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Monday, March 20, 2017

Podcast Episode 60: Documentaries, with Joe Martin


This episode we talk to Joe Martin about something a bit different - documentaries. Although Joe's latest film (Us and Them) is fiction he has previously created many documentaries, including the doc feature "Keep Quiet" about far right politician Csanád Szeged.

Us and Them was at SXSW recently. Here's a review.

So he is ideally placed to talk about drama-docs and the increase use of story consultants within the doc world. Is it a good development that adds clarity or a bad trend that creates formulaic content.

His IMBD = http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5630563/

Thursday, March 02, 2017

3 act, 9 act? Consider the sequence approach



Sometimes, as writers, we can get a bit obsessed about different structures. But the sequence approach is slightly different. Not all writers know about it however, hence this post. I'm a big fan.

It is different because it comes at the issue of structure from another point of view. It simply states that a story is made up of sequences that are 10-15 minute in length - and that those sequences are like mini pieces of drama in themselves, perhaps with a mini 3-act inside them. So one film may have 8 sequences, while another longer film could have 12.

The sequence approach can be a useful style of structure, especially for ‘road movie’ style narratives or character pieces. But actually you see it a lot in action movies too or thrillers - where each sequence features a different method to overcome the villain for example.

If you focus on ensuring that the sequence you are writing is exciting and fulfilling - and that each sequence is emotionally different to the one before and after it - you can really engage the audience. You can keep them along for the ever-changing emotional journey.

It can also be a useful tool for those with a lot of experience writing shorts or TV episodes who are daunted by a feature. Shorts are usually single sequences. So this approach allows you to see that writing a feature made of 7 sequences is no more scary than writing 7 short scripts.

Some good examples of this structure, for me, are films such as:
“Falling Down” - each stop on Michael Douglas' journey is a sequence
“Fandango” - the stages of our heroes' 1960s road trip