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Whatever your feelings about Hollywood, it’s impossible to deny its influence on all of us. Even though many purposefully disregard Hollywood’s conventions, methods, and structures, we’re still affected by them. And to be honest, there’s a lot we can learn from them. We’ve recently been digging into Blake Snyder’s classic screenwriting book Save the Cat! And while much of it is as “Hollywood” as you’d expect, there’s a lot of gold in there too.

It’s impossible to say what makes a film great. Useless to prescribe any rules, since often the best films break them anyway. A more helpful discussion, then, might be to talk about what makes a film bad — and what can be done about it (this is the helpful part).