Structure: Michael Clayton

A structural overview of Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy, 2007) in 8 Sequences. When I watched the film during its theatrical release, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Because of the relatively low budget (an estimated USD$25m) for its production values, Tony Gilroy was able to make some brave non-commercial decisions with his screen story. This didn’t go … Read more

Inciting Incident in Backstory?

Question: Is it possible for the Inciting Incident to happen in backstory? Answer: Technically, ‘backstory’ is not in the movie. It is the history of your characters before the time the story starts. Because we need to see the Inciting Incident and how it affects the protagonist, it cannot happen in the backstory. However, the … Read more

Exciting Coincidence?

“A strong inciting incident is an event that happens to the protagonist, never an action by the protagonist“, I said. Then I asked you for exceptions, i.e. strong Inciting Incidents that are actions by the protagonist. Now have a look at the first three responses I received: 1.) THELMA & LOUISE, 2.) PULP FICTION and … Read more

Blade Runner: The 8 Mins First Act

If you want to be a professional screenwriter, be open to spoilers. Furthermore, be open to the weaknesses in your favourite films. Most often, it won’t harm your love for the film. Some of the handful of films I re-watch every year, I won’t mention in my seminars because I appreciate them for reasons other … Read more

Inciting Incident: Event, not Action.

When talking about story structure, many people talk about where exactly in the story the structural element needs to happen. Often this is expressed in terms of a page number, or even a percentage of the film’s total duration. I would prefer to leave such quantification aside for a moment and rather look into what … Read more