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 SnyderDiscuss “Sequences”How these strategies relate to one anotherExamples
3 My backgroundStarted off making low budget horror (created The Zombie Diaries franchise for Dimension Films)Learned of “Sequences” at 2007 Austin Film FestivalApplied 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.
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 lifeB: Hero is thrown into the “New World” rife with problemsC: Hero actively overcomes problems
6 Some key basicsInciting Incident – also known as ‘Catalyst’ and ‘Point of Attack’Midpoint – Stakes are raised, A ticking clock begins, Protagonist goes from being Reactive to ActiveSecond Act transition – typically the hero enters “The new world”
7 Syd Field’s “Paradigm” The problem of the Meandering Second ActSplitting Act II into 2a and 2bThe notion of Plot Points and PinchesActs 2a and 2b separated by “The midpoint”
8 Blake Snyder’s “Save The Cat” Beat Sheet containing 15 plot points/beatsB 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’ momentThe ‘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 sequencesTypically Act 3 has two sequencesDriven 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 answerHook directly into the next sequenceSequence Breaks great candidates for Fade Downs
11 Dramatic TechniquesDramatic 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 BProtagonist reacts to inciting incidentMajor plot point at end of Sequence B propels hero into “New World”
13 How these strategies relate: ACT 2A Introduce B StoryFun and Games (Sequences C and D)Hero reacts to problems in the New WorldProblems escalateWrite ‘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 conflictHero also resolves internal conflict
16 Example – Little Miss Sunshine Act OneSequence: APurpose: Introduce charactersAudience 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 OneSequence: BPurpose: Introduce dilemmaAudience 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: CPurpose: Learn more about characters; show how unreliable vehicle isAudience 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: DPurpose: 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: EPurpose: 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: FPurpose: Raise stakes high; pulled over by cop; brother finds out he is color blind; told they cannot enterAudience 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 ThreeSequence: GPurpose: 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 ThreeSequence: HPurpose: Olive begins competing and the dysfunctional family unites on stageAudience questions: Will Olive win?Sequence transition: END OF MOVIE
24 SummarySequences 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