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Sometimes, you can have a whole idea for a film but you don’t know how to organize it at all. To solve this, the film writers generally build their scripts based on the Three Acts structure. The technique is inspired by Aristotle’ theories, the ancient Greek philosopher, and it’s very simple.
Every story has a beginning, middle and end. An ACT 1, ACT 2 and ACT 3. Different kind of events happen in each section.
• ACT 1 exposes the story’s world. It introduces the characters, their goals and helps the audience to understand each particular role in the story. In La La Land (2016), for example, there are two main characters, Mia and Sebastian. They both live in Los Angeles, CA, USA. She has the goal to become a successful actress in the Hollywood industry. Meanwhile, his dream is to open his own Jazz club.
• ACT 2 shows how the conflict between the protagonists increases.
In ACT 2, Mia and Sebastian fall in love with each other. The audience can see how Mia is not succeeding in being an actress. On the other hand, Sebastian starts to play for the band of his old friend, which is very successful, but he doesn’t really like the music he’s playing. He finds allies, has both successful and bad moments, and those events lead him into a hopelessness point in his life. Mia is also busy every day due to the rehearsals for her new drama story, while Sebastian is always on tour with the band so they can never see each other. They argue and Mia goes back to her hometown in Nevada, heartbroken because she couldn’t succeed.
• ACT 3 presents the climax of the film. In a lot of scripts which follow the “hero’s journey”, this part is equivalent with the time when the hero has to fight against the biggest threat. At this part, the audience will finally discover if the protagonist achieves or not its goals. Usually, in most Hollywood films, they do.
In ACT 3, Sebastian travels to Mia’s hometown and convinces her to return to Los Angeles so she can go to an important audition. She does it and achieves her goal. Then, 5 years later, we can see that Sebastian opened his Jazz Club and Mia became a successful actress.
In the end, the three acts structure is just a guideline. A lot of films don’t use these steps to organize their stories. We can find this variation in a lot of independent films, but also in Hollywood. Christopher Nolan, for example, uses a particular way to create his films that can be a little bit tricky. He applies many time puzzles and non-chronological order storytelling, two techniques that allow him to make even the simpler of stories (like Memento), more interesting and incredible, always with a lot of great plot twists along the film.

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