I would be lying if I said we weren’t saving the best for last. This, the 10th tribute video we have produced, will be our last video tribute to the late Blake Snyder and his book Save The Cat!..and its a great one! Top Gun. It has been a real pleasure to put these video tributes together. If any of you reading this blog and watching our tribute videos ever have any questions about these videos or about Mediajuice in general, you can always reach us through our website at www.mediajuicestudios.com or you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org And of course you can always find Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat! book on his website.
OK, on to TOP GUN! Aside from being one of the best 80’s movies of all time, Top Gun’s story beats are the strongest we have seen from any of the movies we have broken down using Blake Snyder’s beat sheet. FYI; I do have some thoughts about the story beats in Top Gun but I am going to blog in less detail about Top Gun’s beats and let you all see them for what they are…well written, well structured story beats that reinforce the characters, the plot and the overall movie’s experience. Top Gun is an example of a story well told with tight structure that cleanly sets up and pays off each section of the movie. It’s great fun to watch; both as a fan and a writer / filmmaker.
The first beat I must mention is the SAVE THE CAT beat. It is so strong and does exactly what the STC! beat should do. It makes us like and respect Maverick (Tom Cruise’s character.) He risks his own life to save a fellow pilot, who gets spooked during an unexpected combat flight. Granted, he also risked the life of his co-pilot Goose, which conveniently setups the fact that he is also reckless and a loner (a key part of his character arc). The STC! moment also sets up the CATALYST of the film nicely. The only pilot better than Maverick (the pilot who was just spooked / saved by Maverick) quits because he’s “lost his edge”, leaving Maverick as the next choice for Top Gun flight academy. But, is Maverick truly ready? This question is posed in the DEBATE. Maverick’s captain, with no other options, sends Maverick & Goose to Miramar, the Top Gun flight school. BREAK INTO TWO is just that, Maverick and Goose travel into Act 2 when they head to Top Gun…and the FUN & GAMES are about to get started!
Just as Maverick & Goose arrive, naturally, a lady catches Maverick’s eye. This is our B STORY and its a great one. As Blake Snyder teaches, the B-story is a nice way for the intensity of the plot to cool down, to give the audience a break from everything that’s suppose to be happening to make the story move forward. The B-story (& b story characters) are also a useful tool in screenwriting to expose parts of the story that cannot be exposed by the A-characters. This is sometimes called “exposition” and its rarely tolerated by audiences if its delivered by an “A-story” character (without coming off as melodramatic that is.) So having a B-story to give exposition to what the main character or characters are going through is a useful tool for the screenwriter. Its well done in Top Gun.
And with those opening beats laid out, I’m going to leave you to watch the full Top Gun tribute video and see how the rest of the beats fall into place. If you have watched the previous 9 Save The Cat! tribute videos you should be at a point where you can loosely follow the story beats in a film and have them make sense to you. After “realizing” the way beats are used in all movies and how setups and payoffs are an essential part of storytelling, you’ll find watching movies a whole new experience. So with this, our last STC! tribute video, for any of you interested in screenwriting or just knowing more about how movies are really written, I leave you with this challenge – Read Save The Cat! and start looking for the beats in your favorite movies (new and old.) I do it all the time and it not only makes me a better filmmaker, its just a heck of alot of fun. May Blake Snyder rest in peace and may his innovative teachings in Save The Cat! live on and on and on…
all the best,