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382824: Feature Film II
SCRIPT-X 410.2

  • Fall 2021
  • Section 1
  • 3 Credits
  • 09/23/2021 to 12/09/2021
  • Modified 09/02/2021

Meeting Times

Thursdays, 7 PM Pacific time to 10 PM Pacific time

Via ZOOM remote instruction.

PLEASE NOTE: There will be no class on Thursday, November 11th (Veterans' Day), and there will be no class on Thursday, November 25th (Thanksgiving)

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

During this course, you will learn:

-How to analyze and break down screenplays re: theme, content, style, structure, etc.

-How to summarize the fundamental elements of screenplay structure

-How to implement those fundamentals, the craft of screenwriting, in your own writing

-How to present your work to peers, both in writing and as a verbal pitch

-How to evaluate and integrate feedback

-How to revise your treatment (outline)

-How to write a compelling Act One of a screenplay

The competition in this business is beyond fierce, so your work must shine.

 

Outcomes

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

-Analyze and deconstruct screenplays

-Learn and apply the fundamentals of screenwriting

-Complete Act One of a screenplay

-Develop the ability to present your work with confidence to your peers

-Develop the ability to give/receive feedback and incorporate such feedback into your work

You will have completed the first act of a screenplay, charted a path for the ensuing two acts, and you will have gained confidence in your abilities as a screenwriter.

Materials

Screenwriting Software is ESSENTIAL

I strongly recommend using the scriptwriting software Final Draft. It is the gold standard of the entertainment industry, the most widely used scriptwriting software in the business.

There is a student discount.

You can find out more about Final Draft at 1-800-231-4055 or at www.finaldraft.com

I strongly recommend reading CUT TO THE CHASE: Writing Feature Films With the Pros at UCLA Extension Writers' Program, edited by Linda Venis, ISBN: 9781592408108

I also recommend Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field – this book is a classic, a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand what it takes to write a screenplay.  

While working on your own material, you will read and analyze assigned screenplays. It is vital that you digest and analyze such work, so as to identify genre, structure and style, as well as to learn to analyze your own work.  

My responsibility is to read your work and provide feedback, suggestions, and guidance. My hope is to inspire, to help nurture your creativity, and to help you transform that into a craft.

Your responsibility, apart from working on your own material, is to read the work of your peers and offer feedback. You will learn a lot by what others do, and don’t do, and by how you give and receive feedback. As writers, learning how to process feedback and notes is key, because that’s how this business works, and because writing is rewriting.  

Resources:

SCREENPLAY DOWNLOADS

The Script Lab www.thescriptlab.com

Indie Film Hustle www.indiefilmhustle.com

Simply Scripts www.simplyscripts.com

Script City www.scriptcity.com 

 

GRANTS, LABS & FELLOWSHIPS

No Film School www.nofilmschool.com (grants, labs, fellowships, script downloads)

Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab www.sundance.org/programs/feature-film

Film Independent Screenwriting Lab www.filmindependent.org/programs/artist-development/screenwriting-lab

Academy Nicholl Fellowships www.oscars.org/nicholl

 

INDUSTRY SITES

Deadline Hollywood  www.deadline.com

Variety  www.variety.com

Hollywood Reporter  www.hollywoodreporter.com

Writers Guild of America, West (the guild for professional screenwriters)

www.wga.org

Internet Movie Database (the “who’s who” in showbusiness)

www.imdb.com

Deliverables

Structure/Deadlines:

Each week, I present topics for discussion and I assign tasks with instructions to post comments on the Canvas platform, via Discussions.  

A class week starts Thursday at 12:01 AM Pacific time and extends to the following Wednesday, ending at 11:59 PM Pacific time.

All weekly assignments are assigned on the first day of each class and they are due by the last day of that particular week, by no later than Wednesday at 11:59 PM Pacific time.

Format of Assignments:

Discussions and feedback must be posted on the Canvas platform, via Discussions.

Assignments must be submitted as a PDF file.  

My feedback will be given via Canvas and in class.

Access to Modules:  

Modules will become available on Wednesdays. Please do not post or turn in assignments before the first day of the module (Wednesday). If you have special circumstances, please contact me via Canvas messaging before working ahead in this course.

Evaluation

Type                                                                Weight

Writing Assignments                                      70%

Participation                                                     30%

Breakdown:

Grade                          Range                                     Notes

A                                  90-100 points                          Pass

B                                  80-89 points                            Pass

C                                  60-79 points                            Pass

F                                  Below 60 points                        Fail

 

Course Policies

Inclusive Teaching Statement

Writing comes from a very personal place. To write is to make oneself vulnerable, and to share one’s writing is an act of courage, collaboration and, even, celebration.

Who you are, what you are, and why you are – these are the gifts that you bring to the craft.  

In this course, which is conducted as a workshop, it is my intent that students from diverse perspectives and backgrounds will be embraced and well-served by the content and by my teaching. It is my intent that students’ educational needs will be addressed and that the students’ diversity will be seen as both a resource and an asset.

It is my intent that the materials and activities will be respectful of diversity: gender identity, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, nationality, religion, and culture.

We all have different skills, talents, and abilities. While our writing does not define who we are, what and how we write reflects our unique gifts and diverse experiences. It is my intent that we show as much respect for the writing itself as we do for each other. I will do my best to nurture a workshop environment in which each student will feel comfortable and valued when presenting writing as well as when responding to the work of peers.

Please let me know if something presented in class, by me or by students, causes discomfort or offense. Here are ways we can address such a situation should it arise:

  1. Contact me through the email on Canvas. I want to know about your experience and will try to find ways for you to process and/or address the issue. Also, we can arrange for a phone call.
  2. If you do not feel comfortable discussing the issue with me, please contact the UCLA EX Student Affairs Officer Carrie Troung.
  3. Consult with me for a way to present your issue with the entire class, if you feel that would be useful. Discussion can enable all of us to arrive at a deeper understanding of the issue.

Attendance and Participation:

Attendance at the weekly meeting times is required. If there is an emergency or you have a commitment you can't change, let me know in advance. Make sure you still turn in your assignments and feedback on time.

Good participation is demonstrated through regular and thoughtful contributions to the weekly discussions, writing workshops, and in-class exercises. I expect timely and professional communication with both your fellow students and myself throughout the course.   

Students must be present in class on the day their work is up for workshop.

Course Content Guidelines:

The Writers’ Program commits to creating a welcoming, inclusive learning environment for all students. The study of writing requires students to craft, share, and discuss works by established authors as well as peers in the classroom.

Because of this, you may encounter content that affirms and upholds structural and institutional inequities, often historical in nature, that marginalize and silence communities and fixed/unchangeable aspects of personal identity. This kind of oppressive content is never appropriate in our classrooms. If you feel content presented by the instructor or another student is oppressive, voice your concerns about the work to the instructor directly, or discuss the situation with the Writers’ Program Student Affairs Officer. If you encounter language, ideas, opinions, and perspectives that do not align with your personal beliefs to a degree that you can’t in good conscience fulfill the expectations of the assignment, contact your instructor to determine if an alternate reading or activity can be provided for you. If a discussion with the instructor fails, contact the Writers’ Program Student Affairs Officer for further support.

Late Work:

All late work requires my approval to receive credit. This means we need a conversation or email exchange before the assignment is late. Work that is not turned in receives no credit. Work turned in late without permission receives no credit. Work that is turned in early in anticipation of an absence will receive credit.  

Technology Issues:

In the event of technology failures, students must send assignments as attachments to me through Canvas messaging. Then, I will post them into the forum on your behalf.

Reading and Workshopping Guidelines:

Be open and supportive of the risks taken by your workshop peers. Read attentively when your work is critiqued—takes notes on your own for reference. Read and make notes on your assigned readings—come to each workshop ready to discuss.

Artistic Guidelines:

This course is designed to challenge you and expand your concepts about writing. Please be prepared to take risks with your writing, and respect and support the risks of your classmates.

Every assignment should be a first or mostly-first draft in order to allow for the greatest level of discovery for future revisions. You are not expected to reinvent the wheel. Identifying the possibility that wheels can exist is enough. 

Program 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 such as this falls into the categories of Consultation and Mentorship, which are separate services your Instructor can provide through special arrangement with the Writers’ Program.

Weekly Class Structure:

You will work on your own material as well as read the assigned screenplays. In addition, you will give and receive feedback on your own and on your peers’ assignments. I will provide feedback, comment, guidance, and share my own professional experiences. In addition, I will host guest speakers from the industry to focus on specific relevant subjects.

Please note that there will be no recording permitted of any kind in this class, be it in a classroom on campus or via Zoom remote instruction. This is to create a nurturing workshop environment for students, as well as to protect each student's (and the Instructor's) intellectual property. When using Zoom remote instruction, the goal is to create an atmosphere that is as close as possible to an in-class experience.

A Note on Giving & Receiving Feedback:

This industry is all about collaboration. We’ll reflect that collaboration in our course by offering and receiving feedback in a manner that is constructive and respectful. Learning how to take notes is part and parcel of being a writer. It is a process. A notes session as an opportunity to re-visit one’s work and to ameliorate the vision for one’s story.

All creative work is subjective. When providing feedback, begin with the positive: what you liked, what you felt worked well. Then, when providing criticism, please do so respectfully yet honestly. Remember that your feedback is just that: feedback. It’s your opinion. Once you share your criticism, it would be helpful to follow that up with possible solutions to the issue.

When receiving feedback, remember that it is not something to be taken personally and one shouldn’t be defensive. Take the time to listen. Be grateful for the insights being shared. Yet keep in mind that feedback is just that: feedback. There is no right; there is no wrong. Even when you may not agree with the note being given, the note does give you the chance to re-visit your work with a fresh perspective and that is always a worthwhile creative process.

A Note on Zoom Etiquette:

Please leave your camera on for the duration of our online classes so that you are present for discussions and feedback with your peers. Please do not switch your camera on and off. If you need to take a break or get a glass of water, please leave your camera on so that your peers understand that you have not tuned out during presentations of their work.

You are expected to be fully engaged in all discussions and presentations and may be called upon to give feedback at any time throughout the duration of class.

The 8 Plot Points (AKA beats) to keep in mind:

1 - Opening image/scene: This establishes the world or the character or both. The status quo.
2 - The inciting incident: This is the event that sets the story in motion ... usually on or before page 10 of the screenplay, but no later than page 10. This throws the status quo out the window, so to speak.
3 - End of Act I: The protagonist commits to the goal, makes a difficult decision, and takes action that propels the story forward.
4 - Mid-Point: This is either an unexpected external force that changes the protagonist's plan or the protagonist decides to take control of his/her/their own destiny.
5 - End of Act II: This is the lowest point for the protagonist, and the worst thing imaginable happens.
6 - Climax: This is the protagonist's showdown with the antagonist.
7 - Resolution: An extra beat or two to wrap up loose ends.
8 - Final Image: This shows the protagonist’s journey and growth.

There is also the classic “Save the Cat” process of crafting plot points (beats), as created by Blake Snyder, that you may wish to employ.

Please see the link: https://www.studiobinder.com/blog/save-the-cat-beat-sheet

No matter how you choose to look at plot points (beats), the structure of good drama writing applies. This is why the plot points (beats) are helpful as you craft your story. One of the main reasons a writer gets lost is because one or more of the plot points (beats) isn’t working. 

Some other things to keep in mind:

Writing is an art form. A passion. And a business. To succeed in this industry, you must develop a disciplined writing process that works for you. Every writer has his or her own process. In this course, you will discover the process that best suits your schedule, abilities, and dedication. It is called “show business” for a reason: it weds your creative mind and passion with a business approach. You are taking this course because you want to succeed in this industry. Be open to the power of the imagination and unleash your creativity while developing a working model that will harness your talents and skills and lead you to your place in this profession.

And one last thing: Students must have a completed Outline for this course.  Anyone not having a completed Outline should look to transferring to Feature Film I.

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 academic dishonesty, such as cheating, multiple submission, plagiarism, or knowingly furnishing false information to the University; or behavioral misconduct, such as theft or misuse of the intellectual property of others, harassment, or disruption of the learning environment. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Student Rights & Responsibilities Policy and to report concerns regarding 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 Live Instruction

Live meeting sessions for this class, when applicable, 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. Due to privacy, recordings are not available for download and are only accessible via Canvas for the duration of the class. If you have privacy concerns and do not wish to appear in the recording, do not turn on your video and/or audio. 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 Module Title Notes
Week 1 Sept 23, 2021, 7 PM - 10 PM
Via Zoom
Introductions. Welcome to the world of screenwriting.

Introduce yourselves, your writing experience, what you hope to learn from this class, and how you picture yourself, in the future, working as a screenwriter.

We will review the syllabus, course overview, and course policies.

Note: You must have a completed Outline for this course.   

We will discuss the current state of cinema. We will identify genres. We will discuss themes, tone, characters, plot, the 3-act structure, and introducing the world of one’s cinematic story.  We will discuss the skill set required to move from the Outline/Treatment stage to Screenplay.

Then, you will pitch your Outline to the class. Please use a logline, a hook, and remember the five crucial elements to a pitch: 

  • THEME
  • TONE
  • GENRE
  • CHARACTERS
  • STORY PLOT

Your Screenplay Assignment: Revising the Outline

Based on your pitch and the feedback you receive, revisit your Outline. Please keep in mind that your Outline needs to include an expansion on the following plot points (beats):

1 - Opening image/scene: This establishes the world or the character or both. The status quo.
2 - The inciting incident: This is the event that sets the story in motion, it kick-starts everything ... usually on or before page 10 of the screenplay, but no later than page 10. This throws the status quo out the window, so to speak.
3 - End of Act I: The protagonist commits to the goal, makes a difficult decision, and takes action that propels the story forward.
4 - Mid-Point: This is either an unexpected external force that changes the protagonist's plan or the protagonist decides to take control of his/her own destiny.
5 - End of Act II: This is the lowest point for the protagonist, and the worst thing imaginable happens.
6 - Climax: This is the protagonist's showdown with the antagonist.
7 - Resolution: An extra beat or two to wrap up loose ends.
8 - Final Image: This shows the protagonist’s journey and growth.

Submit the revised Outline on Canvas, via Discussions.

Read at least one other classmate’s work and provide feedback.

Submit on Canvas, via Discussions, by no later than 11:59 PM on September 29.

Reading Assignment: Analysis – The Five Elements

You will read an assigned screenplay. Share your response to it on Canvas, and what you think may apply to your own work. Discuss the five elements: Theme, Tone, Genre, Characters, Story Plot.

Read at least one other classmate’s work and provide feedback.

Submit on Canvas, via Discussions, by no later than 11:59 PM on September 29.

Week 2 Sept 30, 2021, 7 PM-10 PM
Via Zoom
Characters. Heroes. Villains.

We will discuss the classic Hero’s Journey.

We will discuss the 4 character "types":

-The controller: wants to do it now

-The analyst: wants to do it right

-The promoter: doesn’t think about the consequences

-The supporter: puts others first

We will discuss what a character “wants” versus what a character “needs”.

We will examine what motivates a central character.  Everything your characters do must be motivated internally. They do not do things to advance your plot, they do things because of who they are, because they are reacting to what they want or need, or to what they’re trying to stop. 

We will examine the other characters that surround your central character, the protagonist. Who is the antagonist? Who exists to help your protagonist? To hurt him/her/them? The supporting characters exist to reveal different aspects of your protagonist.

Where does your protagonist begin (emotionally) at the start of your story? Where does he/she/they end up, at the close of your story? How does the protagonist evolve/change?

Remember, your hero is only as good as your villain. So, focus on letting us get to know the hero AND the villain. Make them human. How do you build a character, through actions & behaviors, so that we get behind them and root for them, or so that we await their downfall?

Note: By this point, the Outline is locked in and your choice of story cannot be changed.

Your Screenplay Assignment: Hero vs. Villain

Go deeper than you have gone before when it comes to your hero and your villain. Write their character biographies. If you already have such biographies, then re-visit them -- and make the characters more layered, make them flawed, make us see ourselves in them. What happened in the past that makes them a hero or a villain? What drives the hero? What drives the villain?

Read at least one other classmate’s work and provide feedback.

Submit on Canvas, via Discussions, by no later than 11:59 PM on October 6.

Reading Assignment: Analysis –  Heroes and Villains

You will read an assigned screenplay. Share your response to it on Canvas, and what you think may apply to your own work. Discuss the screenplay in terms of its characters, specifically the hero and the villain, their wants, their needs, their issues and obstacles.

Read at least one other classmate’s work and provide feedback.

Submit on Canvas, via Discussions, by no later than 11:59 PM on October 6.

Week 3 October 7, 7 PM - 10 PM
Via Zoom
Set-Ups & Pay-Offs

We will look at the "set-up", which is planting a seed early on in your story, and the "pay-off", which occurs later in the story. The first act is all about set-ups that get paid-off in the ensuing acts. Set-ups and pay-offs are the yin and the yang of storytelling.  

Your Screenplay Assignment: Set-ups in Act One

Write a document that lists and describes what you are setting up in Act One, in terms of both character and plot, and how you plan to pay off each set-up in Acts Two and Three.

Read at least two other classmates’ work and provide feedback.

Submit on Canvas, via Discussions, by no later than 11:59 PM on October 13.

Reading Assignment: Analysis – Set-Ups & Pay-Offs

You will read an assigned screenplay. Share your response to it on Canvas, and what you think may apply to your own work. Discuss the screenplay in terms of identifying the set-ups and the pay-offs.

Read at least one other classmate’s work and provide feedback.

Submit on Canvas, via Discussions, by no later than 11:59 PM on October 13.

 

Week 4 October 14, 2021, 7 PM- 10 PM
Via Zoom
Going to Screenplay: The Opening

We will discuss what the first act needs to include:

-the central character’s “want” versus “the need”

-the inciting incident

-the debate: Will the central character accept “the challenge”?

-the journey begins

-how does the first act end?

We will discuss how a scene should do one, or all, of these three things:

- move the story forward

-reveal character

-create conflict for the protagonist

We will discuss the 5 Ws of a scene: Who? What? Where? When? Why?

We will discuss how to kick-start a screenplay with a strong opening, a scene or a sequence that makes us say "OMG!" and compels us to go on reading. We will discuss how the first 5 pages can make or break a screenplay, and when the inciting incident should take place.

Your Screenplay Assignment: The First 5 Pages

Write the first 5 pages of your screenplay.

Read at least two other classmates’ work and provide feedback.

Submit on Canvas, via Discussions, by no later than 11:59 PM on October 20.

Reading Assignment: Analysis – Structure & Scenes

You will read an assigned screenplay. Share your response to it on Canvas, and what you think may apply to your own work. Discuss the screenplay in terms of its structure and in terms of the potency of its scene work.

This will be the last of the four assigned script analysis assignments in this course.

Read at least one other classmate’s response and provide feedback.

Submit on Canvas, via Discussions, by no later than 11:59 PM on October 20.

Week 5 October 21, 2021 7 PM -10 PM
Via Zoom
The Next 5 Pages

We will workshop some of the students’ work and provide feedback.

Remember, your page one is never truly done until you write FADE OUT:

Writing is rewriting.

Your Screenplay Assignment: Rewrite the First 5 Pages, Write the Next 5 Pages

Rewrite the first 5 pages, based on feedback, and write the next 5 pages.  

Read at least three other classmates’ work and provide feedback.

Submit on Canvas, via Discussions, by no later than 11:59 PM on October 27.

Week 6 October 28, 2021 7 PM-10 PM
Via Zoom
And The Next 5 Pages...

We will workshop some of the students’ work and provide feedback.

Remember, writing is rewriting. So, as you proceed to the next 5 pages, you will want to revisit and refine all the pages that go before it.

Your Screenplay Assignment: Rewrite the First 10 Pages, Write the Next 5 Pages

Rewrite the first 10 pages, based on feedback, and write the next 5 pages.  

Read at least three other classmates’ work and provide feedback.

Submit on Canvas, via Discussions, by no later than 11:59 PM on November 3.

Week 7 November 4, 2021 7 PM-10 PM
Via Zoom
And Then The Next 5 Pages...

We will workshop some of the students’ work and provide feedback.

Remember, writing is rewriting. So, as you proceed to the next 5 pages, you will want to revisit and refine all the pages that go before it.

Your Screenplay Assignment: Rewrite the First 15 Pages, Write the Next 5 Pages

Rewrite the first 15 pages, based on feedback, and write the next 5 pages.  

Read at least three other classmates’ work and provide feedback.

Submit on Canvas, via Discussions, by no later than 11:59 PM on November 17.

Week 8 November 18, 2021 7 PM _10 PM
Via Zoom
And Then The Next 5 Pages...

We will workshop some of the students’ work and provide feedback.

Remember, writing is rewriting. So, as you proceed to the next 5 pages, you will want to revisit and refine all the pages that go before it.

Your Screenplay Assignment: Rewrite the First 20 Pages, Write the Next 5 Pages

Rewrite the first 20 pages, based on feedback, and write the next 5 pages.  

Read at least three other classmates’ work and provide feedback.

Submit on Canvas, via Discussions, by no later than 11:59 PM on December 1.

Week 9 December 2, 2021 7 PM-10 PM
Via Zoom
And Then The Next 5 Pages...Finishing Act One

We will workshop some of the students’ work and provide feedback.

Remember, writing is rewriting. So, as you proceed to the next 5 pages, you will want to revisit and refine all the pages that go before it.

Your Screenplay Assignment: Rewrite the First 25 Pages, Write the Next 5 Pages ... Finishing Act One

Rewrite the first 25 pages, based on feedback, and write the next 5 pages.  

Read at least three other classmates’ work and provide feedback.

Submit on Canvas, via Discussions, by no later than 11:59 PM on December 8.

Week 10 December 9, 2021 7 PM-10 PM
Via Zoom
Reviewing Act One

We will workshop some of the students’ work and provide feedback.

Remember, writing is rewriting.  

We will discuss the business side of writing:

-managers, agents

-fellowships

-competitions

-film festivals

-“proof of concept” short films

-pitch decks, mood boards, sizzle reels

A guest speaker (a producer, an agent or a manager) will discuss what they look for in a writer and in a writer’s sample screenplay.  

Your Screenplay Assignment: Rewrite Act One

Rewrite Act One, based on the feedback and discussion.  

Read at least three other classmates’ work and provide feedback.

Submit on Canvas, via Discussions, by no later than 11:59 PM on December 15.