Cut to the Chase: Scriptwriting for Beginners
So many people watch films and yet so few know how to write film well. Film writing is a very specific art form. Over the past eighteen years of writing film, I have made every mistake in the book and eventually turned to experts to learn to hone my craft effectively. Using advice from screenwriting experts such as Robert McKee and Christopher Vogler, amongst many others, I have finally developed a very effective approach to screenwriting. This approach has seen my first feature film reach the big screen in 2009 and has also secured me the services of an agent in London.
This course breaks down the essentials of writing for film, using my experience of lecturing over the past years on film writing in many tertiary institutions. In a series of nine modules with practical tasks to implement the knowledge given in each section, l will unlock the world of film writing for first time students.
The crucial differences between writing for film as opposed to writing for stage or prose will be highlighted and the work of the best film writing gurus will be explored. The students will be given insights into what the most useful aspects of each specialist’s work in a practical way.
The Course: Nine Modules:
What is Film? Introduction to Scriptwriting and the most Common Story Telling Formats.
Characters: Creating believable characters which come to life on screen rather than existing only on the page. Exercises to deepen the world of the character will be given and work will be done on the character’s “arc” or journey. Good examples of films to watch will be recommended.
Structure: Different ways of structuring a film from using a classic three act structure with a standard Hero’s Journey as well as exploring multiple protagonist narratives and other alternative film structures.
The Pitch: Writing a good pitch which encapsulates all the essentials of your script. This pitch can also be used to sell your film. This process ensures the student understands the controlling idea or moral premise behind the film before going any further.
Treatments: Students will be given a step-by-step guide to write treatments (an internationally recognized film-selling document) that can be used anywhere in the film industry. Without knowing how to write a treatment, a film writer will almost never sell a film.
Beat Sheets: Students will be taught how to write effective beat sheets which evolve into useful Step Outlines and which create the basic bones of the script.
Film Technique: The basics of essential film writing technique, concentrating on format and style as well as the critical and careful use of dialogue in film writing will be explored in this module. International conventions will be used as the standard film writing format and different screenwriting software will be compared. Final Draft is the software I recommend but this will be compared with the pros and cons of other film writing software programmes.
To Infinity and Beyond: Beyond the Hero’s Journey. Alternative film structures are explored in this module. The masters of alternative film writing, from Charlie Kaufmann to Pedro Almodavar will be examined to see what benefits there are to breaking the rules of story telling.
From the Specific to the Universal: How to ensure that your story reaches an audience beyond the milieu in which it is written. What characteristics make a film eternally relevant? How do we achieve global relevance in film writing? A number of classic films will be examined, from Casablanca to Whale Rider to show how making a story full of integrity creates a film which reaches universal relevance.
Summing up what has gone before. A guide to editors and how to find the best readers for your work.
Cut to the Chase includes:
a) A step-by-step writing programme for each student, setting specific tasks for the student after each module, so that the student can build up his or her own film script.
b) At the end of the course, the student will have been guided towards writing a well thought-out first draft script which should be written to internationally acceptable standards. Students dictate their own pace of work.
c) The course includes nine hours of personal tuition. Editing advice will be offered online and guidance towards improving the script is included in the overall price of the course. If the student’s work requires more intensive attention, extra editing and tuition will be offered at an ad hoc fee at standard industry fees.
The nine module course costs R3600.00 which can be paid in instalments @R400 per module. If you pay a one-off fee up front, you get R400 discount, effectively one module free. To register, email below to receive your registration form and invoice.
or email@example.com to register.
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. For me it was always about getting an idea, starting at the beginning and keeping going until it’s finished. It worked well with my journalistic pieces and a few of my short stories that were all published. It didn’t however work when I turned my attention to writing screenplays.
Janet van Eeden doesn't just teach screenwriting . . . she IS screenwriting!
“Janet read two of my scripts. In each case, her feedback was intelligent, constructive and, most important to me, respected the intent of the work. She showed uncanny ability to get inside of the story and suggest subtle improvements to both character and structure. As a result, I was able to make crucial changes and improve both stories’ artistic and market appeal. I could not imagine a more skilful teacher for the art of screenwriting. Nor will I ever again submit a script without her review.”
“Taking Janet’s online screenwriting course has proved to be most effective. The module content provided is comprehensive and when combined with Janet’s humour, considerable energy and commitment makes the whole experience fun as well as highly instructive. As a result, I have now completed my first screenplay of which I am very proud. Janet’s course can be taken at any required pace, which is particularly important when competing with the demands of, for example, a full time job. I highly recommend the course not only for beginners but also as an important refresher for the more advanced screenwriter.”
Copyright © 2007 Janet van Eeden.