Foundation Of Story by Michael Hauge – 6 Stage Plot Structure



Film Courage:  Hollywood films are built on three components?  Character, desire and conflict?

Michael Hauge:  Yes, they are!

Film Courage:  Okay, so Hollywood films [are built on this].  Any other types of films?  [How about] Art house films…we talked about briefly off camera?  Do the same rules apply, but maybe it’s just different?

Michael Hauge:  Well in that case there is nothing different at all and we’re not just talking about movies.  That’s the foundation of story.  Any story.  You can talk about an epic poem?  You can talk about a fairy tale or children’s book.  It’s all built on character desire and conflict.  Every story that I can think of, if it’s a narrative story, that has a beginning, middle and an end, is going to be about a character who desperately wants something and something stands in their way.

Film Courage:  And you say the desire moves the story along but what we actually resonate with is conflict?

Michael Hauge:  I’m saying the conflict is more responsible for the emotion that is illicit because…well let me put it this way and give an example of a movie.  Well let’s say I said to you let’s go to a movie this weekend.  And you say “Well what are we going to see?”  I heard about this movie and it’s about a guy who want to make a speech.  Well chances are (even though I know you’re into art house movies), you are probably going to say “Yeah, but what else is playing? Watching a guy give a speech, you can do that on TV and be bored to tears anytime.”  It’s a story about a guy who wants to give a speech and he happens to be a prince in Great Britain who has a horrid speech impediment, who was abused as a child, and has no desire for the throne but then has to become King when his brother abdicates and the speech he wants to give is going to be the speech that leads his country into World War II.  Now it’s not only sounding intriguing, it’s sounding like it could be an Oscar-winner because all of those things I just said were all of the conflict he faces in trying to give a speech.  It’s not giving that speech that makes the story exciting, emotional, appealing or commercial.  It’s the obstacles he has to overcome to do that.

Film Courage:  Let’s take desire, so in something like FATAL ATTRACTION, which I know is an extreme version of desire.  The desire is not really what is moving the story along?  It’s conflict in terms of…

Michael Hauge:  No…no…desire is moving it forward but you  have to pinpoint what is…first of all, who is the hero in the movie?  The hero is the Michael Douglas character, okay?  And at the set-up he’s restless and not a very moral character and then as the opportunity he meets Glen Close (I don’t remember the character’s name) and he has an affair with her and starts doing that.  So somewhere around the one quarter mark I think he’s already gone to bed with her, but then we see that she might be a little more possessive than he was anticipating.  And gradually the more her craziness and possessiveness and psychosis starts coming to the fore, the more he wants to get away from her and finally stop her from terrorizing him and his family.  So actually his outer motivation is to stop the crazy woman he slept with from terrorizing or destroying his family.  And if you realize that the goal is to stop her, then his desire to do that pushes that story forward.  Now admittedly it’s her actions that he must react to or are moving things forward just as much.  So he’s reactive more than proactive in a way but what we’re rooting for is for him to get away from this crazy woman before everything goes KABOOM.  Even though we know he made a big mistake we still are rooting for him.


Question for the Viewers:  What’s the best movie you’ve seen this year?


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



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Looking for the Next Lights, Camera, Save! Winner

The American Bankers Association Foundation knows how much teens love to talk about money, or at least their grandiose plans to spend it. Getting students to think critically about their spending habits and understand the importance of saving, however, often poses challenges. That’s why each fall the Foundation holds its annual Lights, Camera, Save! teen video contest. The contest is meant to inspire students to think about what saving means to them while communicating it in a way that speaks to their peers. Students can participate by submitting their short, up to 90 second, savings videos to banks in their area that host a contest. The 2016-2017 contest, open to students between the ages of 13-18, will run from Oct. 1 – Dec. 1. Thanks to this year’s generous sponsor, Discover Debit, the Foundation will award cash prizes of $1,000, $2,500, and $5,000 to three national winners. Additionally, three educator scholarships to the 2017 National Jump$tart Educator Conference will be granted to the top three winning schools. Winners announced March 1, 2017. To view previous winners, learn more about the contest and get participation details, visit