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Screenwriting: The Sequence Approach [Anglais] [Broché]

Paul Gulino

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Amazon.com: 3.9 étoiles sur 5  32 commentaires
26 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Provides a building block missing in most other books on screenwriting 26 juin 2005
Par Ars Gratia Artis - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Typically screenplays are divided into three acts. Paul Gulino goes beneath the 3 act structure to lay bare a critical building block for each act: the sequence. His insightful book discusses how a properly written sequence improves the audience experience of the story.

Gulino focuses on how the movie unreels in the mind of the viewer. A sequence works dramatically when it hooks into the psychology of the audience to keep them involved in the story, wondering what's going to happen next.

Gulino locates the origin of the dramatic sequence in the limitations of early movie making technology: movies started as one-reeler stories with a maximum play time of about 15 minutes. When films stories expanded beyond one-reelers, each reel still maintained the same narrative structure because the viewing experience --and narrative flow -- was interrupted every time the projectionist had to swap reels. Each sequence/reel was designed to be a mini-story within a larger story to pique viewer interest so that they would wait in the dark for the reels to change to find out what happened next.

The dramatic unity of the sequence was also necessary for serials shown in installments over the course of weeks. Stories were written so that the reels ended with a cliff hanger, a dramatic hook to make the viewers come back next week to find out what happened next.

Even after technology made it possible for theaters to show a full-length film without interruption, the time frame and dramatic dynamics of the sequence has persisted. Why? Because, Gulino suggests, there are psychological factors at play in the viewing experience. "The notion of a feature film having eight parts [sequences] is, like all else in dramatic theory, tied to human physiology. The division of two hours into sequences of ten to fifteen minutes each also most likely speaks to the limits of human attention, i.e., without the variation in intensity that sequences provide, an audience may find itself fatigued or numbed rather than by what is on screen."

After a brief discussion of four major dramatic techniques to build and sustain audience interest within a sequence Gulino lays out a paradigm of 8 sequences superimposed on the 3 convential acts of a drama. The rest of the book consists of 11 chapters, each devoted to analyzing a particular film in the framework of the sequence paradigm. Salted among the chapters are sidebar discussions of various dramatic techniques and issues like exposition, character arc, motif, subplot, and reversals.

This reader found Gulino's discussion of two films particularly insightful: "Lawrence of Arabia" and "The Fellowship of the Ring". Upon first glance, these films might seem to be counterexamples of the paradigm. Gulino demonstrates that despite their extended viewing length, such is not the case. The average time for the 16 sequences into which Gulino divides "Lawrence of Arabia" is about 13 1/2 minutes. The thirteen sequences for the "The Fellowship" average a little over 13 minutes.

But in Gulino's judgement "Lawrence of Arabia" is an excellent example of a movie faithful to the dramatic dynamics of the sequence while "Fellowship of the Ring" is an example of a movie that fails. But, of course, "Fellowship of the Ring" was a commercial success. Go figure.

Overall, I found this an insightful and stimulating book.
37 internautes sur 41 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Gulino is a great coach for battered screenwriters 12 juillet 2004
Par Jim Macak - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Although I've had some success as a TV writer (with drama, sitcom, MOW and soap opera credits) I've never been able to crack the three-act structure commonly associated with screenwriting. For those like me, Paul Joseph Gulino's "Screenwriting: The Sequence Approach" is a godsend. He manages to cut that intimidating and unwieldy structure into much more manageable portions.
In the interest of full disclosure, I taught a TV writing course at Chapman University this spring where Gulino is a tenured professor. And I won't argue with those who might dismiss this review as influenced by that association. I can only point to my produced credits -- there's not a feature among them -- and my desire to write films (in addition to episodic TV) as justification for seeking out this book and embracing it. I strongly encourage others interested in screenwriting to do the same.
Gulino offers a thorough explanation of the eight-act sequence approach (pioneered by Frank Daniel at AFI, Columbia and USC) and an eclectic set of examples. His use of classic and contemporary features lets the reader reconsider and reconnect with some of these great films. Personally, I found this portion of the book an entertaining trek through the history of the craft. Along the way, Gulino also provides a concise and valuable summation of screenwriting techniques.
While beginners will benefit a great deal from this book, I think those who'll likely get the most out of it are those (again, like me) who've already wrestled with the standard screenplay structure -- and lost too many matches. Gulino is an encouraging coach with a different approach that makes a hellava lot of sense. Battered and bruised screenwriters will want to get back in the ring and try again.
60 internautes sur 69 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 One of the best books on screenwriting 5 juin 2004
Par Jeffrey L. Armbruster - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Presents a superb approach to writing a screenplay, or any long story. Much more natural than Syd Field, or, God forbid, overly-Dramatica. Sequences break a story into eight manageable, bite-sized chunks, like chapters, instead of trying to break it up into 3, very large and very intimidating acts (Aristotle's "beginning, middle, and end" -- what the hell does that mean? Aristotle's advice equally describes a story and an elephant. Useless). Each sequence addresses a specific dramatic question in your story (sub-questions of the full, 3 act story), sets up the question, builds the conflict and resolution, while increasing the dramatic tension toward your full-story climax. The book provides examples from known movies, and explains dramatic techniques you may not have read before. This is an excellent book. Goes deeper into story building than many other books. Too many writers seem to forget the 1st Commandment of story writing: seduce the reader/audience into wanting to know what happens next. That's it. That's the bottom line for story writing. Any writer or writing teacher who snubs their nose at the 1st Commandment is full of B.S. This book helps you focus on the 1st Commandment.
Two more books every story writer should have: "Advanced Writing," by Wells Earl Draughon, and "A Story is a Promise," by Bill Johnson.
21 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The answer to a lot of questions 14 août 2005
Par Riccardo Marchesini - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Gulino's book is one of the best screenwriting handbooks I've ever read. It's simple, clear and concise, providing a powerful tool that can help a screenwriter to engage an audience. The first chapter introduces the sequence concept and shows the four fundamental techniques used to capture the audience attention. In the following chapters the author uses the aforesaid tools to analyze eleven movies, covering six decades and various genres, and showing the effectiveness of the sequence method. Once you have learned the method, it's quite simple to apply a similar analysis on whichever movie you want.

As a screenwriter myself, I'm familiar with the traditional three-acts paradigm and the various writing techniques. In Gulino's book I found the anwers to three major questions I had about screenwriting:

- I noticed that all my favourites directors have the ability to create long, beautiful and well-structured scenes, or sequence of scenes sharing at least one unit of time, place, action. Classical directors like Kubrick, Hitchcock, Lean, Kurosawa and Leone all had these ability, so as Scorsese, Spielberg, Cameron and Tarantino. The sequence approach confirms this intuition and shows that it all happens in a more general way, that is dividing the whole screenplay in blocks that, just like short movies, have their own acts, protagonist and dramatic tension.

- Another classical feature is the ability to enrich and deepen the narration by shifting the thematic point of view from the protagonist to another character. Gulino's book shows that it's easily achieved building some of the movie's sequences around a character other than the protagonist. For example, in "Lawrence of Arabia" fourteen of the sixteen sequences are built around Lawrence, that is the movie's protagonist, showing us its dramatic needs, hopes and fears about the Arab cause. One of the remaining sequences is built around General Allenby and its efforts to persuade Lawrence to go back into the desert, so stating its strategical and military importance. In a further sequence the reporter Bentley serves as the protagonist, expressing the importance of Lawrence as a romantic figure and revealing the reporter's cynical point of view.

- The three-acts structure, and its further developments in Syd Field's work, is a paradigm independent of movie's length. Nonetheless, because of the way it has been developed, Field's theory seems to fit better in a canonical one-hundred-and-twenty pages screenplay, that is a two-hour movie. What about a two-and-a-half- or three-hour movie? Gulino shows that while the three acts are stretched to respect their canonical proportions, the sequences always retain a ten- to fifteen-minutes duration. This obviously means that a three-hour movie contains more sequences than a two-hour, proportionally distributed among the three acts, allowing the screenwriter to create a richer narration and explore more characters' points of view. With an exceptional length of three hours and thirty minutes, "Lawrence of Arabia" stretches the three acts respectively at fifty, one-hundred-and-twenty and forty-minutes, but the sequences are sixteen, that is twice the number of sequences contained in a one-and-a-half to two-hour movie.

In conclusion, I recommend this excellent book to anyone who is interested in movies & screenwriting.
49 internautes sur 59 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Nothing new here 8 septembre 2005
Par Leandro Howlin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I've bought the book without browsing through it, convinced by the so many excelent reviews it has.

If you've read a lot of books on writing/screenwriting you know there are lots of books out there repeating always the same vague concepts ("Raise the stakes!")

Mr. Giulino promises a new view of the story structure, away from Field's Three Act Structure. He calls it the Sequence Approach. In this view every every script is divided in 8 sequences (instead of 3 acts). But if you take a deep look, each sequence can be mapped to Field's paradigm. Divide the first Act in two. Divide the second Act in four (from TP1 to Pinch 1, Pinch 1 to Middle Point, MP to Pinch 2, Pinch 2 to TP2). And then divide the third act in two. There, you have the eight sequences. Easy, eh?

There could be more than that. Mr. Giulino could do that "new" structure and then discover a specific function for each sequence. This would be good. Well, it's not. What's the function of the third sequence? Raise the stakes. What about the fourth sequence? Raise the stakes even more, and increase tension. Well, thank you.

Moreover, less than 10 percent of the book is the theory, the rest being analysis of movies. And I even disagree with most of them.

Best advice: check it before buying it. The sequence approach is explained in three pages, and you can get a clear idea from them. If you still don't know, check his analysis of Toy Story!
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