Friday, September 25, 2009

Break It Down - Flash Forward Pilot Script


Yesterday I finally got off my butt and reviewed the Flash Forward pilot script. Tomorrow I'm going to do a Script to Screen and talk about some of the changes made between page and the finished pilot that aired last night. There weren't too many, but I did find one change very interesting.

Episode 101 - No More Good Days

Short Description


Everyone in the world blacks out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds, during which each person sees what is happening 6 months into their future. In the aftermath, they must deal with the repercussions of what they saw and try to figure out what happened and why... and maybe... who caused it.

Story Threads

A-story - The Investigation/Mark's FF
B-story - Mark and Olivia
C-story - Olivia/FF
D-story - Dominic/FF
E-story - Bryce/FF
F-story - Aaron/FF
G-story - Nicole/FF

I find this somewhat difficult to break down in the usual way, because arguably the A-story is the event itself, and it doesn't occur until the end of the first act. You could also argue that Mark's story is simply his FF and the investigation, and the story I've labeled "Mark and Olivia" should be with her FF, but I'm separating it this way for now...

Length and Breakdown

Act I - 12 pages, 12 scenes
Act II - 8 pages, 5 scenes
Act III - 11 pages, 7 scenes
Act IV - 11 pages, 5 scenes
Act V - 8 pages, 4 scenes
Act VI - 8 pages, 5 scenes

38 scenes in 58 pages. At first glance, it appears that Flash Forward has the opposite structure of most shows, throwing you into the action with a bunch of quick scenes, then slowing down for the rest of the show. In some respect, I guess that's true (there are quite a few longer scenes after Act I where the main characters are puzzling out what happened and dealing with the repercussions of their flash forwards), but 12 scenes in 12 pages is deceiving for Act I. The reason there are so many scenes is because Goyer and Braga decide to reveal character to us by showing actions rather than using dialogue-heavy scenes, which naturally just take longer on the page.

The scenes are organized as follows:

A-story - The Investigation/Mark's FF (16 beats/scenes)
B-story - Mark and Olivia (12 beats/scenes)
C-story - Olivia/FF (5 beats/scenes)
D-story - Dominic/FF (3 beats/scenes)
E-story - Bryce/FF (3 beats/scenes)
F-story - Aaron/FF (3 beats/scenes)
G-story - Nicole/FF (3 beats/scenes)

What's interesting to me is the economy of the smaller stories. Four of them with only 3 beats! And for once I actually feel pretty good about the way I've labeled the letters. The investigation definitely feels most important, followed by the general scenes about Mark and Olivia's relationship; secondary to those general relationship scenes is Olivia's FF and the people connected to that... and then so on and so forth for the other stories. What's great is that the number of times we come back to each story backs up that feel. Awesome!

Act I - B, B, B, F, F, E, G, D, A, A, A, A
Act II - A, E, G, A, A
Act III - A/B, B/C, A, C, A, A, A
Act IV - A, B, A/B/D, A, C/E
Act V - G, B, F/B, D
Act VI - B, B/C, C, A, B

(Note: where beats include a / mark, this means that the scene has elements of both stories. In the scene/beat count above, every appearance of A, B, C and so on is counted as one full beat rather than a half, even if there is a slash mark.)

45 story beats. In 38 scenes. For the most part, each story gets to live on its own, especially in Act I, where it seems more important because we're just being introduced to this world and these characters. Also, the beats reflect the way I felt about the opening as well -- you meet these characters in their normal lives and just start to get to know them a little bit and get invested (all the B and below storylines you see dominating Act I) when WHAM! this huge event changes everything (represented in the four A-story beats to end Act I).

Pretty cool stuff. Tomorrow (or Monday, maybe?) I compare the script to what actually aired. And I've gotta say, reading over it again today to do this breakdown, more changed than I actually realized...

1 comment:

v.c.cassidy said...

Hey just wondering where you found the script. i'm trying to get a hold of it to study in a screen adaptation class im taking