The Basics of Act 1

by | May 25, 2020

PROTAGONIST:  Every scene, relationship, and event of conflict revolves around the Hero and his/her goal.  The goal should be concrete, something you can shoot with a camera.  Establish a goal you can build a climax scene around that creates a dramatic and cinematic confrontation with the Antagonist.

ANTAGONIST:  The Antagonist is a character of obstacle.  The Antagonist must be motivated just as your Hero is motivated.  The Antagonist is a personification of the Hero’s fear and must be built into the plot of the script to force your Hero to overcome his/her fear. 

OPENING HOOK:  The Opening Hook should be the entry point to the movie. It should compel and fascinate the viewer.  It should give evidence of conflict, tension, tone, mood, genre.  It should be the first indication of the Central Question. It is the first line of tension that escalates toward the Climax.

ORDINARY WORLD:  The Ordinary World establishes the Hero’s world when the movie starts. What is the Hero’s place in his/her world?  What is the unfinished, unresolved part of the Hero that has him/her stuck?  Is it based on fear?  What does the Hero hold on to as a value that allows him/her to cope in this world?  What is the dominant fear of the Hero in this world that will be resolved as the Hero progresses through this plot?

INCITING INCIDENT:  The scene should be visual, active and cinematic.  The scene occurs just after the Opening Hook.  The scene is the first tickle of the true quest that Hero typically rejects.  The Hero is reluctant and rejects this first tickle because of the fear established in the first pages of the script. 

MINI SET-UP:  The mini set-up is the defining scene in conflict, dialogue, and action that conveys the premise and central question for the audience.  This is the scene that defines what the movie is about.  This is the scene that compels the Hero toward the Act Break.  The Hero still has a choice to turn down the quest, but because  of the stakes paired with the goal is forced to go forward. 

ACT BREAK:  The act break is a reversal.  The Hero should take the first big hit for deciding to go forward and be punished for that decision.  The Hero should be in crisis and conflict.  The Hero should go into Act Two in a weakened state. 

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