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Guest
10-19-2004, 03:32 PM
I read somewhere that Primer is 78 minutes long. Most films are usually 90-120 minutes long so my question is, a film that is 78 minutes long, where does the first act end? After maybe 16-18 minutes and then have about 42 minutes of act 2 and the rest, resolution? Was just wondering because this could be a cost-saver if I can trim my script down this low.

Barry_S
10-19-2004, 08:50 PM
Absolutely. As long as your film wins the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, 78 minutes should be fine. ;D On the other hand, just in case you don't win at Sundance I would plan on a running length of 90 minutes. It'll be hard enough getting distribution without handicapping yourself with a short running length.

Jim Brennan
10-19-2004, 09:19 PM
I know that theatre owners prefer shorter films (not short films). It can enable them to get one more showing in. They make their money from concessions, so more showings means more butts in the seats and on line for popcorn. But I don't know what is considered "too short" for distribution. Straight to video is another story altogether.

I can't really answer your question though. But there is an off topic forum for screenwriting on the home page. You might ask there.

alveraz
10-19-2004, 09:53 PM
Ugh. Do not compromise length or structure due to films you 'know about'. Granted, the feature I'm currently directing is 81 pages long but trust me, it helps when you've done your homework. We've managed to nail the fundamentals. Learn the rules, master the rules, then break them if so inclined.

The'res so much to be said for the basics. There's a beginning, middle and end, period. Have you attempted to establish your protag in the first ten pages? Is there a turning point somewhere around the 20th page? Do you develop your conflict through the middle, and do you resolve it through the last, or third act? Now understand there's several ways to go about this, but regardless of a four act or three act structure the fundamentals are important and proven true.

I know I'll get heat about this, and I'm the last guy to ask about following a Syd Field, Trottier, MKee, or even Aristotle (Poetics) for that matter, but trust me, the basics are important to at least understand and study. After you you have the basics down then explore and crap all over them if you want, just be sure you don't grab a camera and shortchange your script because either you're lazy or 'some other guy did it'.

Ouch, that sounded hostile, but I stand by it. A camera does not a screenwriter make. Take your time, do some research on script basics, then go be the wacky 'no rules' director you want to be!

Ciao.
-alveraz

alveraz
10-19-2004, 10:10 PM
Just to follow up, which may help. Let's say your script is 110 pages, which is a roundabout average for a feature. The 'industry' standard may suggest, the first 15-25 pages would be your first act, the middle would be the next 50 or so, and the third act, the last 10-25 pages, or so. This is just a 'standard' not a rule, but maybe it will give you a little more insight into the screenwriting world.

As mentioned, our script is at 81 pages, however we've managed to work the 'setting' as a complete character in itself which has added quite a few elements and time to the film. Let's hope we can pull it off and stay within the fundamentals.

...Boy, I'm just opening myself up to a wide critique here, but oh well, best I dive in to give another some help, rather then they go with a simple way out.

Guest
10-20-2004, 09:44 AM
Thanks for the input.

Alvarez: I'm quite sure I've the fundamentals nailed down. I've been writing for four years now and I've read everything syd has written and I might add that I've taken a lot of writing workshops. Maybe I didn't clarify my question. Currently, my script is 90 pages long and my first turning point is on page 22 but I was just wondering where you'd have your first turning point in a 78 page script. When I think about it, it my have been silly to post this question. It's a matter of 25% first act, 50% middle and 25% resolution. I should have used my two cents before posting.

alveraz
10-20-2004, 10:06 AM
Ah- Sorry about that, as usual I got excited and jumped on my soapbox prematurely, my appologies.

I'm not sure there's an exact 'turning point' in a 78 page script. It's subjective I suppose. If it works, it works. If you broke it down by percentages, then I guess around page 15, but that's following 'standard practices' and that might just confuse the process all together. My point was to simply understand the basics (as you mentioned you do) and take it from there. Good luck. :)

moe_snodgrass
10-21-2004, 08:49 AM
IMHO, formula's are too restrictive.

Beginning=the point before which nothing needs to be said

Middle=character development, dramatic conflict

End=the point beond which nothing further needs to be said

HansK
10-21-2004, 10:21 AM
IMHO, formula's are too restrictive.

Beginning=the point before which nothing needs to be said

I would disagree with you here. I think a lot needs to be said in the beginning. Otherwise, you won't catch the audience and pull them into the story.

alveraz
10-21-2004, 10:44 AM
Beginning=the point before which nothing needs to be said


I don't even understand this statement. You are either trying to be witty with the english language, or, you are truly from middle earth.

Gondor perhaps?

I kid, I kid...

IsraelHoudini
10-26-2004, 12:58 AM
for legal purposes in the united states you will need at least 81 mins of movie (titles and credits can be included).

most any studio will only accept 85 mins and up if the material is of a superior quality at such a short running time.

90 mins is the magic number at a large number of festivals as well for feature competition.

c.g._eads
10-29-2004, 05:18 PM
Syd Field is pretty much an idiot.

Robert McKee is an even bigger idiot.

If you want to write a good screenplay, keep it interesting. Make stuff happen every 10 minutes or so. Don't just have two guys talking in a room.

chris 'screenwriting simplified' eads

Xof
10-31-2004, 10:34 AM
for legal purposes in the united states you will need at least 81 mins of movie (titles and credits can be included).

What legal purposes are those?

Tlalconetl
01-11-2005, 10:23 PM
I read somewhere that Primer is 78 minutes long. *Most films are usually 90-120 minutes long so my question is, a film that is 78 minutes long, where does the first act end? After maybe 16-18 minutes and then have about 42 minutes of act 2 and the rest, resolution? *Was just wondering because this could be a cost-saver if I can trim my script down this low.

Vic,
I read that Shane Carruth ignored the three-act structure. But I haven't seen Primer.

Voytek_Stitko
01-16-2005, 11:31 AM
you know first act is about 10-15 minutes long and usually ends with the event which shows the audience that hero will have to work very hard to achieve his goal - it is called Plot Point 1 (twist in the story which changes its direction)

in the first act you learn who the hero is, what he wants and why it is so important to hero to achieve his goal... you end act 1 with an event which changes hero's life completely - his life will never be the same ... and now in act 2 you see the hero overcoming the obstacles, one after another until in the end of act 2 he failes again, this time miserably...it looks like he will never achieve his goal...(this event is called Plot Point 2)

Act 3 is called resolution. You know what it means.
This is a 3-act structure most of the movies (and many other arts) follow. It is just the way we used to tell and listen to the story. It comes from the ancient past. But as you know there are many more ways to tell the story.

It doesnt has to be linear. Just watch people telling you the story. They often jump in time and space. This is why you have so many ways of telling the story thru film. Just make sure you have a story. Then find out what is the best way to tell it. 3-act structure is probably the most popular but it doestnt mean: the only one or the best. Right?

The end.

Voytek_Stitko
01-16-2005, 11:39 AM
I dont think Mr Field is an idiot. You can learn a lot from people who are just experienced in writing, even if what they say sounds like a bullshit for you. I personally learned a lot from Syth Field even though I am not going to follow 3 act structure writing in all of my scripts. Anyway he did not invented this stuff. Arystoteles is the guy. And big part of literature and music follows his footsteps. Actually it is not even him, people in general tell their stories starting from the begginning (i met this guy...) middle (he told me lets go for a ride...) end (...i had to shoot him cos he wanted to stab me with the knife ....) You know, if you dont want to tell one particular story in this way - just dont. Tarantino decided that Pulp Fiction for example needed to be displayed on completely different platform. And it works too. For some of us. But calling Tarantino an idiot would be too much.
Regards,
voytek

Zig_Zigman
01-19-2005, 03:12 PM
Since Primer is quite short and it took him two years to edit, I'd be willing to bet Shane was changing things quite a bit, possibly had no idea about structure, and tried to make a film out of useful footage.

Primer is watchable because you just wannt know wtf is going on. Too bad you never really find out *L*