Wolfblood on the Disney Channel (US)

And here’s the official Disney Channel trailer for Wolfblood season one, which shows from October 1st in the US!

If you’re interested in storytelling, take a look at CBBC promos for the show and at this, and study the differences. Two slightly different perceptions of the same show. Very interesting.

(And now the video is refusing to embed. Sigh. Here’s a link, until I can get it fixed…)



The Visual Hook

We talk a lot about “hooks” in the movie business. A hook is usually defined as the element of the plot that captures the audience’s interest, whether in marketing, a review, or during the actual movie.

The hook for Jaws is  “killer shark”. The hook for White House Down and /or Olympus Has Fallen is  “it’s Die Hard, but in the White House!”  The hook for Oblivion is (let’s be honest here) is  “Tom Cruise is in a big-budget sci-fi movie!”

I’m beginning to think a lot of major movies have another kind of hook, though. A visual hook – a scene, or rather an image, that occurs about ten to fifteen minutes into the movie and encapsulates something of the tone and theme of the movie. A moment of awe and emotion.

In White House Down, it would be the explosion at the Capitol. In Pacific Rim, Gipsy Danger looming out of the Alaskan mist. In Star Trek Into Darkness, the Enterprise rising from under the sea  (quite an early one, that).

Is anyone else noticing these, or am I over-thinking this?


Things I Learned From… Olympus Has Fallen

I dunno. You wait years for a ‘Die Hard in the White House’ movie, and then two come along at once! It’s surprising it’s taken this long for someone to have this idea, of course. It’s a location that’s broadly familiar to audiences around the world, with huge stakes, and you can keep the conflict small and contained, or expand out into a wider military response, as you wish.

But actually, what I walked away from Olympus Has Fallen thinking was – it’s so easy to fall into the trap of ‘movie logic’.

Movie logic is that brand of logic espoused only by people bound by the conventions of a story. Minor characters who protect the protagonist because of some apparent instinct that he’s more important than they are. Women who fall for the hero on sight for no reason whatsoever. And people who make decisions no one in a real-world position of authority would ever make.

No government would change a crucial element of foreign policy to save the life of a kidnapped leader – especially given that kidnap victims usually end up dead even if the kidnappers get what they want. Consequently, no halfway intelligent terrorist would assume that holding a gun to the President’s head would achieve his ends. It makes the movie unbelievable –

But even worse, it makes it predictable. If all the characters are going to act according to movie logic, we know exactly what they’re going to do next. After all, we’ve all seen enough movies!

Breaking the dictates of movie logic – asking yourself ‘What would this character actually do in these circumstances in the real world?’ – is a short cut to more interesting and unpredictable story twists, and for that reason alone, it’s worth embracing.

All Plot Twists Are Unfair

I often listen to movie soundtracks when I’m writing, and listening to one particular piece of music always reminds me of the  “Oh no!” movie moment it accompanies. Which got me thinking –

All the best plot twists are fundamentally unfair to the protagonist.

Your highly skilled protagonist has fought her way to the top floor of the skyscraper to rescue her sister – but the hostage is in fact in the heavily fortified penthouse one floor above, and it’s wired to blow if the protagonist enters.

Your protagonist the cake baker has pulled out all the stops to qualify for the Pastry Chef Of The World Competition – but this year, his arch-enemy has arranged for a savory round!!

Both those protagonists have worked hard, been brave and determined and sacrificed their own needs to get where they are. They deserve a break. They deserve, at the very least, justice. That’s only fair. But your plot should never allow them to get it.

Life should be completely and utterly unfair to your protagonist – with a little help from his enemies – because that’s what’s going to force him to rise to the challenge and become a better human being.