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Breaking It All Down


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I'm posting the two breakdowns I did for the most recent episodes of Stargate: SG-1, and Stargate: Atlantis. These are nothing more than maps that show me how long each scene lasted and my best guest as to which thread (A/B/C) the scene served. Someone may find them useful; I did. I know the pacing really well now and Exile is going to burn bright because of it.

They look essentially like this:
Act 1
scene 1, conference room (a story): 7:01-8:43
scene 2, landrys office, vala should go with us (b/c story): 8:43-10:36
scene 3, vala needs a nut case test/time to go (b/c story): 10:36-11:29
The first scene of the first act starts just about seven minutes into the episode, so these numbers take commercials into account without including them. I was quite surprised by the fact that both SG1 and SGA are now using a five act structure. I really hate this because the only reason they are doing it is to fit more commercials in, and both shows are now shorter because of it.

There are variations of structure at play out there. A teaser, four acts and a tag; A teaser and four acts; Four acts and a tag; A teaser and five acts, etc. You can tell both Stargates have gone to five acts by two indicators: what would normally be the tag is now of equal length to the four acts, and the story isn't resolved at the end of the fourth act.

I really don't like this. It gives you less time to do things in each act which forces each scene to be shorter. In my SGA spec Exile, the first scene of the first act is five pages long, and the act is running long at 14.5 pages. In Misbegotten it looks like virtually every scene is 2-pages long. Now I'm looking at having to cut my scene down to two pages, and the act down to 10 or less. Why are they even bothering with a one hour drama when 32% of the one hour is now commercial adverts? Why not just make it a half hour show since it's literally only 10 minutes from being that long.

Stupid.
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Jul 26, 2006, 11:15:00 PM
...but it's the reality - I remember when shows began to shift from 4 acts to the 5 act or teaser + four acts + tag structure and it was a real adjustment, but you find a way to make it work.


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The text of this article is Copyright © 2006,2007 Paul William Tenny. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Attribution by: full name and original URL. Comments are copyrighted by their authors and are not subject to the Creative Commons license of the article itself.