Bringing Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet to Life

Hi, this is Shiona.

I’ve always liked the idea of reviewing and analyzing movies, but YouTube is already full of movie critics like Chris Stuckmann and, so, I figured, if I was to do something similar, I should go niche.
‘The Criticat’ is an example of a YouTube channel that focuses – so far, exclusively – on one area of screenwriting, namely, the screenplay structure.  

For some time now I’ve referred to Blake Snyder’s ‘Save the Cat’ to help me with my own screenwriting, especially when it comes to structure. These days, whenever I watch a movie, I look for the beats in the screenplay’s structure: “There’s the catalyst.” “Oh, we must be in the Bad Guys are Coming section…” etc.  While it’s great to be able to refer to Snyder’s book, I thought it would be pretty cool if I could make some videos for people like me interested in analyzing the structure of screenplays.

Screenwriting Hamster

So around 2 years ago, I created a video on my personal YouTube channel, which only just recently saw a major spike in views. For that video I applied the beat sheet to the structure of the Disney movie ‘Monster’s Inc’. It’s still up on my channel, go check it out here.

I put it in a playlist called ‘Screenwriting Hamster’. I had plans to make more videos like it, I even paid an animator to create the Screenwriting Hamster indent, but in the end I got so busy on editing jobs I didn’t have time to make a new one.   

But the higher the view count grew and the more subscribers I got, the more I wanted to get back to Screenwriting Hamster. In my free time, I was watching Domics and Cyanide & Happiness, and thought to teach myself 2D animation.

Best 2D Animation software

I first tried Photoshop. In my opinion, this software is better for creating gifs and short frame-by-frame animation (it gets tedious to use eventually). Then After Effects, which has more freedom in motion paths (point A to point B basically). But Animate CC (an updated version of Adobe Flash), is by far the best way to go. With this one, you have more freedom in tweaking the different drawing layers and you can combine motion paths with frame-by-frame animation, making the animation smooth but also stylized. It’s the software that Domics uses.

The YouTube channel Draw With Jazza really inspired me to get to create my own persona for a new channel dedicated to producing this series of videos. Personally, I think animated characters are more entertaining than live YouTube hosts. I wanted people to know I was using Snyder’s Save The Cat as a kind of tool for each film I looked at, so I thought of the name Criticat. I also happen to really love cats!

Owing to problems with YouTube login, I launched a new channel in 2019, simply called 'Criticat ', which you can access here.