Review: Screenwriting: The Sequence Approach by Paul J Gulino

Sequence Approach The first thing that struck me about this book is how very readable it is – the style is incredibly accessible and occasionally, in the film sequence-breakdowns, laugh-out-loud cheeky (though I loved The Fellowship of the Ring, after reading chapter 12, I would kill for his assessment of The Two Towers but that’s just the old FOMEr* in me!)

The Sequence approach is apparently the approach taught at UCLA (where Gulino is a lecturer) and represents a refreshing change and, to my mind, a more natural approach than the 3 Act Structure though it is by no means exclusive of it. The theory is clearly and succinctly outlined in the first 19 pages then demonstrated by the breakdown into sequences of eleven films: Toy Story, the simple fact is that the script for Toy Story is one of the better ones written during the last century; The Shop Around the Corner; Double Indemnity; Nights of Cabria; North by Northwest; Lawrence of Arabia; The Graduate; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; Air Force One; Being John Malkovich and; The Fellowship of the Ring.

Believe it or not, that’s all I have to say about this book except to recommend it highly to anyone suffering Act 2 malaise – the sequence approach is likely to give you the lateral jump needed to see your way out of that rutt. Of course, this book is also a great excuse to revisit some old favourites, after all we are screenwriters – watching movies is work.

Click here to see James Bonnet’s article "What’s Wrong With The Three Act Structure" (Beginners: only read this if you have grasped 3 Act Structure and – this article is not an excuse for not knowing it!)

*FOME Fellowship of the Middle Earth – The Monash U. Tolkien appreciation society (the most welcoming bunch of people ever to inhabit the Southwest corner of the caf.) of which I was a happy member – it was the only club I joined other than the Choir. Yes, I was/am a bit of a geek!

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