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Old 05-31-2020, 10:33 AM   #1
Bono
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Default Midpoint

Do you guys use the Midpoint as guide when you plan out your next movie ideas? I'd quickly says MP is the dividing line between two halves of a movie. One you can clearly see by story beats.

I heard about this from screenplay books at first and to be honest it was made most clear to me in SAVE THE CAT. (I think it's a great book -- even if it's easy to make fun of it because people love to make fun of popular things!!!! It's so cool!!!)

Anyway, I think you should take a look at them all and take what you like, ignore what you don't like it. But I find the whole thing clicked with me. I was already doing many of these things from just writing screenplays over and over -- but talking about it and thinking about it does help you focus.

Here's some definitions of the MIDPOINT that I found on internet even though I have the book right next to me and could look it up.

Dependent upon the story, this moment is when everything is “great” or everything is “awful”. The main character either gets everything they think they want (“great”) or doesn’t get what they think they want at all (“awful”). But not everything we think we want is what we actually need in the end.

Things change. You have the same goal but a new way to get there.

Anyway -- the idea that at the Midpoint of your story, the stakes should be raised. Basically 1/2 through you story, it goes from it being say a fun comedy into something to lose for the hero. Or the story changes and takes us in new direction. It's just not the same thing for 60 pages, but we spice it up!

Basically to me it's simply this. Act 2 being 60 pages of the same thing gets boring. So having a big beat that raises the stakes or totally changes the direction of the movie is huge.

We had a spec go out and it did well (didn't' sell). And many people talked to us in meetings about how they liked it, but it was repetitive and if something happened at the MP to twist the story in another way it may have sold. Wish our reps told us this before it went out...

Anyway -- just thinking about midpoint today.
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Old 05-31-2020, 10:53 AM   #2
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Default Re: Midpoint

When I think midpoint, the first midpoint that comes to mind is Tootsie. When he's on vacation with Julie -- riding horses, holding babies, hanging out with her. It's like a little montage in the middle of the movie, and it def increases the stakes and introduces a complication: Julie's father Les develops a crush on Tootsie.
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Old 05-31-2020, 11:17 AM   #3
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Default Re: Midpoint

The point of no return for the protagonist. "Risky Business" Joel's dad's Porsche slips into Lake Michigan and there is nothing he can do now to avoid dealing with the situation he spent the first half of Act II trying to avoid.

"Star Wars" the Falcon drops out of hyperspace for Alderaan except . . . no Alderaan. Luke can't go back to Tatooine now.

"Jaws" the Fourth of July shark attack. Mayor Vaughn has to pay Quint to go kill the shark, no more open beaches until it's done.
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Old 05-31-2020, 11:25 AM   #4
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Default Re: Midpoint

JAWS and PREDATOR are my 2 favorite examples of movies that go nicely together but part 1 and part 2 are so distinct. Almost their own movies in the same world. Like a sequel happens during the first movie.

Both go from bigger world to smaller.

3 men vs 1 shark
1 man vs 1 alien
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Old 05-31-2020, 11:26 AM   #5
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Default Re: Midpoint

A midpoint turn is an effective way to write toward an event that pushes the main character past the point of no return. They commit fully to to their goal and cannot turn back to the safety of the world in which he came from.

It also marks the moment when the downward slide (or escalation of the struggle) where everything begins to fall apart, and the protagonist will be forced to attack their goal with a renewed focus and determination.

In The Firm, it is the moment when FBI agent solicits the main character to join forces to save his life but forfeit his career. He will be arrested along with the other lawyers that have been a front for the mob. This is the moment that kicks Mitch McDeer in the ass to find the solution to his problem.

The midpoint turn in Star Wars is the moment when our characters are in the garbage compacter and we believe Luke has been drowned and our other two heroes are about to be crushed to death. They save the princess but now they have an even bigger problem (stakes raised and it gets worse) the death star is headed for the planet where the rebel force has been hiding. It becomes a race against time.

Post Edit: I saw JoeBanks comment about Star Wars and the reason Luke can't go back to Tatooine. For me, that was established the at the first plot point turn when his Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen were murdered. There was, at that moment, no reason for Luke to remain on Tatooine. His goal initially was to save the princess. It shifts when they discover they have the plans for the Death Star and must discover its weakness if they are to destroy the Death Star before the Death Star is able to destroy the planet on which the rebel force is hiding.

And if you can get a ticking clock in your story, it amplifies the tension and suspense.

Midpoint turns are essential to breaking up the large section of act 2. For me, it gives me a point to write to, then gives an objective to write to the PP2-- the heroes darkest hour.
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Old 05-31-2020, 04:49 PM   #6
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Default Re: Midpoint

The second half of Jaws is one of the greatest film experiences imo.

Interesting topic. I'm debating between two ideas for my next story, but in one of them the midpoint is the biggest moment of the entire thing. I haven't fully thought it out yet but the idea pretty much began with the midpoint, or at least the moment I feel has to be in the middle.

On that note, had anyone seen Chaplin's Modern Times? I haven't yet but I heard that the structure is interesting; apparently the second half closely mirrors the first half, maybe in locations or actions but obviously in a different way. Maybe something like Alex running into his old droogies and stuff in A Clockwork Orange after he's out of prison. I need to watch Modern Times. I might try something like that with the next one.
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Old 05-31-2020, 05:47 PM   #7
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Default Re: Midpoint

Midpoint - the point of no return/ticking clock.

Titanic hits both - literally no going back once the ship starts to sink and that in itself is a clock of ticking properties.

My friend was watching Guardians of the Galaxy (I was in the room, doodling on my laptop as the film was not for me) when we lost internet connection. I had no idea where the film was up to but I said 'I bet it stopped halfway through, give or take a couple of minutes' and when the film restarted, my friend was amazed to see it was 60 minutes in to a 122 minute film.
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Old 05-31-2020, 05:54 PM   #8
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Default Re: Midpoint

Quote:
Originally Posted by finalact4 View Post
I saw JoeBanks comment about Star Wars and the reason Luke can't go back to Tatooine. For me, that was established the at the first plot point turn when his Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen were murdered. There was, at that moment, no reason for Luke to remain on Tatooine. His goal initially was to save the princess. It shifts when they discover they have the plans for the Death Star and must discover its weakness if they are to destroy the Death Star before the Death Star is able to destroy the planet on which the rebel force is hiding.
But the rebellion wasn't on Alderaan. If it had not been blown up, Ben would have delivered the plans to Leia's father and Luke would have been free to go about his life. Maybe he still would have gone with the plans to Yavin but storywise, no Alderaan means he's locked in to the rest of Act II: saving Leia, escaping the Death Star, and delivering Artoo in the absence of Ben. In a way that takes all other options off the table (my recollection from having an old laserdisc version is the side flip halfway through comes exactly when the Falcon is dropping out of hyperspace into the asteroid field)
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Old 05-31-2020, 06:09 PM   #9
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Default Re: Midpoint

Caught in the tractor beam is def the midpoint, IMO.
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Old 05-31-2020, 06:11 PM   #10
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Default Re: Midpoint

Been long time since I saw Star Wars first one with my screenwriter hat on -- maybe never as I just become a child again watching movies I loved as kid.

But isn't the MP more simple -- our heroes get sucked into the death star?

Jaws -- 2nd half alone is one of the best movies of all time. What a great movie that if you took out most of the 1st half -- would not lesson the movie. In fact if it was remade, I'd bet they give 10-15 Act I and go right into them on the ocean trying to kill the shark. Sure I love the whole thing and slow build, but the part we all remember is the Orca stuff. The Moby Dick stuff.

Aliens is also awesome how they tell the audience, here are 15-20 bad ass marines who can take on anything and then the first fight 90% of them die and are wounded --- And Ripley and Newt and of course Hicks are now in charge of the small group left. Goes from bigger to smaller. I love that.

That's why in big blockbusters movies where the whole world is under attack they try to make it personal by having Tom Cruise find his family through it. But to me, what works so much better was a movie like SIGNS which showed an alien invasion through the eyes of one family -- to me that's so much more powerful.

Our minds just see rubbish when there's non stop fighting in my eyes. When there are Michael Bay 1000 cuts. But when it's The Rock version of Bay -- we 100% understand it. Another 20 guys shot down, 2 guys left to save the day. Because we can care about 2 -- not 20.

This is not about the MP, but whatever.
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