MAKE A FILM CLASS SERIES
I developed and taught the "Make A Film" Class Series for Brooklyn Young Filmmakers for (7) years in conjunction with NYC College of Technology's Continuing Ed, producing (12) short low/no budget student film shoots.
I pull from that curriculum to start with a multi-faceted Scriptwriting Lesson for Beginners. For homework there are exercises, as well as links to online articles and instructional videos for you to study. You can ask questions and share feedback on the assignments on our Q&A Blog.
SCRIPTWRITING LESSON OVERVIEW
Your Final Class Assignment Will Be:
WRITE A (2-5) PAGE SCRIPT
(with friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, or strangers)
That can be shot in (1) day as a low/no budget film
There Are (5) Lesson Modules
It's Suggested You Follow The Given Order
(but if you're bored with one module - skip ahead!)
1) Filmmaking Basics (this page)
COMING IN MAY 2020!
Free Online 'MAKING YOUR FILM' Lessons
For People's Hollywood Beginners
Self-Producing Their Short Scripts
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 other adult beginners not use to working as a self-guiding team).
Want to build your story around really interesting Characters? Don't skip exercises that ask: What do you think about being human? About fears and doubts and hopes. Your written answers about yourself 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 stop and look up words you don't know!)
IS DIVIDED INTO (4) SECTIONS
EACH WITH EXERCISES
FOR YOU TO COMPLETE
It's fine to glance over all the sections first. But you won't get maximum benefit from the lessons if you don't take time to do the exercises! Recommended: Do just one section / exercise per study session and really think about it.
SCRIPTWRITING IS NORMALLY A SEMESTER LONG CLASS!
MY FOCUS AS A TEACHER
My emphasis as a teacher is not the technical.
It's learning how to become a great Storyteller!
(before you even start writing)
1. REWARDS OF LEARNING HOW TO WRITE A SHORT SCRIPT
(Even if you don't turn it into a film)
It's a free, 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.
Join discussions about Films or Series you like (or don’t) with new insider's perspective and a lot to say!
Understand better human behavior and how to talk about it; how our routines and every day 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!
ASSIGNMENT (60 min)
'MOTIVATION & OBSTACLES'
1) Write down (5) things you think might be fun or interesting about the process of writing a short script.
Then write down (5) things that might be interesting about making a short film.
(When it's made with resources you already have, so you don't have to worry about $ !)
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.)
Write down (5) reasons why you will never (can’t) make a short film!
(Even if you plan to self-produce your script, list things that might slow you down or distract you.)
3) Can you fail when you are trying to learn? Write your answer down: Yes or no, and why?
(This is a great question to discuss with others !)
Short scripts can only give you a brief view into a Character's life. Sometimes the plot might simply be about how a Character will deal with a challenging -- but everyday -- situation.
Like being caught in a lie; losing something; wanting something someone else has; believing you have been wronged. Everyday life, but the characters more color, the situations more vividly presented, and the responses more idiotic or deadly.
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 favorite Characters will respond!
MAKE BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS AND
THEY'LL MAKE ANY SITUATION INTERESTING
ASSIGNMENT (90 min)
I've chosen short scenes from (2) classic comedy series for you to study. Watch them, then do the exercises below with both of the scenes:
SANFORD & SON ('We Were Robbed')
THE IT CROWD ('Help Desk')
a) DEVELOPING CHARACTERS
'Character Traits &
(The video is an arts education video for
3rd graders, so it's fun and clear! )
(An extensive list of traits that will
give you lots of ideas!)
Then list (5) Character Traits (include external and internal) for each of the (2) main Characters in both scenes: Father Fred and son Lamont in 'We Were Rob'; and co-workers Roy and Maurice in 'Help Desk'. You can add traits not mentioned in the video or article.
b) STRONG OPENINGS
WATCH VIDEO (10 min):
'Hooking Your Audience'
(This is a D4Darious video. I recommend
you check out this filmmakers whole video
library. Easy to understand and fun!)
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?
3. PRODUCTION DESIGN
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 (2 Hours)
'WHAT IS PRODUCTION DESIGN?'
a) THE VISUAL LOOK OF A FILM (i..e. location, set, props, wardrobe, hair and make-up, lighting design, etc.)
WATCH VIDEO (9 min):
Watch the two scenes again: 'We Were Robbed' & 'Help Desk'. Make a list of (10) Production Design elements for each scene. I intentionally chose scenes from working-class worlds -- ones you can imagine creating yourself with resources you already have!
b) CREATING A WORLD ON A BUDGET
READ THESE ARTICLES:
'How To Shoot A No-Budget Film'
(This is another inspiring D4Darious video)
Now think about your own physical world and make a list of (5) things you could imagine using in the production design of a short film. It can also be things you can borrow from family and friends.
(i..e. location, set items, props, wardrobe,, etc.)
4. LEARNING TO TRUST YOUR
OWN IDEAS & CREATIVITY
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 don't know how to be supportive (because maybe they're not doing anything new). Or when you know you have so much to learn about that something new that you don't know where to start -- so you don't.
That's why you keep it simple when creating the story for your script: Start With What You Know!
GIVE YOUR CHARACTERS THE
PROBLEMS AND DIFFICULTIES REGULAR PEOPLE (LIKE YOURSELF) FACE !
ASSIGNMENT (2 Hours)
'UNLEASH YOUR CREATIVITY'
a) BEING HARD ON YOURSELF
READ THIS ARTICLE:
The article lists (12) ways and the video (11) ways to stop being hard on yourself. List (3) ways you are sometimes hard on yourself. It can be ways not included in the article or video.
Now invent a Character -- who doesn't have to be anything like you -- can be a different age, background, etc. Give the Character a name and imagine (3) situations in which the Character is hard on him/her self.
Or if you want, you can choose a favorite Character from a Film or Series and list (3) ways you have seen the Character be hard on him/her self.
Now reverse that for the Character! Imagine that the Character learns how not to be hard on him/her self in those ways. Re-image the (3) situations where the Character was hard on self. Change his/her behavior and response to show new patience; an acceptance of the need to learn; or a realization that what happened wasn't bad -- that being different is ok.
b) BE OK WITH BEING A BEGINNER
READ THIS ARTICLE:
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 yourself keep focused and continuing with the Lesson over different days, even weeks. (You can list methods not mentioned in article).
Then watch these (2) videos:
'Why It's OK To Fail'
'Remember Your Kid !'
List (3) reasons why it's OK to fail when you are a beginner.