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What is the Middle All About?

Updated: Apr 25

The Middle

  • · Develop the conflict

  • · Increase the tension with a roller coaster ride of emotions

  • · The Crisis (2nd main plot point)



The middle of a film, the conflict develops, using specific scenes to focus on different aspects of the conflict. This sets up a roller coaster ride of emotions that pull the audience into the story. While these may seem frustrating to watch, as the conflict only worsens, each scene is useful for either developing a character or for setting up plot twists (or both). These also increase the tension and help get the audience more interested in the final outcome.


The end of the middle comes with the Crisis, the second main plot point. This is usually referred to as the crisis, and it helps guide the story into the final resolution. In Casablanca, Rick arranges for Ilsa to fly to America with him – but it is a ruse to help Ilsa escape with her husband. In Back to the Future, Marty is running out of time to escape back to the future, and he has to get his father to man-up and fend off the bully who is attacking his mother.


For a short film, again, the elements in the middle can move much faster than in a full-length feature film. Indeed, they must! The conflict can be developed in two or three short scenes, filmed in the same location, featuring only a couple of extra characters. In our imaginary film about the store clerk, she might talk to a co-worker as she gathers her things and shares an experience that explains how she feels about the situation. Perhaps she is lazy and knows she needs to change, or perhaps she is not lazy and is just the victim of an arrogant boss.


In a short film, the crisis should come very quickly, after only a few scenes. With our store clerk, she may find the courage to confront her boss and defend herself as being a hard worker, or she may decide that she needs to find another job, one that she loves and is naturally good at. That sets up the resolution which comes in the ending of the film.


Consider joining us for our Summer Film Class and take a deep dive into the art and science of filmmaking. You will work as part of a team, creating, producing, filming, and editing our 2022 Student Film. You will be listed in the film credits, and you can bring your family and friends to the premier, which we will hold at the Star Cinema Grill at the end of the summer.


Learn more at about our 2022 Summer Film Class.

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