CP02 | Story Research #1

1969 was a point in history where the socio-political landscape of American changed rapidly; this was brought about by two things – music and the Vietnam War (both of which intersected with each other massively). My fascination for Vietnam War and the passion I have for the music of that period has inspired me to create a story about it. Not only will my script highlight the horror and confusion of the war, but it will also be a tribute to the rock music which impacted American so greatly, music which sadly has been reduced to banal contexts like background music for supermarkets.


My initial idea is based on a pirate radio show that was broadcast in Vietnam in 1971 called Radio First Termer (more research into this will come later). My story however, will be set in 1969, and will follow the events of 2 anti-war radio show presenters who, while undergoing a live broadcast, get attacked by members of the Vietcong. In a frenzy of panic and tension they attempt to plead for their lives, all with the American public listening in suspense. In order to achieve my goal of creating an engaging story I have conducted research into how to create a successful story.

Linda Cowgill (2009), a screen and television writer, who teaches at Loyola Marymount University and the Los Angeles Film School, made a website which lists 10 rules for creating a successful short script. The points I found most useful are;

  • “Set up your script in the first 60 seconds” (Cowgill, 2009) – Here Cowgill expresses the importance to establish the conflict as soon as possible, and in the case of a short 10 minute script, she claims should be done in 60 seconds. For my own story I plan on dedicating the first page of the script to setting the scene; this includes telling the audience these men are in Vietnam, they are radio hosts, and the VC are about to attack them.
  • “Make sure your conflict escalates” (Cowgill, 2009) – This is one of the major points to a story; the audience needs to understand what a characters goal is, and what is preventing them from getting it. In my own story the protagonist’s goal will be trying to secure his life, and his obstacle will be the Vietcong.
  • “Develop the conflict in one main incident” (Cowgill, 2009) – This point is much more applicable to short films, as 10-15 minutes isn’t enough time to explore the films ‘universe’. Cowgill (2009) claims many short films develop conflict in one incident to great effect, my own incident will be the VC attacking them and how they try to deal with that.
  • “[you’re going to need] various obstacles or complications for your hero to face” (Cowgill, 2009) – Here she describes how films longer than 5 minutes need to have multiple obstacles, however in the case of my own film it currently only has one. In order to conform to Cowgill’s list I will have to incorporate another complication(s), this could be the presenters holding off the VC, then being breached; or even they have to save the life of another person.
  • “Make sure your ending is the best thing about your great film” (Cowgill, 2009) – Cowgill claims the ending is the most important part of the film, as it is what your audiences will be remembering. For my own script I plan on creating an ending which shocks audiences, and keeps them on the edge of their seat. This will be achieved by the standoff between the presenters and VC to end badly.

Linda Cowgill’s tips provided me with some great beginning advice for creating a short script. Her tips have been extra useful this early on in the developmental stage before I become too attached to an idea. From here more detailed research will be needed to materialize my story further before I create a script outline.

Cowgill, L. 2009. Ten Rules For Writing A Succesful Short Script. [Online]. [Accessed 9 February 2017]. Available from: http://filmmakeriq.com/2009/07/ten-rules-for-writing-a-successful-short-script/


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