Week 5 Foundation 4D: What makes a good story?

Today in class we learnt about what makes a good story!

Miss Ruyi showed us a video of filmmaker Andrew Stanton on TED TALK on what he thinks make up a good story, and I find that highly inspirational and I was blown away by how much thought was placed into story making in films and animations.

Link to watch the video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxDwieKpawg

I have learnt from the video that:

  • Story telling is knowing when to insert your punchlines.
  • Stories in films give us affirmation that our lives have meaning.
  • A good story is able to transcend through past, present and the future.
  • ‘Make Me Care’. By evoking emotions of audiences to care about the characters, it engages the audience’s heart and minds.
  • Make a promise to the audience that watching your film is worth their time. It acts as a pebble pulled on a slingshot, it propels one forward in the story.
  • Story form without dialogues are very innocent. Well absent information draws the viewers into the story and capture our hearts. An example of a film without dialogues is Wall-E !MV5BMTczOTA3MzY2N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTYwNjE2MQ@@__V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_
  • ‘Unify Theory as 2+2’ make audiences think and ponder instead of feeding direct information to them.
  • Character with a spine (story/goal) gives depth to the story.
  • When thing goes static, the story dies.
  • Global tension exists to help the story.


Like Dory’s bad memory in Finding Nemo and Finding Dory where her memory was a constant worry for the audience to reach a final resolution to the films.

  • Drawing a (tragic) backstory of a character also helps to build a good story. Like Woody in Toys Story where he is selfless, but his back story is of him being very selfish in the past.
  • Having little secrets in the story, the plot is driven forward as the audience would be curious of ‘the secret’ shared by the characters.
  • Use what you know. Express values of what you truly feel. It is the truth and it is genuine, which I believe audience can feel. After all, your story is unique and not replicable.


Understanding types of genres also aids in story telling.

moodboard genre

A film can be exciting when mixing of genre is involved. (e.g. Action + Thriller) But eventally as a whole, the movie ought to have a primary genre.


Like ‘Her’ by Spike Jonze, it is a mixed genre of romance and sci-fi, but the primary genre of this movie is Romance~

The use of ‘The 3 Act Structure’ is very relevant and aids one to organize their story boarding in films.

3-actThe setup (Exposition) consists of the facts the audiences need to know, like the establishment of characters an motive


Personal Input:

A movie I had watched recently that I felt was… bad and a total waste of my money and time was …

mechanicposterYES. I had really high expectations of this movie initially because the male lead was Jason Statham, the actor in one of my all time favorite action movie, ‘The Transporter’.

Using ‘The 3 Act Structure’ to breakdown the action-thriller movie,


The Introduction and Exposition was rather clear, he was a highly paid for assassin who faked his death so he could lead a ‘normal life’. And in the midst of enjoying civilian life, his identity was found and was given a job he didn’t want to continue anymore.

The Rising Action at the Conflict stage began when he escaped to Thailand to seek refuge from an old friend. Long story cut short, his plan was ruined when some damsel in distress seeks for his help, who turned out to be a spy who was held hostage by the employer who wanted the male lead to carry on his assassin job.

And this is when the plots starts dwindling… the following scenes were so fast paced and everything that came after seemed rush. He traveled to 3 different countries to execute missions in 36 hours… did he teleport through a portal or??? I felt that sexual tension was exploding between the characters even though there was no proper build up to their relationship. Now, I felt the build up was essential even though it was not a romance film as he took up the assassination job which he avoided for years to save her: someone he ONLY met for 2 days…

I got bored really quick as the only thing that kept me alive in the cinema was the gory fighting scenes and the constant flashing of the male and female lead’s hot bodies. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE STORY?!

The falling action in the resolution category was that the female lead was saved and they lived happily ever after. THE END. *roll eyes* SO PREDICTABLE… At that point I just wanted my 1 hr and 40 mins back.

Amazing casts were in this movie, like Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Michelle Yeoh etc. But the plot and script just killed it all.

Even though there was The 3 Act Structure in the movie, I find that the process of buildups and transitions were very badly handled. But of course, this is purely based on my opinion while comparing it with other films I have watched. Sorry for the spoilers and unplanned movie review.foot-in-mouth


Food for thought I had during today’s lesson was ‘ Does good looking actors/ characters help to drive a story?‘ I had dual perspective on this… Yes, because good looking characters help to keep the audience’s attention. And No, because attention is so drawn to the visual appearance of the actor, the plot of the story is casted aside and that defeats the purpose of the entire film because… if you want to look at good-looking actors, just go stalk them on social media right? Why bother paying so much to watch a movie?? Unless the whole use of good-looking casts is for publicity reasons. #SadTruth

Thanks for reading!!


Seng Yi Ling.

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