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managing a third act twist
June 17, 2009, 2:21 am
Filed under: Experience

3rd act

Gotta love ‘em, those third act twists. They seem to happen all the time in ad land and they’re all the colours of the rainbow: just part of the job, ma’am.

Sometimes I feel that working in fast turnaround high pressure creative communications is a little like being on the stage, tap dancing on ball bearings. The trick is to make it seem effortless, hold your form while keeping a great smile on your face and giving everything you’ve got to keep your grace.

Never, never let a client see you running. One of mine used to say:

When you come home and your house is on fire, the last person you want to see bolting is the fireman.

Good advice. Perception is everything. Turning in circles is probably best avoided too. Especially if someone can see you. Try to keep that stuff on the inside.

There’s no way to theoretically teach someone how to manage the twists. It comes from experience in the trenches- war stories and battle scars are not only great anecdotes and funny after the fact- they are the only medals a professional soldier needs to mark their measure.seriously

When you can play all the roles and  have grease paint and a grin and calmness in the face of a fire storm you’ll not only survive the third act, you’ll turn the play from a tragedy into a comedy. And earn yourself some pretty good drinking stories too.

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5 Comments so far
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As hilarious as Harvey Ismuth’s 3rd Act twist chart is, its actually pretty revered in the scriptwriting community, if for nothing else than to illustrate the formulaic nature of many popular films. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for a creative to avoid reacting to some third act twists, especially if the twister’s response to the twistee is idiotic and a little racist (I’ll say no more).

Comment by Oscar

I’ve heard that war story and it’s awesome!
It’s a very cool scar Oscar….

Comment by katiechatfield

You can\’t expect the unexpected but you should at least offer it a seat and a cup of tea when arrives – rather than just stand there and gawp.

I don\’t have a story as good as Oscar\’s but have you heard the one about the fireman with ESP? (to run with the \”fireman\” motif)

Comment by innotecture

I’ll have to chase you up on that one…

but I have heard that ‘he who smiles in a crisis has found somebody else to blame’

Comment by katiechatfield

The kind of smile that Major William Rawls pulls every time some shows up to take the 14 Jane Does off his hands?

Comment by Matt Moore




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