One of the reasons why you should write a contained story is that there are far more producers looking for this type of script. After all there is only one MARVEL STUDIOS, even DC is finding it hard to compete. So your franchise superhero story isn’t going to sell.
The most important thing for me. Is that it is easier to expand a script, than it is to shrink a script.
I am going to use “The Hostage”(contained story) as an example.
The original script started with a shot of the characters entering a room. One of the earlier directors (there have been three to date), said that he would like to see them enter the building. Make the world feel a little bigger. I used that scene to introduce the relationship between the two main characters. Give the audience an insight into their relationship and how much they share with each other.
So we have gone from a contained story to two locations.
Since the production has introduced what is functionally, a second unit (more of a second capability). This new (mobile film crew) unit will cover the external scenes.
Implications and Costs.
This means that we can now cover the second side of some telephone conversations. We had the voice actors. All we had to do was find locations and do hair and makeup. Since it is night and we didn’t want to have more physical locations we set these scenes outside. This comes with complexity, interiors are better. But we can grab these conversations quickly.
A character mentions a Hospital in a scene. There is a medical centre which is willing to let us film there for a small fee.
At the auditions for one of the characters there was a second actor everyone was keen to work with. He didn’t get the role, but was too good to let go. So I added a small scene for him. He is there during one of the calls in the background. When the call ends the person asks him for advice.
The point I am making is that because The Hostage started as three people in a room we had scope to expand. As budget allowed the story could grow. There was breathing room and things could be explored. If your story is going to take every cent they have, then they have to cut to expand. Suddenly all they are doing is changing and not growing, which is much harder.
Some people may think that producers don’t have vision and they can’t see where to grow a story. But I would disagree. Producers are like carpenters. A carpenter can look at a piece of wood and see the furniture that they can make. They see the grain, colour and features in the wood. Producers see a script and see the potential. This doesn’t mean they will entertain the idea of working on crap to make it great. You have to give them a great starting point. Then they can reach even greater heights.
So writing a contained story gives you more chances to sell, as there are more potential customers. A contained story gives you more freedom during the rewrite process. A contained story means you don’t have to delete to change as it is less likely to have budget pressures.
So get writing. Here is your first line. “It is an empty room. There is the sound of a key in the lock. The door opens”