Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Beat Sheet

Definition of Story:  A character (protagonist) sets out on a journey (plot) to do or get something he or she absolutely wants or needs (goal) against all possible odds (antagonist & conflict & risk/stakes).
Ordinary World (pp. 1-10): We set the tone of the film here. Show don’t tell. We get to know our characters strengths, assets, weaknesses, flaws, etc. Most importantly we need to know what is missing in our protagonist’s life (emotionally physically, mentally). Introduce all major characters. We must establish the universe of the story, but specifically reveal where our protagonist fits into that universe.

Opening Image (p. 1): Capture the audience right away. The opening image gives us a sense of time and place.  Since story is about change, this is the protagonist before he changes.  When we get to the end of the movie we will have a contrast with the “Closing Image”.  This creates a ‘before’ and ‘after’ presentation of the character. 

Opening Hook (p. 5): The theme of the movie is stated. We get a hint of the protagonist’s goal and some insight on what needs to be done. We get to know the psychology of the protagonist. Foreshadow his upcoming changing life (his journey).

Inciting Incident or Catalyst (p. 10): Some sort of news or announcement. Either bad news or some sort of opportunity. The story is set in motion. The stakes of the story are established. Everything after this point has a cause and effect.

Big Debate (pp. 12-26): We get a sense of how difficult things are going to be. Our protagonist needs to go on a journey, but it’s going to be tough (however we don’t know how tough). We get a sense of conflict.

Mini Crisis (p. 17): Our protagonist makes his decision on what to do. This is what the story is about. We know the tangible goal.

Point of No Return/End Act 1 (p. 26): The event after which the protagonist can not be the person he or she was before the ‘Inciting Incident’. We enter antagonist territory. Leaves old world behind. We see just how tough the journey is going to be.

B Story Begins (p. 30): Emotional crux of the movie. The love interest is often introduced here. Gives a distraction from the A story. Possibly explain some backstory here. Before he/she just reacted to things, but now we have some insight as to why.

Testing (p. 45): The protagonist is tested and fails. It is often a contrast to the success or failure of the protagonist in the climax. The first indication of potential love in the ‘B Story’.  

One-Hour Turning Point/Midpoint (p. 60): Our protagonist does something completely against character and takes control of his/her destiny in a way that has not been done before. It is an active choice by the character. For the B-Story: love happens around here.

Bad Guys Close In/Hero’s Melting (pp. 60-75): This is the buildup to the protagonist's life getting really bad. Even though things have been going bad the whole time, here's where the protagonist really feels the pressure.

The Big Pit (p.75): The protagonist suffers a major loss here.  His/her worst fears almost come true.  For instance, if before this point your protagonist had a job and a girlfriend, then at this point, he will have lost the job but still have the girlfriend.

Rock bottom/End Act 2 (p. 90): The worst thing that can happen to our protagonist short of death. The event after which our protagonist is as far away as possible from achieving his/hers heart’s desire. If all he had left was a girlfriend, now that is gone.  All hope is lost. They can be hopeless, alone, and/or humiliated.

The moment where the thing that had been most important is challenged by the thing that had been in growing importance.  He/she has an epiphany.

Climax to Finale (pp. 90  - 110): Action is taken to alter our protagonist’s course/downfall. Use external, not internal, obstacles. Resolution.  The ordeal must equal the 
reward.  This is the final showdown with the antagonist.  The protagonist will try to accomplish what they originally set out to do.

NEW WORLD ORDER:  This is contrasted with the ‘ordinary world’ from the beginning.  It is a new ordinary world that has come to be, due to the protagonist’s journey and actions.  Often times, there will be at least one major flaw that has been overcome.  

Final Image (p. 110): This is the ‘after’ in a ‘before and after image’.  The character has finally changed. 

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