Script Breakdown

The feature film script has roughly 110-120 standard pages. Each page corresponds to about 1 minute of a movie. Within those 120 pages, the screenwriter has to introduce all the characters, and their world, then turn their world upside down and throw those characters on a journey that would form a compelling story that you, the spectator, would like to see. Easy? We wouldn't see so many scripts collecting dust on the shelves if the task were easy. Creating a great, engaging script on 120 pages is more complicated than writing a book.

The discussion points below focus on the feature film script breakdown. For episodic, the concept is quite different as it involves creating an engine in the series's pilot and ensuring that the very engine can sustain the action throughout all episodes. You can think of it this way, with a feature film, we have an arc. With an episodic, you have circles, and characters must keep turning around. They have to keep the momentum going all over again. It's another level of complexity and different challenges for screenwriters.

Three-act structure

The three-act structure is the most traditional way of breaking down the script. It consists of Setup in the first act, the confrontation in the second act and the resolution in the third act. The second act is usually twice as long as the other acts. This structure is associated with the work of Syd Field .

Knowing the concept of a three-act structure is crucial. If we wish to figure out if the script is even worth reading, check the first 5-10 pages to see what the characters are, then jump to the end and read the last 15 pages to see where those characters end up. This way, you can figure out what is the arc, and if the specific change in the characters is really something that you would like to make a movie about. It is that simple. 

And this is how we come to the next topic for actors is of the biggest importance the Character's arc

Character's arc

The character's arc is the journey of the specific individual across the script. If the script starts with a character that is already flawless and has no lesson to learn. There is no story at all, the arc is flat. What the spectator looks for is a story, a change in the character. It can be physical but in most cases the change happens on an emotional level.The main characters, the protagonist of the story changes in a specific way through life experience and interactions with other characters in the  script. A properly build, engaging script would have a distinct arc for every character in the plot. The only character that does not learn anything is the anti-hero or as you would call the person in the scriptwriting word the antagonist, the bad buys or the institution or organization in case of some screenplays start bad and end bad ultimately being defeated by the hero that had to overcome the obstacles and his own limitations to fight against the main story antagonist. 

Blake Snyder Beat Sheet

Blake Snyder, breaks down each story into 15 distinctive beats 

Opening Image

The opening image is the very first scene of the movie, where the scriptwriter sets the whole tone of the film.

Theme Stated

Usually, around the fifth page, it could be a minor character commenting about the nature or meaning of life. It sets the thesis that the script will try to address.


Those are the script's first 10 minutes (pages), where all main characters are introduced. We look into their everyday life. We get a view into the World that the script is placed in.


Roughly around the 12th page, an unexpected event occurs that would change the status quo outlined on the first 12th page.


The characters decide if they want to have an adventure between the 12th and 25th minute of the movie. Is it worth doing this movie? Should we finish after 25 minutes or take a chance and push the story forward? Well, if you're an actor, you already know the answer, but the viewers - well, they have to be kept unsure. Will the movie happen or not?

Break Into Two

Hey, what a surprise! Around the 25th minute of the movie, the characters decide to make this movie, take a challenge and go on with the story. How unexpected. 

B Story

Around the movie's 30th page (minute), you'll get the other secondary characters introduced, and the secondary plot will unfold to keep the viewer occupied throughout the projection. It could be anything from some romantic story to some competition, a race - a distraction from the main plot.

Fun and Games

Blake Snyder refers to this part of the movie as the promise of the premise, the time between the 30th and 55th minute of the script is reserved for all of the speed car races, adventures in the dungeons, fighting monsters, going for dates, the best jokes etc. will be placed there. 


Right in the middle of the script, around the 55th page, you'll see a turning event where something goes wrong. But, as someone that is in the cinematography, you would already know that this will not go as wrong, as it is tough to sell a 60-minute movie and it'll go wrong, but not as wrong to end the film - well, the people in the cinema don't know, so let's continue.

Bad Guys Close In

Between the 55th and 75th minute of the movie, everything seems to be falling apart, the antagonist almost wins, things are getting worse and worse, the nuclear missiles get stolen, the mega super duper mastermind of the evil cross-dimensional intergalactic empire dates your girlfriend or boyfriend, and by the end of the 75th minute, you think that ...

All is Lost

All is lost, the main protagonist is in complete despair, and there's no chance to finish this movie with a happy end... on the 75th minute, our hero faces...

Dark Night of the Soul

The dark night of the soul is a place of complete despair. That's where male protagonists shop-shaving forget to do groceries and eat dog food from the fridge. Strong female protagonists hide in their comfy blankets and stuff themselves with chocolate and big buckets of ice cream, crying into stacks of toilet paper as they run out of tissues. (But the online delivery is not available only between pages 75 and 85)

Break Into Three

And then, the main protagonists hit rock bottom. They get themselves together. A significant change happens within themselves. The ultimate showstopper that prevented them from achieving their goal, overcoming their nemesis, and challenging their antagonist is gone.


Yes, the final battle - between pages 85 and 110 - where our glorious protagonist that conquered all obstacles went through a substantial emotional and physical change and finally believed in himself and defeats the antagonist faces the arch-enemy that never changes, the evil antagonist and all of the sidekicks are defeated, and we can move to...

Final Image

The final image around page 110 is a very merry happy end. What a surprise. The very end beat of the movie is the opposite of the opening scene. What a ride it was, a real rollercoaster of emotions. And the viewer is happy. Only you, the actor, know that everything got planned, meticulously put into every beat, and every line in the script, written and rewritten again to ensure that the viewer never gets bored and gets a good value for money.   

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting

One of the most important books in screenwriting by Syd Field - a must read for any aspiring screenwriter.

Save The Cat

If Screenplay by Syd Field was the first book you should read, then Save The Cat by Blake Snyder would be the last.

Screenwriting 101: Mastering the Art of Story

A 12-hours long lecture by Angus Fletcher - professor of the story science 

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