@BDHTaylor What a great response, thank you!
The very structured, static method of writing we're discussing seems to me as though it will produce a whole lot of movies that may look different, but are actually pretty much the same. There are conventions to story-telling that resonate with, and are accepted by, most modern audiences. Things that go outside of those lines are considered quirky "art films," assuming they ever get made in the first place.
Of course, you can defy the 120-page, three-act rule and still not violate the audience's expectations for the usual things (hero's journey, a gratifying resolution to the conflict, etc.). But if you're thinking to get a spec script looked at, don't you pretty much have to follow the formula or risk having it thrown in the slush pile?
Established screenwriters can break the rules and it's not a problem. But for us wannabes, I've been told to toe the line. And that's OK to a point, really ... I get that this is a highly structured form of writing, although perhaps excessively so! It's just frustrating and a little exhausting to have to cut good stuff to get your script down to the prescribed page count and get your plot points to hit at all the right places. (I was told by my writing teaching to keep dialogue blocks to three lines or less, talk about restrictive!)
Maybe part of the problem is that I tend to write organically. I decide who the characters are, what they want, what they need, create their back stories, and then I throw them together and watch stuff happen, let them drive the action. That doesn't work so well, though, when you are constantly trying to hit your marks. As you may imagine, the whole outline-index card thing makes me want to sob.
Of course, we're talking feature film here. I've written a short film (had it produced, too, which is a terrible story I'll tell you sometime if you want to hear it), and while that was easier because the usual rules don't really apply, it was fraught with its own challenges.
All my rambling aside, I'll definitely read some of the material you cite. It will be great to get a different perspective and may actually get me back on track with writing.
Again, thanks for your thoughtful post.