Jennine Lanouette On Screenplay Structure In Independent Films

Jennine Lanouette On Screenplay Structure In Independent Films

Filmmaker Magazine has a fantastic article written by Jennine Lanouette focused on screenplay structure.  In particular, the article is focused on the freedom to experiment with new structure when writing independent films.

READ | On Finding New Screenplay Structures In Independent Films

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“Independent film, exists, by definition, for the very purpose of straying from conventional models.” (Filmmaker Magazine)

Lanouette makes an inspiring point here.  What better medium to experiment with unique and original structure than indie film?  You have complete freedom to write a screenplay without adhering to traditional 3 act structure.  You can build on it, take chances and evolve your skills as a storyteller.

Quentin Tarantino is listed among others has prime examples of the benefits of such an approach to independent film screenplays.  After all, no one is forcing you to follow specific plot beats.  This is your chance to write what feels natural for YOUR screenplay.  Who knows what you’ll come up with!


It’s an inspiring thought to say the least.

“It actually doesn’t matter which structural model you use as long as you have some kind of underlying structural system to your drama. You start with Three Act Structure and go from there. When you apply your structural system consistently throughout your story, the viewer will unconsciously derive security in knowing there is an underlying structure at work. All the different shapes and sizes these structures take is where the interesting conversation lies in screenwriting for indie film.” (Filmmaker Magazine)

Obviously, you taking chances is also a risk.  You could end up confusing the reader with an unstructured mess.  Even though you’re playing with your screenplay’s structure, you still need a coherent draft that readers can follow in the end.  This is your challenge as a screenwriter.

“For me, story structure starts to get really interesting when you find that there is also a theme with its own A-to-B progression. The place at which we arrive at the end of the theme story is a new understanding of human nature, society or the world.” (Filmmaker Magazine)

Remember, you’re in charge of your screenplay.  It’s YOUR cinematic vision.  You’re the architect of this world.  Tell the best story you can with whatever structure works best.  If you truly know the story, the reader will happily follow along.

The entire article is definitely work checking out.  Click the links above, read the article…  Then write!

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