Here I plan to discuss the influences on my approach to screenwriting and share some inspirations and principles I hold.
Somebody wants something very badly and is having enormous difficulty getting it – this is the essence of all great cinema according to the late Frank Daniel. Frank Daniels was a Czech filmmaker who escaped to America. Here, he established screenwriting programmes at Columbia University in New York, the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, the Sundance Institute and the University of Southern California. His techniques have influenced many of the great American screenwriters and directors since the late 1960s.
Frank Daniel’s Sequence Approach offers a way of engaging an audience and keeping them emotionally involved until the end. It divides a film into sequences, each sequence can be viewed as a chapter, asking and partially resolving a dramatic question with a twist that ratchets up the tension for the next sequence. Ideally each act, sequence and scene within each sequence begins with the status quo, rises in dramatic action and ends in resolution with a new challenge that sparks the next scene, sequence or act.
I trained with professors who had worked with Frank and I find this approach to thinking about storytelling in film, with its focus on audience, extremely useful.