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Movie Summary Examples in PDF

movie summary examples

  • How to Write a Movie Summary
  • Summary Writing Examples

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Film Review Assignment Summary Example

film review assignment summary example

Guidelines of Writing an Effective Synopsis

  • Length.  Since what you are trying to write is a summary, all the important key details of the movie or screenplay should be found within the summary. Normally, the people reading this would only need to allocate four to five minutes before deciding whether your movie is a go or a no-go. Try aiming for two to three single-spaced pages. Some writers try to tell their story in a single page, but the results are usually so truncated as to be dry and lifeless. Go beyond three pages and you might risk losing the readers interest.
  • Style.  Although movies nowadays include many different point of views, (e.g. first-person and sometimes second-person), it is best to express it in the third person in the present tense. Remember, even in a summary, the purpose is for you to tell the story, not explain it. Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. So make sure to include them in your summary. Unlike a full screenplay, however, a summary does not contain scene slugs or cinematic transitions.
  • Characters. Other than the plot, the characters are the heart and soul of your screenplay or story. So make sure that when you introduce them, include memorable and crucial descriptions that define the character both physically and the kind of character he or she is. Remember, everyone loves a good story, but they adore the characters all the more. Take time to explain their motivations and emotional responses to some of the crises they face. Why characters do things is as vital to good storytelling as what they do and how they do it.
  • Dialogue.  Although this aspect has never really been added before, try doing so in order to give a bit of personality and life to your synopsis. A one-liner should be fine.
  • Action.  Who does not love a good action sequence. There are some synopses that are filled with action sequence. If you have been watching movie trailers that give you a glimpse of the movie itself, you may notice that some provide just the right amount of action. Not too much, and not too little as well.
  • Subtext.  Subtext — the meaning behind overt statements and actions — is usually verboten  in screenplays, but they have their place in synopses. A good synopsis captures the emotional dynamics of the screenplay or short film it’s describing, and employing subtext is often effective in achieving this end.

Proven Strategies in Writing a Movie Summary

  • Begin your synopsis with a logline.  Before even starting to tell your story, it is always important to begin with a premise. This will set your readers’ expectations and allow them to better picture out the story you’re about to tell. Log lines should only contain one to two sentences as possible with a hint of irony if at all possible. After describing the events that have transpired at the end of Act I, a logline should include the protagonist(s), the protagonist’s central problem and a sense of what’s at stake. (Example: A put-upon teenage boy accidentally travels 30 years into the past where he inadvertently interferes with his mother and father’s first meeting. While trying to find a way back to the future, he must try to make his mismatched parents fall in love or he will never be born).
  • Start with your lead character in motion.  Everyone loves a good protagonist. At the beginning of the story, establish on what the main character is trying to achieve. Once you have that, make sure that the readers hooked up to it.
  • Establish clear cause-and-effect connections.  In The Lego Batman Movie , Batman faced with a difficult choice (not really) to let the Joker escape in his plastic gyrocopter or defuse the bomb that is threatening Gotham City and the rest of its yellow-bricked inhabitants. Fearing that the city will explode from underneath that will scramble all the Lego parts, Batman defuses the bomb and saves the day. In the same manner, it is important to develop a clear cause-and-effect relationships in the story that you are drafting to make the story more interesting that way.
  • Focus on emotions.  If you the protagonist is happy that the girl he loves and cares about is alive, how will you be able to express it so? “I love him” is not enough! The audience wants passion. They want all the feelings to come alive in the silver screen. Even as you write your summary, make it to a point that the director will be able to feel the emotions that you have placed in the story.
  • Include your major set-pieces.  Set-pieces are large, unified scenes of action, humor or drama. They are big sequences that make your screenplay unique and memorable. Take time to describe three or four big set-pieces, as these are ultimately your script’s biggest selling points, even though your synopsis is necessarily abbreviated.
  • Think cinematically.  Even before your movie hits the big screen, write it in a way that is meant for the big screen. Even if it is just a summary, do not hold back with the words that you are going to put in your summary (i.e. nouns, verbs, adverbs. adjectives, pronouns. etc.).
  • Go Out with a bang.  Start strong and end strong! Once you do, you will be able to sell your screenplay.

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How to Write an Amazing Film Synopsis (Step-by-step Guide)

Luke Leighfield

After you’ve finished writing your latest Hollywood smash and put your pen down (or shut your computer), you might think your work’s done. But there’s one thing left to do: write a film synopsis.

What’s a film synopsis?

A film synopsis is typically a one-page document that summarizes your film. It contains the film’s title, genre, logline (a one-sentence summary), and a five-paragraph explanation of the film’s storyline, major plot points, and key characters.

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Why you should write a synopsis

A screenplay synopsis is a vital tool in the filmmaking world, helping you sell your movie idea to agents, managers, producers, studio execs - basically anyone in a film production job. Before anyone commits to reading your full screenplay, they’ll want to check out a one-page synopsis. So it’s super important that you get it right.

The likes of screenwriting maestro Aaron Sorkin probably won’t have any trouble getting someone to read their script without a synopsis. But if you’re not in Sorkin’s league, you’ll probably spend a bunch of time emailing query letters to try to grab people’s attention. To do that, you’ll need to include a short synopsis that sells.

The difference between a film synopsis, logline, and treatment

It’s easy to confuse a synopsis with a logline or film treatment . But while they’re similar terms, there are a few important differences.

Free Film Synopsis Template

A Google Docs template with space for title, genre, logline (a one-sentence summary), and a five-paragraph explanation of the film’s storyline, major plot points, and key characters.

How to format your synopsis

Before you dive in and start writing your script synopsis, make sure you get to know the basic formatting principles.

1. Write a header

At the top of the synopsis, write your script's title and state that it’s a synopsis. Under the title, let the reader know what genre your synopsis is. If your film’s Rocky, for example, you’d write: ‘A rags to riches sports drama’.

2. Include your contact details

Underneath the header, add your name, address, email address, and phone number. This is super important, especially if the person reading your synopsis receives it from someone else and doesn’t have your details. If you have a Writers Guild of America (WGA) registration number, add that, too.

3. Write the logline

Next, add your logline before the first paragraph. This gives your reader a taster of the storyline. A logline is typically two sentences that identify the main character, the challenge they’re trying to overcome, and why they need to overcome it. You might also want to follow the logline with a paragraph that explains why your screenplay is appealing for filmmakers.

Much like a good pasta sauce, you only need a few ingredients for a tasty logline. Four, to be precise:

Once you've got those four ingredients, you can put them together in different ways. Like this, for example:

When inciting incident happens, the main character decides to do central conflict against antagonist.

Most screenwriters advise writing loglines that are only one sentence long. Some people say no longer than 30 words. But if your movie is on the complicated side, you might need to stretch your logline to a couple of sentences.

4. Introduce the main characters and setting

Keep this part to one paragraph, max. It should include:

Type the characters’ names in capital letters (e.g. ROCKY) when they first appear. After that, type them normally (e.g. Rocky).

Make sure your synopsis includes the protagonist, antagonist, love interest, and any important allies of the protagonist. You don’t need to include the names of smaller characters.

5. Summarize Act 1: The Setup

Stick to three paragraphs or half a page. Introduce the characters and the main conflict that drives the story.

The first act is where you set the stage at the beginning of the story. It shows the viewer who your main character is , what their life's like, and what they care about. Importantly, you want to communicate some of the challenges that your character is facing. Obviously, your character wants to overcome these challenges, which has a big impact on how the story progresses.

Then, you'll need a catalyst or ‘inciting incident’ – something spicy that happens to get the story started. This will spark a series of events that sets the protagonist on an epic journey of character development. It inspires their character arc and helps them reach their goals.

6. Summarize Act 2: The Conflict

This part should be about a page long. Show all the plot twists and conflicts your characters face.

The second act is where your story starts hotting up, as your intrepid protagonist sets out to achieve their goal. It's the point of no return. It’s also where your character starts hitting roadblocks as they get to know their new situation, and see the many challenges ahead of them.

This is a good time to flesh out the rest of the characters in the story, both friends and enemies, as well as the protagonist. You’ll also want to expand on the story’s central conflict, whether it’s a person or a thing.

7. Summarize Act 3: The Climax

Limit this part to three paragraphs or half a page. Explain how the main conflict ends and what happens to your characters after. Don’t worry about spoilers – your reader needs to know what happens. Make sure you tie up any loose ends.

The third act is where your narrative arc culminates, the story comes together, and we see the final clash between our protagonist and antagonist. Often, this is the point where we get to witness the true strength of the antagonist – after not seeing much of them in the film – which can surprise the protagonist.

Your viewers are probably aware that the main character will win in the end – after all, that’s how stories usually go. But it’s much more exciting if you keep them on tenterhooks for as long as possible.

Top tips for writing your movie synopsis

Keep it brief.

Your synopsis should be roughly two to three pages long. A one-page synopsis is likely to not have enough detail, but anything over three pages is too bulky. Your reader should be able to finish reading your synopsis in a few minutes, and have a good idea of whether it’s right for them.

Write in the present tense

You should always write in the present tense, even if your story’s set in the past. For example, ‘Rocky punches Apollo Creed’ not ‘Rocky punched Apollo Creed’.

Use the third person

Always write from a third person perspective , using pronouns like ‘he,’ ‘she,’ and ‘they.’

Get your spacing and paragraphs right

Use single spacing. Keep each paragraph single spaced. Place an extra space between individual paragraphs. When you start a new paragraph, don’t indent.

Use a simple font

While you might love Comic Sans, your reader probably won’t. Stick to a simple font like Times New Roman or Arial, in font size 12 – unless submission guidelines ask for something different.

Stick to the main plot points and main characters

You don’t have a lot of space to play with, so skip the subplots and secondary characters. If it’s not essential to your script's A-story, cut it.

Write in the style of the movie's genre

If it’s a comedy movie synopsis, it should be funny. If it’s an action synopsis, make it exciting and energetic. Whatever the genre, the narrative should constantly be moving forwards. Each beat in your synopsis should cause the next beat or be the effect of the previous beat.

Emphasize character development

In your quest to hit all the plot points, don’t forget to call out your character arcs. Your protagonist’s motivations, and emotional turning points, need to be clear. Make sure each main character has at least one distinctive characteristic that helps them stand out from the other characters.

Use simple language

Now’s not the time to show off your creative writing chops. If a Hollywood exec’s going to jump on board, they need to understand the plot. Avoid superfluous adjectives and adverbs, and stick to simple, succinct, clear language.

Ask for feedback

Send your synopsis to friends and family, and ask them to spot any sneaky spelling or grammar mistakes. They can also let you know if any parts of the synopsis aren’t clear to them. Keep refining and editing your synopsis until it’s error-free and flawlessly clear to anyone who reads it.

Prepare to make edits

When submitting your synopsis to different places, they may well have specific guidelines. Make sure you make any changes necessary to follow those guidelines. Agents, movie studios, and other readers may also ask for changes to fit established word counts or page counts.

Film synopsis examples

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How to Write a Compelling Movie Synopsis [with FREE Synopsis Template]

G ot a great script idea in your head but not sure how to condense it? That’s why you need a synopsis. But what if you don’t know how to write a synopsis?

As a writer, being able to write a movie synopsis (or one for your TV pilot) is a critical skill. Producers, execs, and agents will often want to read a synopsis before diving into the actual script. And frequently it’s the brief synopsis that convinces them to read your script in the first place.

In this article, we’ll answer, “what is a synopsis.” We’ll also give you solid film synopsis examples, and teach you how to write a synopsis with our free synopsis template.

  • When to Use a Synopsis ?
  • How to Write a Synopsis ?
  • The Do's of Writing a Movie Synopsis
  • The Don’ts of Writing a Film Synopsis
  • A Synopsis Is a Summary


1. when to use a synopsis.

Whether it's an epic TV series like Game of Thrones or a rom-com that never leaves one square block in New York City, the brief synopsis has to explain it all.

And explain it quickly.

But how quickly? How long is a synopsis?

And what is a synopsis in the first place? How can you find a good film synopsis example?

We’ll answer all these questions.

Let’s start with the basics. What's a synopsis?


What is a synopsis.

A synopsis is a write-up that describes the plot and world of your story. A script synopsis can be used to sell your idea. A synopsis can also be written when providing screenplay coverage or script analysis to agents, managers, and producers.

You can write a brief synopsis or a long synopsis, depending on the goal. Usually, movie synopsis length is one page or less.

As we explore how to write a synopsis, keep in mind that the key here is brevity.

If it's too short, your movie synopsis is really a logline. If it's too long, it goes into outline or treatment territory.

 How do you write a synopsis for Incredibles 2? Hit all the beats quickly

A movie synopsis should explain who is the main character (or characters), what they want, and who or what stands in their way.

It should also function as a plot synopsis in that it should describe broad strokes of what the characters do in an effort to get what they want.

writing a compelling synopsis

2. how to write a synopsis.

So how DO you differentiate your synopsis from a logline or an outline?

A good chunk of it comes down to length. Use our synopsis template to keep yours at the proper length.

Loglines barely cover two sentences. Ideally, they stay at about one.

Outlines can go upwards of five to even ten pages. And treatments can run even longer, breaching the teens.

The reason why outlines and treatments can go so long is that they’re a scene-by-scene breakdown written in prose.

An outline or treatment is obviously not a novel, but basic concepts and actions of every scene need to be covered.

Write already! A brief synopsis is a summary, a showcase, and a key to unlock your story

When you’re writing a synopsis, you should stay to one page or less — not a word longer.

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of writing a synopsis right now.

Related Posts

  • Learn how to write an outline →
  • Get tips on how to write a film treatment like a pro →
  • Break down a script with professional production software →


3. the do's of writing a movie synopsis.

Learning how to write a movie synopsis isn’t rocket science.

Sure, the film synopsis for Armageddon probably mentioned rocket science, but writing a synopsis isn’t nearly as hard as landing a drill on an asteroid hurtling toward Earth.

At least it doesn’t have to be.

What is a synopsis? Sometimes it’s a rocket ride.

Here’s a list of everything you should take into account when figuring out how to write a synopsis for your project.

  • Length : Keep your synopsis to one page. Anything longer than that and it defeats the point of writing a synopsis.
  • Tone and Voice:  Your movie synopsis should be written in the present tense, third person. Tell the story in the same tone and voice as the script.
  • Characters:  Make sure you introduce each character with something unique about them, whether it's a physical feature or another idiosyncrasy. The reader should know exactly who each character is, what they want, and why they want it.
  • Dialogue : Should a movie synopsis include dialogue? Absolutely. Should it be whole paragraph chunks? Absolutely not. Dialogue should be included in short bursts, used as a way to add color to the characters in the plot synopsis.
  • The Ending : What is a synopsis if it doesn't end? The goal here isn’t to flesh out the trailer, so don't keep any secrets when writing your movie synopsis.

These are the priority items on your "how to write a synopsis" to-do list. But to really elevate it, here are more tips to make yours stick out.

  • Start with the active drive.  Right off the bat, your movie synopsis should clearly explain what the main character wants and what they're doing about it.
  • Establish causality . No story exists in a vacuum. So in your film synopsis, make sure the causality from one event to another is explained. Imagine that the words "therefore" and "but" are between each major plot point.
  • Start big, end bigger . Your first paragraphs should really hook in the reader with a compelling introduction of your hero. The ending should be even more exciting and tie all the loose ends together.

Now, take all these tips into account and complete the exercise below. It'll strengthen your writing and give you confidence you can use:


Want to know how to write a synopsis for your movie? Practice is key. Flex your synopsis-writing muscles by choosing two films  (or TV shows) that you've recently watched, or that you've always loved. Write a one-page synopsis of each project.

Don't overthink, don't second-guess, and limit yourself to one page for each title. When you've finished, compare the two. Which synopsis is stronger? Are there any points you've missed? How could they be strengthened? What works in each one, and what doesn't? Congratulations  —  you've got two short synopsis examples under your belt.

The best way to learn how to write a synopsis is to write a synopsis. After you complete the above exercise, you'll come into writing your own synopsis with practical experience and open eyes. As a result, the process won't be unfamiliar, and your work will be stronger.

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Best practices when writing A Film SYNOPSIS

4. the don’ts of writing a film synopsis.

Now that you know how to write a synopsis, let's take a look at how to avoid common mistakes.

While there are no hard and fast rules to answer what is a synopsis, it's best to avoid the following errors when writing one:

  • Don’t mention too many characters. We don't need the backstory on the waitress at the bar where the two main characters talk. A brief synopsis means you have to let go of these unnecessary elements.
  • Don't use too much detail about plot twists and turns. If you explain what someone does and why in your movie synopsis, the twists and turns will make sense to the reader.
  • Don't editorialize your film synopsis. We don't need flowery, superfluous language like "in a poignant scene" or "like two star-crossed lovers." Get to the point quickly and clearly.
  • Don't make it a marketing tool. Writing a synopsis shouldn't be like writing a pitch deck or a creative brief. A movie synopsis should be a preview of what the story is and who's in it, that way the reader can see how you executed and wrote the story.
  • Don't rush to the end . As we said earlier, a brief synopsis should be your goal, but it can be hard to learn how to write a synopsis if you don't have any meat in the middle. That great ending won’t pay off if we don’t know or understand the journey to get there.

When it comes down to how to write a synopsis (and figuring what is a synopsis) the best bet is to tackle the basics of the story head-on.

Save the literary flourishes for the actual script and keep it to the meat and potatoes of the story. The goal here is to provide a brief synopsis, a basic plot synopsis.

You’ll expand and get into nuance and dialogue later, when you actually write the script.

FREE Download: Movie Synopsis Template

Movie Synopsis Template

Write your movie synopsis more effectively with our FREE Movie Synopsis template. Enter your email address to receive it instantly.


5. a synopsis is a summary.

Let’s summarize our synopsis guidance.

How to write a synopsis comes down to a few things.

What is a synopsis?

A synopsis is a one-page write-up that explains the basic plot and world of your project. Who’s who, what’s what, and why should we care.

Who writes a movie synopsis?

Well, the writer definitely should. But also readers.

If anyone is covering an agent's or an executive's desk, they're going to break down and analyze dozens of scripts. Doing so will require writing a clear, brief synopsis for every project.

We have provided solid rules about best practices when writing a synopsis.

But even after you’ve written a good synopsis , make sure your story is structurally sound before moving into the outline, treatment, and script phases.

Using templates and techniques like story circle can help ensure any writer that the structure of their script leads to a dynamic narrative.

That way, when you start figuring out how to write a synopsis for a project, you won't have to worry about any dragging or lagging elements.

After all, no one wants to read a soggy second act. A good synopsis, written with our free template as a guide, will kickstart your storytelling process on the right foot.

How to Write Script Coverage

As you see now, synopses are mainstays on both sides of the industry — business and creative. That's a clear indicator of their importance and why you need to be able to answer the question: what is a synopsis?

More importantly, if you’re a storyteller, you need to know how to write a synopsis.

Now that we’ve given you the tools to write a synopsis, it’s time to learn how to analyze a script. Take it to the next level and find out how to write screenplay coverage like a professional industry reader.

Up Next: How to Write Script Coverage →

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  • How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples

How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples

Published on November 23, 2020 by Shona McCombes . Revised on May 31, 2023.

Summarizing , or writing a summary, means giving a concise overview of a text’s main points in your own words. A summary is always much shorter than the original text.

There are five key steps that can help you to write a summary:

  • Read the text
  • Break it down into sections
  • Identify the key points in each section
  • Write the summary
  • Check the summary against the article

Writing a summary does not involve critiquing or evaluating the source . You should simply provide an accurate account of the most important information and ideas (without copying any text from the original).

Table of contents

When to write a summary, step 1: read the text, step 2: break the text down into sections, step 3: identify the key points in each section, step 4: write the summary, step 5: check the summary against the article, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about summarizing.

There are many situations in which you might have to summarize an article or other source:

  • As a stand-alone assignment to show you’ve understood the material
  • To keep notes that will help you remember what you’ve read
  • To give an overview of other researchers’ work in a literature review

When you’re writing an academic text like an essay , research paper , or dissertation , you’ll integrate sources in a variety of ways. You might use a brief quote to support your point, or paraphrase a few sentences or paragraphs.

But it’s often appropriate to summarize a whole article or chapter if it is especially relevant to your own research, or to provide an overview of a source before you analyze or critique it.

In any case, the goal of summarizing is to give your reader a clear understanding of the original source. Follow the five steps outlined below to write a good summary.

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how to write summary for film

You should read the article more than once to make sure you’ve thoroughly understood it. It’s often effective to read in three stages:

  • Scan the article quickly to get a sense of its topic and overall shape.
  • Read the article carefully, highlighting important points and taking notes as you read.
  • Skim the article again to confirm you’ve understood the key points, and reread any particularly important or difficult passages.

There are some tricks you can use to identify the key points as you read:

  • Start by reading the abstract . This already contains the author’s own summary of their work, and it tells you what to expect from the article.
  • Pay attention to headings and subheadings . These should give you a good sense of what each part is about.
  • Read the introduction and the conclusion together and compare them: What did the author set out to do, and what was the outcome?

To make the text more manageable and understand its sub-points, break it down into smaller sections.

If the text is a scientific paper that follows a standard empirical structure, it is probably already organized into clearly marked sections, usually including an introduction , methods , results , and discussion .

Other types of articles may not be explicitly divided into sections. But most articles and essays will be structured around a series of sub-points or themes.

Now it’s time go through each section and pick out its most important points. What does your reader need to know to understand the overall argument or conclusion of the article?

Keep in mind that a summary does not involve paraphrasing every single paragraph of the article. Your goal is to extract the essential points, leaving out anything that can be considered background information or supplementary detail.

In a scientific article, there are some easy questions you can ask to identify the key points in each part.

If the article takes a different form, you might have to think more carefully about what points are most important for the reader to understand its argument.

In that case, pay particular attention to the thesis statement —the central claim that the author wants us to accept, which usually appears in the introduction—and the topic sentences that signal the main idea of each paragraph.

Now that you know the key points that the article aims to communicate, you need to put them in your own words.

To avoid plagiarism and show you’ve understood the article, it’s essential to properly paraphrase the author’s ideas. Do not copy and paste parts of the article, not even just a sentence or two.

The best way to do this is to put the article aside and write out your own understanding of the author’s key points.

Examples of article summaries

Let’s take a look at an example. Below, we summarize this article , which scientifically investigates the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Davis et al. (2015) set out to empirically test the popular saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples are often used to represent a healthy lifestyle, and research has shown their nutritional properties could be beneficial for various aspects of health. The authors’ unique approach is to take the saying literally and ask: do people who eat apples use healthcare services less frequently? If there is indeed such a relationship, they suggest, promoting apple consumption could help reduce healthcare costs.

The study used publicly available cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants were categorized as either apple eaters or non-apple eaters based on their self-reported apple consumption in an average 24-hour period. They were also categorized as either avoiding or not avoiding the use of healthcare services in the past year. The data was statistically analyzed to test whether there was an association between apple consumption and several dependent variables: physician visits, hospital stays, use of mental health services, and use of prescription medication.

Although apple eaters were slightly more likely to have avoided physician visits, this relationship was not statistically significant after adjusting for various relevant factors. No association was found between apple consumption and hospital stays or mental health service use. However, apple eaters were found to be slightly more likely to have avoided using prescription medication. Based on these results, the authors conclude that an apple a day does not keep the doctor away, but it may keep the pharmacist away. They suggest that this finding could have implications for reducing healthcare costs, considering the high annual costs of prescription medication and the inexpensiveness of apples.

However, the authors also note several limitations of the study: most importantly, that apple eaters are likely to differ from non-apple eaters in ways that may have confounded the results (for example, apple eaters may be more likely to be health-conscious). To establish any causal relationship between apple consumption and avoidance of medication, they recommend experimental research.

An article summary like the above would be appropriate for a stand-alone summary assignment. However, you’ll often want to give an even more concise summary of an article.

For example, in a literature review or meta analysis you may want to briefly summarize this study as part of a wider discussion of various sources. In this case, we can boil our summary down even further to include only the most relevant information.

Using national survey data, Davis et al. (2015) tested the assertion that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and did not find statistically significant evidence to support this hypothesis. While people who consumed apples were slightly less likely to use prescription medications, the study was unable to demonstrate a causal relationship between these variables.

Citing the source you’re summarizing

When including a summary as part of a larger text, it’s essential to properly cite the source you’re summarizing. The exact format depends on your citation style , but it usually includes an in-text citation and a full reference at the end of your paper.

You can easily create your citations and references in APA or MLA using our free citation generators.

APA Citation Generator MLA Citation Generator

Finally, read through the article once more to ensure that:

  • You’ve accurately represented the author’s work
  • You haven’t missed any essential information
  • The phrasing is not too similar to any sentences in the original.

If you’re summarizing many articles as part of your own work, it may be a good idea to use a plagiarism checker to double-check that your text is completely original and properly cited. Just be sure to use one that’s safe and reliable.

If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools , citation , and plagiarism , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • ChatGPT vs human editor
  • ChatGPT citations
  • Is ChatGPT trustworthy?
  • Using ChatGPT for your studies
  • What is ChatGPT?
  • Chicago style
  • Paraphrasing


  • Types of plagiarism
  • Self-plagiarism
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Academic integrity
  • Consequences of plagiarism
  • Common knowledge

A summary is a short overview of the main points of an article or other source, written entirely in your own words. Want to make your life super easy? Try our free text summarizer today!

A summary is always much shorter than the original text. The length of a summary can range from just a few sentences to several paragraphs; it depends on the length of the article you’re summarizing, and on the purpose of the summary.

You might have to write a summary of a source:

  • As a stand-alone assignment to prove you understand the material
  • For your own use, to keep notes on your reading
  • To provide an overview of other researchers’ work in a literature review
  • In a paper , to summarize or introduce a relevant study

To avoid plagiarism when summarizing an article or other source, follow these two rules:

  • Write the summary entirely in your own words by paraphrasing the author’s ideas.
  • Cite the source with an in-text citation and a full reference so your reader can easily find the original text.

An abstract concisely explains all the key points of an academic text such as a thesis , dissertation or journal article. It should summarize the whole text, not just introduce it.

An abstract is a type of summary , but summaries are also written elsewhere in academic writing . For example, you might summarize a source in a paper , in a literature review , or as a standalone assignment.

All can be done within seconds with our free text summarizer .

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, May 31). How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved November 9, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/working-with-sources/how-to-summarize/

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How to Write a Movie Synopsis That Sells (Free Template)

Knowing how to write a movie synopsis is an absolute must for anyone trying to shop a screenplay or work within hollywood. .

How to Write a Film Movie Synopsis

At some point or another, we all have told a story to a friend. If we're tight on time, we've given them the highlights — just the big emotional punches and payoffs. And if we told it well, we get the reaction we wanted. That story would be a synopsis, and when you work in Hollywood, you have to master that art. Being able to provide a synopsis is an excellent and essential skill to have across the board in this town. 

Today we'll learn how to write a synopsis, look at an example, go through a screenplay synopsis checklist, and get our film synopsis skills going. 

So let's go! 

Table of Contents

What is a movie synopsis?

This is a summary of the plot and story of your screenplay. It covers all three acts and all the relevant emotional beats to go along with the character arcs . 

How long is a movie synopsis? 

A synopsis is usually one to three pages long, depending on what you're using it to do within the industry. If you want to see us go deep on a synopsis and summary for the massive film Dune , you can get a pretty good idea!

What about a TV episode synopsis? 

Yes, you need to write a synopsis of the pilot and subsequent episodes in your screenplay bible. So, what do those script synopses incorporate? You want them to be around one page for the pilot, and then have each next episode be 1-2 paragraphs in length. Enough to detail the significant events and ending of each chapter. Again, You'll only use these in the bible. When you're submitting episodes to be approved by the network, you'll provide a treatment . 

What belongs in your screenplay synopsis? 

When you're writing a synopsis, you want to cover each act and story beat that matters. I like to think of a screenplay synopsis as an extended trailer with an ending. You want to build the best version of the story that covers the beats that matter in the world makes this work viable in the marketplace. 

So what should be in your synopsis?  

Movie/TV synopsis checklist: 

  • Limit your synopsis to one to three pages
  • Define each act and what moment marks each act break
  • Give us the world of the story and how each character arcs 
  • Include the most critical conflict or events in the story. 
  • Each paragraph needs to flow into the next, like a coherent story 
  • Include a sentence or two about your ending and how you leave the characters
  • Let the tone of the screenplay come across in the way you write 
  • Proofread your synopsis for style, grammar, and usage.

Who uses a screenplay synopsis?  

Your screenplay synopsis is a great tool to master for your first job as a Hollywood assistant , mainly because you'll spend most of your nights and weekends writing coverage for your boss. If you're working on a film treatment or an outline, you want a synopsis to be able to communicate your story and its beats to an audience. Also, as a writer, sometimes I send a one-page synopsis to producers to get them excited about reading my full draft or to help them sell it in the international market at a festival like Berlin or Cannes. 

People use these all over the industry. On your first day as an intern, you might be asked to write four or five of them. So get good at it quickly!  

Movie synopsis example

If you want to read an example, look at this one provided by Script Mag . It takes the story of A Few Good Men and boils it down to all the relevant details. This one is written as it belongs in a screenplay coverage. It highlights the characters, world, stakes, and ties everything up neatly in the end.  

This example clues us in on the way to write and summarize even a complicated story. 

What about this one from Ransom provided by Writer's Digest ?  

"TOM MULLEN is a rich businessman who made his fortune creating a successful airline company from scratch. While he and his family are in Central Park, his son, SEAN, is kidnapped. Tom and his wife KATE’s worst nightmares are confirmed when a kidnapper contacts them and demands a $2 million ransom. The Mullens call the FBI for help.

After being kidnapped, Sean is held in a basement. There are not one but five kidnappers, all working together—led by violent police detective JIMMY SHAKER, who resents rich men like Tom who can buy their way out of trouble and are oblivious to the hardships of those around them. Shaker tells his conspirators that the boy will be killed once the ransom is given. Shaker anonymously calls Tom and arranges a dropoff. Tom follows all directions and hands the $2 million to one of Shaker’s henchmen. When Tom demands his son in return, the henchman is confused. The henchman flees, but police swarm the area. Gunshots are traded, and the henchman is killed.

News of the shooting/ransom appears all over the NYC media, adding to Tom’s problems. Shaker sets up another drop, but Tom surprises everyone by appearing on live TV and saying he will pay no ransom. Instead, he offers the $2 million as a bounty on the kidnapper’s head. He says if Sean is released, he will press no charges. The bold move is met by disapproval by the media, the FBI, and most especially Kate, who screams at her husband to take back the bounty and pay the ransom. Tom explains that he would pay  any  amount of money if he really thought Sean would truly be returned, but he believes the kidnappers have no intention of giving Sean back; therefore, a bounty is his best option. Kate is unconvinced.

More Shaker phone calls come, and threats are exchanged. Despite the pleading of Kate and the FBI, Tom publicly ups the bounty to $4 million. Shaker calls and fires a gunshot, making the Mullens believe Sean is dead. Tom collapses from despair. Meanwhile, Shaker’s cohorts all want to abandon the plan, kill the boy, and leave town. Realizing his plan has unraveled, Shaker kills his remaining co-conspirators, under the guise that he, a policeman, came upon an apartment where the tenants opened fire. Sean is found and rescued, and Shaker is hailed as a hero cop by the media.

Soon after, Shaker arrives at Tom’s apartment to collect his $4 million reward. As Tom is writing the check, he notices his son in the next room urinate in fear (as the boy recognizes Shaker’s voice). Shaker knows the jig is up and threatens to kill everyone in the house, but Tom convinces him to go to the bank so the money can be wired. En route, Tom tips off police to the situation. Cops converge on Tom and Shaker outside the bank. Shaker panics and opens fire. A running shootout ensues, and Shaker is killed when both Tom and the police return fire on Shaker at the same time. "

Again, this helps us encapsulate a movie and is written in an exciting way that sells both the concept and the feature that follows. It includes important twists and turns that push the story forward. We understand the acts too. It seems like writing a movie synopsis can be hard, but when I get overwhelmed I like to think about the three most important keys to the script synopsis. 

What are the three keys to a great story synopsis?

We love lists, and I like boiling things down for our readers. The truth is, your movie synopsis is not hard to write if you remember these three things: 

  • Accurately tell your story in the tone intended. If it's a comedy, make us laugh. If it's a mystery, surprise us. If it's a thriller, scare us. 
  • It makes sense with the first read. No extraneous plot points or tangents. It's the story and just the story.
  • The person reading it can easily retell it to someone else without getting confused or caught up. 

Movie/TV synopsis template

To make your life easier, I came up with this script synopsis template you can use when working on your material. You've probably read our article on the  logline , but you might want to refresh yourself on skills like character development  to make sure the beats we see in the synopsis in each act give us the emotional things to go along with plot and story. 

So check out our template and put it to good use! 

What's next?  Use our Story Map ! 

Are you trying to get the beats of your synopsis onto the page? Try our story map outlining tool! We all know writing a screenplay is incredibly hard. While it gets easier as you go, every story is a new battle. When I sit down to write, I chase  treatments , beat sheets, and  outlines  before I open my  screenwriting software  to tackle the story. One thing that's always helped me is thinking about the writing process like a search for buried treasure mostly because I love a good treasure hunt movie. 

If you want advice on screenwriting, here are 10 tips from Taika Waititi , and 10 more screenwriting tips from Christopher Nolan !

Lastly, be sure to check out our guide to calculating minutes per page . Once you're done writing you'll want to get a sense of how long this thing might be!

'Killers of the Flower Moon' SFX Coordinator Breaks Down the Epic's Biggest Effects

Killers of the flower moon special effects coordinator brandon k. mclaughlin sits down to chat with no film school.

Killers of the Flower Moon is traditional big-budget filmmaking at its finest. It is the type of film that feels almost rare these day, and when you catch a moment that sparks your interest (both as an audience member and as a filmmaker), you want to know more.

Killers was a film that took Martin Scorsese and his team half a decade to make, filming on location in Osage Nation in Oklahoma, working against the changing climates, burn seasons, and limited resources. Yet, none of this is present in the film largely thanks to special effects coordinator, Brandon K. McLaughlin .

McLaughlin is a filmmaker whose lengthy career has been marked by big-budget action films from Twister , The Hunger Games series, and the Yellowstone spinoff series 1889 . He is a master at his job, and has wisdom that any aspiring or currently working special effects filmmaker should listen to.

In this interview, special effects coordinator Brandon K. McLaughlin discusses his work on the film Killers of the Flower Moon , collaborating with Martin Scorsese to pull of the film's best shots, and the logistically challenges of working in remote locations.

Editor's Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

NFS: How did you join this project and what made you excited to be on such a big Western epic like Killers ?

Brandon K. McLaughlin: It's the type of film that I like to be involved in. That's the type of film that I feel my talent and my department can amplify and add to the storyline. It's also the type that you get to be creative, doing something that... yeah, we're going to do oil. I've done four different oil derricks, but this one, we're not going to do it exactly like we did the last one. We want it to be a little bit different. It's just the challenge that was going to come with it.

That's the kind of thing that excites me, that drives me to work on films like that, where it's not just you're handed a script and you don't talk to anybody and just expect to flip a car or blow a house up or so on and so forth. Marty's very particular, and he knows exactly what he wants. If you can't pull through and give him what he wants, he'll let you know.

I'm not interested in the big blow-'em-up films. I'm more interested in telling stories. I'm more interested in telling a story that's closer to an art form than a movie, and it makes you sit there and think about what we just presented you and not the type of film where you go to just get away from average everyday life for two and a half hours. So that's my biggest drive. That's what drives me to those types of films.

NFS: What's beautiful, too, is that your work is really showcased on the screen. It's not just happening. It's a moment that matters in the story.

McLaughlin: And they're big moments. They're big moments. And if there weren't the... gags is what we call them, that we did, it wouldn't be the same story point.

NFS: Can you walk me through a little bit of your process of what the beginning of creating a gag. How does it go from the script to something that's actually tangible?

McLaughlin: In my department, in special effects, physical effects, there is pretty much a general way to do every gag. There's a general way to flip a car, but because you flipped a car and made it rotate once on one show, this show, they want you to make it flip twice. So it's just a matter of tweaking the pressure and making it a little bit different.

That being said, when you're handed a script and you're asked to break it down. You're never going to shoot the script in continuity, which means how you read the script isn't how you're going to shoot it. You never do it that way. You never go into production and physically shoot a movie that way. Usually, they're broken up to locations. You go to different locations.

Anyway, you read the script and you have an idea of what you're going to do to showcase what your effect is going to be for the specific scene in the movie. You jot that down. Once you have a good idea, you've read through the script, you have meetings with the producers and the UPM and the director, and you discuss it further. So, "This is what I was thinking," or you show a video, "Am I close? Is this what we're talking about?"

"Yeah, but you want to tweak it this way and you want to kind of do it this way." "No, I want to have it go this way." So that's how you would do it. That's how every effects guy would do it. Then, you tailor it to fit with what is being required by the director, how the director wants to tell the story. "I don't want white sparks, I want green sparks." They're still sparks, you still ignite them the same way, but we change them from white to green.

It's a lot of talk. It's a lot of meetings, a lot of talking just to make sure that you're on the right page. And with Marty, he knows exactly what he wants, which is great because you work with a lot of directors where they're like, "Well, I don't know. Show me a couple tests." Then, you end up spending a month testing the same gag. Right? Sometimes you kind of have to step in and put your foot in and go, "Hey, this is the way we should shoot this, and this is X, Y and Z, Y."

Martin Scorsese on the set of 'Killers of the Flower Moon

Credit: CBS

NFS: I love directors who know exactly what they see in their head and can translate it to the rest of the crew.

McLaughlin: It makes it so much easier. It makes it so much easier and much more pleasurable to work with because you're not guessing. I'm not guessing all the time, "Well, I hope he likes this." You're not walking into meetings going, "I don't know which one he's going to pick. I have no idea." Because usually you can feel it. Usually, you can read a script and you kind of have an idea of what to present to the director. There's lines in the script, there's dialogue before what happens, and there's dialogue after what happens, which gives you good detail of how it's supposed to play.

It's not just an explosion. It's an explosion, but we want two-by-fours to fly over here, and, "Oh my gosh, I went to the car and there was this in the car." If you read the script, it'll give you pretty much all the information that you need to start and throw some tests down. Once you throw tests down, you give them to the director or show them to the director, and you talk through them and go, "No, I can change that," or, "I can make that a little bit smaller," and then do another test and that usually nails it. Then, you start filming, and the test is what you do on the day.

NFS: W as there any moment in Killers of the Flower Moon , in the script, where you looked at it and you the creative freedom to create the gag that you wanted to see on screen?

McLaughlin: Believe it or not, I was excited about the rain at Hale's house. We do exterior rain on the windows when they're sitting down around the table. That was actually something that was decided the day before because the weather was going to be bad. I told [Martin], I said, "Let's just put rain on the windows. You'll never know that it's not raining outside, but it's dark and cloudy, and if it does rain, we can just continue shooting." You don't want to start shooting a scene and halfway through the day, all of a sudden it starts raining outside, then you have to re-shoot the scene.

Then the vault explosion. The vault explosion, I was excited about because it's not just your atypical explosion. I mean, it specifically says in the script that Ace Kirby does not know what he's doing. Then, he has no idea what he's doing pyro-wise.

That was fun because it was like, "OK, so how are we going to make this look from somebody who does know how to do pyrotechnics to somebody who doesn't know how to do pyrotechnics?" That was kind of fun. That was a fun little battle right there with myself because it was, "I don't know, geez, how would I do this?" So that was fun. That was fun. Then, working with Marty, being able to collaborate with somebody who has a great track record. He's got great films under his belt.

Being in the business, you have to love what you do. I love being a filmmaker. I just happen to love being a filmmaker from my end of the job, not a director, an actor, or anything else.

NFS: I could never know how to flip a car, so your insight is-

McLaughlin: It's actually pretty simple. Almost all the stuff we do is pretty simple. Once you see it, you're like, "Oh, okay, I get it. Well, yeah, why didn't I think of that?" But it's years and years and years of doing stuff. When I got in, we weren't flipping cars the way we do now. 28 years ago, we weren't flipping cars the same way. Technology's advanced, computers advance, and always there's new ways to do things.

'Killers of the Flower Moon'

Credit: Apple TV+/Paramount Pictures

NFS: Are there any moment on Killers that you use a new tech or anything to create a gag?

McLaughlin: No. There was a challenge that I was thrown that I had to design a fire suppression system because they were concerned about Molly's house, which was a set that we built. I had to do a 200-foot area around it so that fire wouldn't get to it because in Oklahoma, in June when we started shooting, they burn all the grass. It's everywhere. Everybody's ranch is burning grass and the producers and UPM and everybody was really concerned about losing the set that they had just spent a lot of money building. So they had asked me, "Can you put together a suppression system?" That was fun. That was challenging. It was something that I hadn't done before.

But you've done things that are kind of like it, so you have a starting point to go from, and then you just redesign it to fit within that ask or that need. That was interesting to do, but that was it. Everything else is atypical.

There's several ways to do effects, and it just depends on what fits the script the best and how they're going to film it. That's also a big key, too, because we play tricks on camera. If camera's looking at something specifically one way, then you can rig it a certain way. If the camera's going to look at somebody, if it's a profile shot, you can do a bullet hit a specific way. If it's a head-on shot, you have to do the bullet hit a different way, but it's the same bullet hit. It's still going to give you the same product. You just have to rig it differently.

NFS: Being with special effects, I assume that you have to work a bit with the VFX companies as well. What is that relationship like for you?

Brandon K. McLaughlin: Most of the time, it's pretty decent. Most of the time, the visual effects department is asking us to do as much as we can practically in front of camera because it looks better. And they'll tell you that, too. But a lot of the time, it comes down to time. It takes time for us to do things. I mean, there's no way to do a bullet hit faster. There's the way we do it. It takes about five minutes to do two takes. In visual effects, you've got all in post, you're done filming, so it doesn't matter. That's usually what is decided upon is that visual effects will do all of the bullet hits, but they have to remove wires from us sometimes. It's a hand in hand.

It's usually a trade-off, "Hey, what can you do? What's the cost of you doing it to the cost of me doing it? Do you have the time to do it?" "No." "OK, I'll do that." So it's kind of a give and take sometimes. Some visual effects guys like smoke. If they're going to add something to a scene, they don't care if they're smoke in there. Some visual effects guys can't stand it. It makes it difficult. So every time, if you haven't worked with somebody, there's questions that I hit them with right off the bat. If I know that there's going to be smoke in a set and I know that they're going to have to do a visual effect, well, that's one of the questions. "How do you feel about smoke? Do you want me to put it in for the scene? Do you not want me to put it in for the scene?" So we're hand in hand. We know each other quite well.

NFS: T hen I'm curious, is the smoke for the train station, is that all practical as well?

McLaughlin: Every single bit of it.

NFS: It looks really great.

McLaughlin: Yeah, we had a boiler. Some of those scenes that you see, the train wasn't there. We had already lost the train and there were some pickup shots, so I just added steam in there so that we kind of blocked it. We blocked where the train was, and they just put a train behind the steam so that it wasn't a real train, in other words, to get away with it. So yeah, there's little tricks that the average moviegoer doesn't know. There's a lot. We do a lot. We do a lot. Not just blow stuff up. Everybody says that, too. "Oh my God, I'd love to be an effects guy. I want to blow everything up." I'm like, "That's not even a 1/16 of my job."

NFS: What would you say is 80% of your job? Would it be just controlling the sets?

McLaughlin: No, I'd say 80% of my job is logistics, making sure that we're going to go shoot the train, making sure the boiler's there, making sure we have water for the boiler, making sure we have propane for the boiler, making sure I've got the allocated guys to be on set. Being a coordinator that is coordinating the show, that's the biggest part of my job. The biggest part of effects itself is lending its hand to amplify the story. And if the story includes some pyrotechnics, then we do the pyrotechnics. But most of the time, we're not doing pyrotechnics.

NFS: For Killers , what do you believe the most challenging part of this entire production was for you?

McLaughlin: The oil for the opening sequence. All it said in the script was the oil was bubbling up from the ground and the Indians were dancing around it, and it was raining on top of them. OK, so what we've done in the past is there's a product that we use. I ordered the product. I did a bunch of tests. I put it through rain towers, and we shot it up with a fire hose, and we had people dancing around it. Marty was very specific on the droplet size on what was hitting, which you get into fluid dynamics and how are you going to push it through the rain bar? Are you going to use a different rain head? Are you going to push air through the hose to come out a specific way? I mean, he just opened a can of worms when he's like, "Well, I want the drips to look like a jelly bean."

And the color. The color was a big issue. When we went to go shoot it, it was back lit heavily by the sun. When you backlight that product, it looks more like Coca-Cola than it looks like oil. But oil's brown. And he wanted black. And nobody had said anything to me about that until we got to the day, and it was highly backlit. So I ended up having to keep a little bit of equipment behind because we were... the day we shot that was the last week of filming, and I had to hold back some equipment and order new product, black product. And we shot that a week after, a week into my wrap, cleaning up all my tools and sending them away. Then we went out there for one day and we re-shot that. Marty was in New York, and we were Zooming with him on our computer, showing him the takes. "Is this what you want? Does this look good?" So that was the most challenging part of that movie. Everything else was not a big deal compared to that.

NFS: It looks stunning, and it's one of the best shots in the film.

NFS: The highest praise you can get.

Brandon K. McLaughlin: It was that and it was the fire. When we did the fire at Hale's, he gave me a big handshake and he looked at me and he said, "I've never seen that in all my movie making. I've never seen what we just did." And you should have heard him in the tent. [Marty said,] "Oh my God. BK, that's amazing. That's great. Oh, keep rolling, keep rolling, keep rolling." He was jumping up and down. He was like, "Oh my God." It was fun. It's fun when somebody of his stature and you're standing next to him and he's just going nuts. He's just going nuts. He loves it. He loves it.

That made me feel pretty good. That was fun. And it wasn't planned. It was just one of those things where the smoke, the fire, the positioning of the background artists and the camera lens that they were using and the distance that they were using the camera from, it just made this weird, dreamy kind of a feel that we weren't going for that was not planned. We never talked about anything like that. It just so happened that's what happened with it. And it was awesome. I was looking at it going, "I've never seen that before." The camera guy was looking at me going... it was amazing. That was amazing. I've never seen that before. So that was fun. That was a fun day. Even though we had some equipment break on us that day too, and we made the company wait for about half an hour. It felt like crap, but whatever.

NFS: How do you control fires that are burning like that in such a large space like at Hale's house?

McLaughlin: Well, part of it's where we did it. We were in Oklahoma, high humidity, high water content in the ground, so you don't have too much of a concern of a flash fire or a brush fire, setting a brush fire. What we did was where we placed all of our fire bars to do that is we pre-burned everything. Because it was at night, you would never have seen, it was far away. You'd never get a feel for it. Then every single fire source has a valve to turn it on and off, and a guy. So there's somebody watching specifically that fire. So if a actor or background artist or an animal gets close to it, he can immediately shut it off and not injure anybody. Then, in and around that area, of course, you don't see it, but there are two water trucks with fire hoses on them just in case we had an issue, and then fire extinguishers placed throughout.

If you think about the scene in your mind, the backside of Hale's house, if you had seen the backside of Hale's house, it was three propane manifolds, six guys, tons of hoses running out. I mean, you would've looked at it and went, "Oh my God." That's what I mean by playing a trick on camera. Once I knew how [Marty] was going to shoot it, I knew where I could place all my propane regulators and the valves and manifolds and how we could plumb everything. But you can show up there and go, "OK, I don't know how he's going to shoot this, and I know what the scene reads, but place this, this, and this and this." That stuff doesn't move overnight. That's a week to move everything. It was big piece. We had a thousand gallons of propane out there. With my vaporizers, we had 600 feet of two-inch iron pipe ran. It was well over a thousand feet of hose. I mean, manifolds. So it's all a collaboration. Everything, from the top down.

NFS: Do you have any advice to anybody who would like to work with the special effects coordinator or be one in the future?

McLaughlin: I know a lot of people don't like doing this nowadays, it's like we're in the world of instant gratification. But I would do it the way I did it. If that's truly what you want to do and that's in your heart and you cannot do anything else, then become a PA. Start working with an effects department and wait for your opportunity to join the union. Once you join the union, you work on films and you keep your mouth shut, your eyes open, and your ears open, and you learn and you learn, and you'll get to a point eventually, "Hey, why don't we do it this way?" Or so on and so forth. But that's how I came up. That's how I started. That's how I've got into this business. I would say to do it that way. I work with a lot of guys that are younger than me in their twenties. They just got in, and you'll talk to them before you hire them and go, "OK, so what are your qualifications? What can you do?" Being an effects guy, I have to know hydraulics. I have to know physics. I have to know fluid dynamics. I have to know wind. I have to know atmospheric weather patterns. I have to know fabrication. I have to know how to read a blueprint. I mean, the list goes on and on and on and on. Pyrotechnics. I have to be a machinist. So there's a lot that goes into it. You hire these guys nowadays, and they just say, "Well, I just want to be a welder, but I'm an effects guy." "Well, no, you're not an effects guy. Sorry. Because you don't know, I don't know, 90% of the things you're supposed to know. You just want to weld. You're just a fabricator."

That's what I would say is start from the bottom, sweeping the floors in the shop and learning with your eyes and your ears. I retain it better that way. There's no school you can go to. I've tried. There's little things here and there that you can get kind of a real basic course into it. Yeah, this is how we do this. But I would learn from the ground up.

NFS: What was your first project that you worked on that got you into the industry?

McLaughlin: Twister.

NFS: That was your first job? What was that experience like for you?

McLaughlin: I was 18 years old. It was a great experience. It was my first time ever leaving California. It was all shot in Oklahoma, was working with a bunch of great guys. We were doing a bunch of cool gags. I wasn't making any money, but I wasn't there to make money. I was there to learn. So I got bit by the bug. I got bit by the bug and I wanted more. I said I'd never go back. I'm saying it again, too.

NFS: Why is that?

Steel pipe, when I ordered all the pipe for the fire job, all had to come out of Oklahoma City. Being in Oklahoma City and working in the movie industry, I call them on a Monday expecting it in my hand on Tuesday. And they say, "Well, we'll get to it next week." So what do I do? I can't go to Marty and say, "Hey Marty, we got to push the schedule because I can't get pipe." So you have to factor all that in. So it's a lot of extra work for me, a lot of extra work for me.

NFS: What do you think the solution to something like that would be, if there is one?

McLaughlin: I don't think there's necessarily a solution. I think, which I do, when movies call you up and they say, "Hey, we want you to work and we're going to shoot here..." In fact, I do that. 1823 , the TV show, they called me for that. One of the first things I said to them was, "Well, let's talk about logistics. Where can I have a shop? Because you're doing it in a town of 5,000 people, there's no shop. The closest Home Depot is two hours away. That's four hours. That means one trip to Home Depot a day. So we need to factor in the time. We need to factor in... I can't prep this film in one month, but I can do it in two months."

So you can kind of nip it off at the bud before you even get started. I started on a show this week actually, and it's all just research and development and getting budgets together and going through it and finding out what my resources are and everything else. Now is the time that I have discussions with them about it. The people I'm working for now I've worked with before, and they totally get it. I mean, they understand it, but sometimes you get on these shows where it's like, "Well, we have X and we need to do X," and they don't want to budge.

Look, there's a way to make a film on a dollar, but you have to do it this way and this way and this way. You can't have everything that you want for a dollar. Things cost money, so give and take. You got to figure it out. So as long as you're upfront with it, I think that's the only solution.

Killers of the Flower Moon is now playing in theaters.

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How to Write a 500 Word Movie Summary in 40 minutes

how to write summary for film

Writing movie summaries for Blockbuster

Your job is to present the movie in an exciting and informative way without giving away spoilers. We are trying to get the reader to rent or buy the film from Blockbusters. And this is not supposed to be a review, more like a summary.

No spoilers!

Trivia or goofs.

In the Goofs section, please try to write about Goofs (mistakes made while filming) first of all. Sometimes, you can find some goofs in the IMDB page and you can also google it and that’s usually enough to find some. If you really can’t find anything, you will be able to use that text section to write more Trivia about the film instead. Just change the title into Trivia if you need to.

  • Priority should be writing about “Goofs.”
  • If you can’t find any, please write more about “Trivia.”


Please translate any quotes you find into the language you’re writing for. So, if you find quotes in English but you’re writing for Swedish Blockbuster, try to translate them as well as you can.

Please remember to make this text exciting and fun!

Also, make sure that you know what Blockbuster is offering! Streaming videos without subscription and you only pay for what you want to see.

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How to Write a Coherent and Compelling Movie Synopsis: The Key Steps

How to Write a Movie Synopsis

How to Write a Synopsis That Stands Out

You might think writing a movie synopsis is a chore when you’re slumped at your desk. Your eyes straining against the harsh LED light of your computer screen as you read the words; ‘The End.’ 

You’ve finally finished the screenplay that has taken over a large part of your life for who knows how long. You can relax, enjoy the sweet respite while it….

The movie synopsis. 

However, writing a synopsis isn’t something to be overlooked. It’s an important cog in the process of marketing your screenplay to prospective agents , producers, competitions. Moreover, it can be an important part of clarifying your story to yourself.

For this reason we’re going to look at the ins and outs of writing a great synopsis.

What Is The Movie Synopsis, and Why Is It Important?

A synopsis is a largely misunderstood and widely varied piece of writing.

Through a quick google search you’ll find a myriad of articles telling you just exactly how many pages it comprises, what the tone of it should be, how embellished or straight-forward the language used ought to be.

However, all of those inconsistencies aside, one thing is certain. It is crucial to taking your project forward. 

A synopsis is a piece of writing designed to summarise the key elements of your script into a short, succinct read. It’s short enough to keep the reader interested, and detailed enough to give them all the information they need.

So, it’s a short break down of the plot points, characters and story world. 

You’ll go through a number of routes in order to sell your script and one of those will require you to write such things as a logline , treatment and a synopsis. 

The first thing readers will see is the log-line. This will pique their interest but it’s the synopsis that’ll sell the script.

  • It’s here that they’ll see whether or not they like the story.
  • If the synopsis doesn’t captivate them there’s no chance they’ll be reading something as long as the treatment.
  • It’s the movie synopsis that really has to stand out, really has to capture their interest and excite their imagination.

So let’s start to take a look at how to write the most compelling and coherent movie synopsis possible.

So What Makes It A Movie Synopsis?

A movie synopsis is generally around half a page to a full page in length.

It’d be best not to go over that much as you risk the chance of losing the reader’s interest. Anything below that length starts to dip into the territory of a logline. Moreover, it will feel too slight. 

Now, let’s talk a bit about how we define a synopsis for a moment. If you do a quick search for examples of synopsis on the internet you’ll find numerous different formats. Some are three pages in length some are a couple of lines. 

This stems from a common misunderstanding as to just what a synopsis is. We’ve seen loglines labelled as synopsis’, treatments as well.

To clear up this confusion we’ll define each of them for you. 

Loglines, Treatments and Movie Synopsis

  • A logline is a very short summary of a film, written in one to two sentences. It will be a brief hook-line to capture an audiences’ interest in the fastest way possible.
  • A treatment is a much longer document, spanning over numerous pages, detailing character, plot points and even tone and visuals. 

When you read that definition you can understand why someone might think the treatment and the synopsis are one and the same.

  • A synopsis is a piece of writing which details the main character’s role within the story world, while also giving the reader an idea of the visual and narrative style.
  • It outlines the most important scenes and aspects of the film.
  • This informs the reader of all they need to know about the piece before deciding whether or not to look more deeply into the project. 

Sounds kind of like a treatment right? The difference between the two firstly lies in the length of each.

  • As we’ve previously discussed the movie synopsis will rarely extend past a page in length.
  • Whereas a treatment will be page upon page of writing.
  • A treatment will likely contain the movie synopsis within it. But it will be a much more detailed and comprehensive dive to the movie idea overall. 

This means that unlike the treatment the synopsis must get to the point of the story quickly and efficiently.

  • It must also communicate every piece of information needed to enable the reader to understand the most important aspects of the piece.
  • All the while also representing the narrative style of the piece through the style of writing.

Now that we’ve established just what defines the synopsis, we need to understand what is actually included in it. 

What Elements Will Make Up The Movie Synopsis?

1. establish main character.

Firstly, you must establish who your protagonist is. Who are they? What do they do? Do these things define how they react to the events of your story?

When you have the answers to these questions you have part of the information you need to begin writing your synopsis.

  • For example ‘Jack, a hardy fishmonger’ will very believably sail his boat into a storm to save a couple of teens stranded on a rock.
  • So including his job title in the synopsis makes sense to the reader and gives them a basis for how the character will react to the events that’ll unfold in the rest of the synopsis.

However, ‘Mimi, a young flower shop worker sets sail to save the lives of a group of teens stranded on stormy waters’ doesn’t make sense to anyone unless you include why she’s the best person for it.

  • ‘Mimi, a young flower shop worker and reluctant psychic’ could very well explain why Mimi is the most qualified for the job if you later you make the addition of;
  • ‘ Mimi sees a vision that shocks her to the core, but when she tries to find help she is disregarded as a kook as she tells the town of the young teens stranded out at sea in a coming storm. Thus she must take to the seas alone to save them, before it’s too late.’

Including this additional information is necessary to ensure the reader isn’t taken out of the believability of the story before they have a chance to read the rest of it.

Top 10 From Zero to Hero Movie Protagonists

2. Character’s Goal

Now that you’ve given us the main character you have to give us their goal.

An example of this was used in the previous example; a sudden vision came to Mimi and now she must save those in trouble.

You have to tell the audience what the goal of the main character will be throughout the movie, otherwise there’d be nothing to make the reader want to keep reading.

This goal will be a driving force for the narrative. It will push the protagonist forward and it will therefore push the story forward.

Having a sense of what this goal is from early on is important for the reader to get a sense of where the story might be going, its tone and the stakes.

3. Antagonist or Obstacle

Next up is the antagonist or obstacle that stands in the way of our main character and their goal.

In the example above, the obstacles could be the disbelieving villagers and the fast approaching storm.

  • Both of these things stand in the way of our protagonist,
  • and each of them will make the story far more interesting than it would be if the teens were simply chilling on a nice sunny rock amidst calm waters that they could simply swim back to shore through.

Omitting these details from your synopsis gives the reader no choice but to assume that there was no danger. No force working to thwart our main character. Thus we might well lose any interest we might have had in the story.

So you must define these elements. Ensure your reader can visualise the conflict, tension and suspense they can expect from these antagonising elements.


4. The Stakes

This brings us to our next element within the synopsis; the stakes.

What are the consequences if our main character fails in their goal?

  • In our example, if Mimi fails to find access to a boat in time then the teens are abandoned to their fate and must weather the storm without aid.
  • If Mimi’s boat crashes during the storm, then once again the teens will likely die in the storm without help coming.

All of these things are implied when you introduce the antagonist/obstacle, along with suggestive words like ‘before it’s too late. Therefore defining the stakes within your synopsis.

Establishing the stakes is important in creating an impression of what will keep the audience hooked and invested in the protagonist’s journey. 

5. Turning Points

A synopsis must also include a vague outline of the turning points within the story.

In our example these might be;

  • Mimi receives a vision >
  • she is turned away by the village and must go at it alone >
  • a kind fishmonger longing for adventure offers the use of his boat >
  • they begin their journey but are caught up in the storm and must fight to survive >
  • the storm subsides as we reach the eye of the storm, but we’ve lost our kind fishmonger, now Mimi must learn to sail before she finds herself in more danger >
  • we see the stranded teens but the second wave of the storm nears >
  • Mimi and the teens battle the storm as they try to make their way home >
  • they arrive home to find the villagers waiting for them with cheers of praise and delight, the young fishmonger stands amongst them shivering and proud >
  • they celebrate overcoming their difficult journey and return to their loved ones. 

You will outline the turning points in a written manner that flows seamlessly from one event to the other.

  • It must be concise; getting to the point of each event without waffling about elements of your story that don’t provide essential context necessary to understand the main plot line.

For example, we as the reader don’t really need to hear about how Jerry the fishmonger’s second cousin wished them a safe journey over a spot of tea before they set out. Unless it’s vital to the progression of the story, it’s not needed in the synopsis. 

6. Conclusion of the Movie Synopsis

Finally we end the movie synopsis with the conclusion. This rounds off the synopsis nicely and gives the reader a sense of how you intend to finish the story.

In the case of our example, the synopsis would outline how all of the teens were reunited with their families and how Mimi was praised for their rescue. 

Whilst it might seem obvious to you what would happen afterwards if you stopped at ‘the teens climbed aboard and they set sail for home’, that doesn’t tell the reader whether a bunch of inexperienced teens managed to arrive home safely.

  • Perhaps they couldn’t in fact sail through the storm and the movie ends as a tragedy?
  • Or perhaps the teens made it out but Mimi was lost out at sea; a valiant sacrifice for the lives of the teens, and a stark reminder for the villagers and also the audience that you shouldn’t dismiss everyone based on your own beliefs.

So the synopsis needs to have a conclusion in order to convey to the reader the tone of the film, and allow them to understand the overall narrative you wish to convey.

What impression are you leaving your audience with? Is this a feel good story with a feel good ending? Or a dark tragedy with a hopeless and bleak ending? 

Se7en Conclusion

The Technical Aspects of Writing a Movie Synopsis

What are some of the technicalities essential to writing a synopsis?

1. Present Tense

The movie synopsis must be written in the present tense and in the third person.

You might be tempted to try something outside the box, trying a new, edgy style of writing wherein you write in first person, or even second person. You might hope this’ll make your synopsis stand out amongst the pile. It’s unlikely this will have the desired effect. 

Producers and Screenplay Readers aren’t desperate to be wowed by the synopsis. They don’t need to get a sense of how your writing pushes the boundaries here. If you’re confident your writing can do this, then leave it for a treatment or for the screenplay itself.

Readers weary of reading hundreds of scripts just want a concise and easy to read break down of the story. Your script might be one of many read that day.

Ingenuity in the synopsis isn’t likely to be the thing that wows the reader. They want the story itself to do that. And the synopsis is how to get this across.

2. Build Interest

Second, you must build interest throughout the movie synopsis; start big and end bigger. You can’t start your synopsis with the climax of the movie and then hope to supplement it with the other elements that now pale in comparison. 

A reader wants things to escalate.

  • You need to hook them in the beginning with high stakes. Then build and build upon those stakes with additional twists and turns.
  • Keep the reader on the edge of their seat, before relieving them of their anxiety and built up emotions in one colourful burst of excitement at the climax of the story.
  • Then bring them down nice and gently with the conclusion.

This speaks to the technicality of how to build a story in general. You’re hooking your audience in, keeping them engaged and leaving them satisfied.

A good way to think of the structure of the synopsis is if you think of writing the synopsis in terms of acts:

You set the scene and provide any additional key information necessary to understand the following events and you end with the inciting incident. This section should come up around 2 – 3 paragraphs.

This is where the bulk of the story will be. You’ll introduce the obstacles/antagonists, you’ll provide details of the plot twists, the turning points etc. This section can come up to around 4 – 8 paragraphs.

This is the final act. This will portray the culmination of the protagonist’s efforts, the overcoming of their obstacles, their character arc and their growth. Most importantly it will be the climax of their story. The moment we’ve all been waiting for, followed shortly thereafter by the conclusion of the story.

Limitless Bradley Cooper Writer

Getting Started On Your Movie Synopsis:

It can be hard to jumpstart this process of writing a synopsis.

To get going, look at examples of synopsis from films you’ve enjoyed and make note of the key information within them:

  • Main character
  • What they do/who they are
  • Inciting incident
  • Protagonist goal
  • Obstacle/Antagonist
  • Each key turning point
  • Climax of the story
  • Character growth
  • Conclusion of events.

Find patterns within the examples you study; where do the elements you’ve highlighted fall more often than not?

Are there patterns to where the elements of the synopsis fall? For example, perhaps most movie synopsis have revealed the character’s goal by the second paragraph?

When you’ve studied and identified the structure of successful synopsis you can start to practice writing your own.

Do this with films you like. Don’t look at their synopsis. Write your own first and then read the official synopsis of the film and see how yours compares.

Perhaps you could have a friend look at it and see what they think.

When you have practised writing synopsis enough that you feel your writing is to a standard you’re happy with, then you can start writing your own synopsis using the skills you’ve learned.

Movie Synopsis Writing Tips:

Here are some tips to consider when writing your synopsis. 

1. Be Concise.

If you waffle on about your main character’s irrelevant neighbour you’re going to lose your audience’s interest.

Everything you write into your synopsis must have a purpose. You have to get to the point as soon as you can while maintaining a sense of your narrative style within your writing.

2. Don’t Hide Things.

Don’t try to hide anything from the reader. While you might do that in a logline to maintain mystery and intrigue, you won’t do this in a synopsis.

The synopsis is there to help the reader understand your story before they decide to read your treatment. Leaving out key details will lead the reader to think the story isn’t finished. They may feel it is missing aspects that you know are in there, but they don’t.

Don’t leave out key details, give the reader all the information they need to understand how the story will play out. 

3. Be Decisive.

You can’t waste the reader’s time with aspects of the film that aren’t necessary to understanding the main plot.

Don’t include details of every scene in your movie. This will only slow things down and the reader might lose interest.

Therefore, when writing the synopsis we have to be decisive. Which scenes, and plot lines are the most essential? What aspects of the story arc and growth of your characters is pivotal?

The scenes that speak to these elements will be the ones included in your synopsis.

4. Maintain Visual Sense.

Write in a way that the visual sense of your script comes through in your writing. This’ll give reader a better sense of what your film is going to look like.

You might express the visual sense of the story in a number of different ways.

  • Immerse the reader in the story’s set pieces. For example, if there is a car chase, try and give an acute sense of the perspective of this car chase.
  • Include detail about the setting.
  • Try and give a small picture of the story’s potential dynamism. If a director read this synopsis, where would they see they could express their vision?

There is a fine line between including some of this detail and including too much. But as long as the elements you describe help in moving the story along then they won’t distract the reader.

A word or two can go a long way to creating an impression of the story’s visual element.

Baby Driver Car Chase Scene

5. Represent the Genre.

And finally, write in a way that represents the genre of your film. 

  • If it’s an action film your writing will be fast paced and punchy, with chase scenes, thrill and tension.
  • If it’s a romance then it might be slower, highlighting the characters’ emotional developments.

Whatever the genre of your film, you must convey it through your synopsis.

If you’re writing a horror it has to sound like a horror. Horrors described light heartedly will make the reader think your script might have the same contradictions.

The synopsis doesn’t always have to be purely functional in the way it gets through the story. It can be full of writing flair illustrating the potential tone and style of the movie.

You’re trying to convey the story. But you’re also trying to convey the feel of your story.

In Conclusion

Speak to both experienced screenwriters and experienced script readers and they’ll often tell you how difficult and tiresome it can be to write a synopsis.

It can be tricky to condense 90-120 pages of a story to one a half pages. It can be difficult to figure out what the main beats of a story are.

But not only is writing a synopsis essential for selling and marketing your screenplay, it can also be vital in understanding your story better. Breaking down the key beats and elements of your story can help clarify what it is important and what isn’t.

Practicing how to write a synopsis is one of the best ways to hone your skill as a writer. It’s easy to free-write, to sit in front of a blank page and let the words come out. It’s much harder to be careful and considered as to the importance of each sentence in telling a story as a whole.

Your story is a jigsaw and each sentence is an important piece. This is the best way to think of a movie synopsis – not the whole story but a picture of your story, each piece vital to understanding what it will eventually look like as a whole.

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This article was written by Lillian Royds and edited by IS Staff.

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6 thoughts on “How to Write a Coherent and Compelling Movie Synopsis: The Key Steps”

Loved the breakdown. Makes things easier.

Thank you so much. I’m highly grateful for reading every sentences. It really educated me.

Thank you very much. Great and useful article.

So glad you enjoyed it Dario!

I truly appreciate this article. As a college teacher handling film appreciation and media literary classes, among others, and a film enthusiast who someday intends to write my own screenplay, this article is so useful. The article is organised, easy to understand and digestible even for newbies or greenhorns in writing scripts.

I would appreciate receiving other reading materials/references I can use and share with my classes whenever appropriate and allowed.

Thanks Ludmilla! To be notified about new blog posts of ours simply sign up to the newsletter using the yellow button at the top right of the site.

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How to Write a Screenplay Synopsis: 7 Tips for Screenwriters

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Screenwriters , do you want to know how to write a screenplay synopsis but don’t know where to start?

I know how you feel. The first time a producer asked me to provide a synopsis to go with the script he asked for , I honestly wasn’t sure what to write. So, I cobbled together a basic breakdown of the story beats and sent it off in a hurry.

It was passable, but it was far from good. Luckily, I’ve come a long way since then. I’ve written dozens of synopses, not only for myself but for satisfied clients , and my biggest takeaway has been that the synopsis is as important – sometimes, maybe even more so – as the script itself.

It’s the document that sells the story, and it’s your one chance to make the right impression before the reader reads a single page of your script.

This guide will teach you how to write an excellent story synopsis that sells your script and intrigues potential buyers and industry professionals! Let’s get started!

  • Start with a strong hook to interest readers right away.
  • Introduce the main characters and the setting.
  • Give a brief overview of the plot (but don’t give away the ending!).
  • Touch on the movie’s main conflict.
  • Give the reader a feel for the theme(s) of the film.
  • Use active language and verbs throughout.
  • Keep it short (one page if possible, two at most!).

What is a Movie Synopsis?

A movie synopsis (also called a “one-page” or “single-page”) is a summary of the film’s major plot points and character arcs. It should give the reader an idea of the film and what to expect, but not give away everything!

A synopsis should not give away any major spoilers or twists but should instead provide a general overview of the entire script.

A well-written movie synopsis will also briefly mention the film’s key characters (especially the protagonist and antagonist ) and setting. In addition, a synopsis should try to capture the film’s tone and overall theme .

For example, a synopsis of The Shawshank Redemption would outline key story elements, such as that it is a period piece prison drama about two men – one wrongfully convicted for the murder of his wife, and the other a long-term prisoner – who form a bond through their 20 years together under terrible conditions.

It would then describe some of the critical moments in the script, such as Andy’s brutal treatment by guards and prisoners alike, his adaptation to become accepted by both groups, his inclusion into the Warden’s inner circle, and finally, his eventual chance at freedom. In addition, it might mention that it is a film about hope, friendship, and redemption.

infographic giving the definition of a synopsis for a screenplay or film

In short, a synopsis should give the reader a good idea of what the film is about without giving away too much.

The Importance of a Screenplay Synopsis

If you want to sell your screenplay, you need a synopsis. Why?

Because that’s what producers want to see when they’re considering whether or not to option your script!

A synopsis is typically a one-page script summary from beginning to end. It should include all the major beats of the plot, as well as introduce the main characters and their character arcs. Most importantly, it should be exciting and make the reader want to read the script.

How To Write a Film Synopsis That Stands Out

infographic on how to write an engaging script synopsis

The synopsis is vital when you’re trying to get someone interested in your screenplay. An excellent movie synopsis will give the reader an engaging overview of your story without giving too much away.

A well-written short synopsis can be an invaluable tool for marketing your screenplay or movie idea to agents, producers, and other industry professionals.

However, simply summarizing the plot in a generic way is not enough – your synopsis must also be well-written and engaging.

Here are a few movie synopsis writing tips for your next project:

Start with a strong hook

The first paragraph of your synopsis should grab the reader’s attention and give them a taste of what’s to come.

Introduce Your Main Character(s)

The first part of your synopsis should introduce your main character and emphasize character development. What does he or she want? What’s standing in the way? This is your protagonist’s goal (and the obstacles and/or conflicts they might face), which should be clear to the reader from the start!

Give An Overview of the Plot

Give a brief overview of the major plot points, but don’t give away the ending! You want to leave the reader wanting more and give them a reason to read the whole script. Remember, the point of a synopsis is to make the people who can help you actually make your movie (i.e., invest money, act in the film, help with editing or camerawork, etc) are interested enough in it to read the screenplay.

Touch on the Movie’s Main Conflict

Highlight the conflict and stakes. What happens if your protagonist doesn’t achieve his or her goal? Raising the stakes will make your story more compelling.

Reveal the Theme(s) of the Film

Highlight the themes of your story. What are you trying to say with your script? Make sure that your synopsis conveys the central messages of your narrative.

infographic showing how theme relates to storytelling

Use Active Language

Use strong verbs and active language. Write in the present tense, and make sure your synopsis is easy to read.

Keep It To About a Page in Length

Keep it brief. A synopsis should be no more than one or two pages. Any longer, and you risk losing the reader’s attention (and looking like you don’t know what you are doing!).

How to Use a Synopsis to Sell Your Screenplay

Producers often request a movie synopsis before they decide to read a complete screenplay, as it gives them a quick overview of the story and helps them to determine whether it is something they are interested in funding or making.

A well-written and convincing synopsis can be the difference between a producer taking an interest in a screenplay and passing it over!

A good synopsis should be no more than one or two pages long and should provide enough detail of a film’s storyline to give the reader a clear understanding of the plot and characters without giving away too much. Remember, film professionals prefer brevity, so always aim for a one-page synopsis!

When writing your film synopsis, you’ll want to focus on the key elements of the story and avoid including unnecessary details or subplots. Remember, the goal is to give the reader a flavor of the screenplay without spoiling the ending.


The Differences Between a Synopsis, a Logline, and a Treatment

In the film industry, three main types of outlines are used to describe a story or screenplay: the synopsis , the logline , and the treatment . Although they all serve the same essential function — to give an overview of the entire screenplay — each one has its own unique format and purpose.

infographic describing a screenplay logline vs synopsis vs treatment

A movie synopsis is a one-page script summary of the entire story, including character development, plot twists , and setting details. A synopsis is usually written after the script is finished and is used as a selling tool to entice industry professionals to read the screenplay and convince producers to invest in the project.

A logline , on the other hand, is a one-sentence script summary. Its purpose is not to summarize the entire story but simply to give a brief overview of the plot. A logline is typically used early on in the development process when writers are still working on refining the idea for their story.

Finally, there’s the film treatment , which is the longest and most complex in detail. A film treatment is a scene-by-scene breakdown that describes the key elements of a proposed film or video project. This includes the plot, characters, setting, and other essential details.

A script treatment is typically used to pitch a project to potential investors or partners. It can also be used as a roadmap for the project’s development. Treatments vary in length but are usually between 5 and 20 pages.

How to Format a Screenplay Synopsis

A few essential elements must be included in a movie synopsis, such as the title, genre, and logline.

The title should be in 16-point font and centered at the top of the page.

Directly underneath, insert contact info (name, address, phone, email). Your Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) registration number is optional.

The genre should be listed next, followed by the logline.

The body of the synopsis should describe the plot but avoid giving away too much information:

  • The first part (Act 1 or Hook) should introduce the main characters and setting, as well as the inciting incident that leads to the main conflict and antagonist.
  • The second part (Act 2 or Body) should focus on the central conflict , obstacles, and essential details.
  • The third part (Act 3 or Conclusion) should detail the climax or final challenge for your heroes without giving away the ending ( resolution ). Be brief and leave the reader wanting more.

Overall, stick to the main plot points and main characters. Leave the subplots and supporting characters for the treatment. Remember to write in the present tense and third person.

Also, remember to proofread your synopsis before submitting it to any agents, producers, or screenwriting competitions ! Check their submission guidelines to make sure you are following their conventions.

You can also use professional screenwriting software programs to help ensure that your synopsis is appropriately formatted. This will help new screenwriters to be taken seriously in the film industry.

typing on computer

Commonly Asked Questions About How to Write a Screenplay Synopsis

What is a script synopsis.

A script synopsis is a summary of a script, typically one to two pages in length. It provides potential buyers or investors an overview of the story, characters, and conflict. A synopsis should not give away too much detail, as it should only briefly introduce the project. However, it should be enough to give the reader a good sense of what the script is about and what kind of tone it will have.

How long should a script synopsis be?

A script synopsis should be around one to two pages long (ideally one page). This is because a synopsis is meant to be a brief overview of the story, not a detailed scene-by-scene breakdown. The purpose of a synopsis is to give the reader a general sense of the plot and characters without getting bogged down in too much detail.

What are the three parts of a synopsis?

A film synopsis typically has three parts: the hook, the body, and the conclusion. The hook is the first part of the synopsis and grabs the reader’s attention. It should be engaging and concise and give a brief overview of the film’s premise. The body is the second part of the synopsis and contains a more detailed description of the film’s plot. The conclusion is the third and final part of the synopsis and includes a brief summary of the film’s resolution.

Where can I find a movie synopsis?

A synopsis is a brief summary of a movie’s plot. It should not give away any major spoilers and should give the reader a general sense of what the film is about. You can usually find a synopsis on the back of a movie’s DVD case, on the website where you rent or purchase the film, or on the film’s IMDb page. If you still have trouble finding a synopsis, try searching for the film’s title and the word “synopsis” online. This should bring up several websites where you can read summaries of popular films.

Should I give away my ending in the synopsis?

The vote is split on this question when it comes to industry professionals. Some want to see how the story ends before they invest the time to read the script, but others feel that knowing the ending ahead of time spoils the script. In other words, they say, “If I know the ending, why should I bother reading it?” In the end, it depends on the recipient of the synopsis. If it is a producer or investor, they may insist on the ending to have an idea of the budget before they read a single page of the script. On the other hand, if it is an agent, actor, or director, then not knowing the ending may entice them to read the screenplay, if only to find out.

How do you write a short film synopsis?

A short film synopsis is a summary of a short film that tells the story in a concise and straightforward way. It should include the film’s main characters, conflict, and resolution. The synopsis should be no more than one page long and written in the present tense. Keep in mind the purpose of the synopsis: to give readers an overview of the film so they can decide whether or not they want to watch it. As such, the synopsis should not give away too much detail or spoil the film’s ending.

screenplay synopsis

Wrap-Up – How To Write a Screenplay Synopsis

Whether you are a first-time screenwriter or an experienced pro, it is important to know how to write a great plot synopsis. This document can make or break your chances of getting your script read and considered by producers, agents, and other industry professionals.

By following the tips we’ve outlined in this article – and using examples from some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters – you can create a synopsis that sells your story while still staying true to your original vision.

Do you want to write a great screenplay? Check out these other helpful articles!

How to Write Effective Screenplay Action Lines

Logline Examples from Movies [15 Well-Written Loglines]

How to Write Dialogue in a Script: Tips for Screenwriters

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Neil Chase is an award-winning, produced screenwriter, independent filmmaker, professional actor, and author of the horror-western novel Iron Dogs. His latest feature film is an apocalyptic thriller called Spin The Wheel.

Neil has been featured on Celtx, No Film School, Script Revolution, Raindance, The Write Practice, Lifewire, and MSN.com, and his work has won awards from Script Summit, ScreamFest, FilmQuest and Cinequest (among others).

Neil believes that all writers have the potential to create great work. His passion is helping writers find their voice and develop their skills so that they can create stories that are entertaining and meaningful. If you’re ready to take your writing to the next level, he's here to help!

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Filmmaking Lifestyle

How To Write a Movie Synopsis Effectively, With Examples & Tutorials

how to write summary for film

A synopsis is a summary of the book you read. It tells what happens in the story, but not in detail.

A synopsis should be written as if it were for someone who has not read the book before and does not intend to read it.

You might want to write your own synopsis when you finish reading a novel so that you can remember what happened afterward or share with family members about a book they may have missed out on.

There are three types of synopses:

1. The short, one-paragraph summary.

2. The long, detailed summary.

3. The condensed version can be found in movie trailers or on the back cover of books.


What is a movie synopsis.

A movie synopsis is a brief summary of the plot of a film. A synopsis can also refer to short descriptions for other types of media such as television shows, video games, and novels.

Movie trailers are usually made up entirely of footage from the actual film with quick cuts that creates excitement without giving away too much information about the storyline.

Movie trailers often contain dialogue from clips in which actors say lines from their roles in the film or scenes they share together on screen.

Trailers give viewers an idea about what type of movie it will be and whether or not it looks interesting enough to go see at a theater near them.

What Is A Movie Synopsis?

A movie synopsis is a brief summary of the plot and its purpose. It’s usually composed of three to five sentences that provide an overview, while also including details about the main characters, setting, and turning points in the story.

Movie trailers are not the only way to get a glimpse of an upcoming movie.

A synopsis is also a great way to learn more about what the movie is going to be about.

how to write summary for film

The first step in writing a synopsis for your book, article, or screenplay, is by mapping out all of the important plot points.

Once you have written down all of the most relevant plot points, it’s time to write them in chronological order as they happen (beginning with where and when things start).

how to write summary for film

Then you can add any additional details that will help make sense of what happens next.

After doing this, go back and re-read your story from the beginning until the end, or at least until you reach the part where everything wraps up nicely!

How Long Is A Movie Synopsis?

In this blog post, I will be discussing the length of a movie synopsis. According to Rotten Tomatoes , the average length of a movie synopsis is between 100-200 words long.

However, some can run as short as 50 words or as long as 300 words. It all depends on what they are trying to convey about the film in question and how much information they want to provide for potential viewers.

A movie synopsis is a brief summary of the plot, typically two or three paragraphs long. It should contain enough details to give the reader an idea of what the story is about without giving away too many spoilers.

The film industry is a very competitive one and filmmakers are always looking for ways to stand out from the rest.

One way that they do this is by trying to keep their movie synopsis as short as possible, typically under two minutes long. The shorter the synopsis, the more likely it will be read

Most readers will scan to get an idea about what the story is, but some may actually read it in detail. That’s why you should take care with how long your synopsis is and use these tips:

  • Keep it under one page if possible.
  • Include at least 3 sentences that give context for the story.
  • Write concisely and focus on plot points.

What the synopsis should include

A screenplay synopsis is a one-page document that summarizes the key story points of your script.

This serves as an early marketing tool for pitching your project to potential funders, producers, and distributors.

It can also help you organize your thoughts when writing the first draft of a screenplay.

The synopsis should include:

1. The protagonist’s goal or problem at the beginning of the film;

2. A brief summary of how this problem escalates during the course of the narrative;

3. The climax and resolution (i.e., what happens in Act III);

4. The protagonist’s new life at the film’s end, if applicable.

how to write summary for film

Writing A Compelling Synopsis

Writing a synopsis is one of the most difficult tasks that an author can undertake.

It requires you to condense your entire novel into about one page, and it also needs to be enticing enough for agents and editors to want to read more.

One of the most important parts of a novel is the synopsis. A synopsis is a summary that captures the story and gives readers an idea as to what to expect in your book.

Writing a synopsis is one of the most difficult parts of writing. It’s not enough to simply tell what happens in your story, you also need to make it interesting and captivating for your readers.

A well-written synopsis will entice readers to pick up your book or read more about it on Amazon.

Writing a synopsis for your manuscript is one of the most important steps in getting it published.

It’s what you’ll use to pitch your story to agents and editors, so it’s critical that you do this well.

There are many different approaches to writing an effective synopsis, but today we’re going to focus on how to write an attention-grabbing intro paragraph with three key elements: hook, conflict, and stakes.

How To Write A Synopsis For A Movie

A synopsis is a short summary of the plot of your novel. It’s important to have one because it can help you sell your book, and give potential readers an idea of what the story is about.

If you’re not sure how to write a synopsis for a movie, here are some things to keep in mind:

A synopsis is a short summary of your story that can be used to sell it and create buzz.

A great way to start writing your own synopsis is by breaking down the high points into three or four sentences, then adding more detail in each one.

Do you want to know how to write a synopsis for a movie? If so, this blog post will give you all the information that you need.

This article is going to be broken up into three main sections with an introduction at the beginning.

The first section is about what a synopsis is and what it looks like; the second section talks about how to write one; and finally, there’s some advice on how not to make your story seem too short or too long.

So, you have an idea for a movie and want to know how to write a synopsis? Well, there are many different ways that you can go about it.

You can include the main plot points or focus on what makes your story unique. Either way, this blog post is here to help with some tips!

how to write summary for film

Movie Synopsis Example

Every year, hundreds of movies are released in theaters. But how do you know which ones to see? I’m here to help!

Let’s look at the synopsis for a movie called “The Dark Knight”.

This is an action-packed film starring Christian Bale as Batman and Heath Ledger as The Joker.

With his city under threat from a terrorist attack and criminal gangs that have infiltrated the police department, Batman must take on all these forces singlehandedly.

During his quest, he encounters a young girl who’s been captured by The Joker and realizes that she is equally important to him as Gotham City itself…

Another basic example would be:

“In this coming-of-age story set in New York City during the summer of 1977, 15-year-old Andy (Elijah Wood) spends most of his time hanging out with his friends (including future rocker Daniel Stern).

When he meets up with an older woman (Cyndi Lauper), she takes him home for some beer and then seduces him.”

Movie / TV Synopsis Checklist

The movie synopsis checklist is meant to give you a quick overview of the different elements that are needed in order to create an in-depth and detailed plot summary for any given movie.

It can be used as a template for your own future reviews, or it can help you quickly get up to speed with any unfamiliar film.

Have you ever watched a movie or TV show and thought, “I feel like I missed something.”?

If you’re anything like me, then you probably find yourself watching a movie or TV show and thinking “what’s the tone?”

The Movie/TV Synopsis Checklist is here to help.

This list will give you a quick rundown of what kind of tone each genre falls under dramatic, comedic, tragicomic, etc.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list but it should be enough for most people!

It can also be light and airy with lots of jokes or suspenseful with heart-pounding moments.

It’s important to know what type you’re going for before you start writing because this will dictate the style and mood of the show as well as how much time is spent on developing characters.

What Are The Three Keys To A Great Story Synopsis?

What makes a story great? It’s not the author or the plot, it all boils down to three things: Setting, Character, and Conflict.

The three keys to a great story synopsis are:

1. The hook, which is the first sentence of your synopsis that will either catch the reader’s attention or cause them to skim over it

2. The goal, what does the main character want, and why? This should be in every paragraph of your synopsis so that readers can understand what they’re rooting for throughout the story

3. The stakes, how hard will this goal be to achieve? What happens if they don’t succeed?

When To Use A Synopsis?

The need for a synopsis is often the deciding factor in whether or not an agent will take on your book and it’s important to know when you should use one.

A synopsis of a story tells the reader what happens, without giving away all of the details that lead up to it.

It is meant to give readers enough information about your story so they can determine if they want to read more.

There are many different styles for synopses, but there are two main reasons why you might be asked by an agent or editor for one:

1. If you have written something very unconventional (e.g., science fiction),

2. If your work has been requested by someone who wants to see what type of writing style you produce

Many people think that the synopsis is used when submitting a query letter to an agent or editor. This is not always the case.

A synopsis can be helpful for agents and publishers, but it may not be necessary at all times.

Writers should determine whether their work lends itself to an introduction of what happens in the story without giving too much away by reading through a few synopses from books similar to theirs and noting which ones they find the most helpful.

A synopsis is most often used in the publishing industry with books, films, and scripts. A screenplay synopsis will usually only be one page long while a book or film synopsis can go up to three pages long.

If you are submitting anything to an agent or editor, they’ll probably ask for your story’s pitch which would include the plot summary as well as any relevant information about your work (genre, audience appeal).

The Donts Of Writing A Film Synopsis

When it comes to writing a film synopsis, there are many things that should be avoided. Writing an engaging and creative film synopsis can be challenging for writers of any skill level.

Making mistakes when creating a synopsis will lead to the film not being picked up by agents or publishers.

Avoid mentions of any unexpected twists in the movie, try to fire up readers’ curiosity, instead of revealing what he will see exactly, just mention it in a more abstract way.

The Dos Of Writing A Movie Synopsis

For starters, the length is crucial and should not exceed one page if possible.

Next, you need an opening sentence that will hook your readers and keep them reading through the end of the synopsis.

You also want to make sure that you include all pertinent details about your story such as setting and time period. The writing style can either be informal or formal depending on what works best for you!

The synopsis should be no more than two pages long and if you are unable to describe your story in this amount of space, it might be time to reconsider whether or not it’s a good idea for you to write the screenplay.

A well-written synopsis helps producers decide what they want to read as well as help them understand how your story will play out on screen.

It is also important because it will be used when pitching the project and will give investors an idea of what they are investing money into, which can save them from reading a poorly written script that could have easily been avoided by having a solid synopsis.

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Matt Crawford

Related posts, guide to film terms: everything you need to know about movie terms, what is below the line: a definitive guide, what is a rough cut in film: the essential guide to rough cuts, best free casting websites: 7 great resources for getting casting calls, overcoming stage fright: tips, tricks & tutorials, what is time lapse deep dive into the process, leave a reply cancel reply.

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Home » Various » A Movie Synopsis: What it Is and How to Write One

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A Movie Synopsis: What it Is and How to Write One

Jourdan Aldredge

Everything you need to know about writing an all-important movie synopsis that helps you get your projects off the ground.

In the filmmaking world, sometimes a single sentence can be the difference between green-lighting a multi-million dollar blockbuster or sending a project into development hell. And, while we’re all not writing scripts for mega-franchises, there’s something to be said about the general importance of a well-thought-out, carefully crafted movie synopsis.

Okay, so what is a movie synopsis actually? What purpose does it serve and — most importantly — what makes a good one stand out? These are the questions we’re here to answer! So, before you send your next script off to Marvel Studios for consideration, let’s explore the basics and best practices for writing a proper movie synopsis.

What Is a Movie Synopsis?

First off, when defining a “movie synopsis,” we’re usually talking in terms of scripts and screenwriting, as that’s where most of the conversations regarding a film project begin. From this perspective, a movie synopsis is a short write-up that summarizes what a screenplay is all about. It includes a snapshot of what the overall plot structure and story for the film will be.

A movie synopsis (or film synopsis) is usually around one page long. Along with providing all the relevant plot and story information, it’s really intended to be a document that “sells” the project. A movie synopsis will often be seen or heard by studio executives, talent agents, managers, or actors who are considering if they should go in on making the film.

What to Include in a Movie Synopsis

Movie Synopsis: Plot

Make sure your movie synopsis is readable, unique, and stands out. Image by Pixelbliss .

So, diving into how to write your movie synopsis and what to actually include, it really comes down to hard rules and open-ended guidelines. Every movie synopsis should be formulaic and easy to read, while also being wholly unique and interesting. It really comes down to finding the right balance between the two. From a formulaic standpoint, here are the essentials:

  • Include a header (title, screenwriter’s name, email, or contact info.).
  • Include a logline .
  • Write in the third person and present tense.

From there, you’re free to summarize as you’d like with focus and creativity. However, while you certainly want to make your movie synopsis unique so that it stands out, there are some additional unwritten rules you should consider abiding by:

  • Clearly define the lead characters.
  • Introduce the central conflict of the story.
  • Focus on a three-act structure .
  • Include a solid ending explanation.
  • Proofread for grammar and readability.

Tips for Writing a Good Movie Synopsis

Movie Synopsis: Screenwriting

With screenwriting, you want to have key story elements that “pop” off the page. Image by VGstockstudio .

Those are just the basics, though. So, what can you do to take things a step further with your movie synopsis? I’m a big fan of acclaimed screenwriter John August , who’s a wonderful resource for anyone researching the ins and outs of writing a movie synopsis. He’s been very forthcoming about his screenwriting success after penning major films like Big Fish , Charlie and the Chocolate Factory , and the live-action remake of Aladdin . If you’d like to check out some actual movie synopsis examples, as well as plenty of other real-life case studies, check out his library .

Once you have the basics covered and are following the general rules, the goal is to make your movie synopsis “pop” off the page with the key elements to its story. These tips can help make that happen:

  • Try to hook your reader right away with the biggest and best parts of the story.
  • Don’t get caught up in unnecessary or superfluous information.
  • Focus on paragraph flow and the narrative beats.
  • Define your main characters, but don’t waste much time on minor ones.
  • Understand your film’s genre and how this story fits with or against it.
  • Hammer things home with a strong ending that leaves no questions unanswered.

Along with the above, I’d also advise any aspiring screenwriters or filmmakers to rely on their own instincts, as well as always focus on your voice. A strong voice can overcome any of the dos or don’ts that you’ll find online. Remember, a movie synopsis isn’t just any story that you’re selling—it’s your story.

For more screenwriting tips, tricks, and resources, check out these additional articles below.

  • Free Script Writing Software Options for the Low-Budget Filmmaker
  • Learn How to Speak Filmmaking: Formatting the Screenplay
  • 5 Important Tools Every Screenwriter Should Have
  • Tips for Rewriting Your Screenplay Without Starting Completely Over
  • How to Overcome the 5 Biggest Obstacles to Writing Your Screenplay

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how to write summary for film

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Film Writing: Sample Analysis

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Summary: A sample analysis of a filmic sequence that makes use of the terminology on the OWL’s Writing About Film page .

Written by Kylie Regan

Introductory Note

The analysis below discusses the opening moments of the science fiction movie  Ex Machina  in order to make an argument about the film's underlying purpose. The text of the analysis is formatted normally. Editor's commentary, which will occasionally interrupt the piece to discuss the author's rhetorical strategies, is written in brackets in an italic font with a bold "Ed.:" identifier. See the examples below:

The text of the analysis looks like this.

[ Ed.:  The editor's commentary looks like this. ]

Frustrated Communication in Ex Machina ’s Opening Sequence

Alex Garland’s 2015 science fiction film Ex Machina follows a young programmer’s attempts to determine whether or not an android possesses a consciousness complicated enough to pass as human. The film is celebrated for its thought-provoking depiction of the anxiety over whether a nonhuman entity could mimic or exceed human abilities, but analyzing the early sections of the film, before artificial intelligence is even introduced, reveals a compelling examination of humans’ inability to articulate their thoughts and feelings. In its opening sequence, Ex Machina establishes that it’s not only about the difficulty of creating a machine that can effectively talk to humans, but about human beings who struggle to find ways to communicate with each other in an increasingly digital world.

[ Ed.:  The piece's opening introduces the film with a plot summary that doesn't give away too much and a brief summary of the critical conversation that has centered around the film. Then, however, it deviates from this conversation by suggesting that Ex Machina has things to say about humanity before non-human characters even appear. Off to a great start. ]

The film’s first establishing shots set the action in a busy modern office. A woman sits at a computer, absorbed in her screen. The camera looks at her through a glass wall, one of many in the shot. The reflections of passersby reflected in the glass and the workspace’s dim blue light make it difficult to determine how many rooms are depicted. The camera cuts to a few different young men typing on their phones, their bodies partially concealed both by people walking between them and the camera and by the stylized modern furniture that surrounds them. The fourth shot peeks over a computer monitor at a blonde man working with headphones in. A slight zoom toward his face suggests that this is an important character, and the cut to a point-of-view shot looking at his computer screen confirms this. We later learn that this is Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a young programmer whose perspective the film follows.

The rest of the sequence cuts between shots from Caleb’s P.O.V. and reaction shots of his face, as he receives and processes the news that he has won first prize in a staff competition. Shocked, Caleb dives for his cellphone and texts several people the news. Several people immediately respond with congratulatory messages, and after a moment the woman from the opening shot runs in to give him a hug. At this point, the other people in the room look up, smile, and start clapping, while Caleb smiles disbelievingly—perhaps even anxiously—and the camera subtly zooms in a bit closer. Throughout the entire sequence, there is no sound other than ambient electronic music that gets slightly louder and more textured as the sequence progresses. A jump cut to an aerial view of a glacial landscape ends the sequence and indicates that Caleb is very quickly transported into a very unfamiliar setting, implying that he will have difficulty adjusting to this sudden change in circumstances.

[ Ed.:  These paragraphs are mostly descriptive. They give readers the information they will need to understand the argument the piece is about to offer. While passages like this can risk becoming boring if they dwell on unimportant details, the author wisely limits herself to two paragraphs and maintains a driving pace through her prose style choices (like an almost exclusive reliance on active verbs). ]

Without any audible dialogue or traditional expository setup of the main characters, this opening sequence sets viewers up to make sense of Ex Machina ’s visual style and its exploration of the ways that technology can both enhance and limit human communication. The choice to make the dialogue inaudible suggests that in-person conversations have no significance. Human-to-human conversations are most productive in this sequence when they are mediated by technology. Caleb’s first response when he hears his good news is to text his friends rather than tell the people sitting around him, and he makes no move to take his headphones out when the in-person celebration finally breaks out. Everyone in the building is on their phones, looking at screens, or has headphones in, and the camera is looking at screens through Caleb’s viewpoint for at least half of the sequence.  

Rather than simply muting the specific conversations that Caleb has with his coworkers, the ambient soundtrack replaces all the noise that a crowded building in the middle of a workday would ordinarily have. This silence sets the uneasy tone that characterizes the rest of the film, which is as much a horror-thriller as a piece of science fiction. Viewers get the sense that all the sounds that humans make as they walk around and talk to each other are being intentionally filtered out by some presence, replaced with a quiet electronic beat that marks the pacing of the sequence, slowly building to a faster tempo. Perhaps the sound of people is irrelevant: only the visual data matters here. Silence is frequently used in the rest of the film as a source of tension, with viewers acutely aware that it could be broken at any moment. Part of the horror of the research bunker, which will soon become the film’s primary setting, is its silence, particularly during sequences of Caleb sneaking into restricted areas and being startled by a sudden noise.

The visual style of this opening sequence reinforces the eeriness of the muted humans and electronic soundtrack. Prominent use of shallow focus to depict a workspace that is constructed out of glass doors and walls makes it difficult to discern how large the space really is. The viewer is thus spatially disoriented in each new setting. This layering of glass and mirrors, doubling some images and obscuring others, is used later in the film when Caleb meets the artificial being Ava (Alicia Vikander), who is not allowed to leave her glass-walled living quarters in the research bunker. The similarity of these spaces visually reinforces the film’s late revelation that Caleb has been manipulated by Nathan Bates (Oscar Isaac), the troubled genius who creates Ava.

[ Ed.:  In these paragraphs, the author cites the information about the scene she's provided to make her argument. Because she's already teased the argument in the introduction and provided an account of her evidence, it doesn't strike us as unreasonable or far-fetched here. Instead, it appears that we've naturally arrived at the same incisive, fascinating points that she has. ]

A few other shots in the opening sequence more explicitly hint that Caleb is already under Nathan’s control before he ever arrives at the bunker. Shortly after the P.O.V shot of Caleb reading the email notification that he won the prize, we cut to a few other P.O.V. shots, this time from the perspective of cameras in Caleb’s phone and desktop computer. These cameras are not just looking at Caleb, but appear to be scanning him, as the screen flashes in different color lenses and small points appear around Caleb’s mouth, eyes, and nostrils, tracking the smallest expressions that cross his face. These small details indicate that Caleb is more a part of this digital space than he realizes, and also foreshadow the later revelation that Nathan is actively using data collected by computers and webcams to manipulate Caleb and others. The shots from the cameras’ perspectives also make use of a subtle fisheye lens, suggesting both the wide scope of Nathan’s surveillance capacities and the slightly distorted worldview that motivates this unethical activity.

[ Ed.: This paragraph uses additional details to reinforce the piece's main argument. While this move may not be as essential as the one in the preceding paragraphs, it does help create the impression that the author is noticing deliberate patterns in the film's cinematography, rather than picking out isolated coincidences to make her points. ]

Taken together, the details of Ex Machina ’s stylized opening sequence lay the groundwork for the film’s long exploration of the relationship between human communication and technology. The sequence, and the film, ultimately suggests that we need to develop and use new technologies thoughtfully, or else the thing that makes us most human—our ability to connect through language—might be destroyed by our innovations. All of the aural and visual cues in the opening sequence establish a world in which humans are utterly reliant on technology and yet totally unaware of the nefarious uses to which a brilliant but unethical person could put it.

Author's Note:  Thanks to my literature students whose in-class contributions sharpened my thinking on this scene .

[ Ed.: The piece concludes by tying the main themes of the opening sequence to those of the entire film. In doing this, the conclusion makes an argument for the essay's own relevance: we need to pay attention to the essay's points so that we can achieve a rich understanding of the movie. The piece's final sentence makes a chilling final impression by alluding to the danger that might loom if we do not understand the movie. This is the only the place in the piece where the author explicitly references how badly we might be hurt by ignorance, and it's all the more powerful for this solitary quality. A pithy, charming note follows, acknowledging that the author's work was informed by others' input (as most good writing is). Beautifully done. ]


Movie Synopsis: Everything You Need to Know

A movie synopsis summarizes the film’s storyline. It covers all of the screenplay’s acts and highlights key plot points and emotional components. A synopsis also introduces the main characters and the movie’s setting.

There are many reasons to use a synopsis, including:

  • To guide yourself during writing or to brainstorm an idea
  • As selling tools to give to prospective producers, directors, or actors looking for new TV and movie projects
  • To clarify the storyline of your screenplay or in a press kit for your movie
  • To get the attention of a producer or a film festival

How Long Is a Synopsis?

On average, a movie synopsis is one to three pages long. Many screenwriters limit their synopses to 500 words.

As a general rule, movie synopses should be quick and easy to read. Make sure your synopsis takes no more than five minutes to read. A shorter synopsis might not make much of an impression, while a longer synopsis can cause readers to lose interest.

Tools Similar to a Synopsis

In addition to writing synopses, screenwriters often compose other elements to market their creations. Find out how a synopsis compares to a logline , a film treatment , and an outline.

Logline vs. Synopsis

A logline is an even more condensed summary of a screenplay. Most loglines include just one or two sentences and focus on the screenplay’s main conflict and emotional elements. A great logline should capture the interest of a filmmaker , producer, or viewer in seconds. A successful logline usually has these three elements:

  • Protagonist: Introduce and describe the essence of the main character.
  • Goal: Reveal the main character’s goal or the main objective of the screenplay.
  • Conflict: Hint at the major obstacle that the main character must overcome.

Film Treatment vs. Synopsis

Unlike a concise logline, a film treatment tends to be much longer than a synopsis.  Most film treatments are many pages long and include much more detail than a movie synopsis.

In addition, screenwriters typically write film treatments before the screenplay. Writing a film treatment can help you organize the story at the start of the writing process.

Outline vs. Synopsis

Most screenwriters also create an outline to assist with the writing process. In contrast to a synopsis, an outline serves as more of an organizational tool. Creating an outline can help you plot the action , put everything in order, and balance the narrative before you start writing the screenplay.

What Elements Make Up the Movie Synopsis?

When writing a movie synopsis, include these essential elements:

  • Main Character: First, introduce and describe the protagonist. Explain some of their defining characteristics and briefly discuss why they’re the right person for the role.
  • Primary Goal:  Next, introduce the main character’s goal. This objective should be the key point that drives the plot forward.
  • Major Conflict:  After outlining the goal, discuss the main character’s biggest obstacle. This conflict could be another character, an event, an object, or an abstract concept.
  • Stakes: Next, explain what the character is up against and what could happen if they fail. This part of the synopsis should get the audience fully invested in the storyline and the outcome.
  • Key Turning Points: As the plot builds to the major conflict, most screenplays include one or more important turning points. Describe these to convey the flow of action.
  • Conclusion: Finally, wrap up the synopsis by explaining how the story ends and the main character reaches a resolution.

What Are the Three Keys to a Great Story Synopsis?

To keep your movie synopsis as concise as possible, focus on these key aspects:

  • Relevant Tone: Use the right tone for your synopsis. A synopsis for a comedy should make the reader laugh, while a horror movie should put the reader in suspense.
  • Understandable Story: Make it as easy as possible to read and understand. Ensure that the reader gets the ideas the first time around without having to reread the synopsis.
  • Memorable Concept: A notable synopsis tends to stick with readers who may be inspired to tell others about your screenplay.

How To Write a Synopsis as a Selling Tool

When you need to market your screenplay to movie or TV producers, it’s important to write a concise, compelling synopsis. That means it should be as tight as possible and take up no more than one page. Use a three-paragraph structure with one paragraph dedicated to each act of the screenplay.

1. Write the Logline

Start your movie synopsis with the logline, which is a sentence or two that summarizes the film’s concept. The logline should be as compelling as possible and hook the reader immediately. Essentially, the logline sells the synopsis, which, in turn, sells the movie.

2. Tell the Core Story

Next, tell the story succinctly without providing too many details. Share the main plot points, help the reader understand the protagonist’s motivations, and emphasize the main character’s emotional growth. Focus on engaging the reader’s imagination with strong visuals and an intriguing conflict.

3. Include Contact Details

Since there’s a good chance you’ll leave your synopsis with an executive or two, make sure it includes the information they need to reach you. Include your phone number, email address, and Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) registration number if applicable.

How To Write a Synopsis as a Story Tool

In most cases, the synopsis comes after the screenplay. Yet in some cases, you might find it helpful to compose a synopsis before or during the writing process. When you write in this order, the synopsis can help with storytelling.

how to write summary for film

Scene from “ Ransom “

  • Ignore content and formatting rules. In most cases, you’ll be the only reader, so you can make the synopsis as long or as short as necessary.
  • Focus on the core idea and character development so you can tell the story effectively.

Movie Synopsis Writing Tips

When writing a movie synopsis, strive to tell the story in a compelling way instead of explaining every turn of events. Use these tips to make your movie synopsis as effective as possible:

  • Write in the third person and in the present tense to convey action.
  • Keep it succinct, and remove any unnecessary details to avoid overwhelming readers.
  • Include dialog to hook readers, but do so sparingly.
  • Note the beginning and end of each act to help readers understand the structure.
  • Highlight the most important conflicts while keeping action-related details minimal.
  • Summarize the character arcs and explain their motivations rather than their actions.
  • Reflect the tone of the screenplay and amplify the emotions that the movie conveys.
  • Include a concise ending for the plot and characters.
  • Reveal all important elements of the movie and avoid hiding important plot points or major emotional aspects.

Movie Synopsis Template and Examples

Use this basic template below to write a synopsis for your film or screenplay.

[Production Company Name]

[Screenplay Title]

[Writer Name] | [Writer Phone Number] | [Writer Email] | [WGA Number]

[One- to two-sentence summary of your screenplay]

[Introduction to the main characters, environment, and conflict]

[Description of the rising action, the main conflict, and relevant character development]

[Resolution of the main conflict and the character arcs]

Read and get inspiration from synopses of well-known movies like “ The Incredibles ” here:

  • Sample Amateur Film Synopsis
  • Examples of Famous Film Synopses

You can learn more about writing a movie synopsis and find out how you can improve your skills by applying to the Nashville Film Institute here .

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How To Summarize A Movie

  • Success Team
  • December 14, 2022

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how to write summary for film

Movies are a great way to tell stories, share experiences, and entertain. But how do you summarize a movie? Whether you’re writing a movie review, summarizing a movie for a class assignment, or just trying to explain a movie to a friend, it can be a challenge to capture the essence of a movie in a few sentences. Here are some tips to help you summarize a movie in a way that’s both informative and entertaining.

1. Watch the Movie

The first step in summarizing a movie is to watch it. It’s important to get the full experience of the movie, so you can accurately capture the plot, characters, and themes. Take notes as you watch, so you can remember the key points and details. If you’re summarizing a movie for a class assignment, you may want to watch it more than once to make sure you don’t miss any important details.

2. Identify the Main Characters and Plot

Once you’ve watched the movie, it’s time to identify the main characters and plot. Who are the main characters and what is their story? What is the main conflict or goal of the movie? What obstacles do the characters face and how do they overcome them? Identifying the main characters and plot will help you create a concise and accurate summary of the movie.

3. Identify the Themes

Themes are the underlying messages of a movie. They can be subtle or overt, but they are an important part of understanding a movie. Identifying the themes of a movie can help you create a more meaningful summary. Ask yourself what the movie is trying to say about life, relationships, or society. What lessons can be learned from the movie? What emotions does the movie evoke? Answering these questions will help you capture the essence of the movie in your summary.

4. Write Your Summary

Now that you’ve identified the main characters, plot, and themes of the movie, it’s time to write your summary. Start by introducing the movie and its main characters. Then, briefly summarize the plot and identify the main themes. Finally, explain how the movie ends and what lessons can be learned from it. Try to keep your summary concise and to the point. Avoid using too many details or going off on tangents. Your summary should be informative and entertaining, so use your own voice and style.

5. Edit and Revise

Once you’ve written your summary, it’s time to edit and revise. Read your summary out loud to make sure it flows and makes sense. Check for grammar and spelling errors. Make sure your summary is concise and to the point. Finally, make sure your summary accurately captures the essence of the movie. If you’re summarizing a movie for a class assignment, make sure to follow any guidelines provided by your professor.

Summarizing a movie can be a challenge, but it’s an important skill to have. By following these tips, you can create a concise and accurate summary of any movie. Remember to watch the movie, identify the main characters and plot, identify the themes, write your summary, and edit and revise. With these steps, you’ll be able to summarize any movie in no time.

How To Use The Best Large Language Models To Summarize A Movie With Speak

how to write summary for film

Step 1: Create Your Speak Account

To start your transcription and analysis, you first need to create a Speak account . No worries, this is super easy to do!

Get a 14-day trial with 30 minutes of free English audio and video transcription included when you sign up for Speak.

To sign up for Speak and start using Speak Magic Prompts, visit the Speak app register page here .

how to write summary for film

Step 2: Upload Your Movie Data

We typically recommend MP4s for video or MP3s for audio.

However, we accept a range of audio, video and text file types.

You can upload your file for transcription in several ways using Speak:

Accepted Audio File Types

Accepted video file types, accepted text file types, csv imports.

You can also upload CSVs of text files or audio and video files. You can learn more about CSV uploads and download Speak-compatible CSVs here .

With the CSVs, you can upload anything from dozens of YouTube videos to thousands of Interview Data.

Publicly Available URLs

You can also upload media to Speak through a publicly available URL.

As long as the file type extension is available at the end of the URL you will have no problem importing your recording for automatic transcription and analysis.

YouTube URLs

Speak is compatible with YouTube videos. All you have to do is copy the URL of the YouTube video (for example, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKfcLcHeivc ).

Speak will automatically find the file, calculate the length, and import the video.

If using YouTube videos, please make sure you use the full link and not the shortened YouTube snippet. Additionally, make sure you remove the channel name from the URL.

Speak Integrations

As mentioned, Speak also contains a range of integrations for Zoom , Zapier , Vimeo and more that will help you automatically transcribe your media.

This library of integrations continues to grow! Have a request? Feel encouraged to send us a message.

how to write summary for film

Step 3: Calculate and Pay the Total Automatically

Once you have your file(s) ready and load it into Speak, it will automatically calculate the total cost (you get 30 minutes of audio and video free in the 14-day trial – take advantage of it!).

If you are uploading text data into Speak, you do not currently have to pay any cost. Only the Speak Magic Prompts analysis would create a fee which will be detailed below.

Once you go over your 30 minutes or need to use Speak Magic Prompts, you can pay by subscribing to a personalized plan using our real-time calculator .

You can also add a balance or pay for uploads and analysis without a plan using your credit card .

how to write summary for film

Step 4: Wait for Speak to Analyze Your Movie Data

If you are uploading audio and video, our automated transcription software will prepare your transcript quickly. Once completed, you will get an email notification that your transcript is complete. That email will contain a link back to the file so you can access the interactive media player with the transcript, analysis, and export formats ready for you.

If you are importing CSVs or uploading text files Speak will generally analyze the information much more quickly.

how to write summary for film

Step 5: Visit Your File Or Folder

Speak is capable of analyzing both individual files and entire folders of data.

When you are viewing any individual file in Speak, all you have to do is click on the “Prompts” button.

how to write summary for film

If you want to analyze many files, all you have to do is add the files you want to analyze into a folder within Speak.

You can do that by adding new files into Speak or you can organize your current files into your desired folder with the software’s easy editing functionality.

how to write summary for film

Step 6: Select Speak Magic Prompts To Analyze Your Data

What are magic prompts.

Speak Magic Prompts leverage innovation in artificial intelligence models often referred to as “generative AI”.

These models have analyzed huge amounts of data from across the internet to gain an understanding of language.

With that understanding, these “large language models” are capable of performing mind-bending tasks!

With Speak Magic Prompts, you can now perform those tasks on the audio, video and text data in your Speak account.

how to write summary for film

Step 7: Select Your Assistant Type

To help you get better results from Speak Magic Prompts, Speak has introduced “Assistant Type”.

These assistant types pre-set and provide context to the prompt engine for more concise, meaningful outputs based on your needs.

To begin, we have included:

Choose the most relevant assistant type from the dropdown.

how to write summary for film

Step 8: Create Or Select Your Desired Prompt

Here are some examples prompts that you can apply to any file right now:

  • Create a SWOT Analysis
  • Give me the top action items
  • Create a bullet point list summary
  • Tell me the key issues that were left unresolved
  • Tell me what questions were asked
  • Create Your Own Custom Prompts

A modal will pop up so you can use the suggested prompts we shared above to instantly and magically get your answers.

If you have your own prompts you want to create, select “Custom Prompt” from the dropdown and another text box will open where you can ask anything you want of your data!

how to write summary for film

Step 9: Review & Share Responses

Speak will generate a concise response for you in a text box below the prompt selection dropdown.

In this example, we ask to analyze all the Interview Data in the folder at once for the top product dissatisfiers.

You can easily copy that response for your presentations, content, emails, team members and more!

Speak Magic Prompts As ChatGPT For Interview Data Pricing

Our team at Speak Ai continues to optimize the pricing for Magic Prompts and Speak as a whole.

Right now, anyone in the 14-day trial of Speak gets 100,000 characters included in their account.

If you need more characters, you can easily include Speak Magic Prompts in your plan when you create a subscription.

You can also upgrade the number of characters in your account if you already have a subscription.

Both options are available on the subscription page .

Alternatively, you can use Speak Magic Prompts by adding a balance to your account. The balance will be used as you analyze characters.

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  • Screenwriting

How to Write and Produce a Movie

Last Updated: May 12, 2022 References

This article was co-authored by Lucy V. Hay . Lucy V. Hay is a Professional Writer based in London, England. With over 20 years of industry experience, Lucy is an author, script editor, and award-winning blogger who helps other writers through writing workshops, courses, and her blog Bang2Write. Lucy is the producer of two British thrillers, and Bang2Write has appeared in the Top 100 round-ups for Writer’s Digest & The Write Life and is a UK Blog Awards Finalist and Feedspot’s #1 Screenwriting blog in the UK. She received a B.A. in Scriptwriting for Film & Television from Bournemouth University. There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 167,970 times.

Writing and producing a movie can be quite the challenge, especially if you are new to filmmaking. Creating an original motion picture requires a unique vision, detailed planning, and hard work. Start by writing a screenplay that is engaging for viewers. Then, produce the movie by making a budget and getting financing. You will also need to find the cast and crew and supervise the movie production to ensure it runs smoothly.

Writing the Movie

Step 1 Outline the screenplay.

  • Act 1: This is where you introduce the setting, characters, and inciting incident. The inciting incident is the event that gets your protagonist going and motivated to act. Act 1 is about 30 pages long.
  • Act 2: This is where your protagonist identified her goal or desire and encounters obstacles that make it difficult for her to achieve her goal. It contains the bulk of the story, full of urgency and tension. Act 2 is usually about 60 pages long.
  • Act 3: This includes the story’s climax, where the tension is highest as the protagonist tries to achieve her goal. There is also a clear ending, where the protagonist gets what she wants or fails to achieve her goal. Act 3 is usually 20-30 pages long.

Step 2 Write a rough draft.

  • You can try writing the rough draft in a few days or a week. Focus on getting your ideas down on paper, rather than writing a perfect draft.

Step 3 Include visual details in the script.

  • For example, you may describe a character injecting drugs as "Naomi MOANS as she sticks the needle into her vein. Blood SPURTS into the syringe as she pushes down on the plunger."

Step 4 Create distinct dialogue for your characters.

  • For example, you may have a character who speaks in formal British English when they get nervous or upset. Or you may have a character who says very little or only gives one word answers.
  • Keep the dialogue short, about three lines or less. You can include monologues for your characters, where they talk for more than five lines at one time, but only when you feel they are absolutely necessary.

Step 5 Revise the rough draft.

  • Check that your screenplay is formatted properly.
  • Look for any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors.
  • You can also show the script to others, such as friends, peers, or family members, and get their feedback. Then, revise the draft again to include their notes.

Creating the Logline and Treatment of the Script

Step 1 Make a logline.

  • The logline should not use the names of the characters. Instead, it should use descriptions of the characters that tell the reader something about them.
  • For example, you may have a logline like: “An Arkansas waitress and a housewife shoot a rapist and take off in a '66 Thunderbird.”

Step 2 Create a treatment.

  • For example, you may have a title like “When Harry Met Sally” or “Bobo the Fish.” Go for a title that is simple and to the point. Avoid long titles.
  • You may then have a logline like: “An Arkansas waitress and a housewife shoot a rapist and take off in a '66 Thunderbird.”

Step 3 Include a synopsis in the treatment.

  • For example, you may write a synopsis like: “Thelma, a timid housewife, joins her friend, headstrong Louise, for a weekend fishing trip. But when Louise shoots and kills a man who tries to rape Thelma at a bar, their trip finds them fleeing to Mexico on the run from the law. Along the way, Thelma finds herself falling for a handsome young thief while a kind detective tries to get them to surrender before it's too late”

Budgeting and Financing the Movie

Step 1 Create a budget.

  • The cast, including the salaries for the actors and actresses
  • The director
  • The production staff
  • The film crew
  • The art department, including makeup, costumes, and set design
  • Travel and transportation for cast and crew
  • Using location(s) for the movie

Lucy V. Hay

  • Post production, including editing and publicity

Step 2 Apply for arts grants and local funding.

  • You can also enter your script into contests online that give you money to develop your film. Try submitting your script to programs through local film festivals or independent film festivals that offer funding.

Step 3 Ask friends and family members for financial support.

  • It is usually easier to ask friends and family for money, rather than people you do not know.

Step 4 Use your own money.

  • Be careful when using credit cards to fund the movie, as this can be a risky way to produce it. Try to only invest money in the movie that you know you can pay back or earn back later on.

Getting the Cast and Crew

Step 1 Find a director.

  • As the producer of the movie, you will check in and communicate with the director regularly to ensure the shoot goes well.

Step 2 Assemble the production staff.

  • The Production Manager: This person supervises the physical aspects of the production, including personnel, budget, and scheduling. It is their job to ensure the movie stays on schedule and on budget.
  • The First Assistant Director: This person assists the production manager and the director. They maintain a working environment where the director, the cast, and the crew can focus on their work. They manage the cast and crew scheduling, the equipment, the script, and the set.
  • The Location Manager: This person is responsible for securing locations for the movie. They arrange permits or fees needed to use a location to shoot scenes.
  • The Casting Director: This person chooses the actors or actresses for the film. They will run auditions for the cast and decide who ends up starring in the movie.

Step 3 Find a director of photography and a camera crew.

  • The Director of Photography: This person is responsible for the camera and lighting crew. They may decisions on the framing and lighting of shots in collaboration with the director. They are considered the senior creative crew member after the director.
  • The Camera Operator: This person directs the camera based on the decisions of the director of photography. In some cases, the director of photography will also be the camera operator, especially on low budget movies.
  • The Gaffer: This person is the head of the lighting department. They come up with a lighting plan for the production, working with the director of photography and the director.
  • The Key Grip: This person is the head of the set operations department. They make sure the correct lighting and equipment is present on set. They work closely with the director of photography.
  • The Sound Operator: This person is responsible for making sure the sound is captured correctly on set. They will arrange microphones on set so the cast can be heard on film. They also log audio for post production.

Step 4 Get a production designer.

  • The production designer may have an art director and a costume designer working underneath them.

Supervising the Film Shoot

Step 1 Support the director as needed.

  • You may set up daily phone calls with the director or regular visits to the set to make sure everything is going to plan on set.
  • You may need to field any issues or complaints the director has about the set and address them promptly so production does not stall.

Step 2 Confirm the movie is on budget.

  • You can also ask for daily information on where the budget is at during the shoot so you can keep a close eye on it.

Step 3 Check that the movie is on schedule.

  • Most low budget films take 20 to 25 days to shoot, or 4-5 weeks. Bigger films that are backed by a studio can take 40 to as much as 120 days to shoot.

Step 4 Arrange publicity for the movie.

  • You can also arrange for the cast to do promotional tours and interviews for the movie to help promote it to viewers.

Preparing to Write the Movie

Step 1 Learn the format of a screenplay.

  • The slugline: This appears in ALL CAPS at the beginning of each scene and explains the location and time of day. INT is used in the slugline if the scene is interior, or indoors, and EXT is used if the scene is exterior, or outdoors. For example: “INT. DINER - NIGHT” or “EXT. FIELD - DAY.”
  • Transitions: These show how the camera is moving from scene to scene. They appear in ALL CAPS. Common transitions include FADE IN, FADE OUT, CUT TO, and DISSOLVE TO.
  • Character names: Your character names always appear in ALL CAPS in the screenplay. For example, “RON walks down the street” or “SARA shuts the bedroom door.”
  • You can find more detailed formatting information at Write a Screenplay .

Step 2 Brainstorm story ideas.

  • Pick a particular time period, such as the 1970s, and create characters that would fit in that era.
  • Use a historical event as inspiration for your movie. You can also take a historical setting and make it come alive in your movie.
  • You can also write a movie based on a particular genre, such as romantic comedies, action movies, or horror flicks.

Step 3 Create a hero or heroine.

  • For example, you may create a main character who is lonely and trying to find their true love at school. Or you may have a main character who works for a shady boss and wants to escape a life of crime.

Step 4 Read examples of screenplays.

  • Pulp Fiction by Quentin Tarantino
  • Thelma & Louise by Callie Khouri
  • When Harry Met Sally by Nora Ephron
  • Moonlight by Barry Jenkins

Sample Script and Outline

how to write summary for film

Community Q&A


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Make a Horror Film

  • ↑ http://www.creative-writing-now.com/screenplay-structure.html
  • ↑ http://thewritepractice.com/screnplay-process/
  • ↑ http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/7-ways-writing-a-screenplay-is-different-than-writing-a-novel
  • ↑ https://stephenfollows.com/full-costs-and-income-of-1m-independent-feature-film/
  • ↑ Lucy V. Hay. Professional Writer. Expert Interview. 16 July 2019.
  • ↑ http://filmmakermagazine.com/45003-15-steps-to-take-after-you-finish-your-script/#.Wb8EjtOGORs
  • ↑ https://ca.askmen.com/money/how_to_150/179b_how_to.html
  • ↑ http://aspiringhollywood.com/AH%21_Aspiring_Hollywood/How_To_Produce.html
  • ↑ https://ca.askmen.com/money/how_to_150/179_how_to.html
  • ↑ https://ca.askmen.com/money/how_to_150/179c_how_to.html
  • ↑ http://www.simplyscripts.com/WR_glossary.html
  • ↑ http://www.creative-writing-now.com/write-a-movie-script.html

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Each and every film director, maker, editor, crew should know about 8 Elements of a Film. Do you know?

How To Write A Film Summary?

Do you know how to write a film summary?

If yes, that is fine. If not, no problem.

Let’s go to learn it.

The writing style of a film summary is not a trivial task. One must take the time to consider what key elements make up the narrative and how they function within the movie, as well as how the director has set up the story. If you’re wondering how to write a film summary, here are some helpful tips on how to do it effectively.

Table of Contents

What Is A Film Summary?

Film summaries are short, written descriptions of favorite movies that help people decide if they want to watch them or not. They can be found on websites like IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, and are often used by moviegoers to make decisions about which films to see.

Film summaries are usually very brief (usually no more than a few paragraphs), and focus on the most important aspects of the film. They may include plot points, character analyses, and critical comments.

Film summaries can be helpful for people who are undecided about whether or not they want to watch a particular movie, or who just want to know more about it before deciding whether or not to watch it.

How Do You Write A Movie Summary?

There are a few steps that you need to take in order to write a movie summary. The first step is to read the entire movie and take notes on what you liked and didn’t like. After you have watched the movie, start thinking about what the main character themes and ideas of the movie are.

Next, you need to come up with a thesis statement for your summary. This is where you will state the main points that you want to make about the movie. After you have your thesis statement, start writing out your summary in an organized manner. Make sure that each paragraph flows logically from the previous one.

Finally, make sure that your summary is well-written and easy to read. It should be concise but informative at the same time.

How To Write Synopses For A Movie?

There are a few things that you will need to write synopses for a movie.

The first thing that you will need to do is come up with a good idea for the movie. This can be anything from a plot to setting to characters.

Next, you will need to research the topic that the movie is based on. This can help you determine what type of language and style should be used in your film synopsis.

Once you have an idea of what the movie is about, it is time to start creative writing your plot synopsis. In order to make your script synopsis interesting and easy to read, it is important to use good grammar and punctuation.

It is also important to include action scenes, dialogue, and descriptions of settings and characters so that readers will understand what is happening in the story.

What Is A Screenplay?

A screenplay is a written document that tells the story of a movie or TV show. It is usually divided into scenes and each scene typically has one or more shots.

Screenwriting Resources For Film Summary

Screenwriting resources can be a great help when it comes to learning how to write screenplays. There are many different types of resources available, and the best way to find what you need is by doing some research.

Some of the best resources for screenwriters include:

1. The Writers Guild of America’s Guide to Writing Hollywood Screenplays

2. The Complete Screenwriter’s Bible by Syd Field

3. How to Write a Screenplay coverage by Robert McKee

4. The Complete Screenwriter’s Survival Manual by Ben Ruben

5. Syd Field – Creative Screenplay: The Magic of Story Structure

6. 101 Tips for Hollywood Scriptwriters from the Writers Guild of America West

What Belongs In Your Screenplay Synopsis?

There are a few things that you will need to know in your screenplay synopsis.

Step# 01 – Plot

Your screenplay synopsis should include a plot summary that outlines the main story arc and the major events that take place in your screenplay. This will help readers understand what they are reading and keep them engaged during the reading.

Step# 02 – Characters

Your screenplay synopsis should also include descriptions of the characters, their motivations, and how they interact with each other. This will help readers connect with the characters and feel invested in their stories.

Step# 03 – Setting

Your screenplay synopsis should also include a description of the setting, including details about the location, time period, and any relevant cultural references. This will help readers visualize what is happening onscreen and better understand the overall tone of your film treatment or the script.

What Is Movie/TV Synopsis Template?

A movie synopsis template is a document that contains the basic plot information for a movie or TV show. This information can be used to help market the film or TV show to potential viewers.

Movie/TV synopsis templates are typically created by entertainment companies or PR firms in order to promote upcoming films and TV shows. They are also used by journalists and other content creators who want to write about these films and TV shows.

There are many different types of movie synopsis templates available online.

What Is Logline For A Movie?

A logline is a one-sentence summary of your movie. It should be memorable and succinct. It should also accurately reflect the content and tone of your movie idea.

A good way to develop a logline is to brainstorm with your team and come up with ideas that capture the essence of your project. Once you have a few ideas, try to distill them down into one sentence. Be sure to keep it simple so that it can be easily remembered and understood by potential viewers.

Write A Header For Film Summary

A good heading for your film summary is to keep it simple and straightforward. The purpose of the header is two-fold:

First, a description that introduces readers to what they will learn about this project from reading its synopsis.

And second, an attention grabber that pulls in potential viewers wanting more details on this particular film/show by stating some value or benefit associated with it such as “Best family movie!, “The funniest movie ever made!”

Write A Summary That Avoids Spoilers

Spoilers are generally included in movie synopses by:

a) The review body

b) The film’s label or genre tag (movie and TV show marketing)

c) Publicity phrases like ‘Exclusive!’

d) Author bio mentioning their connection to this project.

It can cause confusion for readers about whether it will provide anything new or interesting which has led some less experienced copywriters to tone down that description. Since they fear putting a foot wrong and making audiences feel cheated. Yet another reason why themes play an important role in TE promo materials is because of all these examples when re-writing the summary.

Include The Ending In Film Summary

Include the ending in the film summary to help readers understand what they just read. This will help them to connect the dots and form a clearer picture of the story.

Use strong verbs and adjectives to describe the events that took place in the story. This will keep readers engaged and make sure that they do not lose interest while reading.

Use interesting and engaging details to keep readers hooked on your story. This will help them to stay focused on your content and avoid distractions.

Here are some frequently asked questions to write a film summary.

Q: How long should a movie summary be?

A: There is no set length for a movie summary, as it depends on the type of movie and the level of detail that you want to include. However, a good rule of thumb is to keep your summary at around 500 words.

Q: What makes a good summary of a movie?

A: A good summary of a movie is able to capture the essence of the film while providing enough detail for those who want to know more. It should be concise, yet informative.

Some things that make a good summary of a movie include:

1. Writing process that is easy to read and flows well.

2. Use of clear and concise language.

3. Use examples that help illustrate points.

4. A focus on the main plot of a story rather than unnecessary details.

Q: Should I use footnotes and references in my film summary?

A: Yes, footnotes and references can be very helpful in providing a comprehensive and accurate film summary. Footnotes can be used to provide additional information about the films or sources that were used in your summary, while references can be used to cite specific examples from the films that you have mentioned.

Footnotes should generally be used for more detailed information about the films or sources that were referenced, while references should be used for referencing specific scenes or quotes from the films.

Both footnotes and references can help to improve the accuracy and comprehensiveness of your film summary. However, it is important to use them correctly so that your readers understand what you are referring to and don’t get confused.

Q: How to write a movie review?

A: There are a few things that you will need to consider when writing a movie review.

1. Make sure that you are familiar with the film. If you haven’t seen it, then it is difficult to write a fair and unbiased review.

2. Write in an objective manner. Don’t give away too much of the plot or character development, as this could ruin the experience for other readers.

3. Be clear and concise. A good movie review should be easy to read and understand without having to go back and re-read sections.

4. Keep your language clean and appropriate for a general audience. There is no need to use offensive language or insult the filmmakers or actors in your review.

Q: How do I write a great film review?

A: There are a few things that you should keep in mind when writing a film review.

1. Be objective. Don’t sugarcoat your opinion or give away spoilers.

2. Be concise. Write about the film as if you’re giving a summary of it instead of going into great detail about every scene.

3. Use strong language and imagery to convey your feelings about the film.

4. Write for an audience that is interested in film, not just movie critics or movie fans who have seen the film multiple times already.

5. Try to be creative and think outside the box when it comes to writing a good review.

If you are interested in writing film summaries, check out our blog post on how to write a film summary. In order to write a good summary, it is important that you know the genre of the movie you are writing about.

For example, if you are writing about a romantic comedy, make sure to include some elements from this genre so that your readers will be able to understand what the movie is about.

Related posts:

  • How To Write a Film Critique Essay?
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  • How To Turn A Book Into A Movie Script?
  • How To Write A Film Review?
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Much like the Golden Age of Television, the Golden Age of Documentary has wrought unforeseeable consequences. We’ve seen the complications of the former in the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes, with shrinking writers' rooms and the unequal residual pie of an ever-expanding content universe. The latter is just beginning to emerge. The glut of shabby true crime stories, hagiographic celebrity documentaries that uncover nothing, and films hastily produced to record pressing contemporary world events are the casualties of a storytelling medium redeployed to feed the craven appetite of streamers and the awards ecosystem. 

Stuck in the middle of this are the subjects of these documentaries, ordinary people caught in extraordinary events who are thrust into the spotlight without any knowledge of potential consequences. The filmmaker's responsibility to their subject is interrogated by the compact documentary, “Subject.” 

Directed by Camilla Hall and Jennifer Tiexiera , "Subject" is an interrogation into the big hits of the non-fiction world, including “ Hoop Dreams ” to “ Minding the Gap .” In this compendium of interviews with former subjects of major documentaries, you get a sense of the pitfalls and traumas these people faced once the lights dimmed. "Subject" includes harrowing stories while leading voices in the documentary sphere offer their insights. It’s not a film out for blood, which becomes a blessing and a curse for its filmmakers. 

“Subject” begins by interviewing Margie Ratliff . Her father, Michael Peterson —the novelist at the time accused of murdering his wife—was the primary focus of the French true-crime docuseries “The Staircase.” She was a teenager then, interviewed to offer testimonials on behalf of her dad. But how much agency did she have? In the present, Ratliff thinks back on the mixed emotions she felt while employed as a defense for her father. Though Hall and Tiexiera were able to interview Peterson, there is neither any indication of remorse on his part nor a sense that he was grilled on the topic.

Other subjects who share their experiences include Ahmed Hassan of Jehane Noujaim ’s Oscar-nominated film “The Square,” David Friedman of Andrew Jarecki ’s Oscar-nominated film “ Capturing the Friedmans ,” Mukunda Angulo of Crystal Moselle ’s Sundance Grand Jury prize winner “ The Wolfpack ,” and Arthur Agee of Steve James' Oscar-nominated “Hoop Dreams.” Of course, these films are bound by their prestige—the primary reason a director might cut corners—but they each represent a contour on the issues plaguing the art form. 

Through “The Square,” Hall and Tiexiera critique the political repercussions their collaborators can face. With “Capturing the Friedmans,” they examine what long-term effects can occur, like how Friedman is forever tied to that film's grim subject. Hall and Tiexiera question the benefits of capturing a young person living through their trauma with “The Wolfpack.” Though a clip of Moselle and Angulo—in a film that regularly shies away from interviewing the directors of the documentaries themselves with their subjects—feels like a cheat. 

“Hoop Dreams” becomes a fascinating test case on two levels. James approached Agee when he was just a child to observe his life. But what was the power dynamic between the subject and the filmmaker? Was Agee in a position to agree? A present-day Agee defends his involvement, particularly the financial windfall the film offered. When “Hoop Dreams” became a hit, James offered payment and residuals to the participants. That decision caused the topic of compensation for subjects to arise. The interviewed filmmakers—from Sam Pollard to Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson —are split on the issue.  

It’s fascinating in "Subject" to see directors like Kirsten Johnson and Bing Liu discuss their ethos and ethics. Especially Liu, who shares how “Minding the Gap” may have permanently altered his relationship with his mother. 

“Subject” winds through these concerns toward the contemporary documentary landscape. Non-fiction films weren't always big business—in the past, you’d be lucky to break even—but with the wave of works like “ Bowling for Columbine ,” “ An Inconvenient Truth ,” and “ March of the Penguins ” it’s become more of a factory for streamers. While you wish Hall and Tiexiera got more into the nuts and bolts of why modern documentary filmmakers are on an even steeper slippery ethical slope, they raise enough of an alarm for casual viewers to get the message. 

Now playing in theaters. 

Robert Daniels

Robert Daniels

Robert Daniels is an Associate Editor at RogerEbert.com. Based in Chicago, he is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA) and Critics Choice Association (CCA) and regularly contributes to the  New York Times ,  IndieWire , and  Screen Daily . He has covered film festivals ranging from Cannes to Sundance to Toronto. He has also written for the Criterion Collection, the  Los Angeles Times , and  Rolling Stone  about Black American pop culture and issues of representation.

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Subject (2023)

Margie Ratliff as Self

Valerie Complex as Self

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John Cena's Looney Tunes Movie Canceled at Warner Bros. Despite Being Complete; Director Responds

Warner Bros. are apparently not done with tax write-offs as John Cena's Coyote vs Acme movie is scrapped even though post-production was complete.

  • Warner Bros. has faced financial troubles and has decided to cancel the John Cena-led Coyote vs Acme project, resulting in a $30 million write-off.
  • Despite early positive feedback and the completion of the film, it was deemed not viable for streaming, theatrical release, or sale to another platform.
  • The cancelation is a disappointment for director David Green and his team, who worked hard to honor the characters and received praise from test audiences. However, they remain resilient in the face of WB's decision.

Having already brought about a social media storm with the cancelation of the almost complete Batgirl movie, Warner Bros. is at it again, this time shelving the John Cena-led Coyote vs Acme project. While the company previously said that tax write-offs were a thing of the past, it seems that this is not the case, and the complete movie is the latest casualty of the company’s financial woes.

Coyote vs. Acme was set to bring Looney Tunes character Wile E. Coyote to the big screen, and had been gaining some high praise from its test screenings. However, according to details revealed by Deadline , the movie is just not seen as a viable option for either streaming on Max, theatrical release, or for selling off to another streaming platform. Instead, it appears that WBD has taken a $30 million write-off against the film’s reported $70 million budget. A spokesperson for the studio said:

“With the re-launch of Warner Bros. Pictures Animation in June, the studio has shifted its global strategy to focus on theatrical releases. With this new direction, we have made the difficult decision not to move forward with Coyote vs Acme. We have tremendous respect for the filmmakers, casts, and crew, and are grateful for their contributions to the film.”

The movie’s director Dave Green, who is still said to be working with Warner Bros. on another project, couldn’t hide his disappointment when sharing his feelings in a post on X . Green wrote:

“For three years, I was lucky enough to make a movie about Wile E. Coyote, the most persistent, passionate, and resilient character of all time. I was surrounded by a brilliant team, who poured their souls into this project for years. We were all determined to honor the legacies of these historic characters and actually get them right. Along the ride, we were embraced by test audiences who rewarded us with fantastic scores. I am beyond proud of the final product, and beyond devastated by WB’s decision. But in the spirit of Wile E. Coyote, resilience and persistence win the day.”

Related: Wile E. Coyote and Capitalism: ACME and the Profitable Pursuit of Desire

Coyote vs Acme is an Unfortunate Cancelation.

There are many factors that have led to the scrapping of Coyote vs. Acme , but there is little doubt that Warner Bros. terrible run at the box office this year has played a very big role. The live-action/animated hybrid movie doesn’t seem to have done anything wrong from a quality point of view. It featured the ever-popular John Cena , who has already made a big impact at the studio with his appearance as Peacemaker in The Suicide Squad and his eponymous Max series, and even turned up to play a merman in this summer’s Barbie (one of the only bright points in WBD's 2023 box office), who was set to star opposite Looney Tunes’ Roadrunner-chasing Wile E. Coyote in a movie that was described as being a meta trip into the world of the animated character.

The film suffered a number of production setbacks, from the often cited “creative differences” between the studio and the creative team behind the movie, to the pressures of the Covid pandemic. However, with the movie having been completed, it seemed that it had come through the other side of its tumultuous creation. Once again, though, it appears no movie or show is safe from the studio’s ax until it actually airs.

Screen Rant

James gunn & john cena's coyote vs. acme becomes latest completed movie shelved by wbd for tax write-off.

John Cena and James Gunn's Coyote vs Acme becomes the latest completed movie after Batgirl to be shelved by Warner Bros. Discovery as a tax write-off.

  • Warner Bros. Discovery has decided to shelve the movie Coyote vs. Acme, despite it being completed.
  • This decision is part of Warner Bros. Pictures Animation's new strategy of focusing on theatrical releases, causing completed movies to be canceled and used as tax write-offs.
  • The cancelation of Coyote vs. Acme is disappointing for all involved and those looking forward to it, but Warner Bros. remains open to creative collaboration with the director and continues to work with James Gunn and John Cena on other projects.

Coyote vs. Acme becomes the latest completed movie to be shelved by Warner Bros. Discovery as a tax write-off. Featuring the titular character and corporation from Looney Tunes , the live-action animation hybrid was produced by DC Studios co-head James Gunn, who also contributed to the story, with a Coyote vs. Acme cast that included John Cena, Will Forte, and Lana Condor. The movie finished filming in May 2022 and was originally intended for HBO Max before being considered for a theatrical release.

Now, over a year after it completed filming, the Coyote vs. Acme movie has been shelved as a tax write-off. According to The Hollywood Reporter , Warner Bros. Discovery no longer plans to release the movie. A Warner Bros. spokesperson said in a statement:

With the re-launch of Warner Bros. Pictures Animation in June, the studio has shifted its global strategy to focus on theatrical releases. With this new direction, we have made the difficult decision not to move forward with Coyote vs Acme. We have tremendous respect for the filmmakers, casts, and crew, and are grateful for their contributions to the film.

Why Warner Bros. Keeps Canceling Completed Movies

The Coyote vs. Acme cancelation comes a little over a year after Batgirl was axed. In August 2022, Warner Bros. Discovery sent shockwaves through Hollywood by shelving the $90 million Batgirl movie, in addition to the $40 million animated feature Scoob! Holiday Haunt , which were both completed and intended for release on HBO Max. The newly installed Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav shelved the two titles as part of a strategic shift in favor of theatrical releases, and also to save money with a tax write-off.

Related: Why Warner Bros Cancelled DC's Batgirl Movie

The reasons for canceling Coyote vs. Acme seem to be the same. The movie was greenlit by the previous Warner Bros. leadership in December 2020 and was originally intended for a release on HBO Max which, at the time, was a fledgling streaming service. However, it was later decided that Coyote vs. Acme would get a theatrical release on July 21, 2023, though it was later taken off the calendar for Barbie .

Canceling Coyote vs. Acme seems to be another business decision on the part of Warner Bros. Discovery designed to save money with a tax write-off. However, they remain open to creative collaboration with its director, Dave Green. Gunn and Cena will also continue working together with Warner Bros. on Peacemaker season 2. However, the cancelation remains a disappointing decision for all those involved in Coyote vs. Acme , and all those who were looking forward to seeing it.

Coyote vs. Acme director Dave Green responded to the cancelation, saying he is " beyond devastated " by Warner Bros. Discovery's decision.

Source: THR


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