3 Filmmaking Tips You Can Learn From Skyscraper

Tuesday 18 September 2018

This Summer's blockbuster Skyscraper drew some criticism for being predictable which I think was unfair. Personally, I loved it and found it to be an entertaining, action packed and surprisingly emotional film - but whether you were a fan or not - I think it has some great filmmaking lessons to teach us all! 

(Checkout the link at the end of the article from Script Slug to read the Skyscraper script!)

Simple Story, BIG Set-up

The story is essentially very simple (which most great stories are) - An expert security officer must infiltrate the tallest skyscraper in the world to save his family trapped inside by criminals. 

Oh, and did I mention the building's on fire too?

The opening sets the story up with our hero monumentally failing (a spoiler I won't reveal) which costs him greatly. This immediately ups the stakes for the audience as we are meant to put our trust in him to save the day. 

He is an uncertain hero, can and will he be able to rise to the occasion next time? As a storyteller, keep the audience on their toes with a hero that is real. 

Sometimes they will fail, but that's part of their redemption story. Your heroes should be real - a weakness or flaw to make them relatable, sympathetic to the audience so they can question - what would I DO in that scenario?

Set Pieces For Action Scenes

The action set pieces in Skyscraper are some of the most visually stunning I've seen. Considering it all takes place within a skyscraper, you'd assume it would limit the opportunities for these. 


Get creative in your own story, HOW can you make it visually stunning whilst also serving the narrative? Does it aid as a challenge for your character to overcome?

 Think of ways to incorporate an interesting experience for the audience. 

For example: One of the biggest set pieces for Skyscraper was set in an interactive vast room at the top of the building (seen above), which later serves as the background to the epic final battle.  

The interactive setting helps add to the tension because the characters are unsure of who and what they are seeing/running from. 

Consequences For The Characters

Very early on in the film, it's established that the son has asthma - which he needs an inhaler for. This is cleverly drawn on much later in the film once the fire spreads throughout the building. 

With the physical threat of running from criminals AND being stuck in a burning building, the stakes are RAISED EVEN MORE because the son is in IMMEDIATE danger with the smoke inhalation. 

Each character goes through something traumatic during this film, proving that they are not just going-though-the-motions of the action sequences. The characters face very real consequences if they don't succeed whatever challenge they're trying to overcome. 

Make sure your characters are NOT just for 'decoration' - make them serve a reason for going through these circumstances.

Skyscraper script is sourced from Script Slug - available to download & read:

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