Is My Screenplay Idea Cinematic? Test It Here.

Yes, your screenplay idea is kick-ass but is it suited to the film medium?

Picture this.  You’re sweated blood for months to complete your baby only to hear “it’s not cinematic.”

Now maybe it’s the way you’ve written it OR maybe the idea wasn’t particularly cinematic to start with. But you, clever writer, can avoid all that nonsense by testing your idea against the following BEFORE you start writing.

  1. Does the story idea lend itself to being told in images? (Hopefully, as cinema is story told in moving pictures.)
  2. Does it contain an active main character who does stuff as opposed to think about stuff?
  3. Does the story rely on dialogue to push it forward? (If you answered yes, this idea might be better suited to theatre or TV.)
  4. Is the protagonist’s goal something external and tangible? (If it’s an internal goal – brace yourself for a challenging writing experience or perhaps consider writing a novel/short story.)
  5. Is the protagonist’s “crisis” or “big problem” the biggest challenge they’ve had to deal with?
  6. Can it be solved in the time frame of a standard film? (Films tend to be about problems that are immediate, acute and solvable; TV tends to be about problems that are chronic and unsolvable.)
  7. Is the idea primarily about exploring a theme or making a political statement? (If so, it may be better suited to documentary/ experimental short film/theatre/poetry.)
  8. Does the idea require lots of changing locations, time periods and a cast of thousands? (Unless you’re involved with a squillionaire producer or patron – this idea might find more love as a novel.)
  9. Does the idea imply an obvious core conflict?
  10. Is there something significant at stake – i.e. what happens if the main character doesn’t achieve their goal? If the answer is “not very much” then why is this a story worth telling?
  11. Does the premise or idea have audience appeal? (Is there an audience who will want to see this?)
  12. Can your idea be easily described as a specific genre or hybrid genre?  (If not, let’s talk…)

Like some feedback on your idea? I offer a One Pager & Logline Assessment service you will find invaluable.

“I can pick up a screenplay and flip through the pages. If all I see is dialog, dialog, dialog, I won’t even read it. I don’t care how good the dialog is — it’s a moving picture. It has to move all the time… It’s not the stage. A movie audience doesn’t have the patience to sit and learn a lesson…”
Robert Evans – The Biggest Mistake Writers Make 

More questions about your screenplay?  Drop me a line.

Need some screenwriting training?  Check out my workshops.