Sunday, July 21, 2013

There Really is a Formula for Formulaic Movies

Peter Suderman explains how the formula leaked:
It’s not déjà vu. Summer movies are often described as formulaic. But what few people know is that there is actually a formula—one that lays out, on a page-by-page basis, exactly what should happen when in a screenplay. It’s as if a mad scientist has discovered a secret process for making a perfect, or at least perfectly conventional, summer blockbuster. The formula didn’t come from a mad scientist. Instead it came from a screenplay guidebook, Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need. In the book, author Blake Snyder, a successful spec screenwriter who became an influential screenplay guru, preaches a variant on the basic three-act structure that has dominated blockbuster filmmaking since the late 1970s. When Snyder published his book in 2005, it was as if an explosion ripped through Hollywood. The book offered something previous screenplay guru tomes didn’t. Instead of a broad overview of how a screen story fits together, his book broke down the three-act structure into a detailed “beat sheet”: 15 key story “beats”—pivotal events that have to happen—and then gave each of those beats a name and a screenplay page number. Given that each page of a screenplay is expected to equal a minute of film, this makes Snyder’s guide essentially a minute-to-minute movie formula.

1 comment:

Shadow said...

What's formulaic are the prices. Even a morning matinee is pricey. The concession stands are a wallet drainer too. I don't buy any food in the theater, but kids do. I could probably purchase a year's supply of popcorn in the grocery store for what a single large one costs in the theater.

It's to the point where some people are being priced out of the movies.

And then there are the endless previews (including TV shows) that add, what?, a half hour to the show time. I used to like watching them, but now I can watch them on my PC. Show the movie already.