Narrative Film Tell a Story

Most films tell a story. There are three main things contained a narrative. Let's look at each part individually.

Setting: The Location of your Story

The Setting is where the characters exist. A film could have multiple locations and in some cases multiple times. Think of the last film you saw. For example the movie The Martian occurs on the surface of the planet Mars, NASA offices, and a space craft.

Time is also a major part of your setting. Think about the differences that would exist now compared to 30 years ago. How different are clothing choices, the look of cars, or how people communicate? In the long running television series Doctor Who frequently travels to London, but due to the time-travelling nature of the show it could years in the future, the past, or possibly even some spin-off of the present.

Think about where your story will take place?

Characters: The players that you will follow throughout the story.

The characters are the people, animals, or elements that we follow in the story. The story needs characters for your audience to relate too, love and/or hate. A story will have a protagonist. The protagonist is the leading character or one of the major characters in a drama, movie, novel, or other fictional text. In the series of films Indiana Jones we have a single character with very distinct traits. Think of his clothing. His hat, clothing, and even his whip are unique to his character. Remember also that he is professor and, of course, the best archaeologist in the world. Defeating Nazi's and even meeting with aliens, are all part of the story.

Every protagonist needs a antagonist. Someone that fights against them. Think about this for a minute..... Superman and Lex Luther, Batman and the Joker, Luke and Darth Vader. Wait that just got more complex. During a film the protagonist will rise up to be the hero. In the film Unbreakable the protagonist must be coached to be the hero once the antagonist has found him.

This leads us to the third element:

Conflict: The battle or challenge

Conflict is what drives the character in the story. This may not always be as precise as the Hero vs. Villain. Many times it can be formulated as Man vs. Man, Man vs. Environment, or Man vs. Himself, however it normally is combination. As mentioned before in the film The Martian the character, Mark, must survive the unforgiving environment of Mars. There is also contained in the story elements of Mark vs. Mark. You may be familiar with this particular conflict when trying to get up early to workout or do your homework. Now don't limit this to only men. Women, animals, robots or whatever else your characters are, could be the protagonist. Sometimes the antagonist could be acne, a pack of wolves, or gravity. In Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Arc his enemies are clearly the evil Nazis. Here are the basic types again:

  • Man vs. Man
  • Man vs. Environment
  • Man vs. Himself

Conflict is simply created by having two opposing goals. One goal is to destroy the planet and the other is to save it. Conflict can be created through misunderstandings as well. Most romantic comedies are built around misunderstandings and miscommunication. The goal of both parties is to find a suitable mate, however, life seems to get in the way.

The goal of both parties is to find a suitable mate, however, life seems to get in the way.

These three elements of story are sometimes referred to as the THREE P's.

  • Place (Setting)
  • People (Characters)
  • Predicament (Conflict)
Created By
Ryan James


Created with images by skeeze - "charlie chaplin actor man" • Unsplash - "empire state building new york manhattan" • skeeze - "mars rover curiosity space travel" • WikiImages - "mars planet crater" • Christopher.Michel - "International Space Station mockup" • Kowh - "International Space Station 1280x1024" • Willy D - "nasa" • Huskyherz - "portrait funny cranky" • Andrew Colin - "Conflict"