The page 30 blahs

Posted on September 6 2010 by James

Having finished the treatment for the first act of Shocking the Donkeys, we now stand on the threshold of what some writers call “the page 30 blahs”.


Symi, a Greek island

This is a fascinating phenomenon that only applies to screenplay writers of feature movies and when I first read the phrase I said “that’s me!”

To explain: if a 120-minute movie consists of 120 pages of screenplay (which it’s supposed to do) then Act 2 should start around page 30 in the script.

Now most screenplay writers start out with a good idea of how the movie begins, how it ends, and roughly what happens in the middle. They usually steam through the first act with the white heat of creativity and stand triumphantly on the threshold of Act 2 ready to forge ahead.

And that’s where it all starts to go horribly wrong. Suddenly, they’re faced with this vast empty desert of 60 minutes (60 pages) of Act 2, and they don’t know how they’re going to fill it. Apparently, this happens to virtually every screenwriter at least some of the time, if not all of the time.

And that’s why some clever spark coined the phrase “the page 30 blahs”. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. The great danger is you get panicked into filling those 60 pages with a whole series of incidents that have little to do with driving the plot or developing theme or character – just to reach the other side of this desert.

Fortunately, this isn’t happening with Shocking the Donkeys. In fact, it’s almost the reverse. We’ve structured this so deeply over the last few months that our problem is going to be squeezing it all in to those 60 pages.

Which is to say that we’re already steaming ahead with mapping out the first dozen or so scenes in Act 2 and Menni and Petros are starting to lock horns.

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