Screenplay Structure: The Disaster Artist

disaster artist

Cinema Bandit is devoted to supplying young and new filmmakers with resources, articles, and interviews to help artists develop themselves creatively and professionally. Today we’ll examine the screenplay structure of the 2017 film “The Disaster Artist.”

Act 1

Killer opening scene: Greg recites Shakespeare. he’s nervous, quiet, and can’t remember his lines. Tommy recites a scene after him, baring his bad acting with no self-awareness. This is the perfect introduction to the two main characters.

Next, the rehearse scenes in a diner. Greg reveals his insecurities, and praises Tommy. He hopes he can learn something from Tommy. Tommy forces him to loudly do a scene, getting him out of his comfort zone.

Tommy and Greg spend time getting to know each other. Tommy is obsessed with American culture, and tries to present younger than he actually is. Greg reveals his desire to be in film after watching Home Alone as a kid (want to see a breakdown of that film? Click here)

Catalyst: Though different, Greg and Tommy are bounded by their love of movies and acting. Tommy suggests living in his Los Angeles apartment.

Debate: Greg states various excuses and a nervous mother who is rightfully trying to hold him back. They move to Los Angeles with big dreams and high hopes.

Plot Point 1 is Greg and Tommy moving to Los Angeles to pursue acting careers.

Act 2A: Fun and Games

Try and fail is a key factor in Act 2A. It’s when the protagonist(s) face small problems related to achieving their goals, and usually fail at achieving these small dilemmas.

Greg and Tommy settle in, and get headshots. Greg signs with an agency on first look, while Tommy turns of UTA with his odd pictures. Tommy is supportive and urges Greg to tell agent about him. Try-and-fail for Tommy.

Greg talks with a bartender. Tommy shows his first signs of insecurity as Greg talks with her.

Greg goes to an audition, as does Tommy. Tommy fails at his audition. Try-and-fail.

Los Angeles wears down Tommy, and Greg can’t get jobs because of Tommy (according to a fellow acting friend.) Tommy approaches a producer in a restaurant, recites Shakespeare, and promptly gets thrown out. Try-and-fail.

Tommy feels disillusioned with Hollywood. Greg gives him encouragement, and Tommy decides: Why not make their own movie?

Though it occurs early in the script, this is when the midpoint, or “The Switch” happens, thus marking the transition from Act 2A to Act 2B. Their original goal was to make it as actors, now they want to make a movie.


Act 2B: Tensions Rise

Tommy writes the script “The Room.” Greg reads the script and agrees to make it.

Tommy buys equipment – instead of renting – and the company hooks him up with a crew as well. Like buying the equipment, they show their incompetence while casting the character of “Lisa” and not knowing the roles of people of set.

On set, Tommy is completely incompetent. He shoots both digital and film, gives lame direction, and messes up his own lines.

Greg and his girlfriend move in together. Tommy doesn’t take it well; he throws a trashcan and newspapers, stating “everybody betrays me!”

Set reaches an all time low when Tommy embarrasses actress Julia before a scene. Tommy and Greg argue about his behavior. The DP nearly attacks Tommy because of his behavior. Tommy reveals that his personal cameraman has captured every negative comment about Tommy.

Tommy fails to pay for AC or water for set, causing one of his actresses to pass out. Tommy transforms into a nightmare of a director.


Greg gets an opportunity for work. The set’s still a disaster, with Tommy performing his famous suicide scene. When Greg tells Tommy about taking time off set, Tommy yells at Greg that he is just using him. Greg decides to come to set.

Greg confronts Tommy about his secrets. They fight. Then Greg takes off after production. Months later, Tommy finds Greg and tells him to RSVP.

Plot Point 2 is Greg (reluctantly) agreeing to go to the premiere.

Act 3

Greg and Tommy arrive to the premiere. It’s a packed house, and everyone’s excited. Though “The Room” is suppose to be a drama, everyone starts to laugh. Tommy leaves the theater, upset. Greg follows him out, and states that the audience is having a good time and that Tommy should be thrilled he got that kind of reaction.


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