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Writing A Screenplay About A Person Wrongly Imprisoned

The Shawshank Redemption
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True stories abound about innocent people convicted of crimes and sent to prison for years or even a lifetime. Sometimes evidence is uncovered revealing the real criminal, or convictions are overturned when new evidence proves the innocence of the person wrongly imprisoned.

In The Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover based on circumstantial evidence. He is given two life sentences to be served at Shawshank Prison.

Andy adapts to the harsh brutality of prison life and, using his expertise in bank accounting, he sets up a money-skimming operation for the warden, Samuel Norton. While enriching the warden's coffers for many years, Andy relentlessly digs a tunnel in his cell and hides the tunnel behind a wall poster. When the tunnel is finished, Andy escapes. And in a final ironic twist, Andy sends the prison accounting legers to a newspaper. The legers show that the warden illegally profited from prison labor—evidence of the rampant corruption at Shawshank and the warden's complicity.


Screenwriters can write a compelling script using the theme of a person who has been wrongly imprisoned. This theme can be used to develop exciting and varied plot lines with surprising twists.

create a screenplay about an innocent person wrongly imprisoned, ask yourself several questions:

1.) Who is your protagonist ? Describe the protagonist's physical and psychological
     characteristics and his main character flaw.

2.) What is your protagonist's goal in the story? What is he or she trying to achieve?
     Describe the antagonist (villain) who tries to prevent the protagonist from achieving
     his goal. How does the antagonist create conflict for the protagonist?

3.) When does the story take place?  Does it take place now, in the past, in the

4.) Where does the story take place? Describe the geographic location.

5.) Why do the actions of the protagonist determine how the main conflict of the story
     is resolved?

6.) How does the protagonist resolve the conflict? Does the protagonist prove his own
     innocence? Does the protagonist enlist someone outside to help him prove his
     innocence? Does the protagonist escape or is he set free?



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