Friday, February 09, 2024

Teaching Script Writing

I'm teaching a script writing workshop for the first time this semester. Since I have never written a screenplay or script of any sort in my life, it's an adventure.

I'm using Syd Field's Screenplay and Blake Snyder's Save the Cat as texts in the class, and I am also writing my own screenplay, for the experience more than anything else. Also watching a lot of movies and applying what I have learned from Field and Snyder to those. 

One category of assignment I've done so far is to watch movies with the class (Cast Away and Contagion) and have them "map" the movies to the model Field gives, the three act structure that is the classic screenplay form.

It goes like this:

Act I: Set up
        Plot Point One: propels the viewer into the story
Act II: The body of the story
        Plot Point Two: propels the viewer into Act III
Act III: Conclusion

Act I is about 20 pages of script; Act II is about 70 pages; Act III is about 20 pages.

I also had them read the Contagion script and compare it to the movie, which was probably the most useful assignment we've done so far.

Then there's the whole screenplay format, which frankly is turning out to be the hardest part of teaching the class so far. Only about half the students will follow the format. The rest are kind of making something up and using that. AARGH.

I think I know my mistake, though. I just told them where they could find the guide, I didn't build an assignment around it. I need to do that.

Anyway, teaching the class is turning out to be interesting. Plus, an excuse to watch movies!

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