While Get Repped Now is humming along (will YOU be our second consider?), we’ll be continuing our journey through screenplay structure by examining the turn into Act Two. In case you’ve missed our previous columns about setup, inciting incident, and the hero refusing the call, you can find them on our blog.
Act Two is where your protagonist embraces the mission they were given. It usually happens somewhere between pages 20 and 30. In the olden days, 30 was the norm. But the days of the 120-page spec scripts are gone. Nowadays, page 25 is the norm, and for certain genres like horror, it may even be closer to page 20.
The inciting incident monkey-wrenched the protagonist’s life, and ignoring it hasn’t worked. The only choice left for them is to grasp the bull by the horns and try to deal with what life has thrown at them.
Okay, I’m suddenly on an alien planet or chased by a stalker or in the midst of a hostage crisis. Or I’ve walked out on my marriage and am single for the first time in twenty years. Or I’ve moved to a major metropolis after spending my life in a small town. Or I’ve switched jobs and my lower middle-class self is suddenly surrounded by rich, posh snobs.
Usually the Act Two world of the protagonist is known as “the new world.” The world that’s diametrically opposed to what’s come before.
The first part of Act Two is usually your protagonist finding their sea legs in this whole new world (which is why that’s often where your trailer moments come from). They try to fit in, learn the rules of this world, and make a shit-ton of mistakes while working to achieve their goal and also usually meeting some new allies that try to show them the ropes.
Let’s face it, we’ve all been there: moved to a new place, started a new job, went away to college. Draw from those experiences and emotions and make it feel like a significant change in your protagonist’s life. They’re out of their comfort zone and have to find their way forward.
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