Story is free http://bit.ly/948TJP
Writer John August suggests that the lack of real plot in many indie productions is a consequence of the “small and independent” focus: story is perceived as too expensive to produce (and it can be if you go too big).
A lot of story can happen even when youâ€™re constrained to a few locations. Hamlet takes place in a few rooms. So does The Usual Suspects. Both Go and The Nines pack a lot into each of their three-part sections. And while Sex, Lies and Videotape might seem low-plot, the story keeps forcing characters to make choices and face the consequences.
In meeting with the screenwriters at Sundance, I challenged them to look for scenes in which characters were talking about things and show them doing those things. Often, the omitted scenes werenâ€™t more expensive than what they would replace â€” but they were more difficult to write. The beginning of an affair is trickier than showing it mid-course. A trapped child is uncomfortable to write, but compelling to watch.
The writing is always going to be the least expensive but most challenging part of the process. Making a low-budget movie is a study in compromises. Story shouldnâ€™t be one of them.