Script Tip: Reversals In Action

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wcmartell

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May 17, 2008, 11:20:17 PM5/17/08
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REVERSALS IN ACTION
by William C. Martell

Reversals are like Good News/Bad News jokes - they keep action scenes
exciting and actually help to infuse action scenes with emotions by
adding suspense and surprise. When I was a guest speaker at the
Sacramento Film Festival a few years ago, I used this scene from ROAD
WARRIOR to show how reversals work. Here's the set up: Mad Max and the
Feral Kid are in a tanker truck being chased by all manner of scumbags
in dune buggies and pick up trucks...

BAD NEWS: Three scumbags, including the mohawked WEZ, jump onto the
back of the tanker truck!

GOOD NEWS: Max swerves the tanker, ramming their dune buggies- CRASH!
- trapping them on the tanker truck.

BAD NEWS: Scumbag #1 climbs onto the roof of the truck, fires and
arrow through the roof at Max.

GOOD NEWS: It misses.

BAD NEWS: Max has to reload his shotgun.

SUSPENSE: Who will finish reloading first? Max or Scumbag #1?

GOOD NEWS: Max reloads first. Swings his shotgun up to the roof.

BAD NEWS: Scumbag #2 is on the running-board, pokes his gun through
the truck window right at Max's face!

GOOD NEWS: Max changes aim, BLASTS Scumbag #2 with his shotgun. One
down, two to go!

BAD NEWS: Scumbag #1 has reloaded his crossbow by now... Prepares to
fire!

GOOD NEWS: Max's shotgun is a double barrel... he has another shot! He
presses the gun barrel to the roof and FIRES! Blasts Scumbag #1 right
off the roof!

BAD NEWS: Mohawked Wez swings his spiked mace through the back window
of the truck cab... it slices into Max's shoulder. Ouch!

WORSE NEWS: The shotgun is empty. Time to reload!

GOOD NEWS: The Feral Kid BITES Wez. Wez lets go of Max, pulls out of
the back window.

BETTER NEWS: This gives Max time to reload the shotgun.

BAD NEWS: Mohawked Wez swings his mace through the truck's front
window, CRASH, spraying glass!

GOOD NEWS: The spiked mace barely misses Max's face.

BAD NEWS: When Max swings out of the way, he spills the shotgun
shells...

WORSE NEWS: Onto the hood of the truck, where they begin rolling to
the edge!

EVEN WORSE NEWS: Mohawked Wez swings his spiked mace through the
broken front window again, right at Max's face!

GOOD NEWS: Max hits the brakes! Throwing Wez right off the roof of the
truck!

BETTER NEWS: The truck runs over him when Max starts moving again.

BAD NEWS: While the truck was stopped, more scumbags in dune buggies
catch up with him.. Including the ultra-badguy, DARK LORD HUMONGOUS
(who wears that weird mask).

WORSE NEWS: The last of Max's shotgun shells are rolling around on the
hood of the truck, out of reach.

GOOD NEWS: The Feral Kid is small enough to crawl out of the window of
the speeding, swerving, truck... onto the hood... where he can crawl
to the very edge of the hood and grab the shells.

THIS IS GOOD NEWS? Wait a minute! We have watched the relationship
between Max and the Kid grow throughout the movie, the Kid is like
Max's son at this point. We really care about the kid, and we really
don't want to see him fall off the edge of the hood and have Max run
over him in the truck. This is an emotionally charged scene.

BAD NEWS: Dark Lord Humongous zips past the truck in his dune buggie,
preparing to block the road.

GOOD NEWS: The Feral Kid climbs to the edge of the hood, stretches his
fingers, grabs the last shotgun shell.

BAD NEWS: You remember mohawked Wez that Max ran over? Well, he held
on to the front bumper of the truck. He s climbed up the truck s
grille, and now he SPRINGS UP and GRABS at the Feral Kid!

GOOD NEWS: The Feral Kid pulls away... back into the truck cab.

BAD NEWS: Without the last shotgun shell!

WORSE NEWS: Mohawked Wez starts to climb up the hood to attack Max.
Max has no shotgun shells, no weapon, nothing! He is completely
defenseless!

GOOD NEWS: The dark Lord Humongous is speeding RIGHT AT THE TRUCK in
his dune buggie.

WAIT A MINUTE! How can this be GOOD NEWS? Well, mohawked Wez is still
on the truck s front bumper.

IMPACT! Mohawked Wez is CRUSHED! The Dark Lord Humongous' dune buggie
is SMASHED to bits!

GOOD NEWS: All of the badguys are killed!

BAD NEWS: After running into the dune buggie the truck goes out of
control and overturns, spilling all of it's precious cargo!

* * *
See how the Good News/Bad News aspect of reversal works? Reversals ask
a question: will Max get the shotgun reloaded before Scumbag #1 gets
his crossbow reloaded? Then giving you an answer that creates a brand
new question: Max gets the shotgun loaded first, but Scumbag #2 aims
his gun through the window at him. The new question is: will he be
shot by Scumbag #2? Each solution creates a brand new problem. A
reader can't put the script down - there's always an unanswered
question, and unsolved problem. Before the reader knows what's
happening they have been drawn into the protagonist's problems. They
are hooked! Emotionally involved!


FADE OUT

For even more FREE script tips - one EVERY DAY - go to:
http://www.ScriptSecrets.Net

- Bill

Jackson Pillock

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May 18, 2008, 4:34:29 AM5/18/08
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wcmartell <wcma...@compuserve.com> wrote in news:f91da72f-45ed-45f7-af96-
980e4b...@w4g2000prd.googlegroups.com:


Love it! Thank you.

Brian Christgau

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May 19, 2008, 5:55:09 PM5/19/08
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"wcmartell" <wcma...@compuserve.com> wrote in message
news:f91da72f-45ed-45f7...@w4g2000prd.googlegroups.com...

> REVERSALS IN ACTION
> by William C. Martell
>
> Reversals are like Good News/Bad News jokes - they keep action scenes
> exciting and actually help to infuse action scenes with emotions by
> adding suspense and surprise. When I was a guest speaker at the
> Sacramento Film Festival a few years ago, I used this scene from ROAD
> WARRIOR to show how reversals work.

Another nice one, Bill. And using one of my favorite moments from one of
my favorite movies, no less.


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