Screenwriting : Scripts that Interconnect Multiple Story Lines by Bill Costantini

Scripts that Interconnect Multiple Story Lines

I love the way certain scripts can interconnect multiple story lines. Recent films like Three Days in The Valley, Full Frontal, Traffic, Crash, Grand Canyon, Go, Nashville, Pulp Fiction, Best in Show and Magnolia are crazy-great scripts that offer us multiple main characters with a unified climax. Imagine how tough that is to pitch. What are some of your faves?

Erick Mertz

The Place Beyond The Pines. No real overlap there but the storylines interact in such a cool way.

Stephen Barber

Snatch, Place Beyond The Pines for sure! I love writing these types of scripts. Babel is also a good one.

Linde Hayes

Me too! Love those! Crash is a fab of mine, I like films I have to pay attention to, it makes them more interesting I think and keeps my attention, which isn't easy to do lol

Bill Costantini

Yes...Snatch and Lockstock most definitely should have been on my list...Crazy Stupid Love...Place Beyond the Pines...Babel, too. Good calls, folks. I don't know if you all saw Full Frontal....it's a really smart comedy-drama about moviemaking....and is a film within a film. A lot of great actors. Even the late great manager Jerry Weintraub has a role in it...as does Harvey Weinstein (I think)....who exec produced it. I should add Hannah and Her Sisters, 360, and Singles to my original list as well. What great films those are.

Anthony Brady

Pulp Fiction & Requiem For a Dream are two of my favorites

Rafael Pinero

21 grams is another one

Owen Mowatt

Memento anyone? Same sort of concept but with a different approach. There's also a neat little Spanish film called, Night Of The Sunflower that I'd recommend. I always like to balance these types of discussions out with bad examples too, so for me, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, is a poor one. The overlapping element was completely unnecessary. And I'm sorry, but Babel is horrid! It's a short story, tortuously dragged out for two hours, with five minutes of something to say.

Rafael Pinero

I totally agree with you about Babel, Owen

Bill Costantini

Oh come on, guys Babel was crazy-good. Alexjandro Inarittu is a genius director. He made Birdman, and as mentioned earlier, 21 Grams. I'm glad you guys brought this up - I have to add his first movie, Amoros Perros, another great movie with intertwining story lines, to the list. And Robert Altmann's Short Cuts, another great one.

Rafael Pinero

Actually Amores Oertos was his first and best movie.

Rafael Pinero

Sorry I meant to write Amores Perros

Rafael Pinero

And it is pretty long, it could be trimmed

Michael Eddy

Bill - terrific thread. You're the only other person I "know" who's even seen Two Days in the Valley (with a very young and pre-Oscar Charlize Theron!) I really like that movie. Same for GO and Grand Canyon (one of my favorite Lawrence Kasdan scripts w/ a terrific serious performance from Steve Martin - sort of chanelling a real producer named Joel Silver). Best in Show is hysterical. I'm a fan of almost all the movies mentioned so far on this thread.

Bill Costantini

Oh man...I loves Two Days in the Valley....I originally said "Three", but it's "Two"...what a great script and what great characters. I love hysterical tragedies like that. Go was really cool and creative....and Grand Canyon was very heart-wrenching. That last scene in Grand Canyon was astounding and made my knees buckle. What a great writer/director/producer Lawrence Kasdan is.

Michael Eddy

Agreed on Grand Canyon. And a wonderful score by James Newton Howard. So many scenes in that movie stayed with me - Martin getting shot, Danny Glover meeting Kevin Kline when he comes to tow his car - and his speech to the gang bangers looking to jack the car - the dream where Kline flies over LA...Same with GO - the fire in the hotel room, the shooting in the strip club (where they used real porn actresses to play the strippers)...And what a cast in Two Days - including Paul Mazursky - who started as an actor before he became an acclaimed writer/director.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

Isn't it funny how TV does this (interconnected yet separate story lines) all the time? It's a tv series' bread & butter. But fitting that style of story-telling into 120 pages without overwhelming/losing your viewer (the masses), that's tricky. I tried it with my 4th screenplay, 'Occupy This'. A secondary character totally overtook the plotline. It's currently in re-write. I attended a writer's seminar with Elliot Grove (Raindance) and he called this style of story-telling 'Navajo Story Circle' (different people, all with a different view of the same central fire). Do you think that analogy fits? I have yet to see a lot of these films (thanks for the 'to do' list!).

Bill Costantini

Miichael, I love Paul Mazursky...he was hysterical as the club owner in Punchline, too. His first acting role was in Kubrick's first movie, too. What an enormous talent as a writer/producer/director. You can name any of his movies...BCTA....Moscow on the Hudson....The Tempest...Down and Out in Beverly Hills...Harry and Tonto...An Unmarried Woman...etc.....they all have a lot of heart, and are all socially relevant in some ways. I could watch everyone of his films back to back....and never feel like I'm watching the same story regurgitated. What an enormous genius Mr. Mazursky was.

Michael Eddy

Bill - we're both lifetime members of the Mazursky Fan Club. Moscow on the Hudson is an all time fave. Might have been one of the best roles Robin Williams ever played (and he learned Russian!!). He should have won an Oscar for it - and wasn't even nominated. "A lot of heart" is right. The family stuff back in Russia - his friendship with the security guard and the love story with the Bloomies sales girl - just a tremendous piece of work. I love that movie.

Bill Costantini

Michael, You're right - not a single nomination. At least Mr. Mazursky was nominated multiple times for his other great films. In that year, "Amadeus" dominated the Oscars. Heck...do you even think a film like "Amadeus" could get major studio funding in today's Hollywood? Robin Williams also learned to play the sax for "Moscow on the Hudson." What a stud. RIP, Mr. Williams.

GiVan Johnson

I like this thread. I don't think Syriana was mentioned. A lot of story there.

Fiona Faith Ross

I loved Amadeus. Must have watched it a zillion times.

Michael Eddy

No Bill - I sincerely doubt that Amadeus would get made today by anyone - other than in its original incarnation on Broadway. A shame. Adult dramas are a tough sell (I know - I wrote one that has received unanimous raves and I can't get it made) - because the studios see a very specific and narrow demographic required for a "hit" - and it ain't the over 50 set. They continue to insist that the "Driving Miss Daisy"s and "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"s (and maybe a lot of Ron Howard's stuff - bless him) - are flukes at the box office. And Fiona - I also love Amadeus, but have only seen it about 3 or 4X - "too many notes".

Virginia Brucker

What a shame that some folks feel movies for the over 50 set are flukes. When I go to a movie that's geared to that/my age group, it's packed. The audience cheers at the end if it's really well done. One of the biggest reasons we don't go to the movies is that there are so few that are written for the "extra mature crowd." Baby boomers have a lot of "allowance" to spend and love movies. And we don't generally pirate them online cause we don't know how to do that thing. :) So we pay our nickel and takes our pick. :)

Michael Eddy

Virginia - my point exactly. Where do you see movies for a nickel? Sign me up. How much is the popcorn?

Debbie Croysdale

Pulp Fiction. Mainly for switches and memorable characters. Not necessarily the best plot, but the film "sticks" in people's heads. Nearly a quarter of people I surveyed on a cruise liner, from all over the world, mentioned this film. I wanted to do research on cults/pulps released in UK. (I wasn't on the cruise, I got permission to go on board when it was docked.).

David Levy

2 Days In The Valley, every character has a story that intertwines with the other. James Spader was terrific!

Stuart Wright

Paul Haggis went out on a limb and accumulated a mountain of personal debt to get Crash made. You feel that passionate about a story go for it. While we enjoy a good multi protagonist film there's enough challenge in trying to create single protagonist stories.

Michael Eddy

I'm not a huge current Tarantino fan - but I was a big fan of Pulp Fiction and True Romance (which might also fit in here). The problem I have with Pulp is that it really makes an impression on first viewing - but when you go back again - it doesn't hold up as well. The time shifting was cool - but some of the stories seem shoe-horned in and come completely out of nowhere and make no sense - other than for Quentin to do his "thing" - like the whole bondage den etc. And Harvey Keitel's character - the genius brought in to clean things up? Wash the car - change your clothes and let's "box up the body" at the auto yard in the crusher. Really? That's all you got?

Bill Costantini

Nice adds, everybody.

Debbie Croysdale

Hi Michael, I get what you mean about some scenes from Pulp Fiction seemingly coming from nowhere, and don't disagree, but occasionally real life can be a bit shoehorned and not make sense. eg. Caused by diversely different personalities being thrown together, in any situation, seconds into the mix shit happens. Often it is Tarrantino doing his thing, but i find some of his stuff is deep meaning. The bondage scene (to me) was a catalyst to the tradition of Ally /Opponent Switch. (Opponents becoming Allies) Jules is fiercely pursuing Butch, to the point where they would both shoot each other. Then they both get trapped by the S & M trio, and share the victimisation together, until Butch gets free. Instead of fleeing to freedom, Butch decides to save Jules, because he now has some sort of feeling for Jules from joint experience. Its quite touching when Butch can't bring himself to leave his former opponent, a Crime Bosses messenger, who is now at the mercy of sadists. Jules ends up free with a loaded gun, and Butch looks at him questioningly, where Jules says. "There is no US!" They walk off in separate directions. Off course, there is also stuff thrown in, and seemingly coming from nowhere, but it all seems to gel. I wish they would make Pulp Fiction 2 with the same cast.

Michael Eddy

Debbie - solid point on the ally/opponent switch. And the scene did include one of my all time fave lines. But again, the whole thing starts with the major coincidence of Willis driving his car and almost hitting Ving Rhames crossing the street - and then goes from there. And the whole bit with the McGuffin briefcase and the glowing light inside when it's opened. Tarantino's education (such as it is - I've been told his actual grammar and spelling is atrocious in his writing) comes from working in a video store - soaking it all in - and morphing all the movies he's watched into something he calls his own. I do like that the payoff of the scene is Butch's near escape - clean - and his decision to stay and help out Julius (after testing out various weapons in the hock shop - and alighting on the samurai sword) - and how that impacts his dilemna and smooths things over - just enough for Julius and his "pipe hittin n***as" to go "all medieval" on their asses. That is a fave line of dialogue - so I give Quentin credit for that. But I wouldn't hold my breath for a sequel.

Debbie Croysdale

@Michael. Thanks for your input. You're right there are some, what I would call, out of the box moments eg Briefcase with light. The film to me was a mixture of dark slapstick, meets gangster thriller. Deep and serious, often visceral scenes, mixed with bizarre almost eccentric twists. I haven't seen a film like it since.

Bill Costantini

Debbie, That was an excellent analysis. Have a great weekend!

Debbie Croysdale

Thanks Bill. Have a fantastic weekend too!

Bill Costantini

Debbie: I saw a great piece on Pulp Fiction today, and Quentin Tarantino said how the three interconnecting stories are "stories we've seen a zillion times before," but spun differently like "no one has before." That's a great insight for writers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bL1xhXncEas

You have a great weekend, too! Oops...three years ago...I'm sure you did. Heh-heh. But have another great weekend, this weekend, and a great, happy and creatively-fulfilling 2019! And no cat - you have to get TWO, and not just one! :)

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