Thanks, Mark and Cameron. Insightful comments and analysis. The thing that strikes me based on both of your comments is more about character — how each character in the family has their own arc. And collectively, those arcs are grounded in Beau’s death. More on that tomorrow.
Re plot points and act breaks: We can get so hung up on these when a good story should feel organic. When Cameron wrote this:
“I couldn’t really see a definite act 1 plot point reversal to be honest. I was scanning through the script and scene breakdown and found myself drifting well into act 2, looking for the end of act 1.”
I was like, “Bravo to the filmmakers!” That ‘drift’ suggests the scenes flowed one to the other. In broadcast network and basic cable TV where there are commercial breaks, writers do need to be focused on specific act breaks. But cinematic storytelling is going through a sea change right now due to many cultural and technological changes. The old paradigms promoted in books like “Save the Cat” are not only decades old, they may have less and less relevance to the Wild West of storytelling which is evolving in today’s entertainment landscape. A Quiet Place is a perfect example of what I’m talking about — a 68 page spec script with hardly any dialogue which not only sells to Paramount, but becomes a global phenomenon.
We do need to be mindful of structure. When William Goldman said, “Screenplays are structure,” that still holds true. But it’s how we get to that structure which is the big issue. Again, A Quiet Place is instructive. Simple plot. Complex characters. Lean into the characters and see where THEY take the plot. Not some pre-designed paradigm or formula. If folks like Cameron can’t determine what’s the end of Act One, does that mean the structure of A Quiet Place is deficient. No! The story flows, one scene to the next, sustaining our interest, indeed, building our interest.
As the great screenwriting guru Bob Dylan wrote, “The times they are achangin’.” All those screenplay paperbacks from the 80s and 90s are relics of the Old Times. What we should be focused on is exploring all the ways we as cinematic storytellers can tell a story. Push the envelope. Go against convention. No one wanted to buy A Quiet Place… until someone did. And now look at it. $300M+ worldwide box office. Sequel in the works. It’s probably going to become a franchise.
All starting with a outrageous idea. Let’s do a silent movie in the age of movie bombast. Make a sound. You die.
That’s brilliant counterintuitive creativity.