Friday, 27 April 2018

5 Tips From Avengers: Infinity War - How To Write Ensemble Film

The epic blockbuster that is  AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR has been called the most anticipated movie of 2018. As a huge Marvel fan personally, I know I appreciate the films for not only the allure and shine of the superheroes and fight scenes, but because of their human relationships with one another, and often flawed roots. After seeing Infinity War, I believe the film is brilliant example of how to do ensemble film the right way! FYI - There are NO spoilers in this post #Thanosdemandsyoursilence


Thrusting your characters straight into an event, action, situation will be the hook to draw your audience engaged.
  • Don't start at the beginning - by introducing your characters during the action, the audience are instantly thrown into a situation with them and are able to decipher who these characters are by their reaction to what's happening around them. 
  • Show don't tell - Refine and focus on the most IMPORTANT elements of what you want the audience to see/feel. Don't make it dialogue heavy, for example - can this be portrayed by a look instead?
  • Less is more - Keep it engaging, don't get bogged down. You want to instantly draw the audience into your world. Don't be afraid of the white space, you don't need to fill the page to make a bold statement. 


Give the audience real characters to care about, and their relationships with the other characters should have emotional weight to the audience too. 
  • The stakes are high - think about why the audience should care about these characters, what is the story building towards? The BIG climax. 
  • Every action has a consequence - It doesn't matter what genre you're writing, the characters in your story must be serving the story. Their actions must have consequences, good or bad to keep the audiences invested and on the edge of their seat. 
  • Fully developed characters - Audiences can lose interest rapidly if they pick up on lazy character development. Make them believe in their relationships, feelings and fears by portraying relatable elements to the audience & make your characters INDIVIDUAL and DISTINCTIVE from one another. You don't need pages of backstory to achieve this, look at recent Marvel hit Black Panther - audiences had only briefly met T'challa once before his solo film. 


The characters must face more than the cliche stereotypical villain, or their fight to overcome the odds will not be engaging, interesting or fulfilling to the story or audience. 
  • Even bad guys have their reasons - Give your villain feelings and reasons for his motives, this allows the audience to see why the villain operates this way - portraying the same emotional loss/weight in the attempt to succeed as the heroes of your story. 
  • The end is near and WHY we should care - With real motive and reasons, the villain has just as much to lose if they don't succeed. Make your end game something worthwhile for your characters, WHY do they care - WHAT will happen if they don't win? 


As your story progresses, your characters should be evolving too. Where is their journey taking them and how are they dealing with this, does it affect their choices or interactions with others?
  • Casualties and consequences - as mentioned above, the battle against the big bad needs to have serious consequences. If it's a fairytale given that the heroes will ALWAYS prevail against their enemies, the audience will know this and NOT be invested in your story. 
  • Filler characters need not apply - In every scene every character that's involved should be there for a REASON. Filler characters are NOT serving or driving your story. 


Writing for  an ensemble cast is no easy feat, so take time writing your story arc and figuring out how each character can play into that. 

  • Solo or Groups or Both - How are these character interactions going to take place? Will some endure this journey alone, or move forward as individual groups meeting later on? Decide on a course of action and plot the narrative before you start writing.  Without a map (your detailed plan of the narrative plot), these characters will get lost.
So, if you're thinking about an ensemble cast for your next project - I hope these tips have helped! And if you haven't seen Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War yet, I suggest you do so immediately. 



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