Peter Langmead's Blog

Film Director, Screenwriter, Composer, Steadicam operator, Social Documentary Photographer. My latest film is The Borderline, released on December 4, 2019.

Writing Film Scripts 6: Stuck in the Middle

The three acts and the inciting incident have been mentioned. Before that, in the film, the viewer should know what the film is about. Blake Snyder calls it the theme and wants it in the script on page five! Some sum it up too briefly as Love, but because this is a great piece of English literature, more thorough answers abound. The book’s title gives it away and it is thereafter enshrined throughout the book, which is superior in every way to stating it on page five, but do not underestimate this rule!

Final Draft version of one of my generic beat sheets My beat sheet template in Final Draft that I modify to fit a script.

The themes are described by Tamara, K. H., '[they] really are pride and prejudice. Elizabeth is shown to be guilty of prejudicially judging Darcy to be prideful. In addition, it turns out that improper pride is […] the reason behind Elizabeth's prejudice. Finally, while Darcy is recognized as feeling above his company, the reality is that he really is the most noble character in the book and found [not to] have any improper pride'.

In the six-minute version equivalent, for the series of six episodes, one chapter needs to be six pages of script. What a coincidence, roughly page for page with the book! Much of the dialogue can be included with the action, and less edited to fit, so dialogue can support the educational version. It is often said, action makes the character, like cardboard cut-out James Bond, and equally often noted that character arc gives three dimensions. You need to write it.

If you are lucky, only half-a-dozen other scriptwriters are going to rewrite and ruin your script, for a film - I avoid this by making the film myself. A serial is a different order: you might write the pilot, maybe, but it is more likely you will be part of a team in the writing room, and not the story editor - Callie Khouri was dead lucky. Series are high pressure stuff, all round, and often highly professional productions, but I reserve judgement about them. I do not think they quite work but I cannot put my finger on it.

You can find the structure of a film script anywhere, try ‘Save the Cat’. Let us start with the beat board, which is a means to design the film. Here is my generalised beat board in transition from my last film to my next film, based on Snyder’s model. You can do anything you like here of course. What I do in Final Draft is a generic set up of panels that ensure I capture all the key structural elements of the film. So, I have the premise/logline/theme, my ideas and my characters listed at the top. You can add more panels as you like at any time. The three acts are on top of each other, essentially in different colours, for example, yellow, red and orange. I put whatever I can into these act boxes, either numbered or as bullet points, which represent scenes, locations or events. I leave this draft beat board in the right-hand pane.

Best regards,

Peter Langmead

P.S. Please have a look at my website here, for all sorts of interesting things about my film productions, operas and books on social photography. Remember, if there is no spit on the lens, you are not close enough - I do not know who said that but it is true. Write to me if you have a question.

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The Next Movie

The script is prepared for my next movie and pre-production is in progress. This is the most time-consuming part of filmmaking and production is expected to begin at the end of the year,