When thinking about screenplay structure, the midpoint can sometimes be hard to nail down. But knowing the purpose of a midpoint and making sure your screenplay has one will make you a more effective scriptwriter. In this article, we will discuss the midpoint using examples from produced screenplays. Let’s dive right in!
WHAT IS A MIDPOINT?
The midpoint is quite literally the middle of the screenplay, but more importantly it's the moment where the protagonist shifts in their goals that carry us through the climax and resolution of the story. Think of the midpoint as the point of no return. It can either be the highest of highs of the lowest of lows. It can be a false victory or a rock bottom, but either way it forces the protagonist to redirect and either recommit to their goal or create an entirely new goal due to the current circumstances. Now, let’s look at some examples of midpoints featuring produced screenplays from our Screenplay Vault. Spoilers ahead.
MIDPOINT EXAMPLES FROM PRODUCED SCREENPLAYS
In FRIDAY, the midpoint occurs when the protagonist, Craig, is temporarily kicked out of his home when his family learns that he may be in danger for owing money to Big Worm. Craig must decide if he wants to lay low or risk getting back the money that was stolen from him by DeeBo (the antagonist). Craig losing his job and having the Friday off is the inciting incident of the screenplay that creates the goal to simply have a good Friday. This is complicated when his best friend Smokey talks him into getting high on his own supply, leaving both he and Smokey owing Big Worm or paying for the weed with their lives. Back at the midpoint, Craig is at his rock bottom with nowhere to go and is redirected to the new goal of surviving the night.
GET OUT’s midpoint is when the protagonist, Chris Washington, learns that his girlfriend’s family is actually out to harm him, and instead of sticking around to find out, he decides to flee but is ultimately captured. Chris' initial goal is to make a good impression on Rose's family. He chooses to ignore the signs throughout his uncomfortable journey until he has proof at the midpoint that they are planning to steal his body and replace his consciousness with someone else’s. His goal to make a good impression is now urgently redirected to the goal to survive and escape.
The midpoint in PRECIOUS occurs after the protagonist, Precious, has been kicked out of her home and she and her newborn are nearly killed by the hands of her own mother. It is at this point that Precious reaches her rock bottom. At the start of the screenplay, Precious’ goal is to survive the tumultuous relationship with her Mother. While she is mandated to attend the alternative school, she does not take it seriously because she believes she is stupid because of the constant barrage of insults from her mother. Once Precious hits rock bottom, she is redirected to the new goal of taking her education seriously by getting her GED and being a better mother to her new baby.
Want to dissect more produced screenplays? Then be sure to check out our Screenplay Vault for more #FreeGame. Happy reading!
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Written by TPP Story Expert Khadija Roane