I was hooked.
I was reading the screenplay for “Prisoners” for homework and I was engrossed. I kind of wished I had started on it sooner, because I was walking into class still reading it and I couldn’t put it down.
Homework in this class is my kind of homework!
Anyway, Michael started our 3rd class talking about the 3rd act.
The 3rd act can make or break a movie. When the 3rd act has a strong ending, the audience can’t help but feel satisfied because there is a sense of completion, of resolution. He pointed out that sports movies are a good study in the 3rd act. He’s right–I love it when Rudy sacks the quarterback and is hoisted on the the shoulders of his teammates!
We talked specifically the pros and cons of the the 3rd acts of Captain Phillips and Prisoners. There definitely were some cons to the endings, so we talked about how we would re-work the 3rd acts as a exercise.
As I thought about my favorite movies and plotted out the “darkest hour” and then the climax, those points are solidly there. And when I looked at other movies that weren’t my favorite or I hated, sure enough, they fail in hitting those points that are crucial in finishing strong.
We discussed how to create momentum through reversals, where the character is dealt the opposite of his main aim. These reversals also help the “kick-him-while-he’s-down” idea we discussed earlier. We also delved into using suspense, rather than surprise, to make that 3rd act strong .
Lastly, we talked about what a 1-page treatment was. A treatment is a pitch of your screenplay. We then practiced writing one on Captain Phillips and Gravity and presented what we had written. My attempt was pretty pathetic!
Michael shared what he had written and it was obvious that we need practice and Michael knows how to pitch things! It was a fun exercise.
He sent us home with homework: to read another script (Gravity or The Counselor) and to write a sample treatment for one of our own screenplay ideas.
This will be fun and, I think, challenging!