Save The Cat Free

Save The Cat Free
What is it?
one sentence
mental picture
4 quadrant picture
men < 25
most desired, business wise
men > 25
women < 25
women > 25
block comedy
company moves
killer title
says what it is
pairs with log line, 12 punch
legally blond, 4 Christmases
test marketing
pitch log line/story to strangers
no fear of idea theft
Give me the same thing, only different!
movies it's most like
10 story
Monster in the house
sin committed
good ones: alien, exorcist, fatal attraction
bad ones: arachnophobia, lake placed
not confined
Golden fleece
inner growth and learnings while on journey to chase a goal
set pieces used as growing milestones for hero
ex: Jason and the argonauts, road trip, star wars, wizard
of oz
Out of the bottle
wish granted to underdog
ex: blank check, Bruce
almighty, the mask
comeuppance to deserving
yet redeemable guy
ex: liar, liar, freaky Friday,
groundhog day
Dude with a problem
average Joe in primal problematic situation
the badder the bad guy, the better
hero uses his individuality to overcome immense odds
ex: die hard, titanic, shindler's list
Rites of passage
alcohol, drugs
puberty, divorce, death...
victory is to surrender with smile
that's life!
Buddy love
Typical sequence:
Hate at first
Realize they need each other
All is Lost moment: fight, separation
Win = surrender ego
Catalyst subgenre:
Main guy does most of the changing
Shangai noon, rain man, love stories
The hero = surrogate = the audience
Discover the dark truth
Dark side of humanity=our own dark side
ex: JFK, the insider
Fool triumphant
Working parts:
Underdog, Outsider
Institution/Establishment bad guy
Accomplice (Salieri, Lieutenant Dan)
Ex: Forrest gump, amadeus, the jerk
honor institution and expose problem
of losing one's identity to it
Breakout character
Often a new comer
Denounce the group's goal
Ex: mash, animal house, one flew over the cuckoo's
nest, avatar
ex: Godfather, American beauty
Opposite of Dude with problem
Extraordinary guy has hard
time fitting with rest of us
Ex: Superman, Spiderman, Zoolander
Catalyst guy comes, affects, leaves life
It's about a guy who...
Audience needs the who to
identify with
Amp up
the logline
Adjective for hero
Adjective for bad guy
Compelling goal
Pick the
hero so
Offer the most conflict
Longest emotional way to go
Most demographically pleasing
Audience can:
Identify with
Learn from
Believe he deserves to win
Compelled to follow
Character Archetypes
Don't write for specific star,
write for archetype
Young man on the rise
Adam Sandler, Ashton Kutcher
Good girl tempted
Reese Witherspoon, Meg Ryan
MacCauley Culkin, Patty
McCormick (evil opposite)
Sex goddess
Marilyn Monroe, Halle Berry
Tom Cruise, Vin Diesel, Viggo
Wounded Soldier
Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood
Troubled Sexpot
Angelina Jolie
Lovable fop
Hugh Grant, Cary Grant
Court Jester
Woody Allen, Rob Schneider
Let's Beat It Out
Protects against Credit Jumpers
Beat Sheet
Opening Image (1)
"Before" snapshot
Theme Stated (5)
Thematic premise
Ask out loud
Set up (110)
First Reel
Intro all A Story characters
6 things that need fixing
running gags
Makes the audience "know" the hero
Twist near the end
Catalyst (12)
Life changing event
Debate (1225)
Hero is pondering
Ask a question
Break into Two (25)
Big moment, step into act II
Must be hero's choice
B Story (30)
Ex: "Love" story
Booster Rocket
Get over slow spot
New antithesis characters
Fun & Games (3055)
Trailer moments
Promise of the premise,
Heart of the story
Set Pieces
MidPoint (55)
(False) victory/peak, or (false)
collapse for hero
up to down or down to up
Stakes are raised, end of fun
& games
Opposite of All is Lost
Bad Guys Close In (5575)
Toughest to write
Bad guys regroup, Good guys doubt
All is Lost (75)
Opposite of midpoint
Whiff of death (ex:
Obiwan Kenoby's
Dark Night of the Soul (7585)
Here is Hopeless, Clueless, Desperate
Break into Three (85)
The solution appears
Thanks to B story characters
Finale (85110)
Act III, Applying the solution
All bad guys are defeated in
ascending order
Final Image (110)
Opposite of opening image
Proof of change
Building The Perfect Beast
The board: Corkboard
with 4 rows:
Act I
Act II before midpoint
Act II after midpoint
One card per scene,
910 card per row
For every scene:
location, time, who, what
+/ emotional change for
each character
>< Conflict, Physical or Psychological
Put first the big ideas, then the 3
major turns, starting with
If Act III is too light: resolve 6
things that need fixing
Fill Black Holes
Regroup sequences into one
(ex: chase scene)
Color coding
Per Character
Per Theme, imagery
C, D, E stories
The Immutable Laws Of Screenplay Physics
Save The Cat
Hero has to DO something that
makes us LIKE him when we MEET
If hero is damaged good, make
the bad guy worse
Ex: Aladdin, Pulp Fiction
The Pope in
the Pool
Bury the exposition
Create funny/entertaining
situation during boring
Double Mumbo
Only 1 piece of magic per movie
Ex: Spiderman, Signs
Laying Pipe
Too much backstory
Ex: Minority Report
Black Vet aka
Too much Marzipan
Black veterinarian and war veteran
No! Only one concept at a time
Watch out for
that Glacier
Bad guys closing in too slowly
Ex: Dante's Peak, Outbreak
The Covenant of
the Arc
Every character arcs
Only bad guy doesn't change
Success in stories is accepting
change. Inspires the audience to
Ex: Pretty Woman
Keep the Press out
Breaking the 4th wall is risky
Advice from Steven Spielberg
Inviting the news breaks the secret
Ex: E.T (yes), Signs (no)
What's Wrong With This Picture
Don't be lazy, fix it, rewrite it
Tips for fixing
The Hero Leads
Avoid passive hero
Hero's goal clearly stated in setup?
Hero seeks out clues or do
they fall on his lap?
Active or Passive?
Other characters
tell hero what to
Hero never
Talking the Plot
Use Subtext
Subtle. What is not said is
more important
Show don't tell
Characters don't serve you,
they serve themselves
Make the Bad Guy Badder
Ex: James Bond vilain
2 halves of same person
Matching power and skills
Advantage to the bad guy,
looks impossible to beat
Turn, turn, turn
Acceleration, not velocity
Intensify tension
Reveal more and more
Emotional Color Wheel
Emotional Roller Coaster
Not one note, all the emotions
Lust, frustration, fear, sadness
Use color coding
Hi how are you, I'm fine
No Mundane
Engaging characters talk
differently than real life
Every character must speak
Test: hide character names and read
Take a step back
Error: caught in end result
Story is about change/journey
Take each character all the way back
A limp and an eye patch
Pb: minor characters don't stand out
Solution: add a limp and eye patch!
Is it primal?
Would caveman understand?
Basic needs: protect family (Die hard),
Protect home (Home alone), find mate,
revenge, survival...