The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field

Dramatic Structure

eavesdropping – Language of characters  Screenplay story told – – – – With pictures In dialogue and description Within context of dramatic structure Person(s) in place(s) doing things (actions) .What is a Screenplay?   Not a novel – Inside the mindscape of characters Not a play – Audience is the fourth wall.

Conceptual Scheme  Typical movie is two hours. episodes or events leading to a dramatic resolution Paradigm of a screenplay – Model. Example.Dramatic Structure    Linear arrangement of related incidents. 120 minutes One page of screenplay equals one minute of screen time .

Dramatic Structure .

Acts  Three units of dramatic structure .

characters. dramatic situation (circumstances surrounding action) .Act I. situation. relationships of characters  First 10 minutes/pages most important – Viewers decide like or dislike – Show main character. The Setup   The beginning ≈ 30 pages – Page 1 to 30 Setup – Story. dramatic premise (what story’s about). dramatic premise.

etc. – If you know the need. get achieve. you can create the obstacles – Drama is conflict  No conflict = no character = no action = no story = no screenplay = no movie .Act II. The Confrontation   The middle ≈ 60 pages – Page 30 to page 90 Confrontation – Main character encounters obstacles to achieving his/her dramatic need – Dramatic need is what character wants to win.

. The Resolution   The solution ≈ 30 pages – Page 90 to the end (page 120) Resolution – Not the end. the solution  End is scene. etc. get or lose the girl. live or die. shot or sequence that ends script – Resolves the story – Main character succeeds or fails  Win or lose.Act III.

Plot Points   How do you move from Act I to Act II and from Act II to Act III? Plot points – Incident. event episode that hooks into action and spins it into another direction .

Plot Point I  Plot point I – Page 20 – 25 – End of Act I – Spins action into Act II – Function of the main character .

Plot Point II  Plot point II – Page 85 – 90 – End of Act II – Spins action into Act III – Function of the main character .

Paradigm as Form not Formula  Form – What holds it together – Structure – Configuration – Room for creativity  Formula – Elements put together in exactly same way – Results are exactly the same .

Rules of Creativity   Syd Field presents successful and commonly used form All rules have successful exceptions – Five paragraph formula – Linear perspective – Composition  Know how to successfully use them in order to successfully break them – Picasso – Harlem Globe Trotters .

Citizen Cane and The Wizard of Oz – The class will pick five other movies and diagram them . Star Wars IV.Activity  Diagram movies – Use Syd Field’s Dramatic Structure paradigm to diagram the following movies  The Godfather I.

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