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376203: Writing the First Screenplay II
SCRIPT-X 410.2

  • Fall 2020
  • Section 1
  • 3 Credits
  • 09/29/2020 to 12/08/2020
  • Modified 09/24/2020

Description

This second in a four-part sequence in writing a feature film script has you hit the ground running. You begin by pitching your story based on your outline and revising it to make sure the premise can carry the entire movie. Armed with a workable outline, you then flesh it out into either a beat sheet or treatment (at the instructor's discretion) and begin writing your screenplay. Personalized feedback along with mini-lectures on key craft points, including character development, story structure, and conflict, help you to meet the course goal, which is to write Act I (approximately 30 pages). May be repeated for credit.

Objectives

My goal is to give students an understanding of basic story and screenwriting elements in order to complete a compelling first act. During this course, students will:

  • Learn the basics of the craft of screenwriting. Revise treatment (or outline).
  • Write the first act of a screenplay.

Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Revise treatments/outlines using screenplay elements.
  • Complete the first act of a screenplay.
  • Students will also have a chance to understand the process of receiving and implementing feedback from teacher and peers.

Materials

Save The Cat

  • Author: Blake Snyder
  • Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions
  • ISBN: 978-1932907001

Recommended text

Streaming platform and access to films

Throughout the quarter we'll go over film examples, some I will show scenes in class for the various exercises.

I'll try to keep the film examples to films that are available on streaming services like Netflix and Prime. They change films up monthly, so, I've found it hard to make viewing mandatory before the course starts. 

Evaluation

Criteria

Attendance and participation in class 25%
Homework assignments 25%
Final Act I of a Screenplay 50%

Breakdown

A = 90-100
B = 80-89
C = 70-79 Below 70 = Fail

Course Policies

The Writers’ Workshop

Instruction in the Writers’ Program follows the guidelines established by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) guidelines for the teaching of creative writing, which include a “challenging writers’ workshop” as a hallmark. They define this as

…a seminar in which students critique one another’s work under the mentorship of an accomplished writer-teacher. The workshop is writing intensive, offering each student multiple opportunities for submission and revision of creative work. (AWP)

This method of instruction is considered the gold standard for developing writers at all levels of expertise, and workshopping is a key learning tool in nearly every course offered by the Writers’ Program. Workshopping teaches you to read and respond to written work from a variety of perspectives, and hearing critique of your own writing will help you understand how successfully your work achieves your goals. Every student is expected to participate fully in workshopping activities as defined by and guided by Writers’ Program instructors.

Scope of Work for Instructors

Each Writers’ Program instructor has signed an agreement to teach the curriculum in their course, following a syllabus of their own design with approval by the Writers’ Program director. Instructors are never obligated to read, review, critique, respond to, or otherwise address student work that has not been developed for their course or in response to specific assignments in their course. Individualized instruction like this falls into the category of a consultation, which is a separate service your instructor can provide through special arrangement with the Writers’ Program.

Underage Students

As UCLA's principal provider of continuing education, the majority of UCLA Extension courses are designed for the post-baccalaureate professional-level student. Enrollment is therefore normally reserved for adult students 18 years of age and older. The Writers’ Program may consent to enroll younger students based on special academic competence and approval of the instructor. Minors who enroll in a Writers’ Program course without first receiving permission from both the department and the instructor are subject to withdrawal.  To request approval, please contact the Writers’ Program at 310/825-9415.

Institutional Policies

Student Conduct

Students are subject to disciplinary action for several types of misconduct or attempted misconduct, including but not limited to dishonesty, such as cheating, multiple submission, plagiarism, or knowingly furnishing false information to the University; or theft or misuse of the intellectual property of others or violation of others' copyrights. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with policy provisions which proscribe these and other forms of misconduct at: https://www.uclaextension.edu/pages/str/studentConduct.jsp

Services for Students with Disabilities

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, UCLA Extension provides appropriate accommodations and support services to qualified applicants and students with disabilities. These include, but are not limited to, auxiliary aids/services such as sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices for hearing-impaired individuals, extended time for and proctoring of exams, and registration assistance. Accommodations and types of support services vary and are specifically designed to meet the disability-related needs of each student based on current, verifiable medical documentation. Arrangements for auxiliary aids/services are available only through UCLA Extension’s Service for Students with Disabilities Office at (310) 825-7851 or by email at [email protected]. For complete information see: https://www.uclaextension.edu/pages/str/studentswithDisabilities.jsp

Incompletes

Your instructor may post the interim grade Incomplete/I if at the end of the class your overall work is of passing quality but a portion could not be submitted for understandable reasons (e.g. illness). It is your responsibility to petition your instructor for permission to submit work late and to provide an explanation, and it is his or her sole decision whether to accept the explanation. If permitted, the Incomplete/I grade will be posted and a time frame defined for you to submit the missing work, ranging from one to twelve weeks. Incomplete/I grades that remain unchanged after twelve weeks will lapse to F, NP or U. Receiving an I grade entitles you to submit only the missing work your instructor has agreed to accept late, and does not allow other work to be retaken or oblige UCLA Extension to provide continuing access to course materials via Canvas. The Incomplete/I grade is not an option for courses that do not bear credit, such as 700, 800, or 900-level courses. For complete information, see: https://www.uclaextension.edu/pages/str/grading.jsp

All Grades are Final

No change of grade may be made by anyone other than the instructor, and then, only to correct clerical errors. No term grade except Incomplete may be revised by re-examination. The correction of a clerical error may be authorized only by the instructor of record communicating directly with personnel of Student and Alumni Services.

Sexual Harassment

The University of California is committed to creating and maintaining a community where all individuals who participate in University programs and activities can work and learn together in an atmosphere free of harassment, exploitation, or intimidation. Every member of the community should be aware that the University prohibits sexual harassment and sexual violence, and that such behavior violates both law and University policy. The University will respond promptly and effectively to reports of sexual harassment and sexual violence, and will take appropriate action to prevent, to correct, and when necessary, to discipline behavior that violates our policy.

All Extension students and instructors who believe they have been sexually harassed are encouraged to contact the Department of Student and Alumni Services for complaint resolution: UCLA Extension, 1145 Gayley Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024; Voice/TTY: (310) 825-7031. View the University’s full Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence at http://policy.ucop.edu/doc/4000385/SHSV.

Additional Items

Protecting Privacy and Data During Remote Instruction

If applicable, live meeting sessions for this class are being conducted over Zoom. As the host, the instructor may be recording live sessions. Only the host has the ability to record meetings, no recording by other means is permitted. Recorded sessions will be posted in the Videos area of this class unless otherwise notified. If you have privacy concerns and do not wish to appear in the recording, do not turn on your video. If you also prefer to use a pseudonym instead of your name, please let the instructor know what name you will be using so that the instructor knows who you are during the session. To rename yourself during a Zoom meeting, click on Participants, click on your name, click on More, click on Rename. If you would like to ask a question, you may do so privately through the Zoom chat by addressing your chat question to the instructor only (and not to "everyone"). Additionally, chat may be used and moderated for live questions, and saving of chats is enabled. If you have questions or concerns about this, please contact the instructor via Canvas Inbox.

Pursuant to the terms of the agreement between Zoom and UCLA Extension, the data is used solely for this purpose and Zoom is prohibited from re-disclosing this information. UCLA Extension also does not use the data for any other purpose. Recordings will be deleted when no longer necessary. However, recordings may become part of an administrative disciplinary record if misconduct occurs during a video conference.

Course and Instructor Evaluation

UCLA Extension values your feedback on course and instructor evaluations. We ask all students to take a few minutes to complete an end-of-course evaluation survey. Updates to the course and instruction are influenced by your feedback. Understanding your student experience is essential to ensure continuing excellence in the online classroom and is appreciated by your instructor and the UCLA Extension academic leadership.

Your participation in a survey is voluntary, and your responses are confidential. After instructors submit grades, they will be given an evaluation report, but this report will not contain your name.

About Your Online Course Materials

Please note the following about online course components at UCLA Extension:

  • Students must have basic computer skills, including the use of word processing software, email, and the ability to use internet browsers, such as Safari, Firefox, or Chrome.
  • Students are responsible for meeting the technical requirements of Canvas and familiarizing themselves with the Canvas Learning Management System.
  • Students are responsible for keeping a copy of all assignments and work submitted, and to be aware of all assignments, due dates, and course guidelines.
  • Students are encouraged to keep and/or download a local copy of their assignment files, as access to the online environment of a specific course is limited to 30 days after the final course date, as listed in the course catalog.

    To download all your assignment submissions in Canvas, please refer to the online support guide. for more information or contact Canvas Support via the help menu within Canvas.

UCLA Extension Canvas and Learning Support

For immediate 24/7 Canvas technical support, including holidays, click on Help (located on the menu to the left) where you can call or chat live with a Canvas Support representative.

UCLA Extension Instructional Design and Learning Support
The UCLA Extension Learning Support staff assists both students and instructors with Canvas-related technical support, as well as general and administrative questions.

Learning Support staff is available Monday through Friday, from 8 AM to 5 PM (Pacific Time), except holidays:

Campus Safety Escorts

For students taking classes held on the UCLA campus and in and around Westwood Village, the UCLA Police Department provides a free walking escort service every day of the year from dusk until 1 a.m. Community Service Officers (CSOs) are available to walk students, faculty, staff members and visitors to and from anywhere on campus, in Westwood Village, and in the village apartments. CSOs are uniformed students who have received special training and are employed by the UCLA Police Department. To obtain an escort, please call (310) 794-9255 and allow 15 to 20 minutes for your escort to arrive. For complete information, see: https://www.ucpd.ucla.edu/services/community-service-officers-csos/evening-escorts

Schedule

Course calendar and related activities
When Lesson Notes
Lecture
Week 1
09/29/2020
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Online
Introductions and elements of storytelling

Course Overview/Introductions

LECTURE:

Loglines examples and explanation of their importance Elements of story – genre, character and plot. Discussion the major story beats:

1- Opening image/scene: Establishes the world or the character or both.
2- Inciting incident: The event that sets the story in motion. (Usually on or before page 10, no later)
3- End of Act I: Protagonist commits to the goal, makes a difficult decision and takes action that propels the story forward.
4- Mid-Point: Either an unexpected external force changes the protagonist's plan or the protagonist decides to take control of their own destiny.
5- End of Act II: Lowest point for Protagonist. The worst thing imaginable happens to them.
6- Climax: Showdown with antagonist.
7- Resolution: An extra beat or two to wrap up loose ends.
8- Final Image: Shows the protagonist’s journey and growth

WORKSHOP:

Students present their loglines and a brief summary of their stories.

ASSIGNMENT:

Write a treatment or outline of your story. (5 pages or less) Make sure those 8 story beats are included.

(Most of you should have this already from the first quarter.)

Lecture
Week 2
10/06/2020
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Online
Character

LECTURE:

Character Intro - How do you convey to the audience who someone is from the beginning? How do you get the audience behind your main character?
Building a character
Character arc/development – where are we going with this person.

WORKSHOP:

Students present their major story beats to the class and receive feedback.

HOMEWORK:

1-Revise Treatment/Outline (if needed)
2-Write a biography for your protagonist and your antagonist.

The bio should clarify your protagonist's arc. Who are they in the beginning and who do they become in the end?

3-Same thing for you antagonist. Who are they in the beginning vs. the end? Do they change? Each biography should be a paragraph long.

Lecture
Week 3
10/13/2020
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Online
Elements of scene

LECTURE:

Scenes should do one of these 3 things (or all 3): -Move the story forward
-Reveal character
-Create conflict for your protagonist

Also the 5 Ws of a scene:
Who - What - Where - When - Why
Dialogue - what makes it pop? How do you write it efficiently?

Screenwriting format explained.

WORKSHOP:
Students present their character bios and receive feedback. Students will also present revised treatments/outlines (if needed). ASSIGNMENT:
Start working on your screenplay opening.

Please write in proper screenplay format.

(Screenwriting Software is a must! There are a number of free and low cost options available. Get in touch with me if you need a list of Softwares) If your scene is not formatted properly it won't be read.

Be prepared to present no more than 5 pages next week.
Please email a PDF of your pages to me prior to the start of class.

Lecture
Week 4
10/20/2020
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Online
Act 1

LECTURE:

Status quo – including your main character's expectations Inciting incident
The Debate

IN-CLASS WORKSHOP:

Present your screenplay work to the class by casting the characters to hear the dialog and action.

NOTE: For the rest of the quarter we'll do short table reads for each student, have your materials ready before class to share so the whole class can read along.

HOMEWORK:

Continue writing your first act.
Be prepared to present no more than 5 pages nex

Lecture
Week 5
10/27/2020
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Online
Opening sequence

LECTURE:

Hooking your audience Opening set piece The flash forward

Establishing a mystery

Getting yourself to write

IN-CLASS WORKSHOP:
Students present their pages; receive feedback.

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT:

Continue writing your first act.
Be prepared to present no more than 5 pages next week.

Lecture
Week 6
11/10/2020
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Online
Dialog

LECTURE:

Different characters should have different voices.

Status and power dynamics and how to shift dialog between characters.

IN-CLASS WORKSHOP:
Students present their pages; receive feedback.

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT:

Continue writing your first act.
Be prepared to present no more than 5 pages next week.

Lecture
Week 7
11/17/2020
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Online
Conflict, always

LECTURE:

When to enter and exit a scene.

How your characters enter and exit.

Continue the tension, don't let your characters off the hook.

Arc each scene as an act, beginning/middle/end.

IN-CLASS WORKSHOP:
Students present their pages; receive feedback.

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT:

Continue writing your first act.
Be prepared to present no more than 5 pages next week.

Lecture
Week 8
11/24/2020
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Online
To the end of Act 1

LECTURE:

1st Act Break – Why?
Debate is over, all other options are ruled out.
Character decides to______
Setup goal for the entire second act.


WORKSHOP:
Students present their pages; receive feedback.

ASSIGNMENT:
Continue writing your first act.
Be prepared to present no more than 5 pages next week.

Lecture
Week 9
12/01/2020
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Online
After Act 1

LECTURE:

How does the second act and the third act fit with your story?
(We'll explore some examples where tone or protagonist shift later in the film)

If there are problems in Act 2 and Act 3, always refer to Act 1.

WORKSHOP:
Students present their pages; receive feedback.


ASSIGNMENT:
Continue writing your first act.
Be prepared to present no more than 5 pages next week.

Lecture
Week 10
12/08/2020
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Online
The Business and Your Future

Working with producers and receiving notes.

General Q&A - bring any questions you have.

WORKSHOP:
Students present their pages; receive feedback

ASSIGNMENT:

FIRST ACT of your screenplay is due! It should be properly formatted and 30 pages or less.

Week 11