Integrating Theory And Practice

Lecture 7, 8th November 2011

Development of Ideas and Structure in Moving Image

From this lecture, I have decided to expand upon the 2
key principles:

1 – Story Development – Three Act Structure
2 – Pre-Production – Character Design


Story Development – Three Act Structure


“Every story needs to have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not neccessarily in that order” – Jean-Luc Godard

The Three-Act Structure is a model used in writing and evaluating modern storytelling which divides a screenplay into a three parts.

Beginning : Middle : End
Establish : Crisis : Resolve
Establish :

The first act is used to establish the main characters, their relationships and the normal world they live in. Earlier in the first act, a dynamic, on-screen incident occurs that confronts the main character (the protagonist), whose attempts to deal with this incident leads to a second and more dramatic situation, known as the first turning point, which (a) signals the end of the first act, (b) ensures life will never be the same again for the protagonist and (c) raises a dramatic question that will be answered in the climax of the film.
The dramatic question should be framed in terms of the protagonist’s call to action. Will X recover the diamond? Will Y get the girl? Will Z capture the killer?
This is known as the inciting incident, or catalyst.

Crisis :

The second act, also referred to as “rising action”, typically depicts the protagonist’s attempt to resolve the problem initiated by the first turning point, only to find themselves in ever worsening situations. Part of the reason the protagonist seems unable to resolve their problems is because they do not yet have the skills to deal with the forces of antagonism that confront them. They must not only learn new skills but arrive at a higher sense of awareness of who they are and what they are capable of, in order to deal with their predicament, which in turn changes who they are. This is referred to as character development.
This cannot be achieved alone and they are usually aided and abetted by mentors and co-protagonists.


Resolve :

Finally, the third act features the resolution of the story and its subplots. The climax, also known as the second turning point, is the scene or sequence in which the main tensions of the story are brought to their most intense point and the dramatic question answered, leaving the protagonist and other characters with a new sense of who they really are.



Pre-Production – Character Design

There are four aspects of character :

Protagonist – The main character. The protagonist experiences the conflict in the story. the protagonist does not have to be “good”.

Antagonist – The cause of the conflict. The antagonist doesn’t have to be a person.

Dialogue – The words a character uses in conversation and how they are used gives the viewer / reader insight into the character.

Stereotype – A character that is over-simplified. Lacks originality or individuality.


Appearance : Action : Interaction

What does the character look like?
What do they do?
How does the character relate to other characters and to the events of the story?

[to be continued]


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