Sunday, October 12, 2014

MassMedia: Visual Media: The Screenplay and Syd (U6-P1) Fa14

Previously, we covered the key components of a story and the key things to keep in mind to strengthen a story.

Now, let's move to more on plot structure.

When it comes to Hollywood films, one of the key experts on screenplays and plots is Syd Field.

Field defines a screenplay as “a story told with pictures, in dialogue and description, and placed within the context of dramatic structure.”

As for "dramatic structure," Field instructs his students to use the plot structure as shown below.

Setup (Act I): let the audience know who the main character is and what the story is about. Identify the need of the main character.
Confrontation (Act II): The main character needs something and there will be people/things that stop him/her.
Resolution (Act III):  How does it end? What happens to the main character? Need met or not?
Plot Point: “an incident, or event, that hooks into the story and spins it around into another direction” (Field).

Watch the following trailer of Die Hard and look for the 3 acts.  Do you spot Plot Point 1 near the end of Act I?  What happens at the Christmas party?

Now, think about your favorite films.  Do you see this same plot structure?

Developing a full or even partial screenplay is beyond the scope of things here, but quickly coming up with a a film treatment is not.

A film or screenplay treatment is one page synopsis of a film yet to be produced.  It is typically written before the full script.  A trailer script is not a treatment.  A trailer usually leaves the end of the film (Act III) a mystery, but a treatment would not.

Could you write a treatment for the next big film written by you and perhaps starring you?  You could apply the above discussed plot structure and previously discussed concepts, like character identification, yes?

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