Screenwriting: Stage vs Turning Point by Michael Hauge

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Film Courage: Can you help us determine a Stage versus a Turning Point [regarding the six-state plot structure for screenwriting]?

Michael Hauge: Yes. Basically a Stage is a sequence of events in the story. It covers a span of time. A Turning Point is a single event that happens to the hero. So a stage would be, we meet the hero, the hero is living their everyday life. We maybe meet the villain in the piece. We meet other characters, the best friend, something like that or in stage two she arrives at this new job, if that is her new situation, we meet the boss, she has some problems, she has co-workers, she meets the guy who is going to be the romance character or the love interest. Those are the stages, they are sequences of events but the opportunity is going to be a single event that happens to her such as (in that example I just made up) the opportunity would be she gets the new job. Ok? Or the change of plans would be she is told she can have a promotion if she can design a new house for a billionaire and so her goal in the movie becomes to design a house for a billionaire. By the way, I’m making these examples up that’s why that would be a terrible movie…so anyone listening to this don’t take that as an example of a good idea you should pursue. I shouldn’t make stuff up off the top of my head.

Watch the full series with Michael Hauge on Youtube here

Let’s take an example from a real movie, one of my favorites this year, Jason Bourne. O.k. stage one we see him. He’s down in Turkey I think? Or the border of Turkey? He earns money by getting into fights and knocking these British guys out. He’s obviously unhappy and we see that he’s just sort of stuck in this identity of a guy who has no home, no connection and no real identity in the traditional sense. He doesn’t really know who he is. Is he Jason Borne or is he really the guy who became Jason Bourne and so on? So all of that is a sequence. It’s a whole series of events that’s a stage and we cut away from him during that stage and see the Julia Stiles character and she breaks in to this facility that the CIA runs or the NSA or whatever it is and she steals these things. We don’t know why. That’s a stage. It’s a whole lot of scenes strung together. The opportunity is a single event. He’s in this fight and he sees she shows up in his life and is coming to him and now he’s in a new situation. What am I going to do now that this woman from my past who knows the truth of who I am, who I apparently had an affair with once before I lost my memory and so on? What am I going to do? And so now it’s a new sequence of events. She tells him what’s going on they have to go on the run from a guy. She has to give him the flashlight, etc. and we see new villains and we see what’s going on a the NSA as they try and stop him. So again, a Stage is a sequence of events. A Turning Point is a single event that happens to the hero.

QUESTION: What is the first turning point in the last movie you saw?


To immediately get your free copy of Michael Hauge’s 6-Stage Structure Chart, just go to


The Complete Guide To Turning Story Concepts Into Movie and Television Deals

Watch the first half of Michael Hauge and Mark W. Travis Film Courage series here on Youtube



Check out Michael’s Book
‘Writing Screenplays that Sell’

Watch the second half of Michael Hauge and Mark W. Travis Film Courage series here on Youtube








Watch Surviving Skokie on Vimeo here

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Find out more here!

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The project is open for submissions until February 23rd, 2017 at 4:00PM PST. There are $25,000 in cash awards available to the top 10 videos that will be chosen by Nickelodeon.