Indiana Field and The Crusade For The Secret Structure
Below follows a story written along the lines of classic Hollywood structure.
Most main-stream movies follow this pattern: 3 acts, 2 plot points (also called turning points), with a mid-point, and so on.
There are several gurus out there in movie-land of California, Syd Field being one of the best known. He’s written books like Screenplay and The Definitive Guide to Screenwriting.
These gurus ride into battle against unstructuredness like knights in shining armour. These heroes carry the knowledge of structure, sharing the belief that 3 acts are the foundation of great stories. They intend to guide those lost, to lead us through the gates of wisdom, on our paths to universal screen writing truth.
The story below was born out of correspondence with my friend Vincent, who rightfully pointed out that an email I sent to him did not have the following:
- Any structure (while his email was well-structured).
- Three acts (his reply had three acts).
- Syd Field would not have approved of my email (but would’ve certainly been proud of what my friend sent me).
This is what my friend wrote:
How dare you!! Where’s the structure in your email?! You dare mention SYD but present a structureless e-mail. The master would be so upset!
I am so disappointed…
My world was shaken. I had to do something. Anything to redeem myself, to cleanse my soul of a sin that might be… uncleansable. Or something.
So in an attempt to put things right, hoping that my friend would forgive me, I sent him this:
Opening scene: the hero is presented with an email from writing colleague (and this is a very slow, boring and pretentious start for an action movie, though there are some flashy animations appearing in the titles).
Inciting incident: after being introduced to the world of this PokerStars employee (who works with support-related stuff in on-line poker, which goes against uniformity of storytelling as it will have nothing to do with the story, plot or character development), the employee realises that there’s a problem in his life–there is no structure. His whole life seem to start to crumble before him.
All while robots sometimes looking like cars, and aliens from another planet, plus a deadly killing virus is threatening the state of the planet…
Plot point 1: It is clear that structure was stolen from him, probably when he was a child. He discovers there is a conspiracy towards him. He used to keep structure in a little shoe box, given to him by his mother. “This was your father’s structure…” she said. And he just thought it got lost, but no–it was stolen!
Now some guys in suits and shades wanna kill him because he found out it got stolen.
Our hero is thrown into this new dangerous world of robots, aliens and viruses. But that’s not the main plot. That’s just for the action. Our hero is now being chased by a shadow agency after him for discovering the theft of their beloved structure which once was his.
Focus point: He falls in love, again, with his childhood love, Esmeralda Esmeraldovich, who also used to work for PokerStars, but that’s not the main plot either really. Anyway…
Mid-point: He finds out his uncle Bart is the head of the Shadow conspiracy, and that the police and various secret agencies are involved too. It gives the story a totally new vibe and his face is all over the news. Esmeralda Esmeraldovich helps him flee and they make love. Under a tree. It looks very romantic and is even better in 3D (or tree-d, haha).
Focus point 2: The robots and the aliens have in an experiment become merged into one cloned being. Somehow, this is what the shadow conspiracy does when they’re bored and not chasing PokerStars employees over being close to the truth of the stolen structure. It’s all very strange and doesn’t really fit this movie. Let’s move on…
Plot point 2: The PokerStars employee and Esmeralda Esmeraldovich discovers the conspiracy runs deeper than they could’ve ever imagined. The government is in on it. Several governments actually. Most of them, to give you the cold hard truth. The president also. But worst of all. The real bad guy steps out of the shade–
Syd Field. The screen writing man of structure.
“It is over,” Syd Field says, before he abducts Esmeralda Esmeraldovich. “You can’t win.” And indeed, the PokerStars employee (who we still haven’t found out the name of) believes him.
Bad stuff. Robots, aliens and viruses keep wiping out the population and there’s no place to grab a cheeseburger to drown the sorrows of never being able to find structure or Esmeralda.
Shit. And Esmeralda is going on a space trip with Syd Field where he intends to perform unspeakable acts of structured pleasures, which equals structured unpleasantness for Esmeralda. And space ships and space hasn’t even been set up properly earlier on in the story. Makes it all look even worse and our hero is even more depressed.
That’s when he meets an old friend, who hasn’t been introduced and set up in the story either before. But hey, it’s a first draft ain’t it? Anyway, the friend who just arrived from Netherlands is just here on vacation, and he’s in a sticky situation too, because the airports are closed due to robots and aliens and viruses keeping on killing people.
Ok, the friend makes him understand something important, because they knew each other when they were kids, and the friend remembers the shoe box.
“It was empty,” he says.
“What do you mean?” says the hero, “It couldn’t have been, they stole it, and Syd told us we need structure!”
“And he was right… kind of.”
“What do you mean ‘kind of?’”.
“Because…” and here comes the heartfelt, deep message of the movie, “all this time, you had structure within you. You just didn’t see it. And they never opened the shoebox, because Syd never let anyone open it. He was afraid you would, or that those guys in suits and shades would reveal the secret. If everyone knew, monsters, robots and viruses wouldn’t have to keep killing everyone.”
“Mate… that doesn’t make sense. At all.”
“I know, maybe that’s something the one who re-writes draft 2 of this story has to solve. Well, anyway… you just gotta believe in yourself. That’s all.”
And finally the hero believes in himself. And is ready for–
The Final Battle: The hero hitches a ride with Syd Field’s spaceship, against Syd’s will. The hero kills the bad guys at shadow organisation, the big bad guy Syd, and gets the truth broadcast on TV about structure within all of us.
For the action fans I can let you know there’s a lot of gun fights, explosions and digital effects in the final battle sequence. It looks cool, lacks in logics and breaks several laws of physics.
Fade out: Hero gets the girl. And they live happily ever after. Problem with robots, aliens and viruses remain unsolved. But they’re happy anyway. Our hero knows in his heart that there’s structure in the story he just told. Even if it is, at the same time, a helluva mess.
THE END (Roll credits)