What’s Beat Sheet Central?
I’m a screenwriter and a director, and I made this site for myself.
Often when I’m writing a film or teleplay, I like to go back and look at movies and TV shows in similar genres and see how they are constructed.
After a little while in the business, many writers come to agree that a movie or TV episode is all in the structure. That is to say– what happens in each scene.
Many writers work from something alternatively called a step outline, treatment, or beat sheet. I like beat sheet. The sheet describes the entire movie from start to finish, and breaks it into beats, or scenes. These are the key components that form the script.
The point of this site is to collect beat sheets for every movie and TV episode, generated by you, the users, by watching the pieces and writing down exactly what happens. I’ve kicked the site off with 20 beat sheets I’ve made myself. And to those of you brilliant women and men who wrote any produced movies, would you please share your beat sheets here, too?
A few notes on what I consider a proper beat sheet:
- It should contain every scene of the film, and say fully what happens in each scene.
- It should be concisely written and easily readable.
- Each scene should be its own paragraph, and be numbered for easy reference.
I should make this clear: I do not believe that there is a formula for creating commercially or critically successful films. I believe they come from, in the words of Norman Mailer, “experience filtered through the prism of memory.”
It’s almost an obvious tautology, but I’ll say it plain: if there was a method to all this, studios would never buy spec scripts, they’d just have staff writers. And indie films wouldn’t exist.
Also, you’d just see the same movie over and over. Sure, that happens, but the audience is smart, and getting smarter by the minute as we all now consume so much of this good stuff. The bar is being raised. It’s time for us to clear it. We all want more.
Looking back on how our betters did things in the past should be a road map for the future. I think it’s “form, not formula” to quote somebody smarter than me (Robert McKee– NO. Maybe Linda Seeger.) So I really hope you use the force for good, and further improve the theater of ideas… But this is all getting a little academic, so I’ll try to remember:
This site is about making great movies and shows. They all start with the beat sheet.
Good luck, and Happy Beating!
P.S. Please note the Terms before posting.