn't it?

On the other hand if the first 18 pages feels like “backstory” then it will likely
be something the reader will just want to speed through to get to your story.

Your “The Exorcist” example is an interesting one. I find it just a little too long.
It's interesting but not very compelling – other than the excellent filmmaking.
I don't think I'd like or need another 10 pages of that.


But a longer “backstory” could work well. I guess you could think of “It: Chapter One”
as 2 hour 15 minute backstory.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
A Bronx Tale may be a good example, where young Calogero (9) is in the first half, and older Calogero (17) is in the second half. That's some pretty long backstory, if you consider it that.
 
I don't see why it couldn't work.

If that first 18 pages is interesting and compelling you will hook the reader.
And that's what's most important, isn't it?

On the other hand if the first 18 pages feels like “backstory” then it will likely
be something the reader will just want to speed through to get to your story.

Your “The Exorcist” example is an interesting one. I find it just a little too long.
It's interesting but not very compelling – other than the excellent filmmaking.
I don't think I'd like or need another 10 pages of that.


But a longer “backstory” could work well. I guess you could think of “It: Chapter One”
as 2 hour 15 minute backstory.
Thanks for the reply,

I agree The Exorcist backstory is not very compelling. I personally dislike it if anything, but I guess the foreign land and ancient artifact adds to the scares and 'unknown'...

'It' is a good example. Except that backstory is much more directly linked than mine.

Thanks for your comments, I'm feeling more confident about structuring it the beginning back story way.
 
A Bronx Tale may be a good example, where young Calogero (9) is in the first half, and older Calogero (17) is in the second half. That's some pretty long backstory, if you consider it that.
Thank you for your example. I'll have a look for the screenplay and see how it's formatted (e.g. Are the character names written 'Younger Calogero' etc.)

'A place beyond the pines' just popped into my mind too, which is probably split down the middle between backstory and forestory.

Thanks for your suggestion
 
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