Screenwriting Structure – A FEW GOOD MEN – End Of Act 1 by Michael Hauge

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Michael Hauge: So all of this has brought us to the 10 percent point of the movie. About 10 minutes in, the movie altogether is about 2 hours and 10 minutes long if you take away the credits. So it’s very close to 120 to 130 minutes. So let’s just rough it out and say it’s 120 minutes long and we’ll divide the percentages by that. So somewhere around the 10 percent would be page 12. At page 10 (or at the 10 minute mark), (Lt. Daniel Kaffee – played by Tom Cruise) goes and is assigned this new case. He’s got to defend these guys who are accused of this crime at Guantanamo Bay and then right at 12 minutes, he goes and reports to (Lt. Cdr. JoAnne Galloway – played by Demi Moore). This is what I term Opportunity of the Movie. It is the first new thing that has happened to the hero. Everything we’ve seen up to this point is and must be the everyday life the hero is living and has been living for some time. He’s a hotshot attorney, he hasn’t been in the Navy very long, he’s very cynical, he doesn’t really care, he doesn’t follow the rules much. But this is who he has been for some time. But now there is this new event and that is, he’s assigned this case. He moves into now Stage 2. What I call a New Situation (some place that the hero has never been). And during this new situation, he has to figure “Okay, what is going on in this new world that I’ve created?” It’s a period of questioning. It’s a period of figuring out “What is expected of me here? What am I going to do? What’s my goal in this situation? How am I going to go about doing that?” and gradually formulate the goal that will drive through the story and start formulating a plan for it. But all of these next scenes are about him figuring this out.

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So he goes to Galloway and he gets more information about the Marine’s who’ve been accused and then they have this banter. And she’s very critical, very disappointed because he’s never been in a courtroom, she can tell he doesn’t care, he’s very cynical and so on. He goes into this meeting with (Lt. Sam Weinberg – played by Kevin Pollack) who is his best friend and has also just been assigned to this. We will come back to the characters of Galloway and Weinberg in just a little while because they both are what I call Reflection Characters.

But these two stages on this outer journey level take us up to the 1/4 mark. The end of Act 1. And at the end of Act 1, the 25 percent mark, it actually happens at the 35 minute mark (if you’re watching the video of this) they are going to leave for Guantanamo Bay. So it’s no longer about figuring out what they have to do. What he has to do is he has to defend and try to get either an acquittal (or what his initial goal is) a reduced sentence for these two guys who are accused of murder. Accused of murdering this other Marine by strangling him in his bed. So that is basically Stage 1 and Stage 2 as far as the outer journey are concerned.

Question for the Viewers: What are your thoughts on the set-up of A FEW GOOD MEN?


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