This guide is not for the entire film process. For those seeking that, you need money and practice. This is for the first step. The script.
First you need characters that the audience can relate to.
Then you need a setting.
Finally you need a goal, particularly for one character (your antagonist).
Eg: Two managers, in fast food stores, one aiming to make the ideal food (a chiko roll), or a father and son, in outer space, and the father seeks reunion.
To stop that goal being reached there needs to be obstacles.
Eg: a feud or a Jedi battle.
Obstacles can take many forms. The classic process is the Hero’s Journey, where there is conflict, division, self-realistion and atonement (basically every Will Farrell movie), so the character has changed along the way.
Stage one: establish characters, scene, goal, introduce major conflict and a sign of resolution. For a major 90min movie this is all done in the first 10min.
Stage two: make the goal hard to reach, and by the end of this stage it seems impossible. This is the next 70min of a 90min movie.
Stage three: Goal is achieved, and character has learnt a life lesson. The final 10min.
A good example of playing with this format in the Bendigo Comedy podcast was with Tara Bell and Mike Elliott. There the antagonist was an overly happy guy at a store, and he wanted to work at a store closer to town, or the city as he considered it. On his way to the interview was a Mosque protest, and the protesters did not respond well to the happy guy getting on their tram. Despite the conflict, the happy guy made the angry people see that life was good, characters changed, and the happy guy got to his job interview. The end.
It’s a simple structure often repeated. The hard thing is making the pieces of a movie fit, as changing a character’s motivation can change the entire film (eg: it doesn’t make sense for Greedo to shoot first).
Ultimately it’s about building a plot line, because as Alfred Hitchock said, “I’ve written the script, now all I need is the dialogue.”*
*actually I can’t find the actual Hitchock quote. Maybe he didn’t say it. Anyway, it’s a good quote.