Fan Film Writer's Primer

Discussion in 'Fan Productions' started by Maurice, May 2, 2011.

  1. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    Intriguing. This breakdown is certainly completely consistent with the changes in scenery.
     
  2. Melonpool

    Melonpool Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Actually, I'm not sure that Star Wars (or Indiana Jones, for that matter) would directly conform to the 3-Act structure, simply because both were directly influenced by the movie serials of the 30s. I think they're set up to have mini cliffhangers every 10 minutes, but the combined 10 minute chunks tell an overall story of the the 2 hours.

    This would make Randy's observation make even more sense, because each part unto itself might be considered an episode in the serial, each with its own begining, middle and end.
     
  3. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    I agree, especially in the case of Raiders of the Lost Ark. But I'm new to this, and using Star Wars as an example is helping me to understand the idea, since I'm very familiar with Star Wars, as I'm sure everyone here is. I was also intrigued with how closely Star Wars seems to fit the three act structure overall, despite the variations. I'd be surprised if there were any great work that conforms precisely to any set of pre-established standards.

    So should Chapters perhaps conform to the three act structure, except as a microcosm?
     
  4. Potemkin_Prod

    Potemkin_Prod Commodore Commodore

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    Currently, TCM is showing Buck Rogers on Saturdays at noon, 2 parts at a time. Even those 15 mins are divided into three. A lot of sermons are as well. It's a common approach to divide things into thirds.
     
  5. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I have to fess up that I have no idea whether or how the script for Polaris satisfies these criteria. If nothing else I suspect the first act is on the long side for a short movie. Or maybe people just talk so much that it seems long.
     
  6. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    The Fiction Police have been dispatched.
     
  7. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Tell them to keep that fucking helicopter off my lawn.
     
  8. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It also fits one interpretation of the three-act structure whereby each act is like a self-contained small story. Story 1 is Luke deciding to become a Jedi. Story 2 is rescuing the Princess. Story 3 is the Death Star attack.
     
  9. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The Three-Act Structure can even be seen in sketch comedy. While this is tongue-in-cheek, this sketch does illustrate humorously the very basics.
     
  10. Mark 2000

    Mark 2000 Captain Captain

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    Raiders, I think, has a three part structure. The intro of Indie and the setup with the villain in the South American temple. The Search for and discovery of the Arc, and the chase for and opening of the arc. So...

    1. The Idol
    2. Indy finds the Arc. The Arc is stolen.
    3. Indy gets the Arc back from the Nazis.
     
  11. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Actually, despite its "serial" roots, Raiders follows the conventions of the Three-Act structure fairly closely.

    First Act: Introduction
    *Introduce Indy the daredevil archeologist
    *Introduce Belloq, his rival who states "there is nothing you can possess that I cannot take"
    *Introduce Indy's fear of snakes
    *Introduce the goal: get the Ark
    *Introduce the obstacle: Nazis

    Second Act; Complications
    *Indy followed by Nazis
    *Key item (headpiece) held by bitter former flame Marion
    *Nazi Toth arrives and approaches/theatens Marion
    *Indy battles Toth's thugs. Toth burns hand on headpiece. Indy and Marion escape with headpiece
    *Sallah tells Indy that Nazi's have a headpiece and are digging at Tanis
    *Indy learns Nazis have only one side of headpiece and are "digging in the wrong place"
    *Marion appears to be killed
    *Indy gets into map room at Tanis, uses headpiece to find actual Ark location
    *Indy discovers Marion alive, held by Belloq
    *Indy leaves Marion because her escape would put his getting the Ark at risk
    *Toth reappears: reveal Nazi headpiece based the pattern burned into his hand
    *In order to get to Ark, Indy must face his big fear: snakes
    *Marion tries to escape, fails
    *Indy gets Ark, Indy loses Ark immediately to Belloq, but gets Marion
    *Indy and Marion escape death trap
    *Indy intercepts truck and gets Ark back
    *Indy on boat loses Ark and Marion to Nazis and Belloq

    Third Act: Resolution
    *Indy confronts Belloq and threatens to blow up the Ark
    *Belloq calls his bluff
    *Belloq opens the Ark to discover its secrets, but finds it just filled with sand
    *TWIST: The Ark IS the real thing and Belloq and the Nazis are destroyed for daring to look within
    *Indy & Marion Survive because they turn away as Indy knows the story of the Ark and understands that to look is to die
    *Indy delivers the Ark to the government and gets rewarded, but...
    *2nd TWIST: The Ark "lost", again, placed in an anonymous crate in an endless warehouse of crates

    In fact, I never made the connection that the "lost ark" gets "lost" again in a figurative sense at the end of the movie until I typed up this breakdown!
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2011
  12. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    I'm wondering whether it's no accident that the act breaks are falling on the animated maps.
     
  13. Melonpool

    Melonpool Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    That's a very interesting observation.

    On a sidenote, I'm noticing a surprising lack of animated maps in Star Trek Fan Films.
     
  14. Captain Robert April

    Captain Robert April Vice Admiral Admiral

    Probably has something to do with the lack of animated maps in Star Trek.
     
  15. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I suspect that's not intentional. After all, there's the map from Nepal to Cairo that doesn't fall on a break (or if you consider that the act break, the map of the flight from San Francisco to Nepal doesn't fall on a break).

    As to why you don't see it in Star Trek, first, Raiders is homaging films and serials of the 30s and 40s, second, a map of space isn't iconic the way a map of the Earth is.
     
  16. Melonpool

    Melonpool Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I was kidding about adding the maps to fan films, btw... though it might be interesting if someone came up with a cool way to do it.
     
  17. offtrackv

    offtrackv Ensign Red Shirt

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    To me, differentiating the 3-part story structure and 3, 4, or 5-act structure is one of time.

    As noted, the 3-part story structure is basic to almost all stories, whether movies, TV, books, etc. The act structure is specifically for television, which has a definite length (1/2 hr, 1-2 hrs) and placement for advertisements.

    Which brings up a question: is there a good length for a web film, since it's not television? I originally wrote the pilot for New Gods as a 1-hour script, as if for television, but decided to break it into smaller webisodes. Having the act structure made this simple; each act became a separate episode.

    What are your thoughts regarding time? Have we been wired by TV and movies to consider .5, 1, or 2 hours the perfect length? Or are we becoming so ADD that we can't sit still for anything over 10 minutes?

    And how does this apply to new platforms? Can you watch a full length movie on your smartphone? Or would short films work better?
     
  18. Potemkin_Prod

    Potemkin_Prod Commodore Commodore

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    I like five minute vignettes. They're literally one act plays. They're logistically easier to arrange, and in general the cast likes them because the characters get to shine more in them.
     
  19. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Narrative films should still follow the basics of Introduce Problem, Complicate Problem, Resolve Problem. If there's no goal then there's no story. A scene or sequence and not necessarily a story. A vignette I think is just a scene or sequence.

    As to length: as long as it needs to be to tell a compelling story, and no longer. You can do a story in 7 minutes or less (like this short subject I made 2 years ago...CLICKY). That length need not be a vignette.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2011
  20. Potemkin_Prod

    Potemkin_Prod Commodore Commodore

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    By vignette, I mean a short scene that focuses on one brief period of time and gives our viewers insight into our characters. Are they narratives in that they tell a story? Yep. But that's what makes our production different from other productions: We are not adhering to the format of an hour-long television program. Our stories are as long as they need to be to tell the story of our characters. Many of them are less than 6 or 7 minutes. Some of them are five, six or seven times longer.