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Is it bad to change the theme of a story for the budget?

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    Is it bad to change the theme of a story for the budget?

    For a crime thriller script, I would also like to produce myself, I am trying to make changes to save on budget. The theme at the end of the story is how the police detective protagonist feels guilty about getting other people killed and harmed in the third act, such as a SWAT team he was working with, as well as his own wife, becoming one of the hostages.

    However, in order to save on budget, I was thinking of cutting out the SWAT team and the wife character, from being there, which just makes it, the protagonist vs. the antagonists only, but no supporting characters now.

    But removing those characters does change the theme and now the theme would be that the MC was successful in getting the crooks, and it all worked out with no damage to innocent cops or bystanders.

    So it goes from a feeling guilty of violence begetting violence theme, to the system worked, and justice was served more so, theme. But is that theme very different and I am wondering is changing the theme of a story to save on budget a bad thing most likely therefore? Or will there just be an audience for this different theme, and that's okay, perhaps even better?

    It's really up to what you think you can pull off. You could get in touch with local militia guys who already have all the gear. You might just have to purchase a couple of SWAT patches to help sell the illusion (I've done this before). I've also had times where I merged characters or got rid of some sequences entirely because I couldn't make it work and it didn't affect the overall theme of the story. So it's really up to you.

    Independent Filmmaker
    BMD URSA Mini 4K/Avid Media Composer/NukeX/Blender/Mixcraft/ProTools/Resolve Studio

    Feature Films
    Wulf - 2008 | Leap - 2010 | Leap: Rise of the Beast - 2011 | Surviving The Wild - 2020


      If you look at most films they are "Adapted From" indeed the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Bond films are all different to the books. So there is a lot of support for this idea. However as someone said "We haven't the money so we will have to think!" You need to tell the same story but will have to be inventive.

      Before CGI and huge SFX things were done "off screen" and by implication. You don't have a police car but the screech of tires and a flashing police light pulsing though the window (though the actual light not in shot) Your character can go to the door on camera, open the door and talk to the unseen policeman outside. You don't actually need the "policeman" to be in uniform if they are not actually in the shot. Neither do you need a police car. So THINK, be creative,

      As El Director says see if you can "borrow" some local Swat or police etc. Though that depends on where you are in the world and he local situation. For some reason with all their money Ron Howard, Dan Brown and Akiva Goldsman couldn't get access to any Catholic Church let alone the Vatican. They could film in Rome but they could not do even one step in to Vatican City. They had to be creative.

      So you know the intent of the story. You just have to find creative ways of doing it which will change the script and action but not the thread of the story.