This script surprised me in two ways:
First, the plot is intriguing and fairly...well, normal (though it's De Palma, so not THAT normal).
Second, I was ok that the inciting incident* (the car accident) occurs on p.15.
- So what was happening from p. 1-14? The writer was laying down what I call "story pipe," which is necessary to setup a situation or a setup a payoff later.**
- What is the "story pipe" that kept me turning pages from 1-14?
p. 1-8: The script opens with a maniac stalking female college students in their dorm.
p. 9-12: We see that p. 1-8 is a film within a film, and our protagonist Jack is working the sound effects.
p. 12-14: On TV, a reporter states that the Governor McRyan will be announcing his candidacy for higher office, maybe tonight.
p. 15: Jack is recording sounds at night, near a creek, and sees McRyan's car swerve off the road into the water.- Was all that story pipe necessary? In this script, I'd say yes because it sets up why Jack is outdoors at night with a sound recorder.
ex. "Jack nods. Sam starts to pace again.
SAM: And I still don't understand what a smart guy like you is doing this shit for.
JACK: Hey, I do the sound - you do the shit!
SAM (getting mad): No - you do the shit -- like that wind in the trees. Sounds like you're whistling in the crapper.
JACK: It's out of the library. We've used it a million times.
SAM: That's the trouble. I've heard it a million times -- get something new.
SAM: And what about that scream? We got to dub it.
JACK (innocently): Right. (beat) Know any good screamers?
SAM: I got a few ideas."
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Don't be afraid to lay story pipe. Make sure it isn't backstory.***
Blow Out (1981)(shooting script, dated 10/21/80)
by Brian De Palma
*Inciting incident = Act that kicks off the action
**"Story pipe" is not backstory, which is often unnecessary.
***How will I know the difference?
a) Experience over a long time.
b) Reading more scripts.
c) From good feedback from other good writers.