Lesson #1:  SCRIPTWRITING

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a) FILMMAKING BASICS

LESSON #1:   SCRIPTWRITING

Your Final Class Assignment Will Be:

WRITE A (2-5) PAGE SCRIPT

(with friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers)

That can be shot in (1-2) days as a low/no budget film

There are (5) modules to Lesson #1

It's important you do the modules in the order given:

       

        a)  Filmmaking Basics (this page)

        b)  Scriptwriting Basics

        c)  Writing Team Challenge

        d)  Creating Your Story

        e)  Writing Your Script

         

BE PREPARED TO BE SURPRISED! 

 

Those of us working for wages (rather than a salary) usually don't talk about how to develop ourselves  as thinkers, doers, creators, and confident risk-takers, working towards goals beyond what we know.  (Though if you have children you push for their development!

Guess what?!  As a beginning Writer, you need to understand why people are (or aren't) thinkers, doers, creators, and risk-takers.  This understanding will help you develop believable Characters your audience will respond to as human.  Otherwise you'll end up with stick figure Characters that exist only to execute your plot twist!

DIFFERENT KIND OF TEACHING  

I developed my approach and training materials specifically for adults like in my own blue collar family.   I pull from my first career in counseling and community organizing to  incorporate  stuff that helps you in life, period, whatever you're up against (like pulling together yourself and other adult beginners not use to working as a team). 

 

 

Want to build your story around really interesting Characters?  Don't skip exercises that ask:  What do you think about being human?  Your written answers will fuel lots of ideas as you develop the characters and scenario for your short script. 

 

 

(One of the things you will be learning is film terminology.  

So look up words you don't know!) 

 "FILMMAKING BASICS"

    IS DIVIDED INTO (5) SECTIONS

        EACH WITH AN EXERCISE

         FOR YOU TO COMPLETE 

It's fine to glance over all the sections first.  But you won't understand the lesson if you don't take time to do the exercises!  Recommended:  Do just one section / exercise per study session and really think about it.           THIS IS NORMALLY A SEMESTER LONG CLASS! 

1.   REWARDS OF LEARNING

                    HOW TO WRITE A SHORT SCRIPT                                      (even if you don't turn it into a film)                                                                                                           

  • Free and fun mental and creative challenge -- especially if you do it as a Writing Team

  • Become a better storyteller, period, even at parties!  You'll understand how to shape your thoughts for an audience 

 

  • Watch films (or series) you like (or don’t) with a new        insider's perspective

  • Better understand human behavior; how our routines             and everyday choices reveal who we are

  • If you're an actor or been helping on other people’s small  shoots, here’s help for developing your own project!

      NO ACTION SCRIPTS! 

People can get hurt doing fights and stunts! (Plus it's hard to repeat with multiple takes!)  Using Action can also cover up how boring your Story and Characters are!

  MOTIVATION & OBSTACLES  

 ASSIGNMENT  (30 min) 

.

 

1)  Write down (5) things you think might be fun or interesting about writing a short script.

  

2)  Write down (5) reasons why you will never (can’t) write a short script!  (Even if you plan to write a script, list things that might slow you down or distract you)

 

3)  Can you fail when you are trying to learn?  Yes or no, and why?  (This is a great ? to discuss with others)

MY UNIQUE FOCUS AS A TEACHER

My emphasis as a teacher is not on running the technical  -- Camera and Lighting. 

 

(Lesson #2: ‘MAKING YOUR FILM’ will include tips and resources to help you either handle your own Camera and Lighting, or recruit crew who will work for free or a small fee.  TIP:  Getting people to help starts with having a great script to show them! ) 

 

Let's start with learning how to become a great Storyteller!  

          

 2.   STORYTELLING  (90 min)  

Short scripts can only give you a brief view into a Character's life.  Sometimes the plot might simply be about revealing how a Character will deal with a challenging situation.

Comedy Writers often throw everyday problems at their Characters who have well established trademark ways (i.e. habits, mannerisms, wardrobe, and opinions).  The audience has fun anticipating how Characters will respond!   

MAKE BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS AND THEY CAN MAKE ANY SITUATION INTERESTING 

    ASSIGNMENT   

.

To introduce 'STORYTELLING' I've chosen  short scenes from (2) classic comedy series for you to study.  Watch them, then do the exercises with both of the scenes: 

SANFORD & SON  ('We Were Robbed')

THE IT CROWD   ('Help Desk')

a)       DEVELOPING CHARACTERS 

            READ THESE (2) ARTICLES: 

"Personality Traits"  & "Character Traits"

Then list (3) Personality Traits and (3) Character Traits you see in each of the (2) main Characters in the scene.    You can add traits not listed in the articles. 

b)        STRONG OPENINGS

WATCH VIDEO: "Hooking Your Audience"

Watch each scene again ('We Were Robbed' and 'Help Desk').   Write down a description of how the scene opens.    Do you think it is a strong opening?   Why or why not?

 

OTHER SUBJECTS TO BE COVERED:

c)   Tips on shaping an engaging story

d)   Proper script format and why it's needed  e)   Writing a script that fits your resources

 

 

 3.  PRODUCTION DESIGN  

 

(90 minutes)

 

I love imagining elements of Production Design that will help me visually tell my story and create vivid Characters on the page.  You don't want to write only dialogue and situations! Write like a Filmmaker by including visual descriptions that will inspire the Director and Production Designer!

 

   ASSIGNMENT   

 

a)            DO YOU KNOW WHAT

PRODUCTION DESIGN IS?

   IT'S THE  VISUAL LOOK OF A FILM    (i..e. location, set, props, wardrobe, hair

   and make-up, lighting design, etc.)

 

 WATCH VIDEO: 

'How To Design A Film World'

              

b)           CREATING A WORLD

                    ON A BUDGET

           

        READ THESE (2) ARTICLES:

'Set Design On A Budget'

'Build a Movie Set In Your Garage'

  

c)    WATCH THE TWO SCENES AGAIN:

 

'We Were Robbed'     'Help Desk'

Write a description of (10) Production Design elements in each scene.  I intentionally chose scenes with working-class worlds -- ones you can imagine creating yourself with resources you already have!  

 4.  LEARNING TO TRUST YOUR 

 OWN IDEAS & CREATIVITY 

(90 min)

It's hard -- in the rush of daily survival -- to find the time and mental focus to try something new.  (Especially if some people in your life are not supportive and when you know you have so much to learn!)   

GIVE YOUR CHARACTERS THE

PROBLEMS AND DIFFICULTIES REGULAR PEOPLE (LIKE YOURSELF) FACE !

  ASSIGNMENT   

 

a)      BEING HARD ON YOURSELF

 

READ THIS ARTICLE:

Stop Being So Hard On Yourself 

The article lists (12) ways to stop being hard on yourself.   Reverse that!   Choose (6) of the ways and write down how you imagine a Character doing the opposite.

 

(Example:  #5 "Learn from people who criticize you", gets twisted and the Character either wants to destroy anyone who criticizes him or is embarrassed and wants to be invisible.)   

b)         GETTING COMFORTABLE

    WITH BEING A BEGINNING WRITER

 

             READ THIS ARTICLE:            

           Trusting Your Own Creativity  

 

The Writer of the article explains how  easy it is to doubt her own writing.  She shares rituals she does to help keep herself focused and writing.   List (3) things you can do to help keep you  focused and continuing with the lesson over different days, even weeks (can be methods not mentioned in article).

                                 

 PREVIEW!

Coming Winter 2020  

 5.  ORGANIZING THE SHOOT  

(60 min)

 

Topics To Be Covered in Lesson #2:

“MAKING YOUR FILM”

  • Team Building Tips and Resources For:           1)  Directing someone who has never acted before and how to recruit  Actors who will work for free                             2) Doing your own Camera and Lighting and how to recruit a free or low cost tech crew      

  • Planning for, collecting, and managing  shoot materials and equipment

  • Creative and technical prep (shot list / storyboards; directing actors, scouting location, production design) 

  • Scheduling crew, actors, and equipment in a limited time framework with limited space

  • The importance of feeding people!

**************

GET A JUMP ON LESSON #2!

     VIDEO   

Top (15) Mistakes Beginner

Filmmakers Make

As you view the video make

a list of all (15) Mistakes!

 

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