Screenwriting Fundamentals Masterclass
THE FOREST CITY FILM FESTIVAL
Course Outline – June 23-24 & May 7-7 2018
This is a 16-hour course scheduled over 4 dates with 4 hours of study each day (time and location details below).
This course is suitable for anyone of any skill or experience level and is designed to help anyone learn the rules, tools and concepts required to craft a marketable, industry-standard screenplay.
Students will learn how to build outward from a carefully crafted central premise, how to choose the right genre and themes, create a cast of characters that suit your story, proper structure, scene construction, dialogue, effective editing strategies and even the value in "pitching" your screenplay.
The Foundations of Screenwriting course will familiarize students with the building blocks of storytelling that have been used successfully for thousands of years, plus many useful tips and tricks shared by working professionals, and how to make the process as easy and fun for you as possible.
If you’ve always wanted to learn, or if you’re already writing, but want to elevate your skills, this course is for you!
Jordan Christopher Morris
Jordan Morris (Writer/Producer/Screenwriting Instructor)
Jordan is an award-winning producer and director of films like Nintendo Quest and Multiple Festival Best Documentary winner, Missing Mom. He has also worked on numerous films as an actor, production designer, art director and screenwriter.
Since 2013, Jordan has been creating and hosting popular seminars and workshops on the nebulous art and science of writing screenplays.
His experience, disarming personality, and often entertaining teaching style has made him a popular instructor for all personalities and experience levels. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact him immediately:
Instructor Contact Information:
To provide students with the best possible chance of finding success as a screenwriter, whether it be it as a working professional or amateur hobbyist looking for a new creative outlet. To help all students strike the perfect balance between the proper technical disciplines required by the film industry and their own unique voice as an artist.
This course is an interactive, seminar-style event that will focus on ten areas of study:
- FOUNDATIONS OF SUCCESSFUL WRITING
- CORE INGREDIENTS
- FINISHING STEPS
- POST-WRITING GOALS.
After the 16 hours are complete, each student will be furnished with all the external tools required to complete a feature-length screenplay. They will gain a working understanding of what makes a great screenplay and how to use the insights and basic building blocks employed by industry greats.
What to Bring to Class:
There are no required textbooks, but it is suggested that students attend with a 3-ring binder as there will be extensive daily handouts, and each student will be assembling their own 300 page screenwriting reference manual using the printed lessons and exercises handed out each class.
A selection of writing instruments is also recommended, as none will be provided.
Prior to the beginning of class on the first day, full refunds are available.
Student Code of Conduct:
Sighthound Studio is committed to providing a safe environment for all students.
All students are expected to conduct themselves in a courteous and respectful manner.
Anyone compromising the safety or comfort of anyone else for any reason will be removed immediately and permanently without refund.
Day One, Chapter One: Foundations
- Introduce yourselves to the class; discuss your goals, and what led you to our classroom.
- Explore EXPECTATIONS, making certain yours are realistic and achievable.
- Express your MOTIVATIONS and learn new, proven effective ones.
- Identify your own INSPIRATIONS and how best to leverage those for success.
- Discuss A SCREENWRITER’S PLACE in the filmmaking process and the industry at large.
- Learn the THREE QUESTIONS that should be answered before anyone begins writing.
- Fill out a QUESTIONNAIRE to be turned in on Day Two.
Day One, Chapter Two: Core Ingredients
- Learn why starting with a clear PREMISE is critical.
- Learn how to add an exciting HOOK to your premise.
- Define the word GENRE and explore its effect on story.
- Explore how to effectively leverage GENRE CONVENTIONS.
- Learn how to create an effective LOGLINE that sells.
- Explore how THEME gives every story complexity and deeper meaning.
- Learn how to choose a powerful THEMATIC STATEMENT.
- Learn how to craft an exciting TAGLINE.
Day Two, Chapter Three: STORY
- Dissect and explore the definition of “STORY”.
- Explore the attributes of a POETIC SCREENPLAY.
- Understand the profound effect of MYTHOLOGY and the MONOMYTH on modern storytelling.
- Learn how to use SURPRISE as fuel for your narrative.
- Learn how TRAGEDY can “supercharge” your story.
- Explore and identify several STORY MODELS that will help you build your own.
- Learn CONTAINMENT TOOLS and how they can give your story more focus.
- Study insightful CONSIDERATIONS to be mindful of while crafting a story.
- Use a STORY WORKSHEET to build your story outward from its premise.
Day Two, Chapter Four: CHARACTER
- Learn how to create a CHARACTER that is perfect for your story.
- Learn how to choose the best possible NAME for your characters.
- Study popular and effective character ARCHETYPES.
- Learn how to create powerful character ARCS that will elevate your work.
- Explore how using the ENNEAGRAM model can create complex character relationships.
- Learn how to use a CHARACTER BUILD WORKSHEET.
- Discuss the BECHDEL TEST and how a diverse cast makes for better storytelling.
Day Three, Chapter Five: STRUCTURE
- Discuss the EVOLUTION OF STORYTELLING and the trends of today.
- Explore several UNCONVENTIONAL STORY STRUCTURES.
- Learn how to use the provided STRUCTURE CHECKLIST.
- Study Sighthound Studio’s STORY ATLAS GUIDE for structuring your screenplay.
- Using the structure template and customized index cards, create plot points incorporating effective devices and place them on their own screenplay timeline to help develop your story, plot and character arcs.
- Study “POLTI’S 36” situations of storytelling.
- Explore the strengths and weaknesses of PLOT DEVICES.
- Learn several PLOT CONSIDERATIONS designed to elevate your craft.
Day Three, Chapter SIX: SCENE
- Learn effective SCENE CONSTRUCTION tools and methods.
- Study the BOYLE SHEET method of scene generation.
- Discuss the profound effect of LOCATION on a scene’s success.
- Work with the provided SCENE WORKSHEET to create plot and character-driven scenes.
- Explore our 10 QUESTIONS TO ANSWER before constructing any scene.
Day Three, Chapter SEVEN: DIALOGUE
- Explore the attributes of EFFECTIVE DIALOGUE that can elevate any screenplay.
- Identify the dangers of “MONOLOGUING”, and its devastating effects on your script.
- Study the best practices of screenwriting pros on how to “BURY EXPOSITION” within dialogue.
- Explore tactics designed to give each character a unique dialogue “VOICE”.
- Learn the critical importance of DIALOGUE SUBTEXT and how to use it.
Day Four, Chapter Eight: TECHNIQUE
- Discuss the nebulous concept of TONE and its relationship with both genre and theme.
- Learn the “invisible” ingredient that is STORY SUBTEXT and how to use it.
- Study several “WRITING TRICKS” that will elevate your skills and produce better results. (eg. Examine a simple WORDS TO CUT list and why this strategy will improve any script)
- Explore how choosing the PERFECT TITLE can sell your story.
- Discuss and learn “Rule Number One” for screenwriters: SHOW, DON’T TELL.
- Study the complex guidelines of SCREENPLAY FORMATTING.
- Learn how to use WHITESPACE on the page to improve your script’s pacing.
Day Four, Chapter Nine: FINISHING
- Learn how to use a screenplay TORTURE TEST to strengthen your work.
- Explore Syd Field’s “SIX REWRITES” and how each is a critical part of the process.
- Discuss the “ZERO TOLERANCE” attitude towards spelling, grammar and syntax and its devastating effect on your screenplay and your personal credibility as a screenwriter.
- Study how to compose a polished ONE PAGE SYNOPSIS.
- Study how to compose (or avoid) the dreaded TREATMENT.
- Learn what to expect from your FIRST DRAFT and why that’s just “the beginning”.
Day Four, Chapter Ten: POST-WRITING
- Explore how PITCHING your script and discussing your work will make you a better writer.
- Study all of the ingredients of a professional SUBMISSION PACKAGE.
- Explore the many CONTESTS and fellowships available to career screenwriters.
- Hear a number of CAUTIONARY TALES designed to help you navigate the industry confidently.
June 23: 1-5PM
June 24: 1-5PM
July 07: 1-5PM
July 08: 1-5PM
The Bank of Montreal Centre, 295 Rectory St, London ON
Second floor, Large meeting room.
Note: No food or drink from home is permitted, but there is a snack bar on site.