Billy Wilder’s Ten Rules of Good Filmmaking


My friend Beverly sent me this list, with a note, “Works for novels, too.”

Billy Wilder’s ten rules of good filmmaking:

1: The audience is fickle.

2: Grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go.

3: Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.

4: Know where you’re going.

5: The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.

6: If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.

7: A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.

8: In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re


9: The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.

10: The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then—that’s it.

Don’t hang around.

5 replies
  1. David Hamilton
    David Hamilton says:

    Extremely helpful. I’d gotten a couple of my shorts into local film festivals in the past and, while that’s a nice accomplishment, I never really felt confident in my work– I never felt like I’d told an interesting story. This small little blog entry was an enormous help and, along with the five point story arc, played a crucial role in the development of my most recent film, my best work by far. Thanks again!


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *