Wednesday, September 26, 2012

TODAY'S NUGGET: Almost Famous (2000) - The "Do or Die" Moment

[Quick Summary: A precocious 15 y.o. teen struggles between being a Rolling Stones journalist and a friend when he hits the road with the 1970s band Stillwater.]

Hurrah! Your protagonist is one step from a turning point.

Now don't screw it up. [Yeah, I'm talking you, writers.]

Don't make that last step too big (ex. William suddenly gets superpowers.)

Or too small (ex. William fails to speak up, thus ending the story early.)

In this script, Cameron Crowe does a nice job of escalating the stakes, which sets up that last step and gives it extra punch.

ex.  William stands at the backstage door of his first assignment.

The bouncer won't let him in (attempt #1).

Super-groupie Penny Lane helps William, but still no success (attempt #2).

Finally the band arrives, and rejects his plea for an interview

William, now emboldened, blurts out his heartfelt understanding of the band's music (last step).

This last step is the right size because:

- William takes action
- It pushes the story forward (what will happen next?)
- It's realistic that he'd go for it, since he's tried twice

WHAT I'VE LEARNED:  The last step before a turning point is the "do or die" moment.

Almost Famous (2000)
Written and directed by Cameron Crowe

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