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 What's a three-act structure?

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AstaKask

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PostSubject: What's a three-act structure?   Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:48 pm

I hear this bandied about - "the movie follows the standard three-act structure" or "When will Hollywood make a movie that doesn't follow the three-act structure."

And please don't give me a Google link, because I prefer to talk to human people and being able to ask follow-up questions.
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perkele

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PostSubject: Re: What's a three-act structure?   Thu Jul 10, 2014 10:38 pm

I'm probably not the best person to answer this, but I'll try. Basically three-act structure is the most common form of a story and has been around since the ancient Greece. Act 1 introduces the characters and the setting. Act 2 sets some kind of obstacle, problem or opposing force, which can be anything from trying to win a sports event to a zombie epidemic. Many times there's some kind of antagonist(s). In act 3 the problem gets solved and the characters will have mentally "grown" in some way. Usually the protagonist(s) are at their lowest point just before the third act, and things seem the most desperate just before they get better.

And just in case you don't know, protagonist = main character, antagonist = bad guy.

Hopefully this was helpful  Laughing
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AstaKask

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PostSubject: Re: What's a three-act structure?   Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:58 pm

Like "Star Wars"? Introduce the characters in the first movie, all hell breaks loose in the second, and then the problem is solved in the third movie. And similarly within each movie as well?
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perkele

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PostSubject: Re: What's a three-act structure?   Fri Jul 11, 2014 12:12 am

Yeah, pretty much.

Examples of "non-three-act-structured" movies would include titles such as 2001: Space Odyssey, Pulp Fiction, Magnolia, Lost in Translation, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, most films by David Lynch, etc...  Smile
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alexjowski

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PostSubject: Re: What's a three-act structure?   Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:10 am

Read Syd Field's book "Screenplay" (or at least go out and google a rundown of it) as it perfectly encapsulates what the three act structure is.
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