hollywouldink

A Class You Can Do By Yourself – Week 1

1 Comment

As promised, class has begun. Sit down, take out pen and paper, play some music if you like, and follow along.

Screenwriting is an art and a craft that takes practice and diligence to perfect. This process will not be easy, but I hope it’s fun. It’s certainly fun for me. If you’re still on the fence about doing this class, know that all you have to produce over the next 8 weeks is an 8-10 page screenplay. Okay. Let’s start while the momentum is still hot.

Exercise 1

Getting Into The Groove

First, write down 1 – 3 of your favorite movies (or TV shows if you have trouble thinking of films). Save this in mind; we will be doing some more exercises with this list later. Next, write down 1 – 3 adjectives describing each film and why you like it. e.g. characters are engaging, world is beautiful, score is moving. Now, look for similarities between the films you chose. Take note of how and why these films speak to you, and what they are saying as far as a message or a moral goes.

Taking notice of what you are already familiar with and know you like to watch can help guide you in the direction of the story you should write. Maybe the story hasn’t come to you yet, but maybe you’re honing in on a genre, or the overall thing (for lack of a better term) that you want to say with your piece.

Exercise 2

Watch A Movie

Watch Lunch Date by clicking in the title. Refer back to How To Watch A Movie And Write At The Same Time as you watch, and think about each question thoughtfully in regards to this Academy Award winning short film.

By now, you should be in full on movie zone. A good place to be if movies are what you’re trying to write. Notice how using the How To Watch a Movie… guide makes you a more active watcher? Notice the specific vocabulary terms for working in this craft? Good.

Exercise 3

Read.

Read these handouts on premise and synopsis, and loglines.

Notice how a story can be told is as much or as little detail as time and space allows. Once you have your screenplay idea in mind try thinking about telling it in several different ways. This will help you crystallize your screenplay idea down to it’s small, workable essence.

Exercise 4

Write.

Write a premise for one of the films/shows on your list.

Notice how a premise is essentially comprised of an engaging character in a world filled with conflict. 

Exercise 5

Read some more.

Read this handout out on formatting. Make sure you have some screenwriting software (either Final Draft or Celtx), and that you familiarize yourself with it.

If you’re only going to play by one rule in Hollywood, make sure it’s this one. If it looks like a screenplay, you can get away with breaking a lot of rules in the narrative.

Exercise 6

Loosen up.

This writing exercise consists of making four lists as fast as you can can (speed is important to emphasize that you shouldn’t think too hard about what you’re putting in the lists).

Write down the numbers 1 -10. Title this list “Characters.” Write down anything from ‘nuns’ to ‘squirrels’ to ‘presidents’ to ‘Martin Luther King, Jr.’ We just want the people part of a noun.

The second list from 1 – 10 is  “locations,” e.g. ‘an aircraft carrier,’ ‘the moon,’ ‘Dominos Pizza’.Now we’re onto places.

The third list from 1-  10 is activities, such as ‘write a novel,’ ‘play tennis,’ ‘knit’. Here we are looking for actions/verbs.

The fourth list from 1 – 10 is things that someone could be doing an activity with.

Great. Once you have finished making your lists, combined with any one item from each of the lists to generate an idea for a scene/short film, a la ‘nuns on an aircraft carrier playing tennis with a mallet,’ or Martin Luther King, Jr. at Dominos Pizza writing a novel with a toy car.’

Notice how you can get great ideas by tapping the subconscious, which means not thinking too hard about things and “letting” the mind spill out good fodder.

And that’s it!

Great job this week!

Author: hollywouldink

I'm a visual writer and teacher currently getting my MFA in Writing for the Screen & Stage at Northwestern University. Sarah Lawrence undergrad. Writer for movies, TV, theater, and literature.

One thought on “A Class You Can Do By Yourself – Week 1

  1. I didn’t do the readings or the exercizes but I read all the way through. This is a fun way to go to school.

Whatchu got to say about it, huh?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s