Recommendation: BeatSheetCentral

 *Note: Sites and services that I choose to recommend do not compensate me for my recommendation. These are simply resources that I have found helpful.*

I discovered this site today while looking for articles about how to beat out a script. It’s called beatsheetcentral.com and its simply a collection of user-generated beat sheets for famous movies and television shows.

You can search through the site’s content and try to find beat sheets for films similar to the one you’re trying to pen. Seeing the written structure of a film and trying to pick out for yourself where the inciting incident, the act breaks, the midpoint, the climax, etc. fall can be extremely informative when trying to create a structure for your own story.

Here are a few words from the site’s creator:

A few notes on what I consider a proper beat sheet:

  • It should contain every scene of the film, and say fully what happens in each scene.
  • It should be concisely written and easily readable.
  • Each scene should be its own paragraph, and be numbered for easy reference.

I should make this clear: I do not believe that there is a formula for creating commercially or critically successful films. I believe they come from, in the words of Norman Mailer, “experience filtered through the prism of memory.”

It’s almost an obvious tautology, but I’ll say it plain: if there was a method to all this, studios would never buy spec scripts, they’d just have staff writers. And indie films wouldn’t exist.

Also, you’d just see the same movie over and over. Sure, that happens, but the audience is smart, and getting smarter by the minute as we all now consume so much of this good stuff. The bar is being raised. It’s time for us to clear it. We all want more.

Looking back on how our betters did things in the past should be a road map for the future. I think it’s “form, not formula” to quote somebody smarter than me (Robert McKee– NO. Maybe Linda Seeger.) So I really hope you use the force for good, and further improve the theater of ideas… But this is all getting a little academic, so I’ll try to remember:

This site is about making great movies and shows. They all start with the beat sheet.

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