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The StoryAlity High-RoI Film Story & Screenplay Checklist

The following is derived from my doctoral research study.

See also: StoryAlity #54 – StoryAlity Screenwriting Guidelines – for any aspiring Writer of High-RoI Films

The StoryAlity Syntagm (Velikovsky 2012)

The StoryAlity Syntagm (Velikovsky 2012)

The following Checklist provides a useful practical tool for the empirical analysis of any film story/screenplay in terms of the expected/probable RoI (Return On Investment). The checklist aims to avoid the “single-cause theory” that many can apply to film success… Films are not successful for a single reason alone: there are many things they “do right” and likewise – many things that they “do wrong” that, they tend to avoid…

The checklist is recommended for use by: Screenwriters, Filmmakers, Screenplay Development Executives, professional Script Readers/Story Analysts, Directors, Actors, Producers, and all film industry Creatives.

Confused Crowd

Also, even more importantly: Film Financiers, Investors and Marketers can also use this checklist as an analytical Story/Screenplay tool – to assess, given probability, the RoI potential of any film project.

The data set is – The Top 20 RoI Films of the last 70 Years:

The Top 20 Audience Reach/Budget Films of the Last 70 Years. Data Source: The-Numbers.com. Analysis: JT Velikovsky

The Top 20 Audience Reach/Budget Films of the Last 70 Years. Data Source: The-Numbers.com. Analysis: JT Velikovsky

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GENRE BREAKDOWN – The Top 20 RoI Films

Top 20 RoI Movies - Genres - List

Top 20 RoI Movies – Genres – List

Top 20 RoI Films by Genre - 2011 chart

Top 20 RoI Films by Genre – (Note: there are no Dramas in the top 20 RoI)

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THE STORYALITY HIGH-RoI FILM CHECKLIST

Please also note, these StoryAlity Theory guidelines (the checklist) are: a probability calculus.

If any writer/filmmaker desires, they can certainly choose not to use, all x 30 of these StoryAlity Theory Guidelines… They may of course choose to use (say) only 29 out of the 30 guidelines, (or indeed, use none of the guidelines at all.) For example, a writer/filmmaker may choose to create/use their own film Story Structure, rather than the StoryAlity story structure (i.e. the Fibonacci sequence…). That is entirely their own choice, given the workings of Agency (choices) and Structure (guidelines)

The second column below, “IDEAL/HIGH-RoI TARGET” is the recommended selection – as per overwhelming evidence, resulting from the empirical and scientific doctoral research study.

CRITERIA THE IDEAL /HIGH-ROITARGET The Top 20 ROIFilms: Average The Top 20 ROIFilms: Median THE RANGE (Top 20 ROI Films) Your Screenplay: (Y/N ?)
Genre Horror

Comedy

Sci-Fi

Sports

Nostalgia

Musical

Gangster

Horror(mode / most frequently occurring) Horror Horror

Comedy

Sci-Fi

Sports

Nostalgia

Musical

Gangster

Number of Main Characters 4 (3 good guys, 1 villain) 4.4 4 2 – 9
Occupations of the Main Character/s Working class &/or students Working class / students(both = mode) Working class / students(both = mode) See Table on “The Character Occupations in Top 20 ROI Films”
Character Arc/s” in a high ROI film Story None None None None
Number of Story `Acts’ 10 10 10 10 – 10
Story Structure  See The STORYALITY™ Syntagm See The STORYALITY™ Syntagm See The STORYALITY™ Syntagm See The STORYALITY™ Syntagm
Screenplay / Film Length 90 pages exactly 92 pages /92 minutes 88 pages /88 minutes 77 -121 pages/mins
# of Scenes 122 scenes 119 scenes 124 scenes 71-189 scenes
Scene Lengths 1 min/1 page 49 seconds 1 min 12 secs 1 sec – 14mins 25 s
Ratio of Ext/Int scenes 44% Ext / 56% Int 44% Ext / 56% Int 53 Ext scenes/64 Int scenes (3 – 95) Ext(25 – 121) Int
Number of Locations 28 29 27 2-73
Types of Main Locations/Settings House/Apartment Domestic / urban See: Types of Top 20 ROI Main Locations See: Types of Top 20 ROI Main Locations
Time period / Temporal Setting Present Present Present Past, Present, Future
Story Ending Villain Triumphant Villain Triumphant Villain Triumphant Villain Triumphant
Theme Survival, Reproduction, Revenge Survival, Reproduction, Revenge Survival, Reproduction, Revenge Survival, Reproduction, Revenge
Sex scenes N 40 % 40 % 8/20 films
Chase scenes Y 85 % 85 % 17/20 films
Shootouts N 45 % 45 % 9/20 films
Fist-Fights Y 75 % 75 % 15/20 films
Montage/s Y 11/20 films 11/20 films 11/20 films
Expected Reviews/Critics Ratings? 73% 73% 81 46%-94%
Expected Oscars™ None <3% chance <3% chance 1/20 films
Expected MPAA Rating R R R PG – UnR
Length of Shoot  7 – 31 days 34 days 28 days 7 – 80 days
“Look” of the film Color & digital Color Color Color/ B&W35mm, 16mm, digital

This checklist can be used to analyze your own screenplay/story, for the various characteristics shared by all 20 of the Top 20 RoI films.

Next up: Top 10 Screenwriting Guidelines – for any aspiring Writer of High-RoI (Return On Investment) Films…

Right before your very eyes

I think I went to Elementary school with this guy… and you know what – he hasn’t changed a bit

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JT Velikovsky

High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie and Transmedia Researcher

The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky

JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/

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36 thoughts on “StoryAlity #53 – The StoryAlity High-RoI Film Story and Screenplay Checklist

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  2. Pingback: StoryAlity #50.2 – The Universal Story Structure and Story Memes of the Top 20 ROI Films | StoryAlity

  3. Hey Stuart,

    It’s the universal mathematical form known as The Golden Ratio – (as Aristotle of all people used to preach). i.e, 3/2 = 1.6:1.

    It’s (the Golden Ratio/the `Golden Spiral’) in The Fibonacci Sequence: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13, etc. (ie Add the last 2 numbers starting with 1,1, to get the next, and repeat, forever…)

    Then, if you divide any number in the sequence, by the previous number, to get: 3/2, or 8/5, or 13/8, etc. The further up you go (to infinity) – the closer it (the result of that fraction) gets to: the Golden Ratio (1:1.601-etc).

    For the Golden Ratio/Fibonacci Sequence – see also: Laws in Nature – the pattern in sunflowers, in rabbit and cattle reproduction, how plants grow, in cell reproduction, etc.

    The actual diagram of: 1,1,2,3,5,8, etc – can be shown in a number of different ways… ie – 1) in a straight line, 2) in a spiral (makes it appear more familiar/relatable/`organic’), 3) as a pie-graph, 4) as a column graph – etc etc.

    Given all the screenplay `paradigms’ out there (which – are actually `syntagms’ – see: StoryAlity #34 – Screenplay `paradigms’ or screenplay `syntagms’?) it seemed logical to look for a naturally-occurring universal mathematical formula, in the most successful movie artifacts… Given we read left to right in the West it seemed best to plot it, as a spiral, left to right… (like any concept, it’s an abstraction – and could `face’ any direction – in theory…)

    JT

    PS – For more info, if it’s of interest, Google: `The Golden Ratio’, and also Google `the Fibonacci Sequence’… (but, you prolly knew all that anyway…)

  4. Pingback: StoryAlity #53.2 – Patterns in the Top 20 ROI Films: # of Scenes vs Film Duration/Screenplay Length – and: Elliot Waves | StoryAlity

  5. Pingback: StoryAlity #51 – The Universal Story Structure and Story Memes of the Top 20 ROI Films | StoryAlity

  6. Pingback: StoryAlity #56 – Patterns in the Top 20 ROI Films: # of Scenes vs Film Duration/Screenplay Length – and: Elliot Waves | StoryAlity

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  25. Pingback: StoryAlity #1 – About my Doctoral Research on Film / Screenwriting / Transmedia | StoryAlity

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  27. Pingback: StoryAlity #3C – Trailers of the Bottom 20 RoI Movies | StoryAlity

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