What are the 8 Elements of Film?

“The writer’s responsibility, the filmmaker’s responsibility, is to deliver as best he can, the intention he has.” -Bill Wittliff

Are you thinking what is the connection between filmmaker responsibility and elements of film? You will get all of your question’s answer here in this article. If you have enthusiasm to know about film elements then this write up is for you. Have a look!

The writer is the very first to see the film, though it is solely in the mind and on the page. The screenwriter must have conscious intentions for what the audience will see and hear. Most importantly to experience it when the script is cast and produced. Without this clarity in the mind of the screenwriter, there is little hope that the script, or a film made from it. Telling a story through film is different from other forms of human expression. It is easy to write a film script. On the contrary, it is not so easy to execute a paper work on the screen. With the perfect blend of some important film elements the scripts are driven into a motion picture.

1. Plot

“A good story well told” includes 8 core elements. In this article, I tried to summaries this core elements in my own way. Hope you enjoy your reading. This is only an introduction to the world of cinematic storytelling. So here are the eight narrative elements of a motion film:

Plot defines the narrative summary or story synopsis of a film. Here sequence of events are arranged. According to Forster, “The king died, and then the queen died, is a story, while The king died, and then the queen died of grief, is a plot.” This wonderful quote refers that plot does not include only memorable scenes but also major events that move the action in a narrative. These major events give us the feeling of the forward motion of the story. We came to know by these major events rest of the story and move ahead.

2. Structure

“A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end, but not necessarily in that order.” This great quote from Jean-Luc Godard is probably the easiest way to understand the importance of structure. Also, the pleasures of structure in the movie are more vivid and effective than the descriptions of any other form. From Citizen Kane to Psycho, Bicycle thieves to Pulp Fiction, Memento to Fight Club directors have played with time, the plot takes a turn and the audience is constantly challenged.

The filmmakers of these films involve a great game by following a proper structure. Determining the correct structure for your story is like deciding on how to dress yourself for a certain ceremony. So, structure is important. It is not like that only non-linear structure is creative one to tell a story. According to my personal opinion, I like simple linear narrative like Satyajit’s ‘Pather Panchali’ How simply and beautifully the story line moves ahead. Detail and descriptive scenes and story structure make this film worthy to win international recognition.

3. Characterization

The purpose of different characters determines the trajectory of events and the key to understanding the characters and their behavior. We are obsessed to create heroes we can look for, heroes we can admire, care for, whose victories are important to us, whose losses we hate to endure.

The most common tactics for several great stories about creating an unforgettable, related, desirable hero and building him or her face as a ruthless, mean, unforgiving attitude towards antagonist. It is a unbreakable common practice while characterization of a film. It’s not about just the protagonist of a story that has a certain purpose.

The other major characters have their own desires. You need to add a perfect blend and interesting ensemble of supporting characters. So proper characterization is one of the key elements of a film.

4. Scenes

Scenes from great movies create unforgettable moments that have earned the status of iconography in movie history. Scene is the building block of the screenplay, the most basic unit of which has its own independent, whole existence. Everything that happens in one place in the film is a scene. The moment you change the position or location, jump time then you enter a new scene.

This great power of a scene can actually make you feel that “you were there” is what makes the movie a “live” emotional experience. Do you remember the memorable scene of Rose and Jack in Titanic? Standing together with wide arms on the bow of the ship as it pierces the heart of the mighty ocean is a scene that will live forever. There are many remarkable scenes of many famous films. These scenes are as powerful as a movie can be one of the biggest inspirations for the creative genius involved in the tedious filming process.

5. Visuals

Among all the above described elements, probably visual is the most unique one that is highly integral to motion pictures.  Visual is another aspect of the screenplay that must be dealt with-what the audience sees, and how they see it. In addition to the story being seen as real and inviting, movie visuals transcend time and cultural boundaries.

It is important to mention ‘Visuals’ as one of the narratives of the movie, although its portrayal depends largely on the shooting of the film. At first film writer needs to understand the visual potential of this medium. Great and unforgettable visuals can never be created unless the film writer imagines it first. The starting point of how a film story is shown to the audience is in the script. Then a wise director looks there first for clues on how to compose individual shots, or for the overall visual design.

6. Dialogue

Dialogue carries a tremendous burden as an element of a film. There is endless variety in the dialogue of different periods and different screen writers. Two screenwriters never write exactly the same kind of dialogue. But there are certain features that are common to any good conversation from any writer. Good, effective dialogue arises from character, situation and conflict. It reveals the character and takes the story ahead.

In a film, dialogue must reflect the speaker’s mood, convey his or her emotion, or provide some window into his or her inner life. It must often reveal the speaker’s motivation or an attempt to hide his or her motivation. Furthermore, it must reflect the relationship of the speaker to the other characters. Last but not the least, dialogue as a film element should be clear and comprehensible to the audience.

7. Conflict

Conflict is an element that seems to be a necessary element of every powerful dramatic work on stage or in screen. Without conflict We don’t have a story that will hold the audience. Conflict is that engine that drives one story forward. It provides the power and movement of the story. Without conflict the listener remains indifferent to the events depicted on the screen. No film story can come to life without conflict. The conflict is the bread and butter of any film.

The more audiences you can engage with in the conflicting situations of your characters, the more problems you can create for your heroes and overcome them one by one, the more successfully your storytelling will be. Just think once in ‘Bicycle Thieves’ film if the bicycle wasn’t stolen, in ‘Titanic’ if the ship reached its destination smoothly, in ‘Citizen Kane’ if Charles Foster Kane wasn’t stubborn and arrogant, if he was so sophisticated and emotional the stories would be so dull! The audience would not keep in mind these films. So, the need of conflict in a film can’t be denied.

8. Resolution

Particularly in a film the ending is very important because hundreds of people react instantly coming out of the theater. At the beginning screenwriters often make confusion with the culmination and make audience think that there is only one “climax” to a film story. But the main tension is the conflict solely of the second act. When it is resolved at the culmination, this creates a new tension, which, can be stated simply as “What will happen next?” which leads directly toward the resolution of the whole story.

For example, in Chinatown, the main tension is not “Will lake help Evelyn and her daughter escape the clutches of Noah Cross?” At the time the main tension is established, we don’t know enough to hope or fear about that. The main tension is more “Will lake be able to find out who and what are behind the trick played on him, which led to his embarrassment?” This is what lake spends the second act trying to unravel; obstacles to this quest to solve the mystery create the bulk of the story. Once the mystery is completely solved and he knows all about Evelyn, Noah, the daughter, and who killed Hollis Mulwray, then a new tension is created: “Will Jake be able to help Evelyn and her daughter escape from the clutches of Noah?” The resolution of that third act tension is that he is not able, Evelyn dies, and Noah takes his daughter.

There is no hard and fast rules of filmmaking. But presence of some essential elements in a film can make the masterpiece. Above described are the basic ones. There are more tools and elements while telling a story on screen. I personally believe that every story that is well told carries a moral or theme even if the script writer wants to express it or not.