Before we leap into this first section, I want to make sure we’re all on the same page about INCITING INCIDENTS. At Disney, Ron Clements and John Musker used to send DVD’s to my office with notes to watch certain scenes. They wanted me to break them down, figure out what made them work and then apply those tools to whatever movie we were working on. I’ve embraced this method over the years so I’ll pass it on to you. So, let’s do some of our own film study. Fire up iTunes, scrub through to the 10 – 12 minute mark of a few of your favorite movies, identify the INC/INC’s and see what makes them great.
Here are my 4:
- THE INCREDIBLES
- Because of Mr. Incredible’s actions, there’s a public outcry that eventually leads to it being made illegal to be a superhero. Now Bob has to go undercover.
- TOY STORY
- When Andy is given a Buzz Lightyear toy for his birthday, Woody is swept off the bed in favor of this newer, cooler toy. Now he has to scrape and claw to regain his status as “favorite toy.”
- FINDING NEMO
- Marlin’s overprotectiveness goes one step too far and prompts Nemo into an act of defiance that leads to his kidnapping. Now Marlin has to brave the terrors of the ocean in order to save his son.
- STAR WARS
- Luke Skywalker buys R2D2 who needs his help to deliver a message to Obi Wan Kenobi. When Luke meets Obi and hears Princess Leia’s message it propels him on an adventure of heroism and spiritual awakening.
Here’s what I see:
1) In 2 of the 4, the protagonist directly causes the INC/INC. So let’s set that aside for now.
2) In 3 of the 4, the INC/INC takes away the thing the protagonist loves the most… so let’s call that a principle.
3) In all 4, the INC/INC points to events that don’t resolve themselves until Act Three… so let’s write that down.
4) STAR WARS is the exception in 2 of these cases. The INC/INC basically falls into the protagonist’s lap. It works so that’s another approach we can take.
Now that we know what an Inciting Incident is we can build to it next week and fill in the first four sequences of our Writer’s Guide.
Until then, list some of your favorite Inciting Incidents below and see if you can come up with your own “unified theories.” Or jump back and re-read the post about those first 5 beatsMake sure to comment in the comment section. The best way to learn this stuff is to put yourself out there.
In the meantime, Click Here for the answers from last week’s quiz.