The Nine Act and Three Act Screenplay Structure


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The Nine Act and Three Act Screenplay Structure

  1. 1. By Kathi and Josh
  2. 2. What is it? The Nine-Act Screenplay Structure is a basic framework oftenfollowed in fiction stories, it’s a method by David Siegel (An American motionpicture screenwriter and director).Act 0—During Opening Credits First 5 MinutesAct 1—Opening Image—The Panoramic Crane Shot Next 5 MinutesAct 2—Something Bad Happens 5 MinutesAct 3—Meet Hero/Protagonist 15 minutesAct 4—Commitment 5-10 MinutesAct 5—Go for wrong goal Approx. 30 minutesAct 6—Reversal 5-10 Minutes—Usually 70 Minutes into the FilmAct 7—Go for New Goal 15-20 MinutesAct 8—Wrap it Up 5 minutes
  3. 3. ACT 0Act 0 is the background of the films characters and story. Thisact is just as important as the other eight acts, but it is usuallyunseen.
  4. 4. ACT 1The opening of the film takes place, it’s often asweeping crane shot of the location the film willtake place in. However, it shows not only thesetting for the movie but also the tone.For example: Master and Commander beginswith a ship at sea.
  5. 5. ACT 2You can look for the conflict of the story to starthere in Act 2, usually within the first tenminutes. This is a good time for a murder orcrime to happen in an action film, or somethingmysterious or tragic in another. It may show theevil villain planning a hideous crime upon anunsuspecting world or a big shark attacking anunwary swimmer like in Jaws.
  6. 6. ACT 3This is when the audience meets the hero of thestory – the protagonist - who will fix theproblem introduced in Act Two. We also seesome character development for the hero. Theheros objectives and the opposing forces arerevealed. Protagonist’s can range from eleven-year-old Harry Potter to Jason Statham in TheTransporter.
  7. 7. ACT 4Act 4 is considered to be the ‘commitment’ act. It’susually one scene and is a one-way door, no turningback. In this act the hero commits to a course ofaction. There are two ways to introduce such acommitment. The first is when either good or badcircumstances force the hero into the jump. Thesecond is when the hero herself sees this jump asthe only choice to make. For example, Act 4 in TheLord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring wouldbe when Frodo offers to carry the ring.
  8. 8. ACT 5This is the ‘dark moment’. Our hero must goafter the wrong goal, usually because she doesnot have all the facts. This act ends with theprotagonist or hero at the lowest point in thestory, such as when Johnny English gets told he’sno longer working on the case and keeps himselflocks himself in his apartment.
  9. 9. ACT 6Act Six begins as Act Five ended: with everythingat its utter worst. Now suddenly the missingpieces or clues come to the hero and cause thereversal of goal to take place. The hero starts tomake sense of the information first offered tohim in the beginning of Act Two.
  10. 10. ACT 7In Act Seven a new plan of action is developed.Sometimes the plan is just demonstrated with asmall sentence or a nod of the head; however,no matter how small the scene appears, itsimportance to the plot is immense. Often goodluck or forgotten favours show up in this act,bringing the plot rapidly to a satisfying victory.
  11. 11. ACT 8Finally, Act Eight wraps up all the loose ends.The authorities come and take the criminalsaway.For example: In James Bond films, James kissesthe girl and doesnt answer the ringing phonewith M on the other end.
  12. 12. What is it?The three-act screenplay structure is similar tothe nine-act only, obviously, there’s less of them.It’s another format screenplays can follow.Act 1 – is the setup. This is where the audienceare introduced to characters and locations.Act 2 – is the confrontation act. When the filmcomes across an obstacle or conflict.Act 3 – the resolution. Things are solved in thisact.
  13. 13. Act 1At the end of Act 1 the protagonist can never goback to the way things were. They have nochoice but to continue into Act 2.
  14. 14. Act 2Act 2 can often be thought of in two differentparts. Part 2a and part 2b. Part 2a is the part ofthe film where your protagonist is ‘reacting’ tothe pressures of their changed world. Act 2bbegins when things start going wrong for theprotagonist until they realise they know what todo. They stop ‘reacting’ and take control of thesituation.
  15. 15. Act 3This is like the restored equilibrium act wherethe conflict has somehow been resolved orended.