Lesson #1:  SCRIPTWRITING

TO STUDY PRINT PAGE AS PDF 

You can print at libraries

e) WRITING YOUR SCRIPT 

YOU GET NO RESPECT !!!!

FROM FILM PROFESSIONALS  

 

If you tell them you have a great Script

.......then hand them a written Story

FONT:  Courier (12pt) 

with set Page Margins and Returns

(Links to free software to do technical formatting at bottom of page)   

   .  

STORYTELLING UNITS:  Scenes   

.

STRUCTURAL ELEMENTS IN A SCENE (3):  

Scene Heading Line / Narration (or Action) / Dialogue

MATHMATICAL  

Each Page You Write Is Approx. (1) Minute of Screen Time! 

.

Write your script with an awareness of how long the film will be

                   (2) to (5) pages = approx. (2) to (7) film minutes   

PREDICTABLE

 

AS A WRITER YOU HAVE TO FIGURE OUT  

.

ACT l  /  BEGINNING

 

How many pages (or portion of a page in a short Script) to introduce the Protagonist and her Ordinary World.  As well as the coming of the Antagonist who will disrupt her World.

 

ACT ll  /  MIDDLE

       .

How many pages for the Protagonist to stumble over obstacles, fight small battles*, seek help and new knowledge, before encountering the Main Event Conflict.   

 

(* A small battle can be as small as having trouble opening a bottle.        If the Protagonist succeeds in opening the bottle, the audience scores it as victory and new confidence for the Protagonist.   If the Protagonist can't open the bottle, it's a frustrating humiliating setback  -  Unless  instead of staying defeated, the Protagonist  MacGyvers the situation and comes up with a brilliant new solution!)   

.

 

ACT lll  /  END

 

 

How many pages (or portion of a page in a Short) to show 

how the Protagonist and / or the Ordinary World has  been

changed after the Resolution of the Conflict.

A WRITER KNOWS !!! 

The Conflict (Middle) portion of the Script always get the most pages!

You'll still need a Conflict and Resolution

in the Short that is satisfying

SHORT FILMS HAVE NO TIME  

.

To develop complicated plots or show different sides of the Characters.   Often Shorts are quick intensive slices of life with intense mysterious Characters, meant to leave the Audience wondering after the film has ended:   What will happen next?! 

 

(Queue Pitch: “Help us turn our Short into a Feature (or a Series)" ! )

.

REVIEW AGAIN THE DIFFERENCE IN RHYTHM & PURPOSE  BETWEEN A SHORT FILM AND A FEATURE

 'WRITING YOUR SCRIPT'

       IS DIVIDED INTO (4) SECTIONS

.

    YOU SET YOUR OWN GOALS NOW!

 

 CAUTION  #1 

 

KNOW THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR WRITING TEAM

 

It's fine if you are just reviewing the Lesson out of interest.  But if you are actually doing the Lesson,  some of your weekly time for the project now needs to be dedicated to pulling together a Writing Team  (if you haven't already!).

 

The Team is composed of the Writer, and an array of supporters.  It can include other writers, but it can also include people interested in acting; analyzing stuff and brainstorming; production design; learning the camera; and running a set.

 

If your recruits  can support your project with time and / or skills, and do parts of the Lesson with you, they don't need any writing or film experience.  You are also creating an early, sympathetic test audience for your Story.  Their questions and suggestions will help you:

 

   Write Your Script With The Consciousness of a Filmmaker

 CAUTION  #2 

.     THE  LESSON  NEEDS  TO  BE  DONE  LIKE  

 

 EARLY  (PEOPLE'S)  HOLLYWOOD 

.

 

a)  Figure Out What To Do By Doing It With What You Have !

 (sometimes while running just ahead of family crises and economics)

b)  Most Important Resources?

 PASSION,   PERSISTENCE &  OPENNESS TO LEARNING  WITH  (AND FROM)  OTHER  PEOPLE

.

c)  It Can Take A Few Tries

(sometimes over months or even years

.

  CAUTION  #3 

 

 KNOW HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR TIME & MIND ! 

 

You decide how much time each  week you can work on your project.  If the Lesson were happening in a classroom, we'd meet weekly for (3) hours and students would also do homework outside of class.     You don't have that.    What do you have?     Commit to something (in writing on your Calendar!).

 CAUTION  #4 

   DON'T HAVE AN IDEA WHERE YOU'RE GOING?!       YOU'LL GET LOST ! 

 

SET A CALENDAR GOAL (in weeks or months)

for when your Team will schedule a  Reading of  the 2nd (or 3rd) Draft of your Script  for an audience (which can be in

someone's living room!) .

 CAUTION  #5 

  DON'T OPEN THE DOOR  

  BEFORE YOU'RE  SURE OF  

   WHAT'S IN THE ROOM YOU'RE LEAVING  

..

 

WHAT DID YOU SKIP? 

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO RE-VIEW?

.

                   a)   FILMMAKING BASICS 

                   b)   SCRIPTWRITING BASICS

                   c)   WRITING TEAM CHALLENGE

                   d)   CREATING YOUR STORY

   WRITING YOUR SHORT SCRIPT  

  ASSIGNMENTS  

1.  Turn Your Story Into The 1st Draft Of Your Script

2.  Writing Tips & Studying Professional Scripts

  • Writing Dialogue To Move Plot

  • How To Draw Your Audience In   

  • Study (Free) Scripts Of Films And Series You Like 

 

3.  What's Your Story?

  • Read Aloud 1st Draft Of Script & Give Title

  • Revisit All the Lesson's Assignments and Your Notes

  • DO YOUR 1ST REWRITE!

4.  Do Reading Of Your Script Before An Audience

  1.  SCRIPT FORMAT  

CONGRATULATIONS!   

If you've written a rough of the Story

that you want to turn into a Script

.

Whatever you've written, it's OK.  It can be in incomplete sentences.   You don't have to have the characters or conflict fully figured out, or how it ends.  All OK.

.

 THE INFO YOU NEED FOR 1st DRAFT: 

  • (1) Location 

  • (2) Characters with names 

  • Wardrobe, props, and set described

  • Script Title (can be changed later)

.

Remember the (3) structural elements  in a scene?    We need visuals for (2):

  • SCENE HEADING LINE  

  • NARRATION (ACTION)   

This is the focus for your 1st Draft.

.

Sure,  you'll  put  in  some DIALOGUE    (under the Character's Name).  But  don't worry if the dialogue is good, or if the Story (or content) is making sense as you  look at it anew. 

.

.

   WATCH  STORY vs PLOT   

    You don't have to understand it yet

    TO START THINKING ABOUT IT!  

      In your 2nd Draft you'll work on                Plot Development and Dialogue

"I don't think screenplay writing

is the same as writing --

I mean, I think it's blueprinting"

- Robert Altman, Director

.

Read My Proper Script Format Handout

.

Then Watch How To

Format A Script Video

.

(The basics you need to know are covered

up to (3:22), then the second half of the video deals with more complex formatting

you don't need yet -- but it's interesting!)  

  THE GOAL OF THE 1ST DRAFT

  OF YOUR SCRIPT IS TO FILL IN 

  A VISUAL  IMAGE  OF WHAT IS

      TO BE SEEN IN THE FILM 

.

In Film School what teachers have students do first is to shoot silent films  so their focus  is on visuals.  

.

Writers who haven't worked on films --  but use Scriptwriting Software -- often don't understand why Scripts are formatted

as they are.   

.

Be Smarter. Understand The Why! 

Be A Writer Who Thinks

As A Filmmaker!

.

GO WRITE YOUR 1ST DRAFT!

(in a week or a couple of months)

 FREE SCRIPTWRITING 
 SOFTWARE 

 

List of  Free Scriptwriting Software you can download that will do the technical formatting of your script.   I am not recommending particular software, but here is an easy to understand Video on the   Basics of Script Software.

.

If you don’t know how to set up software, ask someone who knows how to use  online resources to help you  get started.  Once you know how to sign-in to the software, using it will be easy.   You'll choose the appropriate element – SCENE HEADING, ACTION, DIALOGUE, etc. – then type. The software will do the formatting.

.

MORE ON HOW

TO USE SOFTWARE

 2.  STUDY SCRIPTS  

 HOW TO STUDY

 PROFESSIONAL SCRIPTS

 AND NOT BE OVERWHELMED 

.

FOCUS ON STUDYING (1) SCENE!

.

Did you know Scripts from many Films and some Series are available FREE online to read and download?!

.

STUDY METHOD:  Pick a Script of a Film you've seen.  Watch the  Film again and pick a Scene you especially like.  Look in the Script, find the Scene.  You don't have to read the entire Script!   Read the Scene as it is in the Script, then view the Scene again in the Film.  Write down reasons why you think the Scene works so well. 

.

FYI:  In longer Scripts (made up of more than one Scene), individual Scenes can have a Conflict and a Resolution.  Example:  Two Characters have an argument, then one Character storms out.  The Character's exit is a (temporary) Resolution changing the situation.

.

FILM SCRIPTS

Here are links to over 300 Film Scripts, including Scripts for Films nominated for Academy Awards in 2019!  You can read Scripts for BLACK PANTHER, CRAZY RICH ASIANS, A STAR IS BORN, THE GREEN BOOK, COCO, and 100s more.

.

SERIES SCRIPTS

Scripts from 50 Popular Series

HOW TO DRAW YOUR AUDIENCE IN 

.

.

.

.

  • Create a  Backstory* Wound  for the Protagonist which complicates how she responds to the problem

.

  • Add  moment(s) of Humor  when the audience can laugh ---  even if the Protagonist and Antagonist aren't amused by the situation.   Or have the Protagonist laugh at an unlikely time.  

.

      Humor can be a coping mechanism            for dealing with complex, confusing,            and threatening messages.  Use                humor as a different Beat  to work the        audience's emotions   (think like 

      Actors and Directors do).

.

  • In the End  have your Protagonist learn something about himself, about the Antagonist, or about the World.  Or have the Protagonist not learn  while showing the audience the truth.  Whatever your ending, take the audience somewhere unexpected, even with a quiet gesture.

.

*BACKSTORY is a term often used.  It refers to all that has happened in the Character's past.  It is part of the Character's Profile that you've been creating.     Here are more new words:

.

  SCRIPTWRITING TERMINOLOGY 

.

For when you get there:

SHOOTING SCRIPT  TERMINOLOGY

  WRITING DIALOGUE  

.

Watch this Video on How Characters Talk in Film and read this Article (6) Tips for Writing Better Dialogue.  

 STUDY GREAT DIALOGUE  

.

Pick a favorite Series that you are able to view Episodes of on a platform where you can rewind the Episode as many times as you want.  Watch an Episode, then rewind to your favorite Scene.   Listen, and write down all the words each Character says. Writing down the words makes them sink in deeper than if you just hear them or read them in a script. Study the Dialogue you wrote down! Watch the Scene again.  What do you like about the Dialogue?

 3. WHAT'S YOUR STORY 

   "The 1st Draft is just you telling      yourself the Story." - Terry Pratchett

.

As part of the Lesson, you wrote the  1st Draft of your Script to help you:

.

a)  Learn proper Script Format

b)  Develop study goals and discipline

c)  Shape a  Story that can be shot 

     with a low/no budget

d)  Get use to collaborating with other

     people on creative ideas

.

"You can always edit a bad page.   You can't edit a blank page."  

- Jodi Picoult

.

Now read aloud your 1st Draft.  Figure out what you like or what you think can work better -- and get rid of the rest. 

.

Step back and ask yourself, what is your Story about in the larger sense?

.

Now is the time to develop a THEME  or LOGLINE to help guide you as you Rewrite.   It's fine to totally change a  Character or choose new Conflict! 

Go where the ideas are.

CAUTION: BE SURE TO KEEP COPIES OF ALL YOUR DRAFTS AND NOTES!  LATER YOU MIGHT DECIDE TO BRING BACK AN IDEA.

 DO YOUR FIRST REWRITE ! 

.

“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone.   Get rid of

every ounce of excess fat.

.

This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always

a little like murdering children,

but it must be done.”  -- Stephen King

You're learning!  You're not trying to prove anything to anyone.  You can have fun with your Rewrite!   You are setting out to solve problems and incorporate  new ideas!     

.

    BEST ARTICLE (!)  

  A Checklist On All The Things  

 To Review In Your 1st Draft   

  Before You Even Start Thinking   

 About Your Rewrite  

Plan on spending a few sessions

studying and taking notes  

(Remember you're thinking

for a Short, not a Feature)

.

VIDEOS TO REVIEW

.

Top Professional Scriptwriters On

All You Get From Rewriting

(7) Top Problems In 1st Drafts!

.

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

SEE YOUR SHORT SCRIPT AS SEEDING AN IDEA FOR A WEB SERIES?

I did!   I've been developing THE CREW Series for two years in workshops with Actors, and had public readings.   

.

Study THE CREW Series

As We Create It!

 4.  ORGANIZE READING 
 .
YOU, THE WRITER, NEED TO SIT
IN AUDIENCE & LISTEN!
After you complete the 2nd Draft of your Script, pull together a reading in front of a small audience who haven't read your Script before.  You'll need (2) Team members to read the (2) Characters, (1) Team member to read Narration.  Practice with them beforehand. They can sit and read in front of audience, or stand (with scripts in hand) and act it out with props.
.
      to come up with your own (4) question
      Questionnaire for everyone (including
      Team) to fill out after the reading. 
....​
  • Everyone reads aloud their feedback  and discuss with you. 
....​
Keep Everyone Happy
With Yummy Refreshments! 

                              WHAT DID YOU SKIP? 

                 WHAT DO YOU WANT TO REVIEW?

.

                   a)   FILMMAKING BASICS 

                   b)   SCRIPTWRITING BASICS

                   c)   WRITING TEAM CHALLENGE

                   d)   CREATING YOUR STORY

                  OTHER TOPICS TO CHECK OUT 

          THE CREW Series Development Workshops

            What NYC's $9 Billion Film & TV Industry

                               Has To Do With Us