Before we go anywhere, I speak only of my own experience and my own thoughts, the thoughts of an avid film watcher, having watched a few films from different periods of the last 100 years.
Having said this, here is my list of great mistakes which tend to turn what could have been an excellent movie into something average, or something average into something tasteless or terrible.
First, the ending of a movie is the most important part (especially when the plot is filled with action). The ending of a movie should come when you don’t want it to, just after either the conclusion of the movie or after something important just happened. The epilogue which many of today’s directors use is both unnecessary and boring. If some of the last scenes leave the audience begging for more, then stop it there, quit while you are on top. And if not, your movie is not going to get any better because of the epilogue so spare the audience 10 minutes of extra pain!
Second, having music in the background is no necessity. Great films can make little use of music, and still be great films. Do not misunderstand what I am saying here, you need sound effects, but the lack of music can be useful too. We are constantly overfed with different pop songs in the latest blockbusters and although many masterpieces use music very well and gain status because of it (for example: 2001 A Space Odissey) there is also room for smaller use of music (especially considering that new film makers will not often be able to use good composers!)
Third, a good film does not need incredible actors. Is the plot interesting and the dialog well written, a movie can do wonderfully with average actors. Spend time on the plot and writing the dialog, not on finding the next Brad Pitt.
Four, originality is the key to breakthroughs. Almost all filmmakers (George Lucas to name one) breakthrough with an original plot, something people have not seen before. I have never heard of a director who broke through when remaking an old movie or directing a movie with a storyline that is not particularly good. Therefore, an inspired script or an incredible book is one thing you cannot do without.
Feel free to comment with your own views on this and add to the list (I probably will do so too! :)
Haha, true. Although Odissey, apart from the music, wins on every point. The actors, although very good, aren’t essential. The movie is incredibly original, the ending is just when something of enormous importance happens, and the plot+dialog is incredible!
Obviously, music is a great bonus, however, aspiring filmmakers should not give it high priority!
Do not resurrect or spare the lives of your lead characters because you think it’s what your audience wants.
My father was telling me about some series he used to watch that had a considerable amount of leads die and the deaths always happened off camera, you’d see someone getting the news of someone’s death and find out the story but, kind of like in most cases in real life, you didn’t get to see the dramatic death scene. I think that’s a cool choice so ALSO do not kill your characters off simply because you think it’s what your audience wants to see!
Interesting! Myself, I believe that it is better to kill a character off than to give him this one in a million chances way of escaping. Although it is tragic, killing off the main character gives a much more lasting impression than letting him win (as so incredibly many films do!)
What I think would also be interesting, would be to make the protagonist a villain and show his quest for redemption, only to die at the end. Even though this can often turn into unmoral exaggeration and not something for the sensitive ones, I must say that nothing has made a more lasting impression on me than unmorality. For example, giving the protagonist a second chance and making him waste it again, killing off the lead halfway through even though he has done nothing wrong, making characters full of hope and using subtlety to tell the audience that the character’s hope is really just false hope.
Now, I say this, not because I mean all movies should be more tragic, but because 99 out of 100 movies have a fairytale ending. It makes audience feel good, but it does not make us care or think. We need more tragical and unmoral movies!(in my opinion!)
What do you think?