How important is 'Save the Cat'

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  • #46
    Re: How important is 'Save the Cat'

    Save the Cat, by all means.

    But throw the Belgian Griffon down the laundry chute.

    Take it from one who knows....

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    • #47
      Re: How important is 'Save the Cat'

      "negation of the negation,"
      Yeah, that was the point where I hurled McKee across the room too, although his breakdown of a scene in Casablanca where Ingrid's barganing with Sidney Greenstreet is pretty good.

      And another vote for the Sandy MacKendrick book - he made a bunch of Ealing comedies and then ran the first screenwriting course at Cal Arts - which is as nuts and boltsy and practical as you want, and unworried about Hollywood conventions du jour. STC is good if you want to write mainstream comedies, and Snyder says endearing stuff like 'I don't know why this works, but it does', but it does err towards the superficial.

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      • #48
        Re: How important is 'Save the Cat'

        It's a good book, but none of it is anything new. It's basically all just the same three act structure that goes back to Aristotle and ancient Greek theatre.

        What gets me is how some many agents and managers read "Save the Cat", then think they know everything about screenwriting.

        Do you know how many times an agent or manager has said..."have you read Save the Cat"??? Uh, yes, I have....and many other books, and many great screenplays, and I have an MFA in screenwriting!!!!

        And it's still hard, it's still a challenge...writing a good script is hard, there is no secret formula.

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        • #49
          Re: How important is 'Save the Cat'

          Originally posted by spinningdoc View Post
          Yeah, that was the point where I hurled McKee across the room too, although his breakdown of a scene in Casablanca where Ingrid's bargaining with Sidney Greenstreet is pretty good.
          The whole idea of "subtext" was something that I struggled with at first, when I became interested in screenwriting. McKee's analysis of that lace-buying scene in Casablanca explained it to me better than any other text I'd come across. Having said that, I still think that lace-buying scene is one of the weakest points in Casablanca -- such a prosaic, shabby moment, compared to the passionate intensity of the earlier encounter between Bogart and Bergman -- but at least McKee showed me that the scene has more content than I'd realized.

          "Negation of the negation" sounds absurd, but when you read the book, it does make sense. Honestly, he could have come up with a better phrase. His emphasis on "gaps" too -- the idea makes sense, but I don't think it's the best term for the idea.

          Save the Cat seems to lean on McKee quite a bit -- in fact, Snyder even refers to McKee when he's explaining the change in +/- emotional charge that a scene (supposedly) needs to have. That, or both authors are leaning on older dramatic texts which they don't acknowledge.

          As others have said, I think both Snyder and McKee are useful for picking up tips and ideas, like how to hide exposition and how to craft subtext, but not be used as bibles.

          What I especially dislike about Snyder, or at least Snyder's influence, is that he practically makes a religion of the notion of characters arcs and transformation -- i.e., that the main character must be the one who changes most, and that the bigger the transformative arc, the better the screenplay. This may be true for comedy (maybe -- though I wouldn't even be sure of that), but it's definitely not true for all films. Many of my favorite action films feature protagonists who are pivot characters, who don't have huge arcs but who cause other characters, or their world as a whole, to arc around them. These films would not be improved by stapling Psych 101 arcs onto their protagonists.

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          • #50
            Re: How important is 'Save the Cat'

            Agreed. And God save you if you write an ensemble piece!
            (to adapt Kaufman's send-up of McKee)

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            • #51
              Re: How important is 'Save the Cat'

              In the script we wrote a while back we had a cat named Snyder get mauled by rabid dogs.
              Last edited by ihavebiglips; 01-14-2013, 08:06 PM.

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