The topic of pacing!!!!



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  • The topic of pacing!!!!

    Hi, since another thread is touching on the idea od script length I thought it would be great to talk about pacing.

    Sometimes when I am coming up with that awesome script that I think will sell for over a million, I put together countless amounts of information that could rival even the hit mini series roots, but the thing is I need to start condensing material so I don't get a miniseries in the end, but instead a nice, cool, happenin, 120 page script.

    So that is my question. What is good pacing and when do you know if it is going bad for you. The phantom menace had poor pacing, and look where that movie ended up. Well it ended up making good money, but it also ended up on my worst movie list.

    So let those posts come.

    Help a brudda out.


  • #2
    Pacing is a metaphor for movement. Pacing is simply about keeping the story moving forward. It can run sometimes or walk others but you never want it to stop. Just ask yourself 1 simple question about every moment you are considering including: Does it advance the story or expand a character? If not, you have stopped and you need to cut that moment or scene out of the story.


    • #3

      Writer's Bootcamp (a screenwriting class tought by a company of the same name, based in LA) utilizes what they call a 3-6-3 outline of your screenplay. A "3-6-3" is a 12-part outline of the major scenes/events of your screenplay. Parts 1 thru 3 cover the story's BEGINNING; parts 4 thru 9 cover the story's MIDDLE; and parts 10 thru 12 cover the story's END. Each part should roughly represent 10 minutes of screen time (and thus 10 pages of script); all 12 parts equal the story's runtime of 120 mins (and thus, a 120 page script.)

      This 3-6-3 technique is helpful in pacing in that it provides a structural guideline for "mapping out" your story so that every ten minutes or so of screen time contains a key event or moment. It helps the writer to see where there might be holes or gaps in his or her story and how to work within the limits of a 90-120 page format.

      I usually start a 3-6-3 by stating the bare minimum for each of the 12 parts--no more than a sentence or two per part. I then go back to each part and start adding more and more detail--fleshing out and refining the details of the story as I work through each part. By the time I've finished, each part flows seamlessly into the next part, and the story now has a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end. Completed, the 3-6-3 now more resembles a detailed treatment. It's at this point that I begin to write the screenplay.

      Keep in mind this is a tool; it's not as rigid as my description might make it appear. Although use of the 3-6-3 technique might sound to some of you too formulaic, it's not as long as one uses it as a mere guideline. I've found the 3-6-3 to be a terrific time-saver and an invaluable tool for organizing and pacing the scenes of my story. It also helps me to see how viable a new story idea is in making it as a feature film. A quick and first pass at a 3-6-3 for a new story idea lets me know immediately if I have enough of a story to fill 120 pages; or, conversely, if my story is too long and, if it is, helps me to more easily determine where and what I should cut.

      Hope this helps.


      • #4
        Re: Formula?

        Think about how many films you saw this year that was two hours or longer?... One page represents one minute on the screen average... Trying to snatch the pebble.



        • #5
          Re: Formula?

          <One page represents one minute on the screen average...>

          Everyone says this but it's not really true. The average movie is closer to 90 minutes. Filmed TV scripts for 1 hr shows (which use the same screenplay format) are usually 55-65 pages but the shows run about 44 minutes.


          • #6
            Re: steven

            Regard to TV scripts, they are geared low budget. You'll probably never see in MOW a two line scene description telling us "The two alien factions unleash all their various weapons of death upon each other, the battle is long and ferocious". That two line scene descriprtion can represent several minutes, several very exspensive CGI minutes. MOW and film two different approaches with concern to budget. One more example take the same script for "The Perfect Storm", now with out getting to anal, think about it being a MOW wich it could, just alot shorter as far as special effects time on screen. Hang a gunslinger on TV he drops twitches, and dies. Hang him on the big screen, they'll probably bring in a huge crane, twelve different angles, medium, wide, and close, and show the legs twitching in super slow motion.
            Same format yes, but two different approaches. One is get in tell the story get out. The other get in look around tell and really show the story. The second of the two I believe is striving for something more than an eight o'clock time slot.

            Roxanne Battle


            • #7
              Re: steven

              Oh and with regard to most films running 90 minutes compare with their script length, they are probably under 120 pages to begin with.
              Lets just say 51 seconds per page.