Triangle Of Sadness: Meaning, Structure and the Power of Location in Screenwriting

Triangle Of Sadness: Meaning, Structure and the Power of Location in Screenwriting

Triangle Of Sadness: Meaning, Structure and the Power of Location in Screenwriting Jacob Krueger Studio

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Hello, I’m Jacob Krueger, and this is the Write Your Screenplay podcast. This week, we’re going to be talking about Triangle of Sadness by Ruben Ostlund. 

There are so many valuable things that we can talk about, looking at this movie. You can think of Triangle of Sadness as basically “White Lotus on a boat,” but there’s also something fascinating happening in the structure of Triangle of Sadness

Triangle Of Sadness: Meaning, Structure and the Power of Location in Screenwriting Jacob Krueger Studio

Triangle of Sadness has a dialectical structure, banging ideas about  capitalism and socialism together in an attempt to arrive at something closer to the truth, and it’s in that structure that the meaning of Triangle of Sadness is found.

The script looks at those competing political point of views in a really complicated way, and by the end of it, Triangle of Sadness is looking at the challenges of making any kind of sense out of political philosophy in a world where everybody is ultimately motivated by power. 

So we’re going to be talking about the meaning of Triangle of Sadness and how to convey meaning in structure. But we’re going to be pressing all those complicated concepts through a very simple idea, one that I think is going to be hugely helpful for you as a screenwriter. 

We are going to be analyzing Triangle of Sadness in the context of how to use location in your screenwriting, not only in relation to budget but as a structural element

Location is one of those elements of screenwriting that most screenwriters don’t think about enough. Sure, if you’re an indie filmmaker, you’ve probably been told to write a “contained” movie. Maybe, if you’re a horror filmmaker, you’ve been told to write a “contained horror” movie. The idea of limiting locations is pretty simple at its core: you limit locations, you limit budget. 

Every time you go to a new location in your screenwriting, you’re asking for more money. It makes sense for any movie with budget constraints to try to limit its locations. But there are also big budget movies, where it seems like there is no limit on locations. Not every horror film is a contained horror film, and not every independent film takes place in just a handful of locations. 

It is true that every time you introduce a new location into your screenplay, as a screenwriter or TV writer, you are asking for money. You are saying “I’m raising the budget,” and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it means that you want to get the most out of your locations. So I want to give you a stronger way of thinking about location, and help you understand the value of location in your script. 

Too many screenwriters think about location as simply a place where they happen to write a scene in their screenplay. Not something valuable in itself, just the place where the thing that happens, happens. 

Often, we think, okay, well, what’s the normal location for this to happen? And there’s nothing wrong with that: there are normal locations for things to happen, and those normal locations can appear in your screenplay and be used for good purpose.

For example, in Triangle of Sadness: the argument between Yaya and Carl starts off at a restaurant, which is a really normal location for that kind of relationship argument to take place. 

But we want to get the most value out of every location, and that means closely observing each location, and thinking about how to have the most fun with each location we use. If, every time we write a scene heading, we cost our producers money, then we want to make it worth their while. We want to build structure and character and fun out of our locations.

Now, of course, this happens from the very beginning of Triangle of Sadness

In the opening scene, we are at a casting call for models. And from the very first moment, this filmmaker is getting the most out of this location. We’re not just sitting around watching the models, we’re watching somebody interview these models. He’s making some kind of documentary or reality show about them, and by the time the scene is done he’s gotten them all to play the game that connects to the theme of the movie: the upper class brand versus the lower class brand. The “grumpy” brand versus the “smiley” brand. We’ve gotten this wonderful game that comes naturally out of that location. 

As we move into the next scene, you can see the location being used again. Our main character, Carl, is auditioning for this piece, and he’s in this big empty room at the casting table. They make him use the whole room by making him enter and walk around it multiple times– allowing the room to become a part of the power dynamic that the scene is really about.

So you can see that a location in your screenplay doesn’t have to be an ironic location. It can be a naturalistic location: a casting call happening at a casting place, a fight happening at dinner. 

Triangle Of Sadness: Meaning, Structure and the Power of Location in Screenwriting Jacob Krueger Studio

But since locations cost money, you want to constantly be asking yourself the same question the writer/director of Triangle of Sadness is asking himself: Am I squeezing the most value out of this location?

So much of fully activating a location is about observation. Look in your mind’s eye at the setting you have chosen and ask yourself: What are the things about this place that haven’t been shown in a movie before? What do I see that surprises me?

If you just close your eyes and mentally step into the location you want to write about, you might notice that, at first, it feels a little vague. It’s just a room. 

To get the most out of a location, it can’t be just a room: You need to notice what color the carpet is. You need to notice what what is written on the bathroom wall. You need to close your eyes and step into it with the full specificity– as if the place were real. And then, once you find that thing that surprises you, you want to activate it and get as much fun as you can out of it. 

To develop this skill, sometimes it’s easiest, before we start making up locations, to start with your real life location, where you are right now. 

The truth is, in most people, the skill of looking is underdeveloped. We think that we are looking at things, but we’re not actually taking in what we see. What’s actually happening, neurologically, is we’re forming an impression and we’re using that to categorize the things we see. We’re going, bedroom, closet, office, cat, dog, secretary. We are labeling things instead of actually seeing them. 

One of the ways to start building those visual skills for your screenwriting is to start looking at your current location. Look around, as if this was a location where you were shooting, until you see something you didn’t notice before. 

If I was playing with my actual location right now, I might write:


and think I have a location. But I don’t actually have a location yet, I have a category. I need to start looking around. 

You might be wondering why I’m in the dining room– well there’s no office in the little airbnb where I’m staying. And that’s one of the things that makes it interesting.

The first thing I notice is the vast number of wires piled up on the table. They’re connected to my lights, my camera, my laptop, my microphone, my iPad, my keyboard, and my mixing equipment. I’ve got this vast amount of twisted-up wires, that on a daily basis, I barely notice, but I’m noticing now, because I’m looking for things that surprise me. 

If I keep looking around, I notice that I’m on a glass table. And that glass table has specks and dots and smudges on it from my fingers as I’ve been working. Cups of coffee have left rings. I realize, oh, it hasn’t actually been cleaned. Even though I’ve been working here every day for the last month, I didn’t notice that the table was dirty until I actually forced myself to look. 

I just noticed a little booklet here on the table: SE Electronics Warranty Registration. This is for a microphone that didn’t work out– I returned it.  And until I actually looked around to do this exercise with you guys, I didn’t even realize I accidentally kept the user manual. It was just sitting on my dining room table– which I’m using as my desk– invisible to me.

And this is just the desk area! I can continue to spread out and look around the room. I’m noticing that there is a doorway with crown molding on it– which is more than you expect in an Airbnb–  leading to a bedroom directly in front of me. This big fancy rectangle. And there is a second rectangle inside it, blinds in the bedroom, framed by curtains.  I’ve been looking at that every single day, and never really noticed the shapes until now. 

There are two really awful modern art paintings on the wall that are basically slashes of black against an off-white background. I don’t think I’ve even realized until now that those were hanging. They didn’t exist for me. But they frame that little doorway. And as I really look at them closely, I can see they’re not straight. 

This is what I’m talking about when I say keep looking until you notice something that surprises you. 

As we start to recognize the fun things in the room, we can start to activate them in our screenplays by giving the characters actions that relate to them. 

So, my “character,” Jake, in his little Airbnb, has this little booklet. Jake can read the booklet. Jake can make a paper airplane out the booklet. Jake can flip through the booklet to make a sound, throw the booklet, or even stick the booklet in an envelope to mail back to the company that he accidentally kept it from because he feels guilty. And you can see that each of those little actions, just in relation to this forgotten booklet, root us in the scene. They create some fun, and they reveal some really cool things about the character. 

Jake can clean the smudges on his desk, or make more smudges on his desk. We can have an action scene, and Jake can dash through that rectangle of a doorway and throw himself through the smaller rectangle and out the window. Or we can play with who appears on the other side of that rectangle. We can start to interrupt those rectangles as the contained world of the little Airbnb comes apart.

Jake can organize the wires, or Jake can get tangled up in the wires and pull everything down. 

Notice that with each of these actions we start to find a genre for the scene; we start to get a feeling for the character and the piece, and maybe we even begin develop meaning, just like the activation of the locations of Triangle of Sadness help develop meaning in that screenplay.

What we had before was something totally boring. Our INT. DINING ROOM – DAY was just a room that felt like any other room.

Now we have activated that location in a way that reveals character, we have something that reveals tone, genre. We, potentially, have a set piece: stuff that we can use. 

Jake can organize the artwork, Jake straighten it, Jake can stab a hole in it, Jake can replace it with his own artwork. There are a million things that can happen that activate the scene, and that make it feel real. When we do this, we get grounded in the scene. 

As screenwriters, we’re taught structure, and structure is wonderful, but it can also get in our way. It can make our scenes feel flat, because instead of entering the scene being present with the location, we enter the scene thinking, How do I make the scene do what I want it to do? 

We enter most scenes with so much purpose for getting from here to there in the script. But when we ignore the location, we actually lose a lot of wonderful opportunities to make the scene come to life– to feel real and feel funny, to feel sad and touching and beautiful. We lose the trailer moment that we could be creating, because instead of thinking about what’s going to look beautiful on camera we’re thinking, Okay, where is it? How do I get from A to Z? How do I keep it contained to protect my budget? 

Instead, start by looking closely, and then ask yourself how do I make it beautiful? 

And beautiful doesn’t have to mean traditionally beautiful. Beautiful can be ugly. Beautiful really means specific. It means specifically observed, it means realizing that your during room isn’t the same as mine. That there are special things in every place that aren’t in any of the others.

It’s realizing that Jake’s in an Airbnb and that’s different than home– that there’s always something a little dislocated about how he fits into the space. Or maybe it’s about realizing that, for Jake, the Airbnb feels like home, is home. 

There’s a green screen behind me that makes my location feel the same for every podcast– but maybe, in this story that I’m building here, there’s a moment where Jake tears down that green screen. And we see what’s been behind him the whole time, and maybe that thing is beautiful. Or maybe that thing is ugly. 

Triangle Of Sadness: Meaning, Structure and the Power of Location in Screenwriting Jacob Krueger Studio

To learn how to fully activate location in your screenplay, begin by developing your visual acuity in the real world. 

Until you learn to see real things specifically in the real world, it is unlikely that you’re going to be able to see imaginary things in a specific way in your imagination. 

Next time you’re standing in line, start observing. Remember, you’re not just INT. STARBUCKS – DAY. You’re in this Starbucks.

(For clarity’s sake- note that I’m not suggesting you write complicated scene headings when writing your screenplay– INT. STARBUCKS – DAY is perfect– I’m suggesting that once you have chosen your location and written your scene heading, you still have a lot more work to do!)

Start making a list of all the things you see that you don’t expect, and then start thinking. If I had a character in this Starbucks, how would I activate those things I saw that I didn’t expect, so I could start to tell the story with them?

Next time you’re sitting on the subway, or driving in your car, remember: you’re not INT. SUBWAY – DAY or INT. CAR – DAY or  EXT. ROAD – DAY. You’re on this road, this car, this subway.  Keep looking for the specifics. The stronger you get at finding those specifics, the more active your imagination is going to become around developing those specifics in your screenplay’s location and then taking them to the next level. 

Once you’ve developed the ability to look specifically at the world around you, see what happens if you start to think about locations from your past.

Choose a location from your past and observe it in your mind’s eye. Don’t choose an imagined location yet, choose a real location that you’ve spent a good amount of time in.

The more time you’ve spent in this location, the easier. But don’t go back there physically. Instead, in your mind’s eye, practice going into this location and seeing things that you don’t remember seeing when you were actually there. Look at your own memories with so much that specificity that once again, you’re surprised.

(It’s okay if that element didn’t actually exist or if you’re not sure if it actually existed– but don’t “make something up.” Instead keep looking until something presents itself to you.)

Then think, if I replayed the scene that happened there for real, how could I do a rewrite activating some element of that location? 

You can see, we’re not yet focusing on strategies for writing a scene. Instead we’re focusing on strategies that will allow you to build up your muscles as a writer, develop these skills, so that the kind of creativity that we end up seeing in Triangle of Sadness eventually becomes easier for you. 

This little exercise is how you start training your mind not just to see, but to look. Not just to label, but to examine. You’re training yourself to be in a constant state of curiosity. 

Once you’ve started to do that, I want you to start to look at the locations you’re actually using in your screenwriting. You might start by asking yourself, What are the locations it currently takes place in? And how do I activate this location?

But eventually, I want you to ask yourself a question every time you come up with a location, before you even write down the scene heading. The question I want you to ask yourself is this: 

Is this the most fun location that I could set this scene in? 

Now, fun doesn’t have to mean funny. Fun can mean sad, tragic, ironic, complicated, challenging, exciting, visually spectacular, I have access to it, I can shoot there for free. Fun can mean a lot of things. 

But if you’re shooting a scene in a location we’ve seen before, then the scene has to be really special. 

If you take the same scene and move it to a location that we maybe haven’t seen before, then the location starts to do some work for you, and it will start to elevate the scene. 

(There’s a little pun there, because the scene in Triangle of Sadness that we’re about to talk about takes place in an elevator).

Note… there will be spoilers from this point forward.

Triangle of Sadness uses a simple location, an elevator, to bring Yaya and Carl’s power games to a whole new level. 

Let’s take a look at the elevator scene. It starts at 18:08 in Triangle of Sadness, and it ends at 20:09 (or you can watch the clip below). 

We have been watching our main character, Carl, and his girlfriend Yaya. They are influencer/ models. They make a good amount of money. They get a lot of free stuff. She makes a little bit more money than him. She’s a little further in her influencer career than he is in his modeling career, (and she’s a female model so she’s better paid– a reversal of the traditional glass ceiling) but they’ve both had some success. And they have glommed onto each other because their relationship makes sense and it works for both of their careers. And maybe there’s some love there, but it’s a little hard to tell. 

We’re going to watch, in the first “chapter” of Triangle of Sadness (the film is split up into three chapters) an epic relationship fight between Carl and Yaya. 

And that fight, in itself, is not particularly new: They’re fighting over the check. 

They’re out at a very fancy dinner, looking very fabulous at their fabulous restaurant, being their ‘sexy model’ selves with each other. And Carl gets annoyed, because Yaya waits for him to pick up the check– even though the night before, she’d said that she was going to pay. 

What follows is a really complicated power game between the two of them that plays out for a long time, page after page. It feels really naturalistic, like a real fight that you’ve had with your partner. This fight begins in a totally normal location for a fight: the restaurant. It continues in the taxi on the way home.

After they get back, the fight escalates– Or maybe I should say elevates– to this.

This scene from Triangle of Sadness is a perfect example of using location in your screenplay to take a relatively traditional moment and make it something really special. 

Watch those elevator doors, and you’ll see how Triangle of Sadness uses a concept we’ve talked about before: the game of the scene. The game of the scene in this fight is that the elevator doors keep trying to close, and every time the doors close on Carl and Yaya the scene gets a little bit more fun.

In the first part of the scene, they keep sliding halfway out of the elevator to keep the doors from closing. Then Carl steps out of the elevator, and Yaya starts hitting the button to close the doors. The game has escalated, and she’s using her power as the person in the elevator to gain power over Carl and to try to get in the last word. Visually, in this part of the scene, you can also see Yaya framed beautifully in the blue light of the elevator– it’s not just a tool for the screenwriter, the director is using it too.

And as the fight keeps escalating, the role of the elevator keeps escalating too. With Carl on the outside and Yaya on the inside, and the 50 euro bill first being shoved down Carl’s shirt by Yaya, and then shoved into the elevator door by Carl as they both try to prove it’s not about the money. Before long, Carl is banging on the closed doors, forcing them back open, and standing between them, until finally Yaya gets the elevator moving and Carl is talking to a closed door.

The location of this scene isn’t just a location. The elevator becomes its own character, becomes part of the obstacle in the scene. It’s a framing tool, and a direction tool. The humor and escalation of this explosive fight– that mixture of pathos and comedy Triangle of Sadness does so beautifully– all comes from Carl and Yaya’s interactions with the elevator.

If you take that same scene in Triangle of Sadness out of the elevator, the piece starts to become more of a straight drama. The entire genre and tone of the scene and the movie would change.

If that scene also took place in the restaurant, would it feel as funny? Absolutely not.  If you take the exact language out of the elevator, not only will it start to feel more like a straight drama but you’ll also start to recognize that this scene isn’t that new. We’ve actually been in this scene before. 

If all we have is the dialogue and we don’t have the action– him slamming the 50 euro bill into the elevator, talking to the closed door, or her laughing from behind the door– without the elevator, we’re missing all that stuff that made this scene feel funny, real and elevated. 

It’s the location, and how Triangle of Sadness uses its location, that makes this scene feel like more than just the traditional fight that practically everybody in the universe has had with a partner.

So I want you to really think about the value of location. I want you to look at every location in your movie and ask yourself, am I getting the most out of it

Triangle Of Sadness: Meaning, Structure and the Power of Location in Screenwriting Jacob Krueger Studio

I promised you that through this conversation about location, we are also going to talk about the social and political messages of the film. What does Triangle of Sadness mean?  

The film takes place in three generalized locations in three different chapters. 

In chapter one, the location is the real world life of Carl and Yaya: The world of two people who are still slightly on the outside, but who are on the way up. They’re not in the 1% supermodel place yet, but they’re not at the bottom, either. Carl and Yaya are struggling for status with each other, and in their world, with their casting directors, with their partners. They are playing power games with each other that seem like they’re about the money but aren’t really about the money. And they’re doing so in normal places for people of their status– casting calls and fancy restaurants and taxis and hotels

This is where we start. This is the first “location” in Triangle of Sadness. 

You can see, when I’m talking about location in this context, I’m not just talking Scene Heading locations. I’m talking about where the movie lives. 

We go to different places within it, but the whole first chapter’s setting, Carl and Yaya’s ordinary world, is the first location in Triangle of Sadness

And as we’ve talked about, in each place that we go inside of that general location, we get the most value out of every location.  Remember that fight in the elevator, and how it wouldn’t be the same scene if you set it somewhere else.

The second chapter of Triangle of Sadness is set on a cruise ship. 

In the first chapter, we are mostly seeing Carl’s status get knocked down.

First, by the casting director, who tells him he should relax the “triangle of sadness between his eyes,” who says, “Oh, it’s you,” after looking at Carl’s headshot, implying, both this is a little below you and also I’m disappointed

We watch those power dynamics happening as the director forces him to do the same walk again and again.

Then we see a different version of the same power dynamics taking place on an interpersonal level through this epic fight between Carl and Yaya. 

In the second chapter, Carl and Yaya are the paupers in the world of the exceedingly rich people they’re on the cruise with. These people are not just rich, they are disgustingly rich. We have the Russian capitalist oligarch, who literally sells shit for a living. We have the “sweetest” elderly couple who make grenades and guns. We have the lonely rich man who tries to just flirt with, or hit on, or maybe even just talk to Yaya and the daughter of the Russian oligarch, and whose only pickup line is “I’m very, very rich. Let me buy you a Rolex.” We have the ugliest possible version of the 1%, the highest social sphere. 

And then we have Yaya and Carl who, despite their beauty, are the freeloaders. They are the poorest people of the rich, aspiring celebrities among the mega wealthy, who got the cruise for free. And the status games continue between the two of them in this new location– she continues to play her games, and he’s trying to lock her down by shopping for a wedding ring. 

At the next level down, under Yaya and Carl, we have the serving crew. And we get this fabulous scene at the beginning as their leader rallies them and they cheer and shout and scream because they’re going to make so much money on tips. 

And then we go one level below deck where the ceiling is bouncing from the cheering servers above, to see the cleaning crew. We don’t recognize who Abigail is yet, but these are the lowest of the low. 

Slightly above the serving staff, we have the captain– who has power over them, who can keep his door shut and stay drunk, and who will be treated like a celebrity by the wealthy clientele even as the staff are treated like servants who have to say yes. 

On this cruise ship, we can see the power games that are played even as people try to act nice, and we can see the shit flow downhill through the different levels of power. 

We’ll watch Yaya flirt with the half clothed guy from the crew. And then we will watch Carl report him for working without his shirt on– and (inadvertently?) get the guy fired. 

We can see all these different dynamics happening at all these different levels of socioeconomic and personal power, as people jockey to maintain their place in society and to keep those below them down. And they are keeping them down, even if they’re keeping them down by what looks like kindness: such as the moment that the Russian oligarch’s wife forces the crew to go swimming. 

Her act of kindness is a power move. Her “let’s reverse roles” is not actually a lowering of her status, it’s a raising of her status, by forcing her server, and then the whole crew, to do something extremely uncomfortable for her.

Just in case you don’t get it, this “three hour tour” is going to blow up when everyone gets seasick, in an over the top sequence throughout which the drunken socialist American Captain (Woody Harrelson) and the drunken capitalist Russian oligarch, both abuse their status.

Even though the American Socialist Captain might be spewing the language of the people, he’s actually abusing his power over both the working class and the guests below him with catastrophic results for everybody. 

In addition to getting the most out of its location (in hilarious and disgusting ways) this scene is also a clue to the the real meaning of Triangle of Sadness: we’re starting to see that even though the American Socialist Captain and the Capitalist Russian Shit-Seller are espousing completely different philosophies, that they’re actually playing the same power games.

Both the socialist and capitalist side of this dialectical opposition are caught up in a struggle for power that has nothing to do with their words. It is not about the money, it’s about the wielding of power. It is not about the actual philosophy, it’s about the wielding of power. 

By the time it’s done, everybody has vomited for half an hour, all over one of the epic set pieces; and again, you can see how the boat gets activated in that drama.

For example, in one gross and hilarious moment, we see the vomit slide down the porthole, and then we see the squeegee come up– and we realize that the crew is still cleaning this up even as all the chaos happens.

All these power dynamics have been pushed to the extreme– and when they can’t be pushed any further, that’s when we get the pirate ship, and the grenade landing on the boat. And we get this great moment when the “sweet” old lady, who makes bombs with her husband, picks up the grenade and goes, “Is this ours? I wonder if this is ours.” And it goes off.

So by the time chapter two is done, we’ve seen two different philosophies lose their meaning. Socialism and Capitalism both get corrupted by the corrupt people espousing them, who use political ideals for their own power. We’ve seen the very bombs that these people have used to elevate themselves take the whole ship down. The modern military-industrial complex takes down its perpetrators. 

Triangle Of Sadness: Meaning, Structure and the Power of Location in Screenwriting Jacob Krueger Studio

This brings us to the third chapter, and the third location of Triangle of Sadness: The island.

If you’ve seen Triangle of Sadness, you already understand what happens here: on the island, all the power dynamics shift. 

Suddenly, Abigail, the housekeeper, who is at the very bottom in chapter one, is now the
“chief.” She is now the girl who can catch an octopus, who has the pretzels, who has the safe place to sleep, who can take care of them, who can provide them food. These rich people have nothing, and the housekeeper Abigail now has all the resources; suddenly, she starts behaving like the 1% behaved in their world. 

Meanwhile, the Russian oligarch is the guy who’s now talking about how we’ve all got to work together as a community. He’s speaking the language of the proletariat. 

What we’re seeing, and part of what makes the movie so dark, so funny and sad, is not a story about the rising of the proletariat against the 1% or vice versa. 

What we’re really seeing in Triangle of Sadness is a movie about the darkness of human nature. How our desire to hold on to our power corrupts and destroys whatever’s beautiful about us. This is the real meaning of Triangle of Sadness, and it grows from the use of location.

Simply by shifting the location we can change the entire power dynamic– not just in a movie like Triangle of Sadness, but in your movie, too. Recognize that, just like in your life, your characters will have different status and different levels of power in different locations.

In the normal world of chapter one, Abigail probably couldn’t even have a conversation with Carl. In the location of the boat, the only thing Abigail can do is clean up after Carl; she’s at the bottom level. 

But then, when we get to the island, Abigail becomes the sexually desirable character for Carl.  Now she can play the role that Yaya used to play: she’s somebody who, like Yaya in the first half, is good for his “career.” Good for his future. Now, their relationship makes sense, just like his relationship with Yaya used to. In this new world, Abigail is on top: she can attract the hot model and elevate his status. And she is a lot more desirable now than his own supermodel girlfriend. 

Meanwhile, we’re watching the other characters step into their roles as hunter-gatherers and as valuable members of their society. There’s a wonderful moment where that lonely rich man, who could only buy Rolexes, kills a donkey; it’s hard and it’s ugly, but we’re watching him gain new skills. Now that money has no value, he has to prove himself through practical things. He can’t just buy a Rolex anymore.  In these different locations, people don’t just have different roles– they have different values. 

As we careen towards the ending of Triangle of Sadness, we’re going to see, through Abigail, what people are willing to do to hold on to their status, and why any kind of positive social change, despite our best philosophical ideas, remains so impossibly challenging.

We don’t know exactly how the story ends, but we’re going to see Abigail contemplate murder. Not to be found, but to stay lost. 

Leading up this moment, there is an incredible scene where Yaya and Abigail, who became rivals when Abigail gained enough status to be a threat to her relationship with Carl, become friends. They go on this wonderful hike together, and a real bond develops between them. 

But then, a new change in location– and in power dynamic–  destroys any possibility of a bond. They realize that they’re not actually on a deserted island. They’re on a resort.

Yaya understands what Abigail’s going through, and she genuinely wants to help her. But even as she tries to help, she’s still playing a power game. 

A part of Yaya genuinely empathizes with her new friend, Abigail. Understands what she must be going through, upon realizing that they’re going to be rescued and she’s no longer going to be chief, and genuinely wants to help her feel there might be hope for her of a better life, even if she’s not chief anymore.

But something else is going on as well– an opportunity for Yaya, subconsciously, maybe, to once again raise her own diminished status in her offer to “help” Abigail after they get off the island.

“You could be my assistant.” 

You can see how this one line is the turning point in the status of both characters– which is why we see Abigail pick up that rock and contemplate whether she’s going to murder Yaya to make sure that nobody finds out where they really are.

This is the power of location. 

Location is not just a cost in your movie: every location is an opportunity. 

You’re spending money because location gives you trailer moments. It gives you genre. Location gives your screenplay feeling, specificity, opportunities to reveal character. It gives you opportunities to mess with the power dynamics of your relationships and to see aspects of your character that you might not otherwise see.

If you enjoyed this podcast and it’s helping your writing, come study with me! You can do so online from anywhere in the world. Our ProTrack program will pair you with a professional writer who will mentor you one on one throughout your career, all for the tiniest fraction of what you would pay for grad school. 

Our Foundation Classes will teach you the foundations of 7 Act Structure, how to Write a TV Show, all that wonderful stuff, in an organic way that builds your creativity and your voice, and include a 1:1 consultation with a professional screenwriter.

And all of our programs can be attended online from anywhere in the world.

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By registering for the course, you are agreeing to the following terms, which form a legal contract between you and Jacob Krueger Studio, LLC (“Company”) and govern your attendance at and/or participation in Company’s course (the “Course”). 

  1. Course Participation.
    1. Admittance.  Your registration entitles you to admittance to the Course.  Any and all other costs associated with your attendance (including, without limitation, any travel or accommodation expenses) shall be borne solely by you and Company shall not be liable for any such costs.
    2. Media.  For good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which are hereby acknowledged, you grant Company the right to record, film, photograph or capture your likeness in connection with the Course, in any media now available and hereafter developed (“Course Footage”).  You further grant to Company in perpetuity the rights to use, license, edit, copy, distribute, publicly display and make derivative works of the Course Footage, including exploitation for marketing, advertising or merchandising related to the Course, throughout the universe.  You hereby waive any and all approval rights you may have over Company’s use of the Course Footage and acknowledge these rights are granted without any payment, including royalties or residuals, to you.
    3. Conduct.  You acknowledge that Company reserves the right to request your removal from the Course if Company, in its sole discretion, considers your presence or behavior to create a disruption or to hinder the Course or the enjoyment of the Course by other attendees or speakers.
  2. Fee(s).
    • Payment.  The payment of the applicable fee(s) for the Course is due upon registration or per your payment plan.  If such payment is insufficient or declined for any reason, you acknowledge that Company has the right and sole discretion to refuse your admission to the Course.
    • Taxes. The fee(s) may be subject sales tax, value added tax, or any other taxes and duties which, if applicable, will be charged to you in addition to the fee(s).
  3. Intellectual Property. All intellectual property rights, including trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and patents, in and to the Course, the Course content and all materials distributed at or in connection with the Course (the “Course Materials”) are owned by Company. You may not use, license, copy, display, or make derivative works of the Course Materials without the prior written permission of Company.  For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this agreement shall be deemed to vest in you any legal or beneficial right in or to any trademarks or other intellectual property rights owned or used under license by Company or grant to you any right or license to any other intellectual property rights of Company, all of which shall at all times remain the exclusive property of Company.
  4. Warranties; Limitation of Liability.
    • Other than to the extent required as a matter of law: (i) neither Company nor its employees, agents or affiliates (“Company Parties”) shall be liable for any direct, indirect, special, incidental, or consequential costs, damages or losses arising directly or indirectly from the Course or other aspect related thereto or in connection with this agreement.  The maximum aggregate liability of Company Parties for any claim in any way connected with therewith or this agreement whether in contract, tort or otherwise (including any negligent act or omission) shall be limited to the amount paid by you to Company under this agreement to attend the Course.
    • You represent and warrant that you have the full right and authority to grant Company the rights provided in this agreement and that you have made no commitments which conflict with this agreement or the rights granted herein.  You agree that your participation in the Course is entirely at your own risk and accept full responsibility for your decision to participate in the Course.  In no event shall you have the right to enjoin the development, production, exploitation or use of the Course and/or your Contributions to it. 
  5. Governing Law and Venue.  This agreement shall be governed by the laws of the State of New York without regard to its conflict of laws provisions.  The parties hereto agree to submit to personal and subject matter jurisdiction in the federal or state courts located in the City and State of New York, United States of America.
  6. Dispute Resolution.  All claims and disputes arising under or relating to this agreement are to be settled by binding arbitration in the state of New York or another location mutually agreeable to the parties.  The arbitration shall be conducted on a confidential basis pursuant to the Commercial Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association.  Any decision or award as a result of any such arbitration proceeding shall be in writing and shall provide an explanation for all conclusions of law and fact and shall include the assessment of costs, expenses, and reasonable attorneys’ fees by the winner against the loser.  Any such arbitration shall include a written record of the arbitration hearing.  An award of arbitration may be confirmed in a court of competent jurisdiction.
  7. Miscellaneous.  Company may transfer and assign this agreement or all or any of its rights or privileges hereunder to any entity or individual without restriction.  This agreement shall be binding on all of your successors-in-interest, heirs and assigns.  This agreement sets forth the entire agreement between you and the Company in relation to the Course, and you acknowledge that in entering into it, you are not relying upon any promises or statements made by anyone about the nature of the Course or your Contributions or the identity of any other participants or persons involved with the Course.  This agreement may not be altered or amended except in writing signed by both parties.
  8. Prevention of “Zoom-Bomber” Disruptions; Unauthorized Publication of Class Videos. Company will record each class session, including your participation in the session, entitled “The Videos”. To prevent disruptions by “zoom-bombers” and provide Company and

    participants the legal standing to remove unauthorized content from platforms such as YouTube and social media sites, you agree that

    (1) you are prohibited from recording any portion of the Course;

    (2) in exchange for the opportunity to participate in the Course, you assign to Company your verbal contributions to the session discussions.

    To be clear, you assign to Company only your oral statements during recorded Course sessions. You retain all copyright to any and all written materials you submit to the class and the right to use them in any way you choose without permission from or compensation to the Company.

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