Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesTheater & Acting · 1 decade ago

How do you build dramatic tension in a film?

I want to learn about dramatic tension and emotional investment as it pertains to writing.

here are some examples to account for taste


Fear and Loating

The Big Sleep

Great Expectations (film)

Any books or videos you could recomend would be apreciated.

2 Answers

  • MistrA
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Your audience has to care about the characters and the situation. This means either:

    1) The audience must get to know the character


    2) The audience must be able to relate to the character

    For example, a lot of crime dramas open with a sobbing parent or spouse. It's easy to relate to the person who has lost a child or spouse to murder, etc.

    However, if two people break up, the audience won't care unless they know the characters and the relationship. If it was a good relationship, then the audience will be affected by the breakup itself. If it was a bad relationship, you could make the audience feel triumph for perhaps the abused character.

    Joss Whedon consistently gets drama by killing off characters. Joss Whedon uses characters as tools. He introduces them. They evolve, or perhaps are there just so that other characters can evolve. Then, when they're done, he kills them off.

    In House, characters are killed off or House fires the entire cast. House consistently acts like a jerk, then redeems himself, and self destructs. The audience wants House to be happy, but you'd lose the drama if he ever were. The writers give it and take it away.

    There is a formula for most romantic films such as Great Expectations. That is win the girl, lose the girl (usually the man's fault), win the girl again. Some put in a final "twist", where they lose the girl again at the end, like Cold Mountain.

    So, a simple formula is, make them care about something then tear it apart.

    Your characters should change and evolve. If your characters are the same at the beginning as they are at the end, then you've watched a slice of life film, and not a typical narrative.

    Films are most often portrayed as either the best or worst moments (or sometimes both) in a character's life. Your characters should be challenged. Will the character succeed or fail? That should be the question in the audience's mind.

  • 1 decade ago

    just imagine your experiences that is connected to the situation... and apply it in your drama

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