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Script Structure and “Sequences”

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Presentation on theme: "Script Structure and “Sequences”"— Presentation transcript:

1 Script Structure and “Sequences”
By Michael Bartlett

2 Agenda My background The 3 Act Structure & Story Basics
Discuss Syd Field’ “Paradigm” Discuss Save the Cat by Blake Snyder Discuss “Sequences” How these strategies relate to one another Examples

3 My background Started off making low budget horror (created The Zombie Diaries franchise for Dimension Films) Learned of “Sequences” at 2007 Austin Film Festival Applied it to my script ‘Timeless’ which went through a series of script readers at Inferno Entertainment (The Grey) before landing on the CEO’s desk.

4 Films due out 2013/2014

5 The 3 Act Structure 1: Get your Hero into a Tree (Setup)
2: Throw rocks at your Hero (Confrontation) 3: Get your Hero down (Resolution) A: We see Hero in their daily life B: Hero is thrown into the “New World” rife with problems C: Hero actively overcomes problems

6 Some key basics Inciting Incident – also known as ‘Catalyst’ and ‘Point of Attack’ Midpoint – Stakes are raised, A ticking clock begins, Protagonist goes from being Reactive to Active Second Act transition – typically the hero enters “The new world”

7 Syd Field’s “Paradigm”
The problem of the Meandering Second Act Splitting Act II into 2a and 2b The notion of Plot Points and Pinches Acts 2a and 2b separated by “The midpoint”

8 Blake Snyder’s “Save The Cat”
Beat Sheet containing 15 plot points/beats B Story – traditionally Love Story – another character who audience will tolerate exposition from (They won’t from an A story character). A and B stories cross at Midpoint and at Plot Point 2. Fun and Games (Act 2a) – “Promise of the premise” The ‘Save the Cat’ moment The ‘Dark night of the soul’ (transition from Act 2 to Act 3)

9 Sequences 10-15 minute ‘mini story’ Typically Act 1 has two sequences
Typically Act 2 has four sequences Typically Act 3 has two sequences Driven by questions in the audience’s mind

10 Sequences Can also be location-based (Rivendale in Lord of the Rings)
JJ Abrams “Mystery Boxes” (See his TEDTalk) Start with a question, end with an answer Hook directly into the next sequence Sequence Breaks great candidates for Fade Downs

11 Dramatic Techniques Dramatic Irony: Audience knows something a character does not. (Sixth Sense tent scene – ‘will it get him?’) Dramatic Tension: Chase scene, someone wants something, trying to get it. (Opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan – ‘will they survive’?) Dangling Cause: Audience sees the cause but is left to wonder the effect which is promised later. (Character is shot as he jumps into river and is not seen again in the scene. ‘did he die?’) Telegraphing: Someone says to Hero: “Go to this place” (Happens a lot in World War Z)

12 How these strategies relate: ACT 1
Introduce Characters. Hero shown to have a flaw (Internal Conflict) Save the Cat Moment! Inciting Incident ends Sequence A, begins Sequence B Protagonist reacts to inciting incident Major plot point at end of Sequence B propels hero into “New World”

13 How these strategies relate: ACT 2A
Introduce B Story Fun and Games (Sequences C and D) Hero reacts to problems in the New World Problems escalate Write ‘towards’ the Midpoint, end in sight. Arrive at Midpoint only for the stakes to raise, mirror to be held up to hero reminding them of their flaw. Hero becomes ACTIVE.

14 How these strategies relate: ACT 2B
Continue to increase the difficulty of problems we throw at Hero (Sequences E and F) We end up in the “Darkest Night of the Soul” also known as Plot Point 2. Where we move from ACT 2 into ACT 3. Hero CANNOT go backwards and is propelled into the final act.

15 How these strategies relate: ACT 3
Sometimes a “Twist” is incorporated at the transition of Sequences G and H, sometimes a false victory (Bad guy comes back one last time!) Hero resolves central dramatic conflict Hero also resolves internal conflict

16 Example – Little Miss Sunshine
Act One Sequence: A Purpose: Introduce characters Audience questions: What is this story about? Who are the characters? Why should I care? Sequence transition: Family listen to voice mail saying Olive has qualified for Little Miss Sunshine (Inciting Incident).

17 Example – Little Miss Sunshine
Act One Sequence: B Purpose: Introduce dilemma Audience questions: Will they be able go? Will Olive be able to compete? Sequence transition: After some bickering, the dysfunctional family agree to go together – PLOT POINT 1 propels us on the road to Act 2

18 Example – Little Miss Sunshine
Act Two (A) Sequence: C Purpose: Learn more about characters; show how unreliable vehicle is Audience questions: Will they make it there or will vehicle break down or someone do something stupid? Sequence transition: They check into hotel

19 Example – Little Miss Sunshine
Act Two (A) Sequence: D Purpose: Learn more about the father and his ‘9 step plan for success’ Audience questions: Will he get a big deal? Sequence transition: It all goes wrong. Next morning Grandpa is found dead (midpoint).

20 Example – Little Miss Sunshine
Act Two (B) Sequence: E Purpose: Show family banding together to solve huge hurdle. Audience questions: Will they escape the hospital and make it to pageant on time? Sequence transition: They escape, but time is now running out

21 Example – Little Miss Sunshine
Act Two (B) Sequence: F Purpose: Raise stakes high; pulled over by cop; brother finds out he is color blind; told they cannot enter Audience questions: Will any of the above events stop them given the ticking clock? Sequence transition: They arrive and are told they are too late (Dark night of the soul) – PLOT POINT 2 moves us into Act 3

22 Example – Little Miss Sunshine
Act Three Sequence: G Purpose: After all the effort and last minute acceptance, the family discuss not entering after all as they think Olive will be crushed. A lot of internal struggles are resolved. Audience questions: Will Olive get to compete? Sequence transition: They make the decision: she will.

23 Example – Little Miss Sunshine
Act Three Sequence: H Purpose: Olive begins competing and the dysfunctional family unites on stage Audience questions: Will Olive win? Sequence transition: END OF MOVIE

24 Summary Sequences are a useful structural tool and can be used to make a lean, ‘page turning’ script by constantly keeping the audience wanting to know ‘what happens next?’. They can be used in conjunction with other methods and formulas to help solidify your movie’s structure

25 Further Reading

26 Questions?

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