by Pratyush Velicheti | June 8th, 2020
What adventure films are about, is providing an exciting experience to the audience. Something that they have never seen before, something that pushes them out of their comfort zone and takes over their senses with spectacle. They are about taking an idea, a story, a character, and magnifying their endeavors/journeys to a level beyond imagination in order to leave a viewer mind blown.
Making any film is not an easy task but making an adventure film is something on another level. It involves letting your imagination run wild and following all your absurd and ‘unrealistic’ thoughts, seeing where they lead you and finding that incredible idea that’s going to get you excited.
Here is an example of Jurassic World’s: Final Battle Scene followed by its behind the scenes
1. The Plot
To have an interesting and riveting adventure film that is going to blow everyone away, it has to be something out of the ordinary. One must approach adventure films like any other film, except for the fact that they must remember to make the film BIG. What I mean here is, that
the plot has to be larger than life itself. It has to be something that is not concerning only a few people, but a large majority. Something like the whole world for example. An apocalypse adds that quality of something grander and utmost importance due to the sheer scale of it is the effect. That is what gives the film quality of extraordinary circumstances, something that is larger than the characters and their lives itself, which is not something to be taken lightly. It doesn’t always have to be at a whole world level, but the more people it concerns the more invested the audience because it must be something important if it concerns so many people right?
Taking an example from a classic action film franchise Star Wars, it’s not just a few people that are concerned with the sith and their obsession with using their dark powers. The grander your plot, the better. Another example would be from the movie Avatar, it’s the whole planet of aliens that is at risk not just a handful, which adds the dangerous element simply due to the scale.
2. The Characters
Your characters must first and foremost be understandable. By this I don’t mean they all have to be human, it doesn’t matter if they are aliens or dwarfs or wizards or humans or any other creatures. They need to be understood by the audience clearly and simply so that the audience starts seeing the character as more than just a creature. They must have motives that are clearly understood so that it’s clear what they want, why they do what they do. The next thing they need is a backstory, a past. So that we understand where they come from, what happened to them that led to them becoming who they are. This will not only add an interesting element of storytelling due to the possibility of going deep into the background of the story, providing details to the backdrop but it will also add humanity to the characters.
Your film won’t work if the audience doesn’t care about the protagonist/hero of the story and feels as if the villain is just another powerful bad guy. Once you understand where someone is coming from, what happened to them, you are adding layers to them which make them more relatable to the viewers as they all begin to see glimpses of themselves in the characters which are a sign of well written, deep, and realistic characterizations. This is what makes characters memorable and iconic. It’s not only the lightsabers of Darth Vader or staff of Gandalf that make them memorable, it’s their characters. Once people care about your characters, everything begins to work together.
Now that you have an investing plot and realistic characters that your audience cares about you get to have fun with your script. I say this because now every time there is a risk/hurdle in the way of life he hero, the audience will feel it, feel the danger/risk because they are hooked into caring about the characters. This gives you a lot of leeways to have situations where you can introduce scenes of suspense where you maintain the tension that is being felt which will keep the audience on the edge of their seat.
An example of this would be when Indiana Jones is hanging out of a jeep, there is tension as your audience not only cares about the character, they also know that he is human and If he falls he is going to get hurt, so that adds tension and an opportunity for adrenaline rushing sequences.
Another thing you should do with your characters is that they also should be focused on doing something that’s beyond their benefit. Something that will not only help him/her but help a lot of others too. This adds a selfless element making your character more likable and people will be rooting for them even more than they would without this element. Along with this, a Killer soundtrack is only apt to accompany your action sequences so remember to keep that in mind as well.
4. Sets and Budgets
You can’t have a larger than life plot and accompany that with a low level/cheap set. If you’re making an adventure film, prepare to have a bigger budget than any other genre film as your audience has to believe everything that happens on screen. They can’t be noticing bad CGI in the middle of your film so you need your set and background imagery, costume and everything else made to perfection, otherwise, it’s not believable which is definitely not what you want. Make sure to select everyone for your team with experience and knowledge, skills that would be necessary for the production of your big adventure film, because if it looks fake, that would not only diminish the experience disappointing your viewers but will also make the film feel like a tacky cartoon which is the worst thing you can hope for after all your hard work.
There has to be something that the hero wants which is integral to the plot of the film and the outcome of the fictional world you have built. It can be an artifact, it can be a map, it can be a place they have to find but whatever it is, there has to be something that’s acting against them. Something that is stopping/blocking them from acquiring the thing that they need. There is no point in making a film about someone getting what they want without hitting a few road bumps so to speak. Whatever it is that is blocking them (it can be a villain trying to kill them or it can be a sea between the hero and where they want to go) it must be clear as to how this problem has arisen. It’s not like Indiana Jones is walking into a cave and suddenly out of nowhere a random guy pops up to right him. There has to be a strong reason why they are trying to stop the hero from getting where they want to go. This adds another layer of subplots/drama within the film. This villain must be well written and his ideologies/motives must clash with the hero’s making them worthy rivals for one another.
6. Time is at Stake
Another bonus thing you can add to your plot is having a time limit. Having a time limit on something adds another layer of tension and drama that the characters need to worry about. It adds to the thrill and the suspense as, if time is of the essence then everything that is stopping him from getting what he wants is even more interesting and riveting. It makes every second count making every scene have a lot more weight than it would if there weren’t anything limiting your characters.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Pratyush Velicheti
An aspiring writer and a film fanatic, actively creating content for a thriving Instagram page – ‘Waves of Thoughts’