The Big Event is the first main plot point out of three. The final plot point is the resolution of the conflict, at the end of the film. The middle plot point signals a change in the course of the story, where the main character is on the final path to the resolution. The Big Event gets the main character off the couch as they say. He or she has to address the conflict in some way. In the Lord of the Rings, Frodo has to leave the shire to return the ring so it can be destroyed. In Casablanca, Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) walks into Ricks Bar (Humphrey Bogart) creating a conflict between these two characters based on their backstories which we learn about as we watch the film. In Back to the Future, Marty McFLy (Michael J. Fox) is transported in time back to 1955 by accident where he discovers that he has to get his parents to fall in love, or he will cease to exist.
For a short film, the big event has to come fast, in most cases, in the first minute. Imagine we write a short film about a salesclerk who is unhappy with her life in general and miserable with her job. A short conversation with another character can easily set this up. Then something happens that sets her off and gets her blood boiling. Perhaps a customer goes ballistic over something stupid, or her boss walks by and criticizes her in a condescending fashion about something insignificant. That’s all it takes to get her motivated to do something about her inner conflict. What will she do… what happens next? A strong emotional reaction is all that is needed to grab the attention of your audience, get them caring about your main character, and wondering how this will all work out in the end. Creating a situation that gets your main character worried, frightened, or outright angry is a simple way to create a powerful big event that charges up the emotional batteries of your audience. You will use that energy to keep the attention of your audience all the way to the end of your film, so charge it up good!
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