How To Create Strong Suspense in Your Screenplays

    I found a helpful piece of filmmaking advice for screenplay writers.

    This video talks about the opening scene in Quentin Tarantino’s film, Inglorious Basterds; if you’ve ever watched it, then you will remember the opening scene.

    It introduces Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz).

    This video essay examines the elements of suspense that Tarantino utilizes to captivate his audience.

    • Conflict, Dissonance, and Instability
    • Uncertainty
    • Emotional Significance
    • Lack of Control

    Quentin’s method of suspense suggests longer scenes create more tension.

    The suspense is like a rubber band and I’m just stretching it to see how far it can stretch. The longer it can stretch, the longer that scene can hold.”

    We also take a lesson from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. With advice from both of these legendary directors, we find the recipe for tension.

    This breakdown will help independent filmmakers create stronger suspense in their writing.

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    • Micah McWhorter

      Cinematographer

      Micah is a young cinematographer pursuing documentary filmmaking. He gained his first on set experience on The Out of The Woods Project as a 1st AC. He is now continuing his career with The Initiative Production Company in Brisbane, Australia.

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