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Development of a fundamental '19-Sequence Model' of screenplay and narrative film structure

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Abstract:

To understand the utility and value of sequences in the construction of screenplay narratives and the emotional experiences of audiences, I developed and utilized composite definitions of 'sequence' and 'scene' to quantify the sequence content of 133 feature-length Hollywood-style and independent films made between 1941 and 2010 that were produced in the United States, Great Britain, Russia, Germany and Japan. The 3-Act Model was used as familiar reference points. I also contrasted the results to Frank Daniels' 8-Sequence Model as described by Gulino. I argue the results directly support a fundamental 19-Sequence Model of screenplay and film narrative structure. I propose that sequences expand vicarious and empathic emotional experiences of audiences into 'contextual emotional meaning', where significant autonomous emotions are generated that create the enjoyable and satisfying experience of what the story means to both the characters and viewer.

Keywords: 3-Act Model; quantitative analysis; scene; screenplay; sequence; structure

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/josc.3.2.215_1

Affiliations: Ph.D., MSW

Publication date: February 9, 2012

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  • The Journal of Screenwriting aims to explore the nature of writing for the moving image in the broadest sense, highlighting current academic thinking around scriptwriting whilst also reflecting on this with a truly international perspective and outlook. The journal will encourage the investigation of a broad range of possible methodologies and approaches to studying the scriptwriting form, in particular: the history of the form, contextual analysis, the process of writing for the moving image, the relationship of scriptwriting to the production process and how the form can be considered in terms of culture and society. The journal also aims to encourage research in the field of screenwriting, the linking of scriptwriting practice to academic theory, and to support and promote conferences and networking events on this subject.
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