Lesson #1:  SCRIPTWRITING

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b) SCRIPTWRITING BASICS 

'SCRIPTWRITING BASICS'
IS DIVIDED INTO (6) 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! 

Before you go on, did you do: a) FILMMAKING BASICS ?

1.  WHAT KIND OF 
STORYTELLER
 ARE YOU? 

  ASSIGNMENT   (60 minutes)  

     

DO YOU

.

  • Love telling stories about your family, or what you saw other people doing?

  • Analyze the storylines of films? (To point of annoying other people!)

  • Like to do puzzles or games that require 'cognitive skills'?  (The core skills your brain uses to think, read, learn, remember, reason, problem solve, and visually process) 

  • Fancy yourself an amateur psychologist, keen on the little things that people say and do that give away their inner lives?

  

  • Watch every CSI show? (Crime Scene Investigation)   Love studying physical environments and objects to piece together the stories they tell?

  • Love history and doing research?

1)    Write down (5) things about yourself that might help you become a good Storyteller (including traits not listed above).

2)   Read an article on good habits and then an article on weird(!) habits.  Both can help you get flowing as a Writer (and use same tips to become better at studying!):

          (6) Tips On Creating Good Habits                     (11) Weird Habits You'll Love

 

3)  Write down (5) habits you already have, or can imagine starting, that could help you stick to studying and regular writing sessions.   

 2.   LEARNING TO ENJOY 'PREWRITING' 

 

Before you get started as a Writer, I want you to first get started as a 'writer' with a lower case 'w'. This is the note taker writer who jots down his/her (or the team's) ideas and thoughts, not meant to be shown to readers, but used to help further discussion.  This is called 'Prewriting'.

 'PREWRITING' ASSIGNMENT  (1 hour) 

 

1)   Below are (3) different resources explaining what 'Prewriting' is (because it's important you get it and do it!). The resources cover the same information, but in different ways.  One  might inspire you more, so check them all out.  You don't have to understand or use all the techniques.  Using even one technique will get you going:

 

Watch Video:  'Prewriting Techniques' 
 

Read Article:   'Prewriting Techniques' 

Review Slideshow 'Prewriting Techniques'   

2)   Choose your own one word Topic*        (Examples:  Dog / Work / Dinner / Subway, etc) 

 

(10 minute) Exercise: Pick one of the Prewriting Technique you learned about (i.e. brainstorming, clustering, listing, etc).    Use it to come up with as many ideas as you can for a story about your Topic (that includes ideas about how to  describe Characters and location).  

 

(*This is an exercise!  You can choose a

different topic when you start writing your script.) 

 
 

3.  BE LIKE THE PEOPLE WHO STARTED     HOLLYWOOD 

Filmmaking started to take

root in Hollywood  around  1910, at the end of the          Gold Rush  in California. 

 

Thomas Edison (actually William Dickson, one of Edison's  employees) had created the  movie camera in New Jersey (while an employee of the Lumiere brothers was creating one in France).   People took  cameras to California for the year round sunlight because   the early celluloid film stock (perfected by Eastman Kodak) needed a lot of natural light.   And some people fled to California with stolen cameras to get away from Edison's control! 

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE FIRST MOVIE CAMERAS

The people with cameras

pulled together crews and

actors from the locals  –

ex-gold miners, cowboys, traveling salesmen -- ordinary people just getting by who  wanted to try something new. 

 

THERE WERE ACTUALLY

LOTS OF WOMEN WORKING   IN EARLY FILM!

 

       'Movie-Made America'

    A Cultural History

   of American Movies

  by Robert Sklar

 

    A great book for a full history.       Take a 'look inside the book'.       (Skip past opening Contents 

          and Preface to Chapter #1:          'The Birth of a Mass Medium')

 HISTORY OF
SCRIPTWRITING
 ASSIGNMENT
  (60 min)  
 
1)    Watch this great Video:    History of Film &      Scriptwriting 
 Write down  (3) historical  facts that are new to you.
2)  List the (6) main elements     of a modern script (given at  9:30 minutes into the video)

 4.   THEY MADE 

LOW/NO BUDGET SHORT    FILMS! 

 

In the beginning their little

films were only a few minutes long.  They were viewed by

poor people in  Nickelodeons (think like a game arcade in

a mall).    The well-to-do

dressed up and went to the theater to see plays!

This was before there was any written plan to follow like a “script” (and they had  only one

camera to choose from!).   

 

HOW DID THEY COME UP

    WITH THEIR IDEAS        FOR FILMS?   

 

By looking around at what they had free – locations, wardrobe, props – and recruiting people who wanted to try acting. 

 

Everyone brainstormed over ideas for a story.   Often it

would be one person who

gave the starting idea, but

then everyone added to it.  

 

Read how the development of Scriptwriting was  necessary  because of the development  of Film Production   (better cameras and lights, longer stories, etc.) 

    Who Watched the Film?            History of Audiences  

              1896 to 1920

 

 *************

 Why Props Matter!

    Great Video About Film Props

  ('Prop': anything handled by actor)

SCAVENGER HUNT 
  ASSIGNMENT
  (30 min)  
 
List  (10) things* that you have (or can borrow) that would be fun to use or look great in a short film. Spend time looking! 
 
Come up with the weird,  unusual,  or special -- even if you don't know at first how to fit it into a story.   Keep this list handy for when you start to work on story ideas.
 
(*i.e. locations, clothing, paintings, rubber turkey, pretty box, rocking chair, a beautiful plant -- or a dying plant --, guitar, etc. )

 5.   MERGING 

     MINDS 

Like the earliest filmmakers, let’s  first focus on coming

up with a great story we can afford to shoot.  Then we'll

think about how to write it 

down as a script.  

Did you know it's not unusual  to have a couple of writers write the script for a short or feature film? (Sometimes together or taking turns writing different drafts)

 

FOR TV AND STREAMING  SERIES THERE IS ALWAYS 

A WRITING TEAM!

On a writing team one person might be good at coming up with exciting scenarios (situations).  Someone else is great at dialogue or humor.  Another person is good at capturing everyone's ideas

in written words.

What Would It Be Like? 

     Your first day at work                in a Writers' Room       

for a Series!

Asking Others for Ideas

It's Not Cheating!

It's How It's Done

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

 

Read about the

qualities that make a

Team Strong 

     

  BE A TEAM PLAYER   ASSIGNMENT (30 min)
1)   Name a Team you've been on (for work, play, or school):
    a)  List (3) Pros    (the good)              b)  List (3) Cons   (the bad) 
             
3)    Group Writing Exercise:
One person writes down the first line for a story on a paper. Then passes it to the next person who adds another line / idea to what happens in the story. Keep passing it and adding to story. Be imaginative (and funny if you want).  If there’s just two of you, go back and forth building the story. Continue work on story for (5) min.

  6.  THE FINAL CLASS

  ASSIGNMENT  

  

First I’ll tell you the final class assignment.  Then I’ll be giving  you lessons to help you  understand what I'm asking you to do!     

 

           GUIDELINES

  • Write (2 to 5) page, (1) Scene, Short Script in Proper Script Format     

 

  • Set Your Story in An Actual Location That You Can Get For Free To Shoot In    (even if you don’t plan to actually shoot  your script,  I want you to have a real world to ​imagine your story happening in)

  • (2) Characters – ONLY TWO!  (no background extras)

  • Create Character Profiles

 

  • Use (3) Act Structure,    And Have A Conflict      And A Resolution

  • Summarize Your Story Idea In One Sentence Logline 

          One or two sentence summary

         of story that includes emotional

         hook to stimulate audience

         interest!

     

STICK WITH ME AND FIND OUT WHAT ALL

THIS MEANS!

   "Our Mind Is Like A Parachute. 

     It Only Works When It Is Open."

                    - Anonymous 

"If You Don't Love It

Without The Money --

You Won't Love It

With The Money"

- Todd Siler

"I've  Failed

Over And Over Again --

And That's Why I Succeed"

- Michael Jordan

  IDEA TOSS 
ASSIGNMENT  (60 min)  
 
1)       Read  ARTICLE:   
     Famous Films Loglines
 
   View VIDEO: Why Loglines
 
2)  Quickly toss out (3) ideas --
in the form of loglines -- for a short script.   For at least one of your ideas use your one word Topic from the Prewriting exercise.   Have fun!  You not committing yet to the idea for your short script. 
 
 
 

FIND OTHER PEOPLE

TO BOUNCE IDEAS OFF!