382854: Feature Film II
- Fall 2021
- Section 1
- 3 Credits
- 09/29/2021 to 12/07/2021
- Modified 09/07/2021
Each class week begins on a Wednesday (Day 1) and ends the following Tuesday (Day 7). All written assignments must be posted by Tuesday night (Day 7). All Discussion peer responses must be submitted to the Discussion thread by Thursday (Day 9) at 11:59 pm. However, the earlier you post your assignment, the earlier everyone can make comments and provide you with feedback. (I provide feedback in chronological order of posting.)
Although I have seven days after the class week ends (by Tuesday at midnight of the following class week) to grade the assignments, the earlier you turn in your assignment, the earlier you will also receive feedback from me.
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.
The goals for this course are:
- Begin with the story you created in Writing The First Screenplay I (or another if you prefer.)
- Write the first act, roughly the first 25-30 pages, of your screenplay.
- Enhance your understanding of structure and character.
- Learn to create effective, compelling scenes and great dialog.
By the end of this course, students will understand how to set up the story in Act 1 of a screenplay so that Acts 2 and 3 can flow organically from Act 1. Students will also learn about writing effective characterization, dialogue and scene description, as well as how to create a detailed and interesting world in which the story takes place.
REQUIRED & RECOMMENDED READINGS
The Writer’s Journey
Author: Christopher Vogler
Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions (available on Amazon)
Optional: Books you may find helpful
- Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias
- Screenwriting, The Sequence Approach by Paul Guilino
- Wired For Story by Lisa Cron
- The Hollywood Pitch Bible by Ken Aquado and Douglas Eboch
Graded Assignment and Discussion Threads
Class participation is every week of our online course, and it is held in the Graded Assignment and Discussion threads. The weekly Graded Assignment and Discussion thread is where you will post your assignments for others to read and give you feedback (including me) and also post your peer responses (feedback to the other students on their assignments).
Please note that, per UCLA policy, I can provide feedback on only one assignment per week. Any assignments that you revise cannot receive additional feedback from me.
Written assignments are due by Tuesday night (Day 7) of the current class week. Assignments must be posted as a Reply on the Discussion board.
This class has a requirement of two peer responses per class week, along with the weekly written assignments. The peer responses are feedback comments to your classmates about their assignments. (Responses that are replies to a classmate’s feedback to you or my feedback to you about your work don’t count towards the peer responses requirement.)
In order to receive credit for your peer responses, they must be at least three sentences long. Please make your responses clear and complete enough that that your classmates can fully understand your ideas. Examples, such as repeating a particular line or paragraph in the assignment and then commenting specifically on that area, can help to clarify your meaning.
Late Assignments Policy
All Discussion responses and assignments must be posted during the current class week to receive credit. Late written assignments will not be accepted for credit unless you have a good reason, such as travel for work or illness. In that case, you will need to email me by the last day of the current class week (Tuesday or Day 7). Because this is a fairly intensive class, I do not provide feedback on assignments that are more than a week late.
Your final assignment, due in Week 9, is a draft of your complete Act 1, which should be about 25-30 pages.
The final assignment must be posted by the last day of our course in order to receive credit and my feedback. (If you have a family emergency, such as you or a family member are in the hospital, you must contact me by the last day or class to ask for an extension. In that case, until you turn in the final assignment, your grade will be an Incomplete).
Netiquette (Online Etiquette) in Class
Discussions and critiques of each other’s work (feedback via the peer responses) are an important part of our online class. The Discussion threads take the place of a traditional classroom, where we would be discussing our work face to face. While an online class offers a great deal of convenience, the drawback to this kind of discussion is that we cannot witness each other’s nonverbal communication (facial expression, body language, tone of voice) in the responses. Therefore, it is imperative that you adopt a courteous tone in your postings, even when you disagree with a classmate (or with me). Feedback is a critical part of the writing and revision process; just a reminder that your feedback should be constructive.
Here are some pointers for you to remember in the discussions on the written assignments:
- You may critique the writing, but don’t criticize the writer. “You didn’t do ____ right” is an example of making your comment harsh and too personal. Focus on the writing, not on the writer.
- Try to be specific and precise in your answers. (Being specific and precise are two important hallmarks of good writing generally!!) A feedback response such as “I didn’t like the dialogue” is less helpful to the writer than “I thought that Jerry’s answer to Dorothy was out of character because. . . .”
- Look for what the writer has done well and bring this up in the discussion.
- If you are confused by anything in the writing, bring this up as well.
- If you are confused by or need further explanation of any feedback you have received from your classmates or from me, ask questions!
- Remember that feedback is an opinion, not a fact. You are free to accept or reject the opinions of others. However, be open to others’ opinions and consider them before rejecting them. And if more than one person brings up the same issue, this is a good indication that something in your writing may need to be changed. Many Academy Award-winning scripts have gone through numerous drafts.
- Providing feedback in the form of story coverage, meetings and notes is standard operating procedure for production companies, agencies and studios. You might as well get used to it now.
- Please do not share each other’s ideas for films outside of class with anyone else unless you have expressly received the author’s permission to do so. Hollywood is Hollywood. Ideas can get stolen. Register your completed outline or screenplay with the WGA (Writers Guild of America) https://www.wgawregistry.org/webrss/ either online or by mail. If you’d like extra intellectual property protection, you should also copyright your work with the Library of Congress.
Inclusive Teaching Statement
During my many years as a teacher, I have had the privilege of working with students from every social background, from many different countries and across ages from eighteen to sixty-five. My students have hailed from Israel, Australia, Brazil, Vietnam, China, Russia, Germany and Korea.
I have crafted the writing of novice writers as well as professionals. I have honored the diversity in my classroom by encouraging students to use their upbringing and socio-economic status as springboards for their projects. I have even taught students with disabilities ranging from depression to ADHD.
I endeavor to be sensitive to each person’s way of learning and ability to absorb information while also staying on task. I want my classroom to be a warm, respectful learning environment. I want everyone to feel included and heard within the context of learning. I treat everyone equally giving focused time and attention to each student.
I encourage my students to be their own showrunner which means to do what feels right for their process and their project. However, students still need to learn to adapt their material from constructive criticism -- a vital ability in the Film Industry.
If a student doesn’t understand my feedback, I am always open to discussing it or re-explaining it. And if a student feels they have experienced an exclusionary environment, he/she or they should email me immediately to discuss what happened.
Writing is about communicating. We all have our own singular perspective and part of being a great writer is seeing from everyone else’s perspective. Stepping into someone else’s shoes. In my classes we are learning to see each person’s perspective. In that way, diversity and inclusivity helps us as writers and as human beings.
It is your option whether or not to take our online class for a letter grade, non-credit, pass/not pass, etc. Make sure to double-check when you enroll that you have chosen the kind of grading you desire for this course.
Class Participation (giving feedback to your fellow writers): 20 points
Attitude (listening to others and considering their opinions/being respectful): 20 points
Homework Assignments: 40 points
Final Script: 20 points
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
||Getting to Know You|
||Underwriting - Subtext!|
||Set Up and Pay Offs|
||Film Language and Twists|
||Moment of Truth|