These basics are designed to help any film maker make decisions about how to tell a story. A good first goal in filmmaking is to turn your story idea from something nebulous into a solid story plan with words and deeds all driven by rules of thumb, your good judgement, and a little creativity.
We can all tell stories, but what is story, and how can stories be told more effectively?
What is a story?
A story is a retelling of a series of events, or "scenes" as they are called in filmmaking.
The ordering and intertwining of these scenes can be referred to as "the plot" of the story.
The plot is perpetuated by the dialog and actions of characters that are introduced at strategic places in the story.
Main characters usually include a "good guy" and a "bad guy," referred to as the protagonist and the antagonist. Each side has their own allies.
A theme or series of themes that are important for the writer tie together a story.
All stories have the same simple construction.
a beginning, a middle, and an ending
exposition, rising action, resolution
Act I, Act II, Act III
Within each scene, and even within lines of dialog, strive to have the same simple construction as a story, as well.
While these storytelling techniques are designed to help a narrative film maker, you still might consider them even if your shoot seems much different. Story drives all other types of films—story is the "engine" of films. For details about storytelling techniques see Storytelling Techniques.
Documentary: All great doc stories have a basic three act construction. Note that documentaries work best with a protagonist and an antagonist. "Roger and Me," for example.
Vlog: Every vlog can be broken down into three acts. For example:
Act 1: Introduce the day's events: Peter and Josh go wakeboarding!
Act 2: Perform the events: Wakeboarding fun ensues. Some kind of unforseen event happens, like the lunch accidentally spills overboard or Peter runs into Josh while wakeboarding and Josh hurts his leg.
Act 3: Recap the event: At the burger joint, Peter wraps up the vlog with a big apology to Josh and buys him lunch.
Event: Have a wedding?
Act 1: Setting up: Picking up the bride in the limo. Plot point 1: The groom couldn't find his shoes! Get there early to shoot BTS shots.
Act 2: The Ceremony In the middle. The bride will surely kiss the groom.
Act 3: Cutting the cake. Father-Daughter dance. The exit? Who decorated the car?
Commercial or Corporate Video: All good products and businesses need to tell a great story. When is on camera talent revealed? How will they present it? How will the spot conclude?
Screenplay: The Foundations of ScreenwritingTurn Story Scenes into a Written Script
Regardless of how many scenes make up each of your acts, it's important to take stock of each scene so that when you begin the writing, be it a narrative script or an A/V script, you'll have a a guide.
In the classic screenwriting book that I read years ago (and can still recommend), Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting, the advice was to write each scene down on a 3 x 5 note card. Once the scenese are on cards, you can shuffle them around to try different orders for your scenes, etc. It is notable that filmmakers still use this same technique today. Try it. It will really help keep you organized once you start the screenplay process.