Olaf de Fleur filming Malevolent.
Olaf de Fleur filming Malevolent.

The year is 2006. I’m at the Singapore International Airport, where my eyes are drowning in a blur of red carpet. How fitting, with my career in chaos.

I’ve traveled for 15 hours and I still have one long flight left. I pace anxiously around the airport, not biding time very successfully. While buying a bag for my HDV-cam, I notice a book on the store’s shelf: Save the Cat! I quickly browse through—it’s love at first sight.

I board a small airplane that will take me to Cebu City in the Phillipines. I’ve received a modest support from Scandinavian film funds to do a film there about the local transgender community (known at that less-enlightened time as “ladyboys”).

For the last 12 months, I’d been going from market to market, and no one wanted to pre-buy a film about ladyboys. “It’s been done before so many times.” … “We are already doing a film like this” … even a lecture from a well-respected European TV producer: “Why are you trying to make this film? Nobody is interested.”

I was at my lowest low, my confidence gone, but in that one hour and 40 minute flight from Singapore to Cebu City, I read Save the Cat! It felt like Blake Snyder had poured himself into this book, just to say: “Don’t worry.” And to give me a hug.

Blake gave us all a tool. Like the child in Hans Christian Andersen’s story, Blake pointed to the Emperor to tell us that he didn’t need to act all that fancy. Save the Cat! allows us to see with childlike eyes so we can go deeper into the magical worlds of our own creation.

The film I shot in the Philippines was the first time I used Blake’s principles, and it won the Teddy Award for Best Picture at the Berlinale International Festival. Since then I’ve used Blake’s books for all my work, whether I’m editing a film, writing treatments, or cutting trailers. And I never get tired of spreading the word.

I exchanged emails with Blake before he passed away. He wanted to come to Iceland and hold a lecture about the powers of STC. That, of course, was not to be.

Today, hours from the ninth anniversary of Blake’s death, I want to thank him for what he did for a lost filmmaker, for speaking so clearly and powerfully in this essential guidebook. And thanks also to those who are continuing Blake’s legacy, helping the filmmakers of the future accomplish their dreams.