Monday, April 7, 2014

TODAY'S NUGGET: Bullitt (1968) - Two Hints About Action Writing

[Quick Summary: After a witness in his protection is shot, Lt. Bullitt hunts for the killer.]

I was interested in Bullitt because:

- Steve McQueen liked it enough to sign on.
- I need help writing interesting action scenes.

I knew that "action" stories are about movement.

However, this script pointed out that "action" does not mean the hero is moving all the time, i.e., "He jumps. He hits. He pivots."  

I was happy as long as the story kept my mind's eye kept roving about, and picking up clues.

I found these hints helpful:

1 - Sometimes a well placed detail deepens the action.

 ex. "EXT. MUSTANG - DAY

Bullitt pulls himself out of the Mustang. Two wheels are bent and a tree has punctured the radiator.  [The wheel and tree detail shows how much our hero is willing to risk.]

He runs in the direction of the burning Dodge."

2  - It's ok to go beyond the hero's point of view (reaction shots, etc.)

 ex. "EXT. GAS STATION

Two men run out from the office. One goes back in for a fire extinguisher.  They head for the burning wreck.  [The men demonstrate the level of danger before Bullitt arrives.]

Bullitt comes running down in the direction of the fire. He stops as:

EXT. BURNING DODGE

explodes in a spectacular ball of flame..."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: I've been (unnecessarily) stuck in the hero's POV too long.

Bullitt (1968)
by Alan Trustman & Harry Kleiner
Based on the novel, "Mute Witness", by Robert L. Pish

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