Disaster films generally fall into the action genre, so make sure there are sufficient visually exciting set pieces for the audience to enjoy. But don’t forget to build up your characters. They need an arc while all the disaster is uprooting their lives.
The super structure of disaster films involves three main phases:
- The REALIZATION of the impending disaster
- The ARRIVAL of the disaster
- The AFTERMATH
Here are the steps of typical disaster stories:
The normal world where everything is swell. The calm before et storm.
Someone is alerted to the fact of the impending disaster and notifies his community, family and superiors. They are shocked and don’t fully appreciated the severity of the threat. There is an “expert” who fully understands the potential of the impending disaster. He is often ignored because the non-experts think they know better.
The severity of the threat is often underestimated because not all the facts are known. There is disagreement on an appropriate plan of attack, leading to delays in dealing with the impending disaster. Finally, a plan is hatched to tackle the impending disaster based on incomplete information/
THE REAL THREAT
The first plan fails dismally when the enormity of the real threat is revealed. It turns out the expert was right all along. The disaster strikes and it’s worse than anticipated.
The disaster wreaks havoc on the community. There is no time to escape, so there are many casualties as they experience the relentless force of the disaster. There are some survivors, either through luck or strategy.
The survivors reel from the extent of destruction. They grieve the dead and take stock of the degree of devastation.
The survivors realize that life must continue and they start the rebuilding process. Although sombre and with a heavy heart, there is relief and hope as new life sprouts.
Relative normality follows as the survivors settle into their new world.
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