A sequence is a self-contained portion of the entire story, usually about 10 to 15 minutes (pages) in length. With a clear beginning, middle, and end, each sequence has its own short-term tension (not the main tension, but related in some way) along with a central conflict that gives shape to the entire 10 -15 minutes.

When breaking down a film’s structure, generally speaking, “The Eight Sequences” framework is the standard: two in Act One, four in Act Two, and two in Act Three.

But the number 8 is only part of the equation. If the sequences are what shape a screenplay’s three-act structure, then the five major plot points are the building blocks behind sequence construction: Inciting Incident, Lock-In, Midpoint, Main Culmination, and Third Act Twist. 

Each analysis of selected features will break the film down to the essential parts of each of the 8 separate sequences (9 in specific genres) and 5 major plot points. 

Midnight Run (1988)

Midnight Run (1988) Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Comedy Movie Time: 126:15 SYNOPSIS:Jack Walsh, a bounty hunter in L. A., has a mission to find an escaped suspect: “Duke” and take him back in five days. Duke was the accountant of Jimmy Serrano, who was…

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Inception (2010)

Screenplay Genre: Action / Crime / Thriller Movie Time: 148 minutes Synopsis: A skilled extractor, Cobb, is employed by a very powerful man, to help break up his competitor’s company, by performing a job considered to be impossible – Inception.…

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Bridesmaids (2011)

Bridesmaids (2011) Screenplay Genre: Comedy Movie Time: 125 Minutes
Synopsis: Annie (Kristin Wiig) is the Maid of Honor in her best friend Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) wedding. She’s having a hard enough time getting her own life together, but when Lillian’s presumed new best friend Helen (Rose Byrne) usurps her Maid of Honor duties, Annie’s barely held together life is sent into a downward spiral.…

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The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) Movie Genre: Comedy / Drama Screenplay Time: 110 Minutes Synopsis: The Tenenbaums are a family split apart by the actions of the family head, Royal Tenenbaum. When Royal’s estranged wife is engaged to a new man twenty two years after their separation, Royal Tenenbaum sets forth a devious plot to win Etheline and his family back: By pretending to be dying. Sequence Note: As this story is told as if it is a novel, the Royal Tenenbaums in fact has 10 sequences: The traditional 8, plus a prologue and epilogue. Sub-Plot Note: Because the film is a true ensemble film, a great deal of screenplay time is set-aside for the Sub-Plot.…

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The Sixth Sense (1999)

Genre: Drama / Mystery / Thriller Movie Time: 107 Minutes Synopsis: After having a life altering confrontation with a former patient, child psychiatrist Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) has a new patient, Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) with an acute…

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The Princess Bride (1987)

Screenplay Genre: Adventure / Comedy / Fantasy / Family Movie Time: 98 Minutes Synopsis: Narrated by a Grandfather (Peter Falk) to his sick Grandson (Fred Savage), The Princess Bride is the story of true love between poor stable boy Westley (Cary Elwes) and farmer’s daughter Buttercup (Robin Wright). Thinking Westley murdered by pirates, thebeautiful Buttercup is chosen by the detestable Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) to be his bride. After she is kidnapped to start a war, it’s up to Westley (returning as the Dread Pirate Roberts) to save her. His quest to save his beloved Buttercup before she is married against her will to Humperdink is aided by a revengeful swordsman Inigo Montoya (Many Patinkin), towering giant Fezzik (Andre The Giant), and a disgruntled former miracle working employee of Humperdinck, Miracle Max (Billy Crystal).…

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Sideways (2004)

Sideways (2004) Screenplay Genre: Indie Comedy / Drama / Romance Movie Time: 126 minutes
Synopsis: Depressed writer Miles (Paul Giamatti) and aging actor Jack (Thomas Haden Church) take a trip through the California Wine Country the week before Jack’s wedding with two very different agendas. Jack wants to have one last fling before marriage and Miles wants to have a fun week with his best friend. Along the way they are detoured by waitress Maya (Virginia Madsen) and winery employee Stephanie (Sandra Oh). Through a series of comic incidents the two ultimately learn a lot about the nature of human relationships and the faults of each other.…

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Fight Club (1999)

Fight Club (1999) Screenplay Genre: Crime / Drama / Thriller Movie Time: 139 minutes Synopsis: Jack (Edward Norton) is going through a quarter-life crisis in his over-materialized, cookie-cutter apartment and working his dead-end job. He meets Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) and his world comes crashing down. Simultaneously, he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) on a plane during a business trip, and they end up starting a “Fight Club” together. As Fight Club evolves into a terrorist cell trying to bring down the world beyond Jack’s control, Jack also looses Marla’s affections to Tyler.…

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The Wizard of Oz (1939)

The Wizard of Oz (1939) Screenplay Genre: Adventure / Family / Fantasy Movie Time: 103 Synopsis: Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) is a young woman from Kansas who feels unappreciated. She runs away from home, but quickly decides that life on the road isn’t for her if she’s hurting her family. She heads back, but a whopper of a storm blows in and she’s knocked out in the resulting twister. Her dream takes her to a land “over the rainbow” called Oz, where she meets the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), Tin-Man (Jack Haley) and Cowardly Lion (Bret Lahr) on her journey to see the Wizard (Frank Morgan) who she believes will send her home. However, the Wicked Witch of the West (Margret Hamilton) is out to avenge her evil sister and kill Dorothy and her friends during their quest.…

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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) Screenplay Genre: Action / Adventure / Fantasy Movie Time: 143 minutes Synopsis:Elizabeth Swann (Keria Knightly) is in love with an orphan named Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) since she rescued him on her father’s ship as a child. She is captured by pirates looking for a magic coin to break an ancient curse. Will sets off with the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) to save her from the evil Captain Barabossa. Will and Jack chase her across the sea, and when they finally rescue her, the evil Pirates have set new sights on Will. Once they return him to the original island of the curse, it’s up to Jack to rescue Will and save his own skin.…

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