Modus Operandi

My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius...

Champion Series
Now, for the moment of truth . . . the gates shudder open. The hot wind brushes against his face. The light from the arena fills his eyes. Heart beats fast, fists clenched, jaw set, eyes narrowed, he steps forward from the shadows. The noise from the crowd rises like the ocean roar to greet him. Will they cheer? Will they jeer? Will they make effigies of him for their children, and their children’s children to gaze upon for centuries to come? Or will the lions devour him, leaving nothing but scarlet sand and bones? Only the gods know.

But who is this man?

He is your champion—your story. It fights for you. It represents some part of you; some idea you believe in. It entertains the audience, and, if trained properly and with diligence, it wins your victories, making it well worth the investment.

In this thirteen part series, we’ll discuss the various facets of story construction that will help shape your “champion,” and hopefully, make it a steadfast contender worthy of the critical Coliseum.

Part One: Modus Operandi

Modus operandi is a Latin phrase, approximately translated as “method of operation”. The term is used to describe someone’s habits or manner of working, their method of operating or functioning. In English, it is often shortened to M.O.

This first facet applies to character development. You’ll want your story full of characters that live and breathe and feel organic; they should be recognizable by their actions and their diction, and those should be echoed consistently throughout the story to enforce their personas. The way they move, interact with other characters, their usual course of action should bear some sense of predictability—not in the “Oh, this is boring” sense, but in the “That is totally a (character’s name) thing to do/say.” Lest, some exterior force interrupts that character’s routine, they should maintain a certain identity.

It’s easy to define a character based on the way they look, unless you’re in anime and the only distinguishing characteristics between characters are sometimes as miniscule as hair and eye color, but M.O. really refers to their essence. It is your character’s face, their façade. It could even refer to your style of directing, writing, or music composition. Either way, it needs to be recognizable.

Now, whether it be a handsome face or a grotesque face—we don’t care, but we want to see it, and we want to see it in all lights: negative, positive, under pressure due to conflicts, elated, distraught, and etc.  We want to be able to study it closely, and maybe even glimpse similarities to our own physiognomies staring back at us in the mirror, convicting us, encouraging us, affecting us.


Series Contents
We’ll activate each link below as the blogs are posted. Enjoy!

  1. Modus Operandi
  2. The Threshold
  3. Titanic Syndrome
  4. Heat of the Moment
  5. Call 911
  6. The Alien
  7. My Shoes
  8. Inception
  9. The Quest
  10. Encounter
  11. Luke, I am your father
  12. Umm…honey?!
  13. Anything Goes
Andy Ainsworth

11 comments on “Modus Operandi
  1. Avatar of Dominic Panico

    Very interested in to see what more I can learn from this! This website is amazing.

    • Avatar of Andy Ainsworth

      Aww…thanks, Dominic, you just made my heart smile. I hope it continues to be relative, and helpful.

      Are you participating in our weekend challenge?! I really hope so.

  2. Avatar of Dominic Panico

    I really hope so too, I want to. I am actually kind of in a ditch with my filming at the moment with ideas, but on top of that I am moving so it’s just me who would be filming until I meet new people. I plan on joining the production club once school starts. In the mean time, I am experimenting with learning time-lapse videos.

    • Avatar of Andy Ainsworth

      I saw that you posted in the forums about time-lapse. It’s a really fascinating/beautiful way to capture life, especially the stars. You might try querying @ORyan about it, as I don’t really understand it. He might be able to give you some suggestions, in the very least.

  3. Avatar of Margaret Zimmerman

    I love this site. I’m already learning a lot. And teaching! Which I never imagined. Thanks Andy and O’Ryan. Where can I watch some of your film stuff?

    • Avatar of Andy Ainsworth

      We’ve shot some shorts, all of which are still in post, because the dream of Filmpunch came to us, and we had to make that come to fruition first. We have a big filming project coming up in July, and after that, I think you might see some teasers and trailers gracing our pages for your enjoyment :) Be excited. Ah, the life of a creative being—juggling too many projects at once haha

    • Avatar of Alex Coulombe

      Can’t wait to see it!

  4. Avatar of Chase

    I like the title of #11

  5. Avatar of Caleb Davies

    Can’t wait for the Inception post. How many members total are on Filmpunch?

  6. Avatar of Alex Coulombe

    Very curious what ‘Umm….honey?’ will be :)

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