COVID-19 has caused everyone to introspect most things that they would otherwise take for granted. Stepping out to get groceries or going out to meet friends has taken a new meaning. The same applied to shooting movies as well.
Shooting a quarantine movie is a new trend that is pushing the creative boundaries of filmmaking and forcing people to look at movie-making in a new light. Writing screenplays for quarantine movies is not the same as writing movies in standard times.
There are various limitations placed on shooting, and you have to take those limitations into account right from the start. Here is how you can write an effective and impactful screenplay for a quarantine movie.
Keep the Number of People to a Minimum
Typically, film sets are places where many people congregate. The movie industry hires thousands of people in various unseen roles, from the camera crew to the makeup crew. Every movie set is always buzzing with action.
When you are shooting a quarantine movie, this cannot happen. You cannot have a big crew. You have to keep this in mind while writing the script. Keep the number of characters to a minimum and focus more on the ones at hand.
Hard Candy and Buried are excellent examples of movies with a minimal cast that greatly impact the viewer.
Reducing cast members is not enough. You have to reduce the number of people present in the set at any given time.
Avoid writing scenes that must take place in elaborate locations or need heavy makeup. Instead, focus on keeping things as natural as you can.
Reduce Number of Locations
A movie that takes you through multiple countries or has the characters whizzing through various locations within a city will sound exciting on paper and would have been completely executable if it weren’t for COVID-19.
A quarantine movie can only be shot in one or two locations. If you can keep the shooting indoors, it would be better. You have to keep the location constraint in mind while writing the screenplay.
Stories that take place within a house or within a room will be the ideal choice for a quarantine movie.
Avoid Big Stunts
Stunts are truly exhilarating to watch. But they require a large number of people to pull off. You need stuntmen, technicians, stunt doubles, people to check the safety, and many more such crew members. Getting all of them in one place negates the purpose of a quarantine movie.
The action genre is not suitable for a quarantine movie, and you should avoid it. Even if your movie belongs to another genre, make sure that there aren’t any stunts in it.
Keep the Type of Camera in Mind
An opening shot where the camera zooms in on the characters from above sounds exciting and presents a wonderful introduction. However, it requires specialized equipment that will then need skilled technicians to operate. The same goes for fancy shots.
Your Screenplay Template might mention camera angles. Camera angles are something that the screenwriter has to think about, especially if it is essential to the scene.
It is not just the angles; you also need to consider the type of camera at your disposal. You may only have access to a smartphone camera or the webcam on the computer, or a handheld digital camera.
Either way, none of them compare to professional cameras used for shooting regular movies. You have to take this into account while writing your screenplay.
Focus on Emotions
When you are limited by location and number of cast members, the emotions take the front seat. Think carefully about what you want the audience to feel while watching each scene, and think of ways in which you can amp up the emotion with minimal additional props.
The key to successfully pulling this off lies in casting the right actors who can emote well. They have to make the audience empathize with the characters and make them feel what they are feeling.
The characters should also have a strong backstory. Why are they acting this way? What motivates their actions?
You have to answer these questions for the viewers, so they don’t feel that the actions are unreasonable. This may be true for every movie but it holds more importance in a quarantine movie.
Don’t Mix Genres
Another point to keep in mind is not to mix up genres. Mixing genres can leave the audience feeling confused. It may work when you offer various locales and characters that pull their focus but will fail to do so in a quarantine movie.
The safer bet is to focus on one genre to build it up throughout the movie.
The Story is the Star
When there are minimal characters in the movie, the story becomes the star. You have to focus on the story.
Your screenplay must be airtight. There shouldn’t be any loopholes that make the viewer question the plot.
The movie should also have a compelling pace. In no way should the viewer feel bored at any time. Their mind shouldn’t wander from the movie.
Think Out of the Box
When you are forced to make a movie within the confines of a box, your mind should travel outside the box. Think of innovative ways in which you can tell a story. A story that has been told time and again can gain acclaim if told from a new perspective.
There are innumerable ways to do this. You can focus on a single character and show their interactions with others only via their phone.
You can also show a whole story that takes place only via various webcams and phone cameras. The possibilities are endless.
A quarantine movie is the best way to let your creativity loose and develop truly unique ways to tell a story.
Writing a quarantine movie presents a once in a life opportunity to experiment with different forms of storytelling. Quarantine movie is all about the craft. The story becomes the star with little room for distraction.
Writing an exceptional quarantine movie is the best way to show that you can adapt to any circumstance and that you can turn every obstacle into a miracle. Open your screenplay software and start writing the story that could make you a household name worldwide.