The Big Think

July 19, 2013

Save the Cat!

Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 1:38 pm

Hollywood and Blake Snyder’s screenwriting book: “The 2005 screenwriting book that’s taken over Hollywood—and made every movie feel the same.”

Field and McKee offered the screenwriter’s equivalent of cooking tips from your grandmother—general tips and tricks to guide your process. Snyder, on the other hand, offers a detailed recipe with step-by-step instructions.

Each of the 15 beats is attached to a specific page number or set of pages. And Snyder makes it clear that each of these moments is a must-have in a well-structured screenplay. The page counts don’t need to be followed strictly, Snyder says, but it’s important to get the proportions fairly close

Watching poorly executed movies with Snyder’s formula in mind can become a tiresome and repetitive slog. How many times can you watch a young man struggle with his problems, gain new power, then save the world? It’s enough to make you wonder: Is overreliance on Snyder’s story formula killing movies?

The previews before Monster’s University were so tiresomely similar that I leaned over to Erin and actually said “are these for the same movie?”. Structure is good, but over reliance on structure eventually leads to… what? Your audience turning on you? The creation of new structures? Not sure, but in the meantime it can make watching some entertainment pretty bland.

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