Screenwriting : The Queens Gambit breakdown - Let's talk about it by Amanda Toney

Amanda Toney

The Queens Gambit breakdown - Let's talk about it

Stage 32's very own Jason Mirch is breaking down the pilot of the hit Netflix show The Queen's Gambit. What are your key takeaways?

To watch the webcast, click here: https://bit.ly/2OuTsNf

Stage 32 Next Level Education: Breaking Down the Award-Winning Script of THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT
Stage 32 Next Level Education: Breaking Down the Award-Winning Script of THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT
A year ago, you might not have believed that one of the biggest limited series phenomena of 2020-or ever-was an intimate story about an orphan chess prodigy battling addiction. Yet here we are. The lo…
Werner Artinger

Hi everyone!

Tom Holowach

This is going to be fun!

Ignacio Encina

Hi everyone!

Ricardo Barretto

Cool. Love this.

Lucinda Newcomb

Yooo!! Queen's Gambit Crew and Stage 32!!

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

I've been wanting to read this script. What a great gift. Thanks Jason and Amanda!

Kayly Hernandez Panameno

Hello! Greetings from Vermont, USA

Louisa Kendrick Burton

I'm so ready to talk Queen's Gambit! This was hands down one of my favorite shows last year.

Werner Artinger

Queen's Gambit was amazing!

Karen "Kay" Ross

Hey, all! K. Ross here, Stage 32's Community Manager. Looking forward to this one! Who all is watching LIVE?! Where are you hailing from? And HOW many times have you seen the series/ read the script now?

Erby Beauvil

Hello from Jersey!!

Cheri Faminu

Hi!

Thomas Simard

hello from new york

Cheri Faminu

Does anyone know how long this presentation will be?

Josh Bourne

Hey guys. Joining from London and super excited for tonight - had a rewatch and made some notes this eve!

Krisztián Balassa

Hello from Hungary!

Karen "Kay" Ross

PLEASE NOTE: If you want to see new posts, just click your web browser's REFRESH button.

See new people in this thread? CLICK THAT PLUS BUTTON and add them to your network!

Jessica Rose

Hi All!

Maria Pessoa

Hi, Everyone, 1st time on Stage 32, from Recife, Brazil

Morris Stuttard

Hey all!

Alexandra Jimenez

Hello everyone!

Amanda Toney

Jason is a PRO at adaptations having worked on The Help, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, etc. So excited to have him break this down.

Luciano Mello

Ola!

Cara Lanette

Hi everyone!

Karen "Kay" Ross

@Cheri - It is usually 1.5 hours, but it may go for 2 hours. It's also being recorded, so feel free to pop in and out as need be. But if you have a question, definitely send it off before you go so Jason can still answer it on the recording!

Keith Rivers

Hello from Monte Nido, CA :)

Stephanie Clayton

Hi from Vancouver, Canada!

Ryan Wynne

Malvern PA here

Timothy Dee

Peace be with y'all

Kerry F Booth

Watching from Denver, CO. So far, really great.

Bella Caballero

Hello! Watching from Toronto, Canada :)

Bruna DeRose

Hello, everyone! Greetings from Brazil!

Timothy Dee

Kerry, also watching from Denver.

Ruta Kaite

Hi everyone, this is Ruta from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. I loved these series so much on so many levels that I probably made everyone I know watch it as well :D even though I am an actor this seminar is supper valuable <3 Thank you for organising this <3

Adelina Dragotta

Hi, everyone! Greetings from Rome, Italy!

Morris Stuttard

That clip just makes me want to spend 8 more hours with that character again. Very hard to focus on it from a storytelling perspective :)))

Kerry F Booth

Interesting use of light/dark and full vs. covered views of Beth's face.

Joseph Petersonn

Hello from Nigeria.

Karen "Kay" Ross

Woo! Love this worldwide collective watching right now, and across disciplines, too!

LOVE that opening - and what a neat twist of who is under the sheets, too!

Joseph Petersonn

The Movie clip of the beginning really animates the script.

Zohar Rom

There’s power starting in medias res and giving that extreme contrast from start to finish.

Morris Stuttard

(though, honestly, all the glamour we open on kind of creates dissonance with the intention of setting up her number one opponent - herself)

Don Santiago

Hi all from Arizona

Luiz Roberto Meira

Hi from Brazil!

Stephen Potts

Stephen from Scotland here. ( The hill country south of Edinburgh - Hi Ruta). Jason does a breakdown every month in the Writers Room. I stay up late to catch them live, and when I can't I watch on demand. I learn most easily by seeing principles in practice, via clips from well known shows. Jason does it VERY well.

re QG clip one. I really like the way the first interaction between Beth and Borgov is a handshake - just like the last, at the end of episode 7. But so much happens between them.

Karen "Kay" Ross

Anyone else note that the inciting incident is on scene 35? And there's no great move forward, just an interest in the goal, no strategy yet - BRILLIANT!

Karen "Kay" Ross

Stephen - she also apologizes before the handshake, and clearly, she has no need to impress him by the end (just beat him LOL).

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

okay, that is brilliant to see how the antagonism between Jolene and Beth was edited out. It made this fairly unlikeable Beth way more likeable and human. Fascinating. Also her one friend in life was an enabler to the pill addiction.

Roxanne Beck

Beth!

Diana Rico

Alma is my fave. She's so incredibly unexpected.

Morris Stuttard

Just has to be Beth for me.

Mariannjely Marval

I probably watched it at least 3 times! Karen "Kay" Ross This webinar is so great! Thank you Jason :) - Such an international crowd!

Adelina Dragotta

Alma and Mr. Shaibel.

Stephen Potts

Favourite character apart from Beth - Borgov the enigmatic Russian

Stephanie Brandolini

Hi All. Tuning in from Vancouver, Canada. What an amazing webinar so far! Sparked a bunch of ideas for my own pilot I'm currently rewriting. Thanks so much Jason Mirch and Amanda Toney!

Louisa Kendrick Burton

so much about character packed into very few words. Impressive. Jolene and Beth's relationship and the call back in later episodes was quite satisfying.

Ashley-Monet Rose Andrews

Beth!

Jill A. Hargrave

I'm really enjoying this breakdown. Thought it interesting that the adaptation of the novel was totally rewritten that made it far more compelling open.

Martha Caprarotta

Loving this breakdown! So helpful to see if I'm meeting all these character and structure requirements in the pilot I'm writing.

Karen "Kay" Ross

Why, thank you so much, Amanda! We've been talking about the structure of pilots versus the structure of features a lot in the Writer's Room of late, both in the Wednesday Webcasts and in the Coverage Report on Mondays. Seeing that Inciting Incident so late in the pilot really stuck out to me since so many try to squeeze it in too early without building the character or world first.

Karen "Kay" Ross

LOVE Beth's continued interest in getting better - that stubbornness is so compelling!

Kerry F Booth

Whoa - forbidden camera move in script! How'd the writer get away with that?

Stephen Potts

The actor playing Mr Shaibel ( Bill Camp) has few lines, and little action. But he conveys so much.

Karen "Kay" Ross

LOL! And what a great example of her passion/obsession/wrath - "Cocksucker!" LOL!

Zohar Rom

Yes -- going to another shot would have broken the tension.

Karen "Kay" Ross

Mmm - PREACH those PLANTS and PAYOFFS! Love it!

Morris Stuttard

That scene mentioning sportsmanship also sets up the need. Her goal as a character is to get complete independence but her need is to let people near her. Accept their help, as she finally does at the end. This mention of sportsmanship is the first hint of the need that drives her arc - be among people, not just against them (in my humble opinion)

Josh Bourne

Such a good show of her physical approach to acting too - after the 'You resign now' flashback she bows her head and retreats her hands into herself

Erby Beauvil

The chess game with Benny and "the you resign now" hits me every time! What a payoff!

Karen "Kay" Ross

Okay, Stephen - I agree. He's pretty incredible (Bill Camp). ;-)

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

Bill heals all three of her stories - addiction, not able to interact with people confidently, and chess in a healthy way

Stephen Potts

Kerry - because he also directed. he was writing for himself.

Stephanie Brandolini

Ooo love the come around of that line "It felt good" relating to winning at chess as an echo of her feelings of taking the pills.

Karen "Kay" Ross

Richard - yep! Vindication! LOL!

Karen "Kay" Ross

Ooo, YES! That victory/loss back-to-back is briliant! When the chess is up, the addiction brings her down.

Laura Woodworth

Hello all! The series is amazing; love the ending episode.

Timothy Dee

Karen, not just vindication, validation.

Karen "Kay" Ross

Timothy - great clarification. Vindication was really the ending ;-)

OMG, that music cue for her journey to the jar! LOL! So good!

Stephanie Brandolini

Damn, I forgot how amazingly on point the cutting and music is on this ransacking the pills sequence!

Karen "Kay" Ross

Stephanie - Right?!

Stephen Potts

Hallelujah!

Martha Caprarotta

Agree! What a powerful ending!

Karen "Kay" Ross

Wow - the music was written in the script and they were able to execute it! That's phenomenal!

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

I felt like the hallelujiah was a director's or editor's little quirk. Surpised to see it was in the script. I felt it was meant to be funny - juxtaposed with the fear she was going to OD. This scene was poignant because I know First Nations people who had to suffer through residiential school and forced to watch religous movies. I felt like the way Beth ate those pills was so childlike. Children lost into addictions...relevant for today for sure.

Cynthia Garbutt

I love the song and scene action juxtaposition. Song title in The Robe, "Hallelujah, praise Jah." (Praise God) when Beth hits the pill-popping jackpot.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

The missing father is one hint that never had a payoff. Even when the series was over I was still waiting for Beth to meet her real father. But then, in the last scene, she quite happily meets 30 fathers....lol

Karen "Kay" Ross

Good point - there is another potential mentor character that underestimates her and doesn't give her a chance, whereas we see a mentor who underestimates her and has a chance to change his mind.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

Huh "A good flashback subverts your expectations" - Jason always has these little nuggets

Morris Stuttard

Sadly, her mother also gave Beth her lie - that people can't be trusted :(

Krys Draugelis Patton

Notice the name of the street where the accident took place. New Circle Road. Perhaps a hint at the fact that Beth is entering the destructive cycle her mother didn't survive?

Stephen Potts

Very informative ( and very sad) account of Walter Tevis' life and how he came to write the underlying novel.: https://www.theringer.com/tv/2020/11/9/21555790/the-queens-gambit-netfli...

Ruta Kaite

@Krys oh... I love this obselrvation ❤

Timothy Dee

I too had a question about the father. I am curious why Beth’s father, known in the screenplay only as “Man’s Voice,” is dismissed from her life by finally giving up on Alice (and Beth) and vowing to never return. I’m not sure what he contributes to Beth’s journey at this point.

Stephen Potts

And a sketchier comparison of some differences between the novel and the script:

https://screenrant.com/the-queens-gambit-things-changed-from-original-no...

Kerry F Booth

@Stephen I was going to search for interviews of Tevis, thanks.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

Jason nailed the theme - the blessing and curse of low expectations. I never would have distilled that. He's totally right.

Morris Stuttard

Thanks ever so much, Jason - loved hearing your perspectives on this show!

Kelly Stanphill

This was so fantastic. Thank you Jason!

Jill A. Hargrave

Writers Room is the best investment I made in furthering my skills as a screenplay writer. I've met so many screenwriters and participate in all of the events that Jason has described.

Zechariah Remi Adeniji

QSTN: Many movies today start with present day then flashback for reveal. Is this format the most advised way of writing now?

Karen "Kay" Ross

Ooo, YES! And that Write Now Challenge is a great way to build up your writing samples!

Karen "Kay" Ross

Loved hearing from Jordan Peele's Development Executive on our last Executive Hour - that was legit one of the best conversations we've had!

Martha Caprarotta

This has been beyond helpful! Took lots of notes to directly apply to the pilot I'm writing. Thanks so much Jason!

Ruta Kaite

Thank you so much Jason and Amanda for making this webinar happen. Trully worth staying up till 2am

Karen "Kay" Ross

Yay, Sarah! Congrats on your table read!

Nancie Rowe Janitz

THank you Jason!! This has been invaluable. Do you cover novel writing or just screenplays?

Nancie Rowe Janitz

Jason - also is that Oscar on your shelf? :)

Karen "Kay" Ross

Nancie - We have a Book to Screen Review service, but the Writer's Room breakdowns tend to be screenplays (I imagine due to length - breaking down a book takes WAY longer LOL!). Here's the link to the Book to Screen Review, though, if you have a book you're considering adapting: https://www.stage32.com/scriptservices/coverage/buy?id=66&affid=mjm

Karen "Kay" Ross

@Zechariah - Definitely post your question in the chat in the webinar as well!

Morris Stuttard

Yeah - me too, Martha. Came at just the right time for the project I am breaking now.

Kalista Tazlin

3AM in Paris, France but wide awake & enjoying this fab webinar.

Nyembezi Wako

This is an amazing and empowering session and I can’t wait to get more involved in this community all the way from South Africa.

Karen "Kay" Ross

Me too, Martha & Morris - I little had a breakthrough about the theme of my pilot as Jason was talking. SO GOOD!

Morris Stuttard

Lol - yeah. I watch everything with subtitles. Great advice, Amanda.

Karen "Kay" Ross

@Kalista - Wow, that's dedication! I love it! So glad you could join us!

Roxanne Beck

I'm sorry, I didn't catch how we sign up for the event that follows??

Philip Reimer

Brilliant - thank you!

Sadly, I thought it was only until 730, and must leave now for an 8 pm meeting. I'll look for the recording to see 'how it ends'. Take care.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

Is that what you were talking about @Roxanne ? There's the Writer's Room (red button top right) and we get together on Thursday night for pitch practice

Jill A. Hargrave

Thank you, Stephen, for those links. I also liked Jason's answer about differences between adaptation and the novel.

Alica Gwinner

Can you speak of antagonists / antagonistic forces – so is it herself, her childhood and the man’s world she finds herself in - rather than one specific character?

Karen "Kay" Ross

I got you, Roxanne!

You can sign up for the next FREE "Ask Me Anything" Webinar, this Friday with Stage 32's CEO, RB Botto, right here: https://www.stage32.com/webinars/Ask-Me-Anything-with-Stage-32-CEO-Richa...

Definitely sign up NOW so you get the link and are set up to attend ahead of time!

Karen "Kay" Ross

Great point, Alica! Really love how we've broken down the different antagonistic forces, including a female authority figure for Beth. I feel like it really sets up our expectation of her adoptive mother failing Beth as well, so it's so relieving/empowering when her mother becomes such an ally!

Jill A. Hargrave

Stage 32 is so generous in offering the 30-day free trial to the Writers Room. That's how I started last April. By the end of 30 days, I understood how much I received from this private membership that is worth it's weight in networking and honing my screenwriting skills.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

Great questions - who is the antagonist. I think just like Walter White, the antagonist is her secret - she is an addict and thinks she can't win without it

Roxanne Beck

Scott Frank has said that Beth is both the protagonist and the antagonist. She's her own worst enemy.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

The secret as antagonist (man against self) is the antagonistic force in a lot of great characters, and Jason's right, make it visual. Hamlet!!!

Roxanne Beck

He did a great podcast about the show on the WGA's '3rd and Fairfax' show last fall. But this is also very illuminating...thanks so much!!

Keith Rivers

Thanks so much. Very insightful.

Don Santiago

Fantastic. Thank you Jason!

Karen "Kay" Ross

And we love having you, Jill!

Speaking of networking, I HIGHLY recommend clicking those RED PLUS buttons, and then follow up with a little Direct Message introducing yourself!

You can also post in the Introduce Yourself Lounge to see who else you can meet: https://www.stage32.com/lounge/introduce_yourself

Not sure how to navigate the lounges? Here's a little blog post I put together to help you: https://www.stage32.com/blog/5-Ways-to-Explore-and-Network-in-the-Stage-...

And here's a blog introducing me and the tone of our community: https://www.stage32.com/blog/Find-Your-Community-on-Stage-32

Krys Draugelis Patton

Excellent breakdown. Very helpful. Thanks so much!

Morris Stuttard

Yeah - thank youuu, Jason!!! And you too, Amanda! Hopefully see everyone again in the Writers' Room.

Nyembezi Wako

Bad things happen to Beth but she’s her own worst enemy. Fortunately for her, she finally throws away those pills. It’s not just the pills, her need to work alone too. And she overcomes that one too otherwise she would have lost in Russia.

Roxanne Beck

Thanks again, Jason!

Adelina Dragotta

This breakdown was excellent! Love it! Thank you!

Alica Gwinner

Just joined during this session! Thank you

Amanda Toney

Hi everyone! I'll process the video and you can watch it on-demand tomorrow. Just log into your Stage 32 account and click settings > purchase history. The Queen's Gambit script will be available as a download underneath the on-demand video.

Christina Pitts Jazzar (she/her)

Thank you.. that was great. So glad i found this group and service! Exciting stuff.

Chris Chew

Thanks, Jason and Amanda!! Great breakdown!

Alexander Merelo

Thank you, Jason, for a wonderful breakdown. It's early in the morn in London, I'm dead tired, and yet you managed to hold my attention till the very last second. Ta!

Kalista Tazlin

Thank you, Jason & Amanda! Definitely worth staying up for.

Christina Pitts Jazzar (she/her)

will I still have access even though I just became a member?...

Steve Ashton

Comprehensive... Eye opening... Informative... I could go on... but I need a coffee and a packet of Boland's Fig Rolls... Phew how good was that...

Amanda Toney

@Nyembezi Wako - yes, absolutely love your insight on Russia, great comment. Yes @christinapitts jazzar - you will have access to the replay once I'm done processing the video. It will be available tomorrow. @steveashton - glad you stayed with us so late in London, we love our global community. I don't know what Boland Fig Rolls are, but they sound amazing.

Jason Mirch

Thanks everyone for being a part of this webcast! I had a blast with you all and really enjoyed the comments and questions! Everyone who commented here and during the chat had great insights, observations, and questions. I tried to connect with everyone here, but if we haven't yet connected on the platform please reach out! You can also always email me directly at j.mirch@stage32.com

So...when are we doing episode 2?! :D

Martha Caprarotta

Jason--A breakdown of Episode 2 can't come too soon!

John Mezes

I enjoyed this webinar a great deal. It hit on so many levels, educational, informative, entertaining, structure, theme, well done. Adding the scenes after the breakdowns was a helpful touch. Those actually showed what you were explaining, Jason. Thank you very much for this experience. It taught me a great deal. Well run by both Amanda and Jason. A cheer for Stage 32!

Avantika Sharma

Really enjoyed this Jason. It was really worth attending it at 04:30 am IST. The details and esp looking at the inciting incidents was really fascinating.

Josh Bourne

This was phenomenal. Worth staying up in London for some really on-point analysis.

P.A. Lopez

This was great! ❤️

Jessica Rose

Okay, so the coolest thing happened today! After watching the breakdown of Queens Gambit last night, I ran into a chess player from New Orleans today that was in town for a tournament and as the conversation transpired, he has a nonprofit where he is trying to get chess back in schools from K-12. Very interesting conversation and right after the breakdown. Just had to share. What a coincidence! Thank you guys for the breakdown!

Jill A. Hargrave

Steve Ashton, As an ex-pat who left England years ago, I''ve never heard of Boland Fig Rolls. Are they like Fig Newton biscuits?

Steve Ashton

Oh Jill... A 'Boland is a Boland..!' Newton is a biscuit with aspirations of a 'Boland'!

Steve Ashton

Yes they are fig biscuits and yummy..!

Jill A. Hargrave

I've lived in America for nearly 49 years, so definitely missed out on a Boland. My favorites when I visit England for afternoon tea are Eccles Cakes and Toasted Teacakes.

Steve Ashton

Eccles Cakes and Toasted Teacakes. ... Hmm' now your talking.

Steve Ashton

Just watching RB's Ask Me Anything... Dam he's good!

Amanda Toney

@steveashton - it's an AWESOME AMA, right?? Great knowledge he's dropping today!

Steve Ashton

Yeah... I'm in the right place...

Kirsty Louise Joyce

This pilot episode breakdown webinar was amazing. Thank you Jason - it was very insightful and has enabled me to prioritise my Netflix 'list' as I am keen to get underway with The Queen's Gambit now! The intricate characterisation of Beth as well as the visual storytelling has sold it to me. Paris and the juxtaposition of the chaos and calm, but also the small touch of the miniature alcohol bottles on the chess board was extremely effective. Thank you for breaking down the pilot episode - it was fascinating and there were some good tips within the session!

Marketa Nozinova

Thank you for the webinar, just rewatched it again!

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