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meat and potatoes
film makers
obstacle
personalities
Three Act Debate
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One of the most debated theories in film making is actually focused on the writing end of the process. Something that is taught in screenwriting classes all over is the “three act structure” most screenwriters have their own versions of the same structure. Now if you talk to others, they will tell you that the three act structure is a bunch of bull and not important at all. But the problem lies in who is correct? And who will get the most work with their own practices?

First of the three act structure is seen in almost every film, it has a first act that is an introduction to the characters and their current world. It also includes small hints at what is to come for the main characters. Act two is the meat and potatoes of the story with the main conflict of the story happening and the characters going through the most changes in their personalities and lives. Act two is a lot longer than act one (usually about twice as long) and it begins when the main character is forced to act by some outside forces. And it ends when he/she faces their biggest obstacle.

Act 3 finishes up the story; it is the part where all the little loose ends in the story should all be tied up in a neat little bundle. It doesn’t have to be a “good” ending but it does have to be an ending. This three act structure lets the film makers keep everything in order and helps them tell a consistently good story. Look at literally every popular movie and you’ll see the same three act structure.

Now for the opposition there isn’t much to explain, it’s referring to any movie that doesn’t follow the three act structure. They can have five acts, two acts, no acts whatever the writer wants. Naming films that don’t have the three act structure is much more difficult for me you could look at movies like Pulp Fiction and Memento as not following the three act structure but others could argue that they do follow it. So you can see the line here has been blurred considerably and it’s difficult to label any movie as “not following the three act structure.”

So if there are so many more movies being made that actually follow the three act structure, why is there even a question as to what is best? In my honest opinion it’s really because a lot of people are stuck in their ways and refuse to admit when they might be wrong. So rather than admit that the three act structure is really what film makers are looking for, They are going to try and show that it is flawed. Even if it isn’t the best way to write a film it IS what the studios want. It IS what most people can watch without having trouble understanding it and that make it the dominant form of screenplay and rather than fight it you are better off accepting it and using it to your advantage.

I know if you are one of the anti-three act people then you’re probably going to say I’m wrong and argue your point but really think about what sells in the business, what more people go to see, and if you can come up with a successful, entertaining movie that doesn’t follow the three act structure then you might be onto something but for now, the numbers prove my point. Thanks for reading.


Street Talk

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