Do you need advice on how to write a film synopsis? Our experts are here to help, so worry not. In this guide, we will look at the different types of synopsis, structure, and an example of one, so please keep reading.
A film or movie synopsis is a short summary of the plot and its purpose. Generally, it is two to three pages long, but others often suggest one page in length. Exceeding this length would mean that you cover points not relevant to the main plot, hence the short length.
A plot synopsis's purpose is to:
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As such, there are many benefits of writing a film synopsis; hence both film students and experts alike seek out advice on how to write a synopsis for a film. Many students also seek help on how to write an informative essay, so be sure to check our other articles.
Just like there are different types of essays and types of assignments in online classes, there are several types of film synopsis. They exist because they fulfill different purposes and therefore appeal to different groups of people. It is thus important to understand the different genres before looking into how to write a film synopsis. These include:
Sometimes, you may be required to give a one-sentence summary of a film. It requires you to offer the main plot point in a compact version of the story. Below is an example of how to write a film synopsis of the film 1984, which is based on the book, using the one-sentence synopsis format:
“In the film 1984, Winston Smith who lives in Oceania questions his life under an oppressive Big Brother government and seeks freedom, but faces serious problems when he tries to do this.”
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At other times, you may need to expand the synopsis to one paragraph. This can be done within two to four sentences and is quite brief. Below is an example of how to write a film synopsis for the movie “Birdbox”:
“Birdbox revolves around an unknown global catastrophe that drives most of society to suicide. This leads Malorie and Tom to escape home with their two children. The escape has to be done with blindfolds on through a forest. The family encounters several challenges along the way but uses birds to warn them of danger. Eventually, they get to safety, where Malorie finally gives the children names.”
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Alternatively, you may choose to write a pitch synopsis. It is one paragraph long and has a unique structure. It begins by introducing the story and its genre, then its protagonist and objectives. In the following sentence, you can introduce the first major plot point, which is mostly what the main character does to achieve their goal. The next point should include another major plot point, and the third can contain the plot twist and, finally, the climax. Finalize what the protagonist gained or learned at the end.
“The story is a science fiction horror about Elizabeth Shaw, an archaeologist, who wants to explore humanity’s origin and head to a far-off moon, the LV-223 to investigate the existence of a superior race known as the “engineers”. She sets off with a 17-man crew to embark on a deep space exploration trip on a ship, the USCSS Prometheus. The crew discovers that humans are descended from the creatures, as well as other crashed missions. But they soon discover that the “creators” are hostile to humans. Other members of the crew die in various ways, but Elizabeth and the android David proceed to find answers as to why the creators wanted to destroy humanity.”
Similar to the other types of synopsis, this type focuses on the who, what, and how. However, it delves a bit more into the various characters, their stakes in the conflict, the setting, major events, its structure, actions taken by the characters, obstacles they face, and how the story develops. It is by far the major type of film synopsis utilized by students seeking help on how to write a film synopsis.
Below is an example of a summary of the 2019 award-winning film “Parasite”:
“The story revolves around the Kims, a low-income Korean family comprising of their father Ki-Taek Kim (father), Chung-Sook (mother), Ki-Jung (daughter), and Ki-Woo (son). They live in a rough neighborhood and struggle to make ends meet, with workers fumigating into their basement-level house and drunks urinating outside their windows. The family does menial jobs to survive, such as folding pizza boxes. One day, Min-Hyuk, a friend of Ki-Woo, visits and gives them a rock as a gift. The rock supposedly gives wealth to its owner. He informs Ki-Woo that he has been tutoring a wealthy girl but is going abroad to study, so he asks Ki-Woo to tutor her. He also requests Ki-Woo to watch her as he plans to marry her after she graduates high school. Ki-woo protests and says he is unqualified as he isn’t a college student, but Min-Hyuk promises to forge some documents and recommend him.
Soon, Ki-Woo meets Mr. Nathan Park, Mrs. Park, and their children Da-Hye (daughter) and Da-Song (son). Flirting with Da-Hye gives him the job, which has a large salary. However, Mrs. Park wants an art tutor to help her son, who saw a ghost and had a seizure that traumatized him. Ki-Jung forges documents and goes by the name Jessica and gets the job of art tutor. Ki-Jung leaves her underwear in the car on the ride home, which gets the chauffeur fired. She then suggests her father as a replacement and calls him her uncle. Afterward, the family uses the housekeeper’s allergy to peaches to get her fired, claiming that she is too ill to be around Da-Song. As Mrs. Kim gets the job, the family begins enjoying their success.
One day, the Park family goes on a camping trip, and the Kim family stays in their house. While drinking Ki-Taek remarks that “they are rich but still nice,” referring to the Parks, but his wife points out that “They are nice because they are rich.” To show that they are not stressed by the realities of poverty and hence can afford to be carefree. Moon-Kwang, the previous housekeeper, knocks and asks to be let in to get some items she forgot. She runs into the basement and opens a secret passage where she had been hiding her husband Geun-Sae. He had been living there to hide from loan sharks for a while. Moon-Kwang finds out that they are related and records the interaction to use against them, but the family traps her and her husband in the basement.
Suddenly, the Park family calls to notify Mrs. Kim that they’ve canceled their trip due to rain. The Kims rush to clean the mess, and the Parks do not realize anything is wrong. They fall asleep in the living room to watch Da-Song, who is camping in the yard. Moon-Kwang almost escapes from the bunker, but Mrs. Kim kicks her down the stairs, which injures her. Once the Parks fall asleep, the Kims sneak out and go home, but they are soaked with rain on the way there. They also find their home destroyed by flooding. They take the gift rock and go to sleep in a shelter. The next day, Mrs. Park calls them in to help with an impromptu party for Da-Song. Ki-Woo goes to check on the two in the bunker and takes the rock but is met with Moon-Kwang’s corpse, and an angry Geun-Sae attacks him and hits him with the rock. Ki-Woo is left unconscious, and Geun-Sae goes to the party and stabs Ki-Jung. Da-Song recognizes him as the ghost he saw that traumatized him.
While Mr. Kim tries to help his daughter, Mr. Park yells at him to give him the car keys so he can take Da-Song to the hospital. The keys land under Geun-Sae, who is killed by Mrs. Kim with a skewer. Mr. Park reaches under Geun-Sae to get the keys and is disgusted by the smell. His reaction angers Ki-Taek, who stabs him.
The scene cuts to Ki-Woo waking up in the hospital several weeks later. Since the rock is mostly hollow, he survived the attack. He learns that his sister is dead, and both he and his mother stand trial for fraud and are sentenced to probation after conviction. His father was never found, and the public never found out his motive for the murders. Geun-Sae is also assumed to be a mentally ill man, and his story is still a mystery to the police.
One day, Ki-Woo takes the rock to dump it in a river and comes across the Park’s house. He is still worried about his father and sees the light flickering, and soon understands that it is Morse code. Ki-Woo interprets it and finds that it is Ki-Taek sending messages. Mr. Kim is now living in the bunker and eating from the new owner’s kitchen. He buried Moon-Gwang in the garden and had been sending the message every day, hoping Ki-Woo would respond to his message and promises that one day he’ll be rich enough to buy the house, free his father, and reunite the family.”
Sometimes, students experience a creative block when completing their film synopsis, and you can avoid this by checking out our 100 best conclusion paragraph starters for college essays.
To ensure your film synopsis hits the mark, aside from our advice on how to write a film synopsis, you can implement the following:
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Yes! The synopsis should include the major points of the story so you can describe the ending.
Generally, no. You should just explain the plot without rating the director’s work. If you need to write a review where you offer your opinion, you can go through our article on how to write a movie review.
A film synopsis refers to a brief summary of the plot of a movie that also goes into detail on its purpose, main characters, theme, and more. It helps readers gain insight into the film, generate interest from industry investors, and help with brainstorming. There are four types of synopsis: one sentence, one paragraph, pitch, and two or three-page synopsis. The difference is the length and its purpose.
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