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By Popular Demand, We are compiling All the Golden Rules in one document

The Golden Rules
for Making, Viewing and Reviewing Movies and TV Shows
by Movie Critic and Historian
Ricardo Barberini

Every aspiring movie maker should carry a copy of this in his or her pocket at all times!

The Golden rules of Cartoons, Claymation and Anime

Rule One.      Anyone can produce a Cartoon movie given the software that is available on the market.

Rule Two.     The more outlandish the subject matter the better the chances of success.

Rule Three
.  It is better to have a story to tell but counter plots work as well.  I once saw a short cartoon where the Coyote eventually got the Road Runner and everyone in the audience gave it a standing ovation.


Rule Four     Whatever happens in one episode or movie has no effect on the next episode.  The characters never die. They can be killed many times.


Rule Five.     The characters can do any job. In the Simpsons series, for example, Homer Simpson has tried his hand at many jobs none of them successfully. Will he keep our interest in the upcoming movie?


Rule Six.       Beavis and Buthead in the 1990’s and Simpsons somewhat later affected the way the kids talk and act in the early 21st Century.  Before that, kids were watching old stuff from Disney, Warner, Hanna Barbera or others such as the Road Runner, Yogi Bear and Flintstones.  Do you know that most Baby Boomers believed in the Jetsons?  We’ll need something new for this Century.

Golden Rules for Comedies:

Rule One.      Currently four letter words and sexual situations are the favorites

Rule Two.     If you want to make a good comedy, you will need to engage the services of a writer who is also a comedian at heart.  A mischievous kind of guy or gal.

Rule Three.  Avoid making political comedies.  Leave that stuff to Michael Moore

Rule Four.    English comedies are generally hilarious, even if you do not understand some of their expressions.  Unfortunately, they do not get much screen time in US.

Rule Five.     If you must use four letter words and sex, try making an NC-17 comedy. Nobody has and it may sell better than R rated one.

Rule Six.       Unless you are remaking a Jerry Lewis movie, avoid making remakes, they are never as good as the original.  Remakes of English movies by Hollywood directors have been disastrously unfunny.

Rule Seven. If you want to make a really different movie, hire Howard Stern to write the screen play. Select Howard and Eddie Murphy as the main stars and throw in Cameron Diaz as an added attraction.  It is sure to be a blockbuster!

Rule Eight.   It is best to avoid comedies with racial undertones.  At one point it was considered OK to use race for laughter as long as the targets were the same ethnicity as of the comedian.  Now, the rules have changed and it seems that everyone is fair game.

Rule Nine.     In their golden years, the French made comedies about cheating wives and cuckolded husbands.  Even though they were in black and white they were funny, even with the subtitles.  The husband was usually a bald fattish guy who was rather stupid but not brutish.  Try that idea.

Golden Rules for
Action/Epic/Adventure Movies

Rule One.      Making Adventure and Epic movies is not for the faint of heart. You will need money, talent and a good story.  

Rule Two.     Spending money and having superstars does not guarantee success.  Samuel Goldwyn found the hard way with 55 Days at Peking and Twentieth Century Fox did not do much with Cleopatra even with all the hype they created by bedding Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor together during the shooting to generate interest. 

Rule Three.  For Epic movies you will need to spend as much for promotion as for the production.  A few years ago, the elegantly made movie, The Kingdom of Heaven did not do as well as it should have done.  It was a superbly directed movie with a great story and a fine cast and yet it did not be become a blockbuster.  On the other hand, the Gladiator which was a nice movie but not really a great movie won Oscars and made a ton of money.  Some of it had to do with the way the two movies were promoted, Gladiator by DreamWorks and The Kingdom of Heaven by 20th Century Fox.

Rule Four.    Remakes are always possible.  Still rule one applies.

Rule Five.
     As director Peter Jackson proved in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, you can successfully have unknown actors play major roles in an epic.    But, generally, famous names make selling tickets easier.

Rule Six
.       Unlike horror movies where sex is a major element of the story, sex is not as important and in fact overt sex can diminish the movies broad appeal.

Rule Seven. Special Effects or as Hollywood people call them FX, can play a major role in your success or failure.

Golden Rules of Dramas:

Rule One.      When it comes to dramas, take no notice of what other critics say.  Remember, critics write for each other and each one wants to seem more cultured than the rest of them.  The most boring dramas have received rave reviews from TV and newspaper critics only to flop at the box office.

Rule Two
.     A drama could be based on a play but you must add a dynamic dimension to it.  The Glengarry Glen Ross (1985) was based on a play and was shot almost entirely on one set. It had major stars such as Jack Lennon, Al Pacino and Ed Harris.  Frankly, it was one the most boring and annoying movies that I have ever seen.

Rule Three.  In a drama, the director makes the difference more than any other type of movie.  If you think about it, in a horror movie it is blood and sex, in epics it is the grandeur of the set.  In a drama it is the director that has to bring the story out through actors.

Rule Four.    Dramas could be inter-racial or multi racial and still be successful.  Malcolm X was about a Black activist who was disliked by many Whites during his lifetime.  Spike Lee managed to bring out a wonderful movie that appealed to both Blacks and Whites.

Rule Five.     Sexually taboo subjects of the past such as homosexuality are now acceptable if done elegantly.  Movies such as Broke Back Mountain and Transamerica became award winners.

The Golden Rules for Horror Movies.

Rule One.      There are NO rules in Horror movies.

Rule Two.     Talent is not important.

Rule Three.  A huge amount of money is not important.

Rule Four.    Any high school kid can write a Slasher movie for peanuts

Rule Five.     You can get young star struck teens to play in the movie for peanuts.  If you play your cards right, they may even pay you for the privilege!

Rule Six.       Hire a recent graduate of a film school to do your directing.

Rule Seven
. Your most difficult task is finding a distributor.

Rule Eight.  
Think of going straight to Video if you cannot get screen time.

Rule Nine.     The GROSSER the subject the more chances of success.

Rule Ten.      But, if you really want to make a great movie and have talent, then make a movie that scares the sub-conscious.  A human being’s imagination is much wilder than his or her visual senses. Great directors like Hitchcock, Clouzot and Sidney Hayers made movies to scare your mind and remember the terror forever.  How many cheap slasher movies can you remember?

Golden Rules for Musicals.

Rule One.      The current craze is the cartoon musicals.

Rule Two.     To make a musical you must really know your stuff. That is why Roger Corman never made a musical.

Rule Three.  Try making a true rap musical. It has not been done.  The Wiz was made along these racial lines but it was a long time ago.

Rule Four
.    Evita was the last blockbuster when the entire dialog was sung.

Rule Five
.     If you include dancers in your musical, the cost could be excessively expensive

Rule Six
.       Try to be original. Movies like 42nd Street , An American in Paris and Singing in the Rain can never be remade.  They are like paintings by the great masters, you can copy them but they will never be as good.

Rule Seven.
And finally, to make a masterpiece you have to be at least as good as Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly, Busby Berkeley, Bob Fosse or Andrew Lloyd Weber. There are many imitators but only a few originals.


Golden Rules of Sci-Fi

Rule One.      There is always an audience for Sci-Fi movies but it is not as big as for the horror movies.

Rule Two.     Special effects are wonderful but, they do not take the place of a good story and good acting?

Rule Three.  You cannot make a Sci-Fi at home.  People have tried to make low budget fantasy films with hilarious results.  Remember Ed Wood and Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Rule Four.    You can combine other movie categories with your Sci-Fi story.  For example, people have made Sci-Fi’s that are really horror movies in disguise such as the Alien series or comedies such as the Galaxy Quest.


































Golden rules they teach you at the Crime School and are usually ignored by stupid Movie and TV villains.

Rule One.      If you use a gun and shoot someone, wipe it clean and drop it as soon as you can. Even if it is your own gun and it cost hundreds of dollars.  You can always claim that it was lost or stolen.

Rule Two.    
If the police ask you questions; inquire if you are under arrest.

Rule Three.  Remember that very few people can shoot and hit their target with one hand.  Hand guns, specially the smaller ones with short barrels, are generally not very accurate at long distances, so most professionals, including the police, are trained to aim while holding the gun with both hands.

Rule Four.    N
ever ever say anything to the police without your lawyer. Even if it could clear you.

Rule Five.     If the police persist in asking you any questions ask for a lawyer. Do not let them browbeat you or intimidate you by saying that if you were not guilty you would not need a lawyer.

Rule Six        Do not trust the police especially if they say that they can help you make a deal before things get worse. That is usually a ploy.

Rule Seven. Remember that the police, at least in the movies, are trained to lie or sympathize with you if it helps to get confessions.  As far as we know, it is allowed by law.

Rule Eight.   If you admit to something and put it in writing, you may think that you could later claim that it was coerced out of you.  However, the courts will go with your initial confession and your denial in court will generally have no effects.  Ask for a lawyer.

Rule Nine.     Don't believe it if the detectives say that they have witnesses to put you at the scene of the crime or your accomplice has confessed or your DNA result shows that you are the guilty one so you better make a deal now.  It is usually all a bluff. Ask for a lawyer and shut up.

Rule Ten.      Do not accept drinks or food from the police while being questioned. That is a ploy to make you want to go to the bathroom. Then they will ignore your request to make you desperate to make a confession.  If necessary relieve yourself in your pants.  They won't like it and you may get slapped around, but then you are off the hook.

Rule Eleven.   Offering drinks and food is another ploy to get fingerprints or DNA.

Rule Twelve.
A guilty conscience for life is better than even a single night in the Jail.

Rule Thirteen
. If the police beat you up and you are guilty and even if you are not, take it, keep quiet and ask for a lawyer.

Rule Fourteen.
The police or the DA may try to wave the flag and scare you with the Patriots Act.  This is nothing new.  They have been trying the flag waving since the fifties starting with the McCarthy’s House un-American Activities Committee.  Watch Pickup on South Street .  They tried that on Richard Widmark and it did not work. Ask for a lawyer.

Rule Fifteen. Once the police or the DA make up their mind that you are a reasonable suspect they will stop looking for other explanations or suspects.  Your goose is cooked!

The Golden Rules that they teach at the Cavalry School

Rule One.      When being attacked by Indians, shoot at the horses first.  It may sound un-American in the Twenty First Century but in the Nineteenth Century it was the way to survive.

Rule Two.     If you are attacking a stage coach, do not bother with trying to shoot the driver or the guy riding shotgun.  They are small targets well hidden by all the luggage. Also, the horses may panic and go off a cliff or canyon.  So, your only choice is to shoot one of the horses.  The stage coach will stop immediately and both the driver and the shotgun rider will be thrown off the top by the sudden jolt.

Rule Three.  If you are faced with a runaway buckboard, with a damsel in distress, shoot the horse.  If you do not, chances are that the buckboard will topple over and kill the occupant.

Rule Four
.    If planning a long trip, carry extra supplies of fist sized stones to wipe your body clean.

Rule Five.     If you are being attacked by the Indians while traveling in wagon trains, circling the wagons may not help that much.  Remember that the Indians can get inside your defensive perimeter with their bows and arrows by shooting into the air above your position.  It has to do with the laws of physics and trajectory.  If you do not understand it, contact me and I will explain it in more detail.

Rule Six.       Don't think that the Indians are not smart.  When it comes to desert warfare, they are as smart if not smarter than you are.

Rule Seven. In the old West killing was easy.  So, people might kill you if you they don't like the color of your eyes.  One outlaw, John Wesley Hardin, once killed a man for snoring.

Rule Eight.   In the old West, people shaved at most once a week and maybe took a bath once a month. 

Some additional pointer from this historian for the aspiring movie makers.

Rule Nine.     In the old West, saloons were dimly lit dismal places where you could hardly see ten feet in front of you.  They were lit with oil lamps and the smoke and soot permeated everything.

Rule Ten.      The saloon girls were mostly ugly floozies with missing or crooked teeth.  Some had pox or were afflicted with tuberculosis.  Many would drink laudanum, a derivative of opium, to ease their pains and to be able to tolerate having dirty stinking customers pawing them.  

Rule Eleven.            However, there was such a shortage of women that many men would marry these girls.  In those times, it was not considered dishonorable to be married to a “working” wife. 

Rule Twelve. The unwashed cowboys wore crumpled old clothes. None looked like or dressed like Kevin Costner, Val Kilmer or Kurt Russell. 

Rule Thirteen.  Since there was hardly any entertainment in town, the patrons would get drunk on cheap whiskey and shoot at each other at the slightest provocation, or just for fun.  Fortunately, they missed most of the time, on account of being drunk and the place being so dark.

This is copyrighted material.  You may use portions of the material for educational purposes as long as you credit the author and as the original source.

© 2006 Ricardo Barberini

Please note:  The material is presented here for moviemakers’ educational purposes.  It is hoped that you will learn from the experience of the experts to make better movies or make your viewing more enjoyable.  We do not claim or guarantee the accuracy of the information, after all this is a movie website.



Golden Rules of Sci-Fi

Rule One.      There is always an audience for Sci-Fi movies but it is not as big as for the horror movies.

Rule Two.     Special effects are wonderful but, they do not take the place of a good story and good acting?

Rule Three.  You cannot make a Sci-Fi at home.  People have tried to make low budget fantasy films with hilarious results.  Remember Ed Wood and Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Rule Four.    You can combine other movie categories with your Sci-Fi story.  For example, people have made Sci-Fi’s that are really horror movies in disguise such as the Alien series or comedies such as the Galaxy Quest.