How Movies Work

This blog answers a fundamental question by many moviegoers, how do movies ACTUALLY work?


Miquiel Banks

4/13/20243 min read


Yes, I went there.

Yes, I have the confidence to make this statement.

And yet, you still wonder, how do movies REALLY work and what goes into this beautiful industry?

The complexity of a movie lies not in its structure, but in its execution. Therefore, I have put movies into four worlds of knowledge.

  • World 1 — The Mental World

  • World 2 —The Natural World

  • World 3 — The Emotional World

  • World 4 — The Spiritual World

The Mental World

Despite what you think about movies, the core idea of a movie, its meaning, is simply the MIND of the Story.

Some call it Theme, others label it as the Controlling Idea, others refer to it as Premise, but I have taken a liking to the “Moral Premise” because it encapsulates the entire meaning of a film.

Here’s how the Mental aspect of a film breaks down.

Please note that the Theme is simply the ONE WORD SUMMARY of Dual Consciousness (Virtue/Vice).

  • Dilemma — When a hit man sacrifices his life to save his neighbor, he must choose between saving her life or ending his own.

  • Theme — Love

  • Virtue — Honest Love

  • Vice — Dishonest Love

  • Moral Premise — Ignorance leads to destruction, but Love leads to Happiness.

Notice that Virtue and Vice are behaviors which lead to results (Destruction, Happiness).

When I’m breaking down a movie, I start at the Dilemma and ask myself, what is the Protagonist’s dilemma in this movie?

Once you have the dilemma, you move over to the Virtue and ask yourself, what behavior did the protagonist use to achieve his goal?

Then, you ask yourself, what behavior did the antagonist use to achieve his goal?

Now armed with the virtue and vice of the movie, it’s easy to formulate the Moral Premise.

  • Virtue leads to what result?

  • Vice leads to what result?

After determining the MP, now comes the hard part: distilling the Virtue and Vice into one word (symbolizing the growth from a world of duality to one of unified consciousness).

The Natural World




Rules and Regulations.




After understanding a movie’s MIND, it’s time to survey its terrain and enter the domain of its “Story World.”

Most movies have Three Worlds and they are as follows:

  • Ordinary World (Act One)

  • Transformative World (Act Two)

  • Synthesized World (Act Three)

When you look for these worlds, they’ll reveal themselves to you and you’re free to roam through and find the treasures that lie alongside the highways, streets, and roads.

The Emotional World



Audience Participation.










This is the entertaining world of a Movie, this is often what makes a movie “breathe” and give it life.

This is what people rush to the box office to encounter, the raw and intimate experience of taking a journey with the right person.

If that journey is resonant and taps into the audience’s consciousness, these people (characters) become generational icons, legends, and some become local Mythology.

Regardless of where you express your attraction, you will soon learn this is where Blockbusters are made.

Simply, this world is composed of the following:

  • People — What they say (Emotional Arc of Movie)

  • Plot — What they do (Behavioral Arc of Movie)

The Spiritual World

The Spirit.

The Soul.






This is a wondrous realm, the world of the Metaphor. Its dynamic impulse vibrates at such a high rate that many moviegoers refuse to spend any time here because they don’t “see anything.”

The reason they don’t see is because there’s nothing to see, no treasures to find, and no lucid visions to supplant their need for more drama.

So, you wonder, why is this the Spiritual Realm and not the MP?

First, the MP forces people to “think” about what they’re doing, to give into their intellect and seek the answers they need.

Next, this world is about Understanding beyond the MIND, a transcedence of embracing the experience until you understand it completely.

The reason this world is a realm (unlike the others) is because you aren’t called here, you choose to come here. With that initial gut in your stomach, you step out here and realize that nothing is as it seems.

This is a world of realizing that one thing means something else and when you add two things together, you get a third and distinct reality (object, concept, idea, symbol, etc.).

Beware young traveler because on a good day, if you look long enough, wisdom may hit you (SMACK!) in your head and with one truth, many others follow.

Are you ready for that?

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