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Single location movies are a great way for writers to adapt to the current situation in the world. While producers are still looking for scripts, it’s easier to shoot a contained, small-scale movie given the restrictions around the world and the risks from coronavirus. So, here are our tips for writing single location movies…

  • Find a compelling reason to “trap” your characters in their location. In 12 ANGRY MEN the jury can’t leave until they’ve decided the fate of the defendant; in REAR WINDOW, James Stewart is confined to his apartment with a broken leg; in Quentin Tarantino’s THE HATEFUL EIGHT a blizzard keeps everyone inside the lodge. The single location becomes a key and necessary part of the story, rather than just a gimmick that’s tacked on.
  • As many of us have found under lockdown restrictions, being trapped isn’t much fun – so why not make the location the villain of your script? Often, wanting to escape can be key – like in the case of DEVIL or CUBE, for example. As with our first point, try to make the location part of the premise!
  • Ramp up the interpersonal conflict between characters. Drama is conflict, and when you’re trapped in a single location, you’ll need to rely on your characters to drive it. If everyone gets on too well, there’s no conflict – and if there’s no conflict, there’s no drama! In 2013’s LOCKE, only Tom Hardy ever appears on screen – but the conflicts he has with the people he speaks with on the phone makes it an engaging watch.
  • We’ve all been making the most of modern technology such as social media, video conferencing, and messaging to stay connected lately – so why not do the same in your script? SEARCHING was set entirely on computer and smartphone screens; you can use these, phone calls, texts, and so on to artificially bring other characters into the space. You can effectively have the action happen somewhere else without ever leaving your single location.

So there are our tips for writing single location movies and making the most of current restrictions. Don’t forget to check out our other Writing Insights articles for loads of other useful hints and tips!

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