Lava Beat Sheet
Directed by: James Ford Murphy (no credited writer)
Genre: Buddy Love
Opening Image: A volcano sits in the distance, rising out of the sea.
Set-Up: The volcano lives alone, but every day, he watches all of the fish, birds, and other creatures who have found love.
Theme Stated: The volcano wishes for another volcano to share his love, presenting the theme: does true love exist for everyone?
Catalyst: The volcano sings a song each day of his life for countless years, asking the earth to send him someone to love (or “lava,” as he puts it). His lava is a symbol of his love; if he does not find another to share it with, he will cease to exist, a stasis=death situation.
Debate: As the years wane on, the volcano must wonder: Is there another out there for him, or is he destined to be alone? Still, he continues to sing each day.
Break into Two: After years of singing alone, his lava has turned into stone, so he cannot continue to grow. He needs someone to share his love with if he is to remain alive.
B Story: Unbeknownst to him, in the sea below is a female volcano who is listening to the song.
Fun and Games: Even though he is on the brink of extinction, the volcano still holds out hope and sings. Everyone has found love; he believes there is still a chance for him, too. The volcano below hears him, and her love grows for him with each song, giving her life. He sings his song one last time before…
Midpoint: …the other volcano rises from the depths of the sea, and the two are finally joined together. But it is a false victory, because…
Bad Guys Close In: …she cannot see him; the two are facing opposite directions. She is filled with sadness as she does not know where the song came from. Even worse, the male volcano cannot alert her to his presence, as over the years, he has sunk. His mouth is under water, so he cannot sing and does not have lava to help him rise.
All Is Lost: His song is gone; he must watch his dreams disappear. The whiff of death is present for the volcano and his hope for love.
Dark Night of the Soul: The female volcano remembers what his song meant to her. She sings the same song.
Break into Three: Her lava causes an explosion under the sea, spreading to his rock bed and giving him new life.
Finale: The male volcano rises, and this time, the two can see each other. They are together now as their love grows. No longer alone, they sing together, but their song is different. Now, their dream is not to have another sent to them; it is to grow old together.
Final Image: The two volcanoes are together now, their rock bases intertwined like arms in an embrace of love.
- Cory Milles
Hi, Andre! Thanks for adding to the discussion! I will admit that this was one of the most challenging beat sheets to break down due to its unique nature. I like your interpretation. In fact, deciding what I deemed to be the Catalyst was the most difficult part for me. As I did so, I had to keep in mind the unique style of this individual story. The volcano’s story takes place over millennia, and so to me, the Set Up was simply his existing alone while watching the other creatures find love. It was a stasis=death situation for him, where he would eventually “die” if he could not find someone to share his love/lava with. This is why I placed the Catalyst as the singing of the song, even though the first time he sang it must have been long ago. I also placed the elements of the short cartoon within the framework of The Transformation Machine. In the thesis world, he was alone and yet had lava to share; in his upside-down antithesis world, his lava had dried up, and his life force was quickly waning. In his synthesis world, he did not have his own lava to share, but someone else, “Mrs. Lava,” had shared hers with him, giving him the life he so wanted to share with another. Looking at it through the lens of the Transformation Machine, we can track his change through his counterpart and why he needed her to feel complete, the essence of a Buddy Love story.
Of course, this is open to debate. Having seen the short twice and listened the song numerous times, I attempted to break it down as accurately as possible. However, I love reading other views to challenge my thinking. I’d love to see what others think and can add to the discussion!
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
I disagree with your interpertation of the catalyst or inciting incident. The catalasyt is an event which changes the status quo of the protaganist. His longing for love is still the status quo/set-up of the protaganist. His world changes when his lava turns to stone. Debate happens: Lot’s of questions are raised here: what will he do now? Will he find the one or die alone? Break into two: No, Mrs.Lava is below and hearing him sing. There is still love to be had. She will go after him. The main conflict/question is set-up here for the rest of the second act: will they end up together?