A couple years ago, my friends at scriptfrenzy.org asked me to write an article on screenplay structure, and to break down five “key points” that writers should consider in the development of a well-honed script (see “Article: Screenplay Structure” in the Writer’s Resources section of this website). Well—there are many key points in a screenplay: the midpoint, both act breaks, the inciting incident, the nadir, the climax, page 10, the ending, and so on and so forth--all of which I've discussed in previous posts. Choosing the most crucial FIVE was tricky, but at one key-point immediately rose to the very top of my list:
Page 17 is so important that I would have named this website page17.com if some forward-thinking domain-name broker hadn’t already snapped it up, then offered to resale it for hundreds of dollars…
Here’s what I said about page 17 on scriptfrenzy.com:
Page 17. Next time you watch a DVD, pause it 17 minutes into the film. Trust me—any film. What’s happening at that point in the story? Most likely, the essential character conflict has just been laid out. A teenage Indiana Jones runs to his father for help, but is shushed instead. Shaun convinces his girlfriend to trust him in Shaun of the Dead. Captain Renault asks Rick why he came to Casablanca. On page 17, your audience should realize what the film is really about. It’s not about finding the Holy Grail, Indy—it’s about learning to forgive dad!
Couldn’t have said it better myself.