Hi Film Folk!

This week’s Monday Prescription lifts the lid on why all directors, producers and writers should have Three Act Structure firmly tucked into their toolkit.

And before you craftsmen scoff so much that spittle soaks your computer screen, thinking ‘I use the 57 springboard technique’ or ‘I write using 6-8 Non-Submersible Units‘ or ‘I just write what comes to me’, let us shift your mind strictly away from how you construct your story to how you sell it.


-What happens at the Act 1 break?
-What happens in Act 2?
-What’s your resolution? How does the whole thing end?

Now not every producer/executive/agent will ask you these questions but a great deal of them do and regardless of whether you have actively used Three Act Structure to build your story it is certainly a ‘language’ worth knowing. You don’t want to come across as ignorant or pretentious by not knowing or not ‘subscribing’ to what they might consider quintessential story talk.


Don’t Bring It Up Unless They Bring It Up

Now if the meeting is going well, you’ve already got a rapport going on and they get you and your premise, there’s no need to baffle them with structure talk . They could be the sort who don’t talk about/care about structure at all. ‘Read the room’ as they say.

What If Your Script Doesn’t Fit Three Act Structure?

You’re going to have to a.) hope they don’t ask you one of those questions or b.) make it sound like it works within Three Act. This shouldn’t be an issue though. ‘Things happen’ in your screenplay right? Your pitch should be highlighting the pivotal and most exciting moments anyway, so providing these moments make logical and progressional sense within the abridged story you’re telling them then these should (perhaps accidentally) be your Act 1 Break/Inciting Incident or Resolution.

What Are The Components Of Three Act Structure?

Act 1. Act 2. Act 3.

Beginning. Middle. End.

Set-up. Journey. Pay-off.


Now, go forth and learn the three act structure in relation to your story so your pitch speaks the language it may often need to.


Monday Prescription No. 38 –  Know your Three Act Structure. Even if you don’t use it for craft or ever end up using it in a pitch. Have it there. It might just save your life.

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Have a great week!
The Film Doctor Team
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  • November 18, 2012 at 2:01 am

    Three acts is essential. See Kal Bashir’s youtube videos and 2000 step hero’s journey analysis.

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