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SIGN UP for South Bay Adult School class, begins March 24-May 5

It’s a long and lonely road, but it’s worth the journey

Description of Course: Building a screenplay

Beginning Screenplay Writing is a short-term course that intends to be practical, experiential, and motivational for building an original screenplay.

In the course title,”beginning” reflects an attitude of freshness and openness, a lack of preconceptions. We are aiming to have a beginner’s mentality as we study and practice. This class is for beginners (and advanced practitioners) of screenplay writing. 

The course intends to facilitate creative skills-building, reflection, and growth through self-discovered, self-appropriated learning-by-doing. The class facilitates a creative journey of self expression, guiding the student to find an authentic voice in screenplay writing.

This class aims to help a student to design a plan of action, build characters and scenes, hear readings of original dialogue or voice-over narration, and to “pitch” an original creative vision.

What does it mean to build an original screenplay? What’s the difference between building a screenplay and scriptwriting?

Building an original screenplay is different from scriptwriting. A script is a document that is intended for production work, to be used by specialized technical and creative practitioners (actors, cinematographers, editors, etc); while a screenplay probably is not going to be the document used for production, and it is subject to editorial changes.  This is a theoretical detail, but it is significant nonetheless—building a screenplay and writing a script diverge as two different processes with different purposes. For example, when building a dramatic or documentary screenplay it might not be possible or necessary for the screenplay writer to know the ending of the story. The story and its screenplay are in the process of being built or constructed.  Conversely, when writing a professional script for media production or performance it is essential for the writer to know the ending. 

In this course, we are focusing on building your screenplay, developing it step by step , whether or not your story has an ending.

All writers understand that writing must be done alone, privately, over long hours.  What do we do in class? How can the class help me to grow as a writer?

This class is a chance for you to produce original work, and to hear it read out loud in a supportive creative environment.

This class could be helpful for adapting an existing work or for creating original work from the beginning; plus we will read, listen, discuss, and interactively share our thoughts, ideas and impressions.  Beginners welcome! 

What is the starting point for screenplay writing? How does a student get started as a writer?

Start by introducing a time and space for your writing, bringing it into your daily routine; then write freely, curiously, mindfully, and consistently. 

Summary

For this class, you begin and build an original screenplay. You will build your screenplay from the beginning by doing the following:

  • reflecting on your purpose
  • writing a few sentences about your story idea(s),
  • developing more complex characters, objectives, and scenes,
  • developing backstories, and
  • writing/editing a series of scenes that form a sequence or Act;

or, alternatively, if you are interested in non-fiction stories you might build a two-column AV script for documentary or corporate productions;

or you might explore other text-based  models for media production or performance.

In this class you are free to explore styles and formats through a creative process of learning, writing, rewriting of your original work, and by reading the work of others; reflecting upon your growth, and by pitching your vision and story ideas to others.

DISCUSSION OF BASIC COMMUNICATION THEORY

RESOURCES

LEARNING UNIT 1 The big picture: Building a screenplay

LEARNING UNIT 2 Improvisation, treatments, outlines, and the writing of scenes

LEARNING UNIT 3: Visualiization of Process and Interaction

LEARNING UNIT 4 Dramatic conflict, actions and character motivations; turning points, the mid-point crisis, Aristotle’s Poetics and the three-act story structure

LEARNING UNIT 5 The pitch

What can I do when the class is over?

All students, beginning or advanced, are encouraged to take the class multiple times. In between classes, your goal should be to integrate what you have done in the course’s previous assignments. No matter where your story is situated in the building process, it is important that you are continuing to explore, write and rewrite, and to pitch your ideas to others. It is important that other knowledgeable folks read and comment about your work, at least on occasion. Keep writing and never quit.