Saturday, July 25, 2009

Action film anatomy 101

Michelle and the boys have been in Australia visiting our family there for the last three weeks. I've spent a lot of time at the studio working, and most of the weekends watching films on VOD and DVD.
I haven't had the house to myself for an entire day in years, so I decided to confront story structure. I had read McKee's Story years ago but never actually sat down to do the homework of it, for a thousand good excuses. For years I'd nod knowingly when anyone mentioned three act structure but damned if I knew where they started and ended.
No more. Last week I watched Die Hard while reading the script and jotting down the story beats, and then charting the plot points according to Syd Field. I found an interesting structural analysis of the film by William C. Martell (scroll down). Die Hard was an instant favorite of mine when it came out. I actually had a poster of it in my room (same as pictured here.)
Today I did the same with RoboCop and I'm happy to say I'm starting to understand structure. I also watched Quarantine and Traitor, and enjoyed them thoroughly, except for Jennifer Carpenter's "acting" in the first and some terror apologist undertones in the second. All this film study is part of my new writing project, referenced in an earlier post. It's been exciting learning a new art form that is strongly related to my professional one at the ripe age of 36. It has as much (if not more) to do with what I've loved since I was a little boy; Film.


Pat said...

hear hear.

I read Robert McKee`s book a few years back. and read it again a couple weeeks ago. it`s one of my favorite book on the subject.
(I thought Stephan King`s "on writing" was very nice as well, though it felt somewhat lacking in comparison..)

great hearing you evolve and keep on working hard, Alexo.
more power to ya.


Alex Orrelle said...

Thank you Pat! I will check out Stephen King's "On Writing" after I finish Screenwriting for Dummies...

Pat said...

heheh.. cool. :)

how come we don`t see you at Shoody Padoody`s no more?
or JP for that matter?...
and don`t give me "I`m busy", we`re all busy.

and what happend with the FIFA dealy-o? my design work didn`t fit the bill? you never got back to me.