Three Act Movie Screenplay Structure


This book tutorial focuses on how to structure a movie screenplay in three acts, the industry standard. It has a tried and true history of accomplishing the task of writing a movie script. It will take the reader from formulating an idea to turning it into a treatment and screenplay. For the sake of this discussion, the method will be called the Three Act Structure in Screenwriting. Developed long ago in Hollywood, California, the structure still serves as the basis for most movies produced by large American studios and most independent filmmakers in the United States and abroad.

Note that this is a lesson in the method of constructing a story into a script and not the actual mechanics of screenwriting. While it will consider some of the mechanics of screenwriting, the reader should also consult any of the many fine manuals on screenwriting mechanics. One of the best is The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier. That said, know this fact: if you put in the groundwork for developing a screenplay and take the time to lay a foundation, the actual writing will be much easier. Note that I did not say easy, but easier. In the end, it always comes down to hard work and creativity.

Three Act Movie Screenplay Structure, by John Halas

All Rights Reserved.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Great Idea

Skeleton of the Outline

Logline

Examples of Loglines

Critical Characters : Protagonist & Antagonist Conflict

First Goal – Plot Point One

Second Goal – Plot Point Two

Third and Final Goal – Story Resolution

The Synopsis

Overview of the Eight Sequences

Begin and End Scenes with Conflict

The Eight Sequences in Detail

Back to the Future

Act 1 Sequence 1: Back to the Future

Act 1 Sequence 2: Back to the Future

Act 2 Sequence 3: Back to the Future

Act 2 Sequence 4: Back to the Future

Act 2 Sequence 5: Back to the Future

Act 2 Sequence 6: Back to the Future

Act 3 Sequence 7: Back to the Future

Act 3 Sequence 8: Back to the Future

The Goonies

Act 1 Sequence 1: The Goonies

Act 1 Sequence 2: The Goonies

Act 2 Sequence 3: The Goonies

Act 2 Sequence 4: The Goonies

Act 2 Sequence 5: The Goonies

Act 2 Sequence 6: The Goonies

Act 3 Sequence 7: The Goonies

Act 3 Sequence 8: The Goonies

Jaws

Act 1 Sequence 1: Jaws

Act 2 Sequence 2: Jaws

Act 2 Sequence 3: Jaws

Act 2 Sequence 4: Jaws

Act 2 Sequence 5: Jaws

Act 2 Sequence 6: Jaws

Act 3 Sequence 7: Jaws

Act 3 Sequence 8: Jaws

Writing a Screenplay