WRITING A SCREENPLAY A VERY VERY BRIEF INTRODUCTION THE PLAN Vocab Overview of what the movie narrative is Basic movie narrative structure Writing a...
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THE PLAN Vocab Overview of what the movie narrative is Basic movie narrative structure Writing a scene - examples and how-to

TERMS Screenwriter • Creates the screenplay from an original idea or adapts from a previously written piece. Creates the written form of a movie that also includes some description on how actors are placed/act and particular important aspects on how events play out in the movie. Script • general term (the written text of a play or movie) Screenplay

• the written form of a movie (includes some info on acting/ placement/filming Logline • a brief summary of a movie often providing a synopsis of the story/plot and an emotional "hook" to encourage interest

MOVIE NARRATIVES Nearly every movie employs a narrative (at least those that make $) • the narrative = the story and the plot • stories may be common but plots change


Story Grimm’s Cinderella Shakespeare’s Hamlet Austen’s Emma Conrad’s Heart of Darkness Hero’s Journey…

Plot Pretty Women The Lion King Clueless Apocalypse Now Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Robocop, Wizard of Oz, Kill Bill…

• job of the director: bring order to the events • with so little time, must decide what to include/not include • plots can be manipulated so events are presented in nonchronological order (eg: Pulp Fiction, Memento) • Yet, most narrative films follow a traditional chronological order

THE NARRATOR In every movie, the camera is the primary narrator

• editing gives movies the power to choose what and how the viewer sees the story Some movies have actual narrators • first-person narrator (voice-over (ex) and directaddress narration (ex)) • third-person narrator (omniscient (ex) and restricted)

CHARACTERS All film narratives depend on two essential elements: • Obviously → need characters… and as essential: • The character needs to have a goal The narrative cannot exist if the character does not have a goal • gives character something to do • gives audience a chance to get involved/care about the story Protagonist – the primary character who pursues the goal • usually referred to as a hero (sometimes an anti-hero: unsympathetic protagonists chasing less than noble goals) • narratives thrive on imperfect characters = imperfections provide obstacles (aka: character flaws)

Name movie you are familiar with.

THE BASIC NARRATIVE STRUCTURE: → motivated protagonist

→ pursues a goal → encounters obstacles

→ resolution

NARRATIVE STRUCTURE: THE ORGANIZATION IN THREE ACTS Most narratives can be broken into three basic parts: first act sets up the story, second (longest) act develops the story, and third act resolves it

ORGANIZING THE STORY For a 2 hour film:

FIRST ACT Tells what kind of story it is by establishing the “normal world” • lays out rules of the world we are about to experience • characters established, something about protagonist’s situation Inciting Incident – something will occur to change the normal world and set protagonist on pursuit/mission/ quest… • presents the character with the goal to drive the narrative • most are easy to spot (w/in first 10-15 min) (ex) • (Wizard of Oz)

SECOND ACT Second act is the story, or the pursuit of the goal (ie: Will Dorothy get back to Kansas?)

• the want to learn what/how keeps the viewer engaged • we want the answer to be yes (Dorothy gets back to Kansas) – but ironically, if goal was quick/easily attained, the story is over: needs conflict • the story depends on obstacles • an antagonist; not always a villain, sometimes not human (the rock in 127 Hours)

• the stakes need to rise – deeper we get in the story, the greater the risk to the protagonist • building toward a peak building toward a turning point • at peak, the goal is in its greatest jeopardy

THIRD ACT Climax and solution, loose ends tied • the climax comes when the protagonist faces this major obstacle (the most impressive event in movie)

• best stories have an unexpected solution • resolution/dénouement

STRUCTURE ANALYSIS The King's Speech The Matrix E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

THE SCREENWRITER The screenwriter shapes the narrative structure and creates every character, action, line of dialogue and the setting • with the fewest lines possible • each page of script represents ~one minute of screen time Screenwriting is different, you don’t have the luxury of: • giving background • giving explanations • … you cannot write in a script what the audience can't see or hear • you can't write: "He thinks about his girlfriend..." in an ACTION line or "(thinking of wife)" in a PARENTHETICAL because we can't see or hear that

WRITING A SCENE… Examples: The Social Network, Scream

Your job: write a 4-5 page scene • For tomorrow (Tuesday, 2/3): • Come up with two ideas, write these in sentence form (1 or 2 sentences each, on green card)

• Sign-up for Celtx account (a screenwriting program) • (directions here) • This is not required, as the screenwriting program is on the library computers, but it would be much easier for you to have access to the program outside of school

• Tuesday – Thursday • Meet in the library for writing your screenplay

• Friday (2/6) • Hard copy of rough draft due (at least 4 pages and no more than 6) at start of class • Graded on length, format, and originality

• (Monday, 2/9 – you will get back your rough draft with comments/ideas/etc.) • Next Thursday (2/12) • Final draft of 4-5 page screenplay due • with accompanying logline

• Graded on length, format, and originality