Screenwriting Concept

UNIVERSALITY

A movie concept worked around universal themes simply reaches more people.

One that touches a "universal truth that goes beyond culture, race, age, or geographic location" (see Syd Field on concept) simply has a broader appeal. Because such movies have the potential to move and change more people, they are more likely to get produced in the first place. It's as simple as that.

This means your movie should aim its appeal at men and women, young and old, at home and abroad, if you want your movie script to sell, and to reach a broad audience. Reading the enduring stories, especially the classics, acquaints you with universal themes and eternal truths, and shows you how to relay them without the audience realizing that's what we're doing.

UNIVERSAL THEMES IN LITERATURE:
  • A human beingís confrontation with nature
  • A human beingís lack of humanity
  • A rebellious human beingís confrontation with a hostile society
  • An individualís struggle toward understanding, awareness, and/or spiritual enlightenment
  • An individualís conflict between passion and responsibility
  • The human glorification of the past/ rejection of the past
  • The tension between the ideal and the real
  • Conflict between human beings and machines
  • The impact of the past on the present
  • The inevitability of fate
  • The evil of unchecked ambition
  • The struggle for equality
  • The loss of innocence/disillusionment of adulthood
  • The conflict between parents and children
  • The making of an artist in a materialistic society
  • The clash between civilization and the wilderness
  • The clash between appearance and realities
  • The pain of love (or what passes for it)
  • The perils or rewards of carpe diem

GREATER PERSPECTIVE:

  • COMMANDMENTS (1997), starring Aidan Quinn, wends its comic story around the breaking of the Ten Commandments.
  • SE7EN (1995), starring Brad Pitt, works a crime story around the Seven Deadly Sins.

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