Lesson #2: 

SCRIPTWRITING BASICS

Studying

with

Trayce 

BE A STORYTELLER FIRST!

....AND THEN A WRITER!

'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.  Remember: This Is Normally A Semester Long Class!     

.

DID YOU DO LESSON :  FILMMAKING BASICS ?

1.  WHAT KIND OF 
STORYTELLER
 ARE YOU? 

     

DO YOU

.

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

  • Analyze the storylines of films? (To the 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?

  ASSIGNMENT   (60 min)  

1)    Write down (5) things about yourself that might help you become a good (or better) Storyteller.  You can include traits not listed above.

2)                        READ ARTICLE

'(6) Tips For Beginners On

Creating Good Writing Habits'

 READ ARTICLE:

'(11)  WEIRD HABITS OF WRITERS

THAT YOU'LL LAUGH AT & LOVE'

These articles can help you improve both your study and writing habits.  

      

3)  Write down (5) habits you already have (even if you don't yet regularly stick to them), or can imagine starting, that could help you stick to regular study and writing sessions.   

MY WEIRD HABIT!

 

"When I'm just sitting down to write and struggling to get focused, I literally like to warm myself up!   I'll wear a knit cap and cozy socks and drink hot-hot tea in a thermos -- even on a hot summers day (I might be wearing shorts!).   It helps me feel contained inside of myself.    Once I get going I usually peel off the cap and socks."   

-  Trayce

 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 notetaker writer who jots down his/her (or the team's) ideas and thoughts, not meant to be shown to an audience, but used to help record and structure discussions.  This is called 'Prewriting'.

Prewriting will help you generate ideas before you start writing and get stuck!   Here are stages your writing should go through:

I.        Prewriting

II.      Write 1st Draft of Script

III.   Share Draft To Get Feedback And Then Edit IV.     Write 2nd Draft  And Get Feedback

V.       Final Draft  (However many drafts it takes)

  ASSIGNMENT  (60 min)   

  'PREWRITING'  

 

1)   Below are (3) different resources explaining what 'Prewriting' is.  The resources cover the same information, but in different ways.  One  might inspire or make more sense you, 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 (1min): 

'Prewriting Techniques' 
 

READ ARTICLE:   

'Prewriting Techniques' 

REVIEW SLIDESHOW:

 'Prewriting Techniques'   

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

 

Pick one of the Prewriting Technique you learned about (i.e. brainstorming, freewriting, listing, clustering, or questioning).    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.) 

 
 

EARLY HOLLYWOOD WAS ALL ABOUT

'PREWRITING' IN TEAMS!

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! 

WATCH VIDEO (9 min)

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE FIRST MOVIE CAMERA ! 

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. 

 

READ ARTICLE:

THERE WERE LOTS OF WOMEN WORKING IN EARLY FILM !

 

       'Movie-Made America'

    A Cultural History

   of American Movies

  by Robert Sklar

 ,

A great book with a full history of the beginning of movies.   

Take a 'look inside the book'.      (Skip past opening Contents   

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

 
 ASSIGNMENT (60 min) 
 'HISTORY OF 
 SCRIPTWRITING' 
 
1)    WATCH VIDEO (15 min)
   'The Origins Of The Modern Scriptwriting Format' 
 Write down  (3) historical  facts that are new to you.
2)  List the (6) main elements     of a modern script, given at  9:23 minutes into the video. (Don't worry you'll get more
help to understand!)

 4.   THEY MADE 

LOW/NO BUDGET SHORT    FILMS! 

In the beginning films were only a few minutes long.  They were viewed by working-class 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 ARTICLE:

Learn How The Development Of The Script Became Necessary Because Of  Better Cameras and Lights, Longer Stories, And Bigger Budgets ! 

READ ARTICLE:

Who Watched the Movies?  History of Audiences  

1896 to 1920

 

 *************

WATCH VIDEO (10 min):

Importance of Props

To The Film Story

  ('Prop': anything handled by actor)

 ASSIGNMENT (30 min) 
 'SCAVENGER HUNT' 
 
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 story based on resources you already have so you can afford to shoot the film.  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).  And often the Director (and Actors) will contribute ideas to the re-writing of a script, even though they don't get writing credits.

READ ARTICLE:

TV And Streaming Series Always Have

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.

READ ARTICLE:

What  Your First Day  Will

Be Like In A Writers Room For A Series !

Asking Others for Ideas

It's Not Cheating!

It's How It's Done

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

LEADING A TEAM 

First you might meet people who are willing to listen to you talk about what you are learning, but are not interested in working with you on creating a script. 

If you continue your learning and keep reaching out to people, you  eventually will find those who stick. Think ahead about how to lead your Team !

READ ARTICLE:

(7) Qualities Of Successful

Work Teams

WATCH VIDEO (2 min):

(5) Steps To A Successful Team

 ASSIGNMENT (30 min) 
 ' BE A TEAM PLAYER'  
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) 
             
2)    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 silly 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 a (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)

  • (2-4) Characters – NO MORE THAN FOUR !      (no background extras)

  • Create Character Profiles

 

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

  • Summarize Your Story Idea In A One Sentence Logline 

         

LOGLINE: Concise and intriguing one or two sentence summary (25 - 50 words) of your story that will 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

 ASSIGNMENT (30 min) 
 ' IDEA TOSS
WITH LOGLINES'   
 
1)       READ ARTICLE:   
     'Famous Films Loglines'
 
WATCH VIDEO (6 min)
'How To Write
Compelling  Loglines'
 
2)  Quickly toss out (3) ideas --
in the form of loglines -- for a short script.   For one of your ideas use a one word Topic  from the Prewriting exercise.  Have fun!  You are not committing yet to the idea for your short script. 
 
 
 

FIND OTHER PEOPLE

TO BOUNCE IDEAS OFF!