Mastering the Midpoint

Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay 

LSF 365 continues with some sessions from previous years. Last night's was Mastering the Midpoint with Phil Hughes and Ted Wilkes. Both are screenwriters and academics at Regents University. I've enjoyed their presentations in the past.

They, like me, use a 5-Act structure although hidden within the conventional 3-Act one. So Act 2 is split into three. The refer to the midpoint as a keystone - holding up both sides of the story. They described the midpoint as having six characteristics, providing examples for each.


1. The protagonist(s) emotionally invests

The adjust to not being perfect, retreating into their own psyche and have a moment. The midpoint must be emotional. In the King's Speech Bertie talks about his horrid childhood.

2. That's not what I want

The want is the surface level desires, it's ego driven, tangible. At the midpoint the protagonist realises their need. The need is the real story, hiding below the surface. In Bertie's case, it's never having had a friend.

3. Sing it loud, sing it proud

The midpoint should be a big moment. There's often a song. It tells us what the film is about, it's theme. 

4. Believe they've won, take easy solution

The hero thinks they've got the solution, but they take the easy choice. In Silence of the Lambs, Clarice tells Hannibal Lector the stories from her childhood thinking it will be a simple solution to get him to talk.

5. I hope I packed a parachute

It's going to be dramatic.

6. You can't put it back in the bottle

It has a finality to it. In Room, the boy escapes and can't return. It often features a death e.g. Godfather or sex with two people for the first time. It appears to be the right thing to do, but has it made things worse?