Februaruy 19, 2011 – How Theme Inspires Screenplays

How can a film leave a lasting impression? It starts with a strong screenplay with clear themes that resonate with an audience. We will take a look at a variety of films and filmmakers to see what themes are prevalent in landmark films and over a filmmaker’s career, to help inspire your own screenplays.

The reason some films speak to a generation is because the audience can identify with the themes they see. The theme of the struggle to find oneself is seen in The Graduate, Five Easy Pieces, and Fight Club — three films from three different decades that encompass a theme that speaks to each generation. The Shawshank Redemption initially failed at the box office, but soon built an audience on DVD because the theme of hope and friendship spoke to people. Spike Lee’s films always have a multitude of themes that drive the story, one of them being friendship, seen in Do the Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, and Summer of Sam. Alienation is a prevalent theme in all of Todd Haynes’ films, from Safe to I’m Not There. One of the prevailing themes in Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream is loneliness, giving Ellen Burstyn a career performance and memorable monologue. We will discuss other independent and foreign films as well.

Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss their scripts to help determine the important themes. What is it that you want to say with your script? What ideas are you trying to get across? These are the questions we’ll address in order to help strengthen your screenplays in order to leave a lasting impact on your audience.

Judd Taylor currently works in development in Hollywood. Before Hollywood, Judd worked in development for several independent film companies in New York City including Ovie Entertainment, where he was story editor, GreeneStreet Films and Archer Entertainment. He also worked production on several independent films, including Awake, attended film festivals with producers, including the Cannes Film Festival, and was involved in marketing, budgets, and overhead deals. He is founder of The Screenplay Services SM where he’s a Development Script Consultant for screenwriters and producers, helping clients all across the US, from Hollywood to New York, and internationally, including Australia.

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