Let the cat die with the bananas…
It’s well known that “Save the Cat” is a book which has transformed the film industry. It has made the mystery of screenwriting something that is accessible to everyone. It has boiled down the sophisticated journey of the hero to easily bite sized chunks. By doing this it gets people that never thought they could ever write a script excited about screenwriting. That is a great gift Blake Snyder has bestowed on our craft. However, people have come to consider “Save the Cat” the defacto process of how to write a screenplay. And I have to say, they are wrong.
Personally I believe, Save the Cat is a nice intro to our very complicated and challenging world of screenwriting. But that’s where it stops. It’s the flashy trailer before you see the movie. It gets you interested but you don’t see the entire picture. Just the highlights. There is so much more to explore about our craft. From the deep characterization of Syd Field’s “Screenplay” and Robert McKee’s “Story” to the raw insight of Viki Kings “How to write a screenplay in 21 days.” I implore any save the catters out there to dip your toes in one of those books and watch your writing explode to a whole new level.
Now there is always the argument that I hear about how the book must not be flawed if the entire film industry has adopted its famous “beat sheet.” This reminds me of the Big Mike banana (I know what you’re thinking, stay with me.)
You see the bananas we eat today are not the ones that our grandparents ate. In the 1950’s it was the “Big Mike” banana. It was larger and more flavorful then the “Dwarven Cavendish” banana we eat today (I know, the names are weird). But they only bred that one type of banana which led it to be ravished by a fungus and completely wiped out of existence. So they had to come up with a different crop of banana one that is smaller and less flavorful.
Now size and flavor aside, I see this happening with screenwriting. If everyone adopts the same style and rules of screenwriting then our films “crops” will rot away which would be by the loss of ticket sales and more out of work writers. Food for thought.
Till next time…