Recently, a student started a very complex script. It had flashbacks, flash forwards, non-linear narrative framing, illusion, delusion and just about every other non-standard story device you can imagine.
When I read his synopsis I cautioned him the story probably wouldn't work as envisioned. For one thing, it was horribly complicated - I've been doing this for 20+ years and I wouldn't attempt it. And, although the student was a good writer in other ways, this was his first script.
He started it several times, getting feedback about the things that worked (not much) and what didn't (a lot) and he worked to improve it. And although it has gotten a bit better and more digestible it still doesn't work.
But not for the reasons I thought although those are still there.
Without getting into too much detail his story involved a man who was destined to be destroyed and in the process the world. That seems like terribly important stakes, right? The entire fate of the world. And it is. The problem is that the man was fighting against something he couldn't see. And by extension, something we couldn't see,
This is not a drama like "A Serious Man" where his actions caused a problem. This was big picture, big world stuff - a very large, supernatural agency that was out to get this guy. It had big scope and big villains...
But we never saw them.