Archive for the 'Screenwriting' Category

The Harsh Truth about Screenwriting

Short of Stories began in April 8, 2012. In the meantime it had more than 7000 visits, which is amazing for such a new blog covering such a niche-specific subject. I also won a pretty award from Script Magazine. But the truth is that there’s not much to talk about. Of course, i could keep developing some article here and there, but i’d never fool you: i’d never offer to review your script for money, i’d never write crap to hunt page views. One of the reasons to have started this blog was because i was tired of the amount of bullshit i’ve found online.

When i say there’s not much to talk about i don’t mean solely about this blog, but to the whole internet. There are only a few places where is still valid to read about screenwriting, all the others are lists of repeated advice crawling for page hits through the internet searches.

Film is a brand-new art in terms of history, but storytelling is not. We’re still attached to the same rules Aristotle wrote in the Ancient Greek (take this note: read the Poetics). Then you could move forward in time and read Lajos Egri’s The Art of Dramatic Writing and Christian Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers & Screenwriters. Do you want something more straightforward? Read Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting, by Robert McKee. Don’t waste your time (and money) with these lectures, workshops and internet gurus. As you get deep into this world you realize how predatory it is when unexperienced people offer to read your scripts and give you feedback. Wanna pay for a reading? Don’t pay cheap, get a renewed professional.

But don’t read anything else about screenwriting on the internet. Is it a list? Close it as fast as you can. Advice to fight writer’s block? Block the goddamn page instead. This cage of birds that has become the screenwriting online content, singing the same tune all day long is exactly the opposite of your need.

Film is a stagnated art when it comes to storytelling; in more than 100 years barely nothing has changed and so didn’t the advice. This advice that precedes the film itself as it comes from the Ancient Greece. Can’t you see what you’re reading? It is the same god damn thing in loop since 335 B.C. and every form of art has already overcome this stage. But i don’t mean that the storytelling in film must change. I don’t care about film at this particular moment (it is much bigger than any of us), i care about you. I care that you could be writing, but you’re not. I care that people try to take advantage of your naivety as a writer (and your insecurity, most of the time) to grab your few bucks left.

In the end, the only good advice about screenwriting is don’t read about screenwriting. Do anything else. Disconnect. Write.

Yes, this is the last post from Short of Stories. It’s been a lovely time and i’ve learnt a lot. I’d like to says thanks to the Reddit community for the large support in this period. The blog won’t go down and there’s plenty of resources to check out if you’re willing to write a short film, but don’t. Block this page, block every page, every blog.

I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and i’m not going to take this anymore!’

If you love me, you may find me on Tumblr or we may have a nice conversation on App.net. Please, be welcome to use the Contact form to reach me anytime.

Regards,
Phillip 

Short Screenplay Competitions

The post on the DC Shorts was quite informative and the statistics said you enjoyed it. Then i decided to seek through the entire Withoutabox for competition you may enter with your short film script. I might convert it into a page and update it constantly when i get back from a trip.

Here you’ll find the links for the festival rules and some of its rules. For a competition to be listed here it must have a limit of pages for your script as i’m dedicating this page to short scripts only. I hope this turns out to be a constant reference for you. Remember these aren’t all the competitions available worldwide, but those available on Withoutabox.

Also keep in mind that earlier you join the competition, cheaper you pay. Please read the rules of the competition carefully before submitting.

If you find any errors or have suggestions, please leave a comment.

ReelHeART International Film Festival
50 ~ 80 USD
! January 4, 2013
 under 15 pages
* none
@ a trophy or medallion.

Bloody Hero International Film Festival
20 ~ 50 USD
! January 5, 2013
 under 40 pages
* none.
@ a sculpture.

L.A.Comedy Shorts
25 ~ 70 USD
! January 10, 2013
 under 30 pages
* comedy.
@ 1000 USD. goods/services: 1250 USD.

A Night of Horror International Film Festival
16 ~ 58 USD
! January 15, 2013
 less than 45 pages
* horror.
@ none described.

FANTASTIC PLANET: Sydney International Sci-Fi & Fantasy Film Festival
16 ~ 53 USD
! January 15, 2013
 under 45 pages
* none.
@ to be adjusted.

Steeltown Film Factory
15 ~ 75 USD
! January 18, 2013
 under 12 pages
* none.
goods/services: 30000 USD.

Brooklyn Girl Film Festival
15 ~ 35 USD
! January 19, 2013
 up to 30 pages
* written (or co-written) by woman.
@ yet to be determined.

Bare Bones International Film & Music Festival
20 ~ 65 USD
! January 21, 2013
 under 40 pages
* none.
@ a medallion.

International Family Film Festival
20 ~ 35 USD
! January 25, 2013
 under 44 pages
* must be registered or copyright, drama, comedy, animation, sci-fi/fantasy, musical.
@ a certificate

Canadian Short Screenplay Competition
25 ~ 75 USD
! January 31, 2013
 under 15 pages
* screenplays must not be based on another piece of work unless public domain.
@ over $75,000 worth in prizes.

Kansas City FilmFest
25 ~ 55 USD
! February 1, 2013
 under 15 pages
* must be written (or co-written) by a woman
@ 1000 USD.

Sacramento International Film Festival
20 ~ 65 USD
! February 10, 2013
 under 20 pages
* none.
@ trophy and prize package.

Liverpool Lift-Off Film Festival
15 ~ 50 USD
! February 14, 2013
 under 45 pages
* none.
@ goods/services: 10000 USD.

United Film Festival
20 ~ 60 USD
! February 17, 2013
 under 45 pages
* dramacomedyhorror/thriller.
@ trophy and prize package.

deadCENTER Film Festival
20 ~ 40 USD
! February 25, 2013
 under 15 pages
* none.
@ live table read.

California International Shorts Festival
35 ~ 70 USD
! February 27, 2013
 under 50 pages
* none.
@ a title.

Hill Country Film Festival
15 ~ 40 USD
! March 6, 2013
 under 10 pages
* none
@ to be adjusted.

St. Tropez International Film Festival
137 ~ 226 USD
! March 14, 2013
 under 30 pages
* none.
@ you should read this one for yourself.

LA Comedy Film Festival
25 ~ 70 USD
! March 15, 2013
 under 32 pages
* comedy.
@ 250 USD. value of good/services: 500 USD.

London Independent Film Festival
49 ~ 89 USD
! March 15, 2013
 under 50 pages
* obscene, pornographic or illegal material is not allowed.
@ good/services: 500 United Kingdom Pounds.

Spirit Quest Film Festival
20 ~ 55 USD
! March 15, 2013
 under 49 pages
* none.
@ none described.

Nantucket Film Festival
20 ~ 55 USD
! March 26, 2013
 under 40 pages
* copyrighted or WGA registered.
@ 500 USD.

LAFF Vegas
25 ~ 60 USD
!  March 31, 2013
 under 49 pages
* comedy.
@ none described.

Woods Hole Film Festival
15 ~ 45 USD
! April 10, 2013
 under 30 pages
* hard copy required
@ yet to be determined.

Las Vegas Film Festival
35 ~ 55 USD
! April 15, 2013
 under 75 pages
* none.
@ over 10000 USD shared among the winners.

Snake Alley Festival of Film
20 ~ 60 USD
! April 15, 2013
 under 30 pages
* none.
@ wood sculpture.

Vegas Cinefest
20 ~ 65 USD
! April 25, 2013
 up to 25 pages
* none.
@ none described.

DC Shorts Screenwriting Competition
35~ 75 USD
! May 31, 2013
 up to 15 pages
* none.
@ 2000 USD.

Creative World Awards Screenwriting Competition
24 ~ 69 USD
! June 1, 2013
 less than 40 pages
* screenplays must not be based on another piece of work unless public domain, no more than two authors.
@ 250 USD. Goods/Services: 1000 USD.

Columbia Gorge International Film Festival
15 ~ 95 USD
! June 3, 2013
 less than 15 pages
* hard copies required, .
@ none described.

Denver Indie Fest
15 ~ 50 USD
! June 24, 2013
 under 50 pages
* none.
@ it’s not a competition, so no prizes.

Eddie Bauer Jr. Screenplay Competition Benefiting the National Childrens Cancer Society
20 ~ 65 USD
! July 1, 2013
 under 50 pages
* none.
@ value of good/services: 5000 USD.

2013 SF Shorts: San Francisco International Festival of Short Films
$ 25 ~ 55 USD
! July 7, 2013
under 10 pages
* live-action, narrative, non-period, non-effects based.
@ value of good/services: 1900 USD. Script produced under 5k budget.

Action On Film International Film Festival
30 ~ 55 USD
! July 20, 2013
 under 19 pages
* none
@ value of good/services: 100 ~ 2500 USD.

SoCal Independent Film Festival
15 ~ 55 USD
! July 26, 2013
 under 30 pages
* none.
@ none described.

Manhattan Short Film Festival
35 ~ 40 USD
! July 31, 2013
 under 20 pages
* none.
@ none described.

Hollywood Screenplay Contest
25 ~ 55 USD
! August 10, 2013
 under 75 pages
* none.
@ over 20000 USD  in cash, prizes and services shared among winners.

Silent River Film Festival
25 ~ 45 USD
! August 13, 2013
 under 50 pages
* none.
@ an award.

New York Screenplan Contest
25 ~ 50 USD
! August 20, 2013
 under 70 pages
* none.
@ none described.

Eerie Horror Film Festival
15 ~ 50 USD
! September 1, 2013
 under 69 pages
horrorscience fictionmysterysuspense of the supernatural.
@ sponsor prizes.

West Field Screenwriting Awards
30 ~ 50 USD
! September 30, 2013
 under 40 pages
* none.
@ an award.

WILDsound Feedback Film and Screenplan Festival
35 ~ 40 USD
! Rolling deadline
 under 50 pages
* none.
@ a read of your screenplay for the audience.

Writing a Short Film: Research

In the case you kept close track of this blog, you might be aware i’ve already commented on research. However, this is a new series which will follow my personal process while i work on my new short film script. This is meant to be a suggestion if you’re lost under the writing steps, yet feel welcome to share your own method.

I can’t reinforce properly how important a decent research is, because the opposite may put your film down instantly. Why? Plausibility. This is the reason why you should develop your research and your characters with the same effort as if you were writing a feature film. Have you seen The Dark Knight Rises? **SPOILER** Did you notice there was no freaking way for Bruce to return to Gotham from the pit? **END SPOILER** These details break the magic a little bit and in these internet days, all you need is a single viewer to spot it. Then they will post it everywhere because it is their chance to grab the attention his mom missed to give him and all the hipsters in town will criticize the plot and say they noticed the screw up. And then the experience after your film projection will be bad buzz. Even if you didn’t care about the TDKR screw ups *cof* Burning symbol in the bridge *cof*, you’re not Christopher Nolan. You’re just like me: a nobody.

My rule of thumb for research is: do it for everything that does.

What this means? You must study every element from the story that do something. Even if not a direct action, your scenario, for example, affects the story just for being. There’s no need to go really deep into most of the stuff you study. Most of the time researching is all about confirming what you already now.

Talking about my new story, it’s more like a challenge i have no idea if i’ll succeed and if you keep reading you’ll how nuts it is. I want to write a dramedy with a clear 4-act structure in 15 minutes tops. It’s about a young woman who has to take care of her grandmother, who collects cats. This is just a taste out of it and you’ll certainly learn more about the project as this series moves along. There’s a scene in which the woman goes to buy the largest pack of pet food. How much it weights? Calling my local pet store and asking is research, even if i had an idea it would be around 20kg (44 pounds). This is essentially for credibility, although some fact-finding might improve your story some other ways.

Out of nowhere, the woman finds out her grandma has Alzheimer’s. This is a crucial point for the craft because even though i’m interested, no one in my family had Alzheimer’s. I’m a complete stranger to this world. Several amateur writers i know would avoid this. Playing away from their backyard. Yet is this process of incorporation into someone else that attracts me into the writing world. Without the proper research you can’t get underneath the skin.

Dealing with Alzheimer’s puts me in a very tough position, because it is easy to go cliché or wrong, meanwhile the good path is narrow. Then i apply the deep research for my story. In this moment, research is my resource for effective plot points. I start working on the experiences of people whom took care of relatives with Alzheimer’s. Basing my twists into real situations beyond giving me solid ground to proceed, is also a respectful attitude towards those whom live in that world.

Most of the time, research is virtual and i need a place to store everything. I use Together for that. It’s an Evernote that works. Allows me to tag my files and organize them within folders. Plus making it superb to send information and don’t invade my workflow. In the image you may check the folder and some files i’ve stored so far.

Screenshot 12 21 12 4 49 AM

Using Safari Reader or Evernote Clearly, it is smooth to save a formatted web article within Together without much of that whole internet pollution. Works better than the Evernote Web Clipper, honestly. Together also keeps the files in a uncompressed folder, so i sync them in my Dropbox and can access my research pretty much from anywhere.

Screenshot 12 21 12 4 55 AM

Some quick comments on researching:

  • If you’re insecure about something in your story is because you didn’t study it enough. Research is backing it up.
  • Maintain your research notes stored and organized. You must have them at hand at any given moment.
  • Most of the time researching is confirming your suspicions.
  • Don’t be afraid to play journalist. Interviewing an expert is really good to clarify your thoughts.
  • Get what you need and fucking move on. It’s a thin line between research and procrastination.
  • Plausibility, plausibility, plausibility.
  • And most important: research everything that do anything in your story.

See you around (:

Why you should be writing in Fountain

If you’re writing a short film script, chances are your main occupation is studying. You know, film school. Perhaps it is only a hobby, you want to put an idea out of the paper, shoot that bastard and exhibit to your parents at Christmas’ Eve. If you’re writing in a regular text editor, then i feel sorry for you, because your formatting is possibly wrong. Yes, are you aware that writing for movies rely on a very specific format? In the case you don’t, google “screenwriting formatting” or something similar, you’ll find plenty of options. I never wrote about formatting and this ain’t the moment, because you may download a screenwriting software to do the drill for you. Just like that.

If you owe a mac and is really committed to get into the industry, you could ask your parents to pay the trifle of 250 USD for Final Draft, which is the industry standard. But you don’t have that kind of money, do you? And if you had, you’d waste on girls and booze. Then you could use Celtx, which is a cross-platform production application, with screenwriting included, and FREE. Within Celtx you have a problem as it doesn’t export as FDX, which is the Final Draft extension, only PDF, but besides that, i have my own issues with both applications and these screenshots will illustrate to you.

Screen Shot 2012 11 30 at 5 31 08 AM   Screen Shot 2012 11 30 at 5 52 22 AM

Simply put: Celtx is ugly and clumpy. Besides that you don’t even have much of a choice to customize the layout. Final Draft looks better, looks essential, you may just start writing. Plus that its customization options are much better. When it comes to writing, i always prefer to keep it as clean as possible so i may focus on, you know, writing and shit. This is the best i could do to change the layout of these applications to let them as distraction-free as possible:

Screen Shot 2012 11 30 at 5 33 09 AM   Screen Shot 2012 11 30 at 5 36 31 AM

You can’t deny that Final Draft still looks much better, it is like an invitation to write. But do you wanna know how do i write my screenplays now? Like this:

Screen Shot 2012 11 30 at 5 37 34 AM

That’s an application called iA Writer, it’s not a screenwriting application, but a distraction-free tool. After all that mess about formatting your screenplays, as you may check, i couldn’t care less about it. That’s because i use Fountain, which is not an application, but a syntax. Think of it as a language, like HTML or bbCode, but it has its origins on Markdown. Due to his nature you may use Fountain within ANY TEXT SOFTWARE. I chose iA Writer, but you may write your screenplay on Notepad/TextEdit if it pleases you. You’ll spend less time learning Fountain than you did trying to make a SUM work on Excel. As long as it writes, it may write a screenplay. Fountain gives you the freedom to write a screenplay in the application that fit you mostly and this is important because you must use the software that makes you more comfortable as possible. One of the creators of Fountain, John August, has posted a workflow from one of his readers which uses iA Writer, Scrivener and Highland. I’ve been testing it myself and it is lovable. If you don’t know Scrivener, it is the writer’s Photoshop. Costs 45USD, but worth every penny. Highland converts Fountain files into FDX or PDF and vice versa. It is free while in beta, but John August himself stated that it will be charged fairly whenever it goes live.

Another advantage of Fountain is that as a plain text, you may write it from your mobile, your uncle’s house. If there is a computer there, you have good odds to dig up some screenwriting time. Thanks to its format, Fountain makes it easy to send your screenplay to your friends and crew.

Celtx may be free, but Fountain is freedom. Freedom to choose your software, your workplace, your workflow. It’s about the job fitting for you, not the opposite.

Is it worthy to work on narrative?

On May, 2010, the LA Times released an article speculating if “Short films can be a shortcut to Hollywood success“. Overall it claims that short films are receiving more attention nowadays and opening gates at Los Angeles. It selects a few examples of short films which caught the eye of several producers and closed important deals for the filmmakers. Yet, you shouldn’t expect this kind of talk in this blog, what i actually want to point out is the selection of short films chosen to illustrate the aforementioned movement. Here’s the list:

The article might look dated, but the timing is important here. The deals suggested by the LA Times, if had gained texture, might be possible for checking the outcome by now, two and half years later. Mamá became a feature film. Panic Attack‘s director is finishing the remake of Evil Dead. Tim Smit has been working on videoclips, not much news on the feature film for What’s in the Box?. Alma is an upcoming featured animation for Dreamworks. Patrick Jean doesn’t seem to be doing anything lately. Ricardo de Montreuil left the Sundance world and is attached to the next Zorro movie. Blomkamp, as we’ve seen previously, have directed District 9 and is nowadays finishing Elysium.

If you haven’t seen these shorts until now, you must. It won’t take much of your time and it is really important for the following discussion.

INTERLUDE

Did you watch them all? Really? Which one is your favorite? I’d like to know but it actually doesn’t matter. These short films made me wonder where is the boundary between a situation-driven and a concept-driven short film. I consider each one of them besides Alma as concept-driven. The animation is the only one with a clear introduction, development and conclusion. Mamá is the one which gets closer to not being so rooted on concept, yet the own declaration of the Muschiettis in the LA Times’ article suggest that they were guided by the concept solely.

“We didn’t even have an outline,” says Barbara Muschietti. “We just wanted to do something scary.”

The main concern here then is: what’s the point on working at narrative if the hollywood executives are glazing at concepts to turn into big screen feature films? Experience has proven that the narrative of a short film doesn’t prepare for the work on a feature film directly, they’re very distinguishable forms of storytelling (we’ll visit this subject a bit further when discussing web series). People seem to be more pleased by sneak peaks of possible projects. The excitement of waiting over the experience of completeness. Great special effects to close the package and create a visual impact instead of a visual continuity of story. Every image is a story, if i deny that i’d have at least three university teachers bashing at my door with shovels, nevertheless we must evaluate the priority in the creation of that image to understand what is being discussed in here.

Here’s my piece of advice: even though these concepts have brought attention to their makers, is not a guaranteed pass to Beverly Hills. A great narrative short film is going to bring buzz, perhaps you won’t adapt it to a feature film, most short films can’t migrate anyway, however a shot as a Hollywood director is not something to refuse. I’m honestly anxious to see what Blaas is going to do with the solid story of Alma. As in concept-driven short films, they’re expandable by nature, because they’re more an environment than anything else. Above everything said, you must respect your idea, don’t distort something good the way it is to achieve a long-distance dream. Baby steps. Most of the short films related here had a pretty similar theme and Hollywood can’t drink from the same wheel for too long (unless it turns into a franchise), thematically speaking, so i believe some of the concepts listed here are, unfortunately, going to find eternity only in the fifteen minutes run length.

There’s a solid chance concept-driven short films will become the pitching for shy people. Let’s hope it keeps moving that way, otherwise our introspective fellows are screwed.

Causing an impression vs. Telling a story

And i’ve graduated. After a quarter of my life dedicated to studying film specifically, i can finally declare myself an unemployed. Yet, this also meant going back to the college grounds, seeing younger people facing the obstacles i went through in the beginning of this stage of my life. I could see myself, not in their personalities, but in the common difficulties they were about to come up against. With the experience i gathered through the years, i could identify a typical problem from the early periods of film school, which i describe in this article’s title.

 This is a very simple pie chart and it describes the reasons/expectations of people recently joining film school. It’s not supposed to be accurate, as i haven’t done a second of research to come up with it, but you possibly believe in it as it seems familiar.

There’s some sort of preconceived idea on how creativity flows through a newcomer’s mind. I mean, how many times have you been caught by those works which look pretentious for attempting to hold more than they can actually handle? Those long shots of a character gazing at the rain as if it should answer the meaning of life, meanwhile it is as unintelligible as a blank page looks like.

It’s really easy to blame in the inexperience and expect that things will turn the other way around, but the real issue is that this is a recurring situation. Are them all so green? If yes, why there’s mostly only this kind of film callowness?

I believe that the problem resides in the origins of creativity, as we see our inspirations as these very specific images, almost set pieces. Isolated, still with a meaning. Like when you felt something unusual while staring aimless at the rain. You, as a filmmaker, has this inner obligation to reproduce this sensation, the problem is how it is done.

The copy/paste won’t achieve the proper effect, as the image will be hollow of motivation required to express the feeling of that moment. Because the only thing an image does, or any piece of art, is bring back a memory from afar. By that i mean that the strength of an image is generated by a chain reaction of your past.

What the story perceives is to reproduce this past in a generic way, in order to create identification with the viewer so he can be thrilled by the dramatic scenarios we explore in the film. If you skip the story, you die on an impression, and to explain how that doesn’t work, remember how many times you gaped the rain and how every time there was something different crossing your head. Without the proper introduction all it generate is the doubt. What scenario is being set?

The complication is that an image is much bigger of meaning than it looks like. These words i type, each one of them have a specific definition which can be found in the dictionary. An image doesn’t. It’s power is inherent to the viewer’s experience. So what i suggest is stop thinking in images, specifically. Forget the frame. Praise the story. Because if you screw up at your screenplay, you won’t save it in the shooting, if you make a decent job earlier you still have a shot to do things right.

The problem is actually quite clear. Don’t write a thesis with images, don’t seek for an inner depth only you’ll be able to identify. The real artists, those which the french auteur theory praised so much about were those whom could create all the things you look after from the images through storytelling.

As i’ve stated someplace else, forcing these poetic set pieces and obligating your spectator to find the meaning you wish is an attempt of rape at cinematographic terms. As far as i can recall from my experience, you can’t escape from your own feelings, even if you’re writing an action/adventure blockbuster, you’ll meet yourself again amidst your writing.

Don’t take a short cut if you don’t know where it is leading.

Concerns on the second act

Oh, the second act, the place to distinguish good writers from the bad. When talking about feature films, second act is the journey, it starts when your main character steps up to face the outcome caused by the INCITING INCIDENT, at the end of the first act. The second act is the place where stakes rise and obstacles pop up out of everywhere in order to make our hero’s path more challenging. Yet, the principle for a second act is CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. The problem is: how to apply these necessities into a short film?

You’ll find attempts to squeeze a second act in short films, but honestly, how many complications can you get? How much can you develop something in the midpoint of these 10 minutes? You can’t. As in the feature films, most screenwriters fail to present a honest second act to their short films, mostly because they apply the 101 suggested for feature films.

I Love Sarah Jane, by Spencer Susser is one of those. Apparently it is a character-driven film, which relies on a strong second act, and that is nearly impossible in a short film, as i aforementioned, you need to place your character into complicated situations and you can’t include many in your available time. Boy likes Sarah Jane, but she’s a wall of a girl and the rest of the boys are alpha, beta and gama, respectively. Our boyscout is the loser, obviously. You shouldn’t develop your characters without moving the action, if you stop your film for a character’s speech, metaphorically speaking, it will be an AA meeting instead. And loose those chains a bit, a zombie is no tormentor chained. A bad development, like this one, makes you ponder. If that’s her dad, how didn’t she make a move before? There’s no strength in our loser’s lines to make we believe he changed her mind.

Turns out, the second act is not about randomly throwing traps at your main character, all the events must build a logical crescendo of character development and obstacle arduousness. Tougher and deeper, as good sex should be.

Previously, i’ve commented how films based on a magical amulet tend to succesfully create a satisfactory second act. The main reason for that is that those aren’t character-driven films, films like The Black Hole, by Phil and Olly, use human beings as mere tools for storytelling, meanwhile the main character are the amulets themselves. In this case, a portable blackhole in a paper sheet. See yourself, as a human being, you do several things, even simultaneously, like scrolling down this article and filling your hand with Doritos. But an object is a tool, it has a proper designated function, doesn’t matter if you bought that screwdriver with 64 different functions. Keep it simple so your reader can recognize it easier. As these amulets have a single function, the second act is straightforward. Repeat, repeat and repeat. Still, the stakes must increase everytime. Even in films like Spider, the toy spider does what it is supposed to: prank people.

The other reason is that as the object has a single function, you only need to show it once for the sake of introduction, so you set a fast rhythm to your narrative, afterwards is all about repeating until the consequences of its unceasing use lead the narrative to a point of no return, from which the human guide must find a way to clean up the mess. This closes the second act.

Besides being a power point presentation as i strongly criticized in the last article, it is still a decent illustration of a structure absent of a second act. What? No second act? This is against the law of physics!  Calm down, my friends, it is completely plausible. That’s what i call as a ‘punch-line short film’; as you may see, this film is all about the change of the sign, there’s no depth, besides learning that the beggar is blind there’s no character development. It’s the chicken crossing the road. But it doesn’t mean that your short film must be as bad as the example or the joke. In my article about the first act, i’ve commented how character-driven plots rely on longer first acts, due to that sometimes the best choice is to send your main character to the point of no return forthright, as the example of the daughter whom must find out what to do with her recently deceased mother’s body.

Still, don’t lose your faith in the old style, as you may realize by watching The Ghosts, sometimes you can create a great second act without squeezing or using the other resources i listed. Just keep it classic if it improves your story. Remember, that you’re the one working for it, not the opposite, the story is your boss and you should grab the best of it.

 



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