From Film School With Love: 007 Ways to Write a James Bond Film

December 10, 2014

The new cast and title of the 24th film in the official James Bond series was announced this past week. Spectre, Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig’s followup to smash hit Skyfall, is a call back to the supervillain agency of 60s era Bond films, when Sean Connery and his jetpack would face off against bald badguys who stroked fancy white cats. Now that the dark and gritty Craig-era James Bond movies have broken the rules and started the series from scratch, it seems the producers, stars, and screenwriters behind 007 are willing to reconnect with their campy past.

While most details about Spectre are being tightly kept under wraps, the filmmakers undoubtedly are sticking to what’s worked before. If you’re an aspiring screenwriter and you want your name in the credits for Bond 25, here are 007 things to include in your script when writing a James Bond film.

1. Choose Your Title

While Bond films occasionally have stark one-word titles like Spectre, Skyfall, and Goldfinger, most titles tend to have fun with wordplay and include lots of prepositions. First, pick something badass and cool, like fire or ice. Then pick another noun, something simple yet epic, like dawn. Find a verb to connect them, typically related to at least one of the nouns, like burn. If you’re feeling adventurous, include an adjective. Finally, fill in the blanks with a preposition or four and bam! You have your title: Fire Burns Hottest at Dawn. Something that sounds wise and slick, but the more you think about it, isn’t really either. Or if Sam Mendes is directing again, just call it Dawnfire.

2. Choose Your Locales

Bond movies must take place in a minimum of three places around the world. Obviously London should be one of them so we get our requisite Moneypenny and Q action. When choosing which parts of the globe you want 007 to trot, keep your chase scenes in mind. If you want airboats fanning across a swamp, make sure you’re in New Orleans. Moscow makes for great tank chases. As Skyfall has shown us, Istanbul has the perfect rooftops for a jeep/motorcycle/train/bulldozer pursuit.

3. Choose Your Puns

James Bond doesn’t tell jokes, he’s killed too many men for that. He does, however, love his puns, almost always involving either sex or murder. Make sure you’ve got a few lined up for your script. The key is constructing them in a way that any actor playing the super spy is forced to deliver them in the most painfully forced way possible. At least one of them shouldn’t really make sense at all, like when Bond kicked a villain off a cliff in For Your Eyes Only before quipping “He had no head for heights.” What?

4. Choose Your Gadgets

It’s really important to get the gadgets from Q-branch right, because Bond is going to find himself in a situation where that specific gadget will be incredibly useful, before he discards it and never mentions it again. Those crocodile-shaped motorboats are expensive, James!

5. Choose Your Bond Girls

Unfortunately, the rather condescending term Bond Girl is pretty much applied to any actress in a 007 film that isn’t Judi Dench (when, let’s be honest, she’s the greatest Bond Girl of them all.) Your Bond Girls should have either ridiculous names, like Strawberry Fields, or names that are completely transparent references to sex, like Holly Goodhead. They can be Bond’s love interests, villains, or—typically—both. Don’t get too attached to them though, because one of them should die early on to raise the stakes for our double-oh.

6. Choose Your Climax

No, not that climax, that’s step seven. This climax is your big final showdown between Bond and his villain, with an optional doomsday machine thrown in the middle. This epic fight should be in a palace made of ice, or the inside of a volcano, or a supermodern submarine. Please don’t make it the Moon. If you’re struggling with this one, try to picture what would look best exploding into a million pieces, and then use that.

7. Choose Your Climax

So it’s come time for the end. Before the Daniel Craig era, nearly every Bond film ended with Bond and his love interest cuddled together after an explosive climax. Most of the time they’re in the water, because Bond looks sexier wet and women’s dresses become see-through. (James Bond may have a lot of class, but his films typically don’t.) You also have the option of having M, Q, and the British government somehow spying on Bond and his lover in some way. After all, even M16 wants to get their money’s worth when it comes to cinema’s most dashing secret agent.