Sighthound Studio

The Fundamentals of Screenwriting Masterclass

Presented by


Presented by The Forest City Film Festival
March 23: 1-5pm
March 24: 1-5pm
March 30: 1-5pm
March 31: 1-5pm
(* All 4 dates included in price)

BMO Centre, 295 Rectory St, London ON
Second floor, Meeting Room “B”.
Note: No food or drink from home is permitted, but there is a snack bar on site.

Prerequisite: NONE

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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.  Typically those who enrol fall into one of these four categories: 

  1. Filmmakers working in some other area of film production who want to gain a better understanding of how to tell a more effective/moving/memorable story.

  2. Emerging screenwriters who are not yet enjoying the level of success they desire.

  3. Creative writers from different disciplines (eg. comic book artists, blogger/vloggers, journalists, novelists, poets, game designers, musicians, playwrights, etc.) that want to re-examine storytelling from a screenwriter's perspective - often because screenwriting is famous for its succinctness and straightforwardness and they want to adopt those qualities in their writing.

  4. Absolute beginners who are merely curious and are looking for a new and fun creative outlet.

As a student of this course, you will learn how to use a “centre-out” strategy starting with a carefully crafted central premise that will sell, how to choose the right genre and themes to develop your script, how to create a cast of characters that suit your unique story, proper structure, scene construction, dialogue, effective editing strategies and even the value in "pitching" a screenplay concept.

This March, 2019 run represents the first time The Fundamentals of Screenwriting has been significantly updated since it’s inception in 2013. The new course will provide you with a long list of the most practical and useful insights available. You will start by learning storytelling techniques that have been used successfully for thousands of years, then many of the latest tips and tricks shared by working professionals. Most importantly, you’ll learn what to expect from the industry 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:


Course Goals: 

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 a creative writer.

This course is an interactive, seminar-style event that will focus on ten areas of study:



  3. STORY



  6. SCENE





Course Objectives:

After the 16 hours are complete, you will have been introduced to - and given some time to experiment with under guidance - many of the tools required to complete a feature-length screenplay. You will gain a solid understanding of what makes a successful screenplay and how to use the insights and basic building blocks employed by industry greats.

What to Bring to Class:

You will receive Sighthound Studio’s 277 page SCREENWRITER’S COOKBOOK reference manual at no additional cost, but it will be presented as 3-ring loose leaf pages, so you will need to bring a 3-ring binder to collect it in. It is also a very good idea to bring whatever you need (notepad and writing instruments) to write additional notes.

Refund Policy:

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 everyone.

  • You are expected to conduct yourself in a courteous and respectful manner at all times.

  • Anyone compromising the safety or comfort of anyone else for any reason will be removed immediately and permanently without refund.


Course Outline:

Day One, Chapter One: FUNDAMENTALS
Students Will…

  1. Introduce yourselves to the class; discuss your goals, and what your EXPECTATIONS are for your screenwriting efforts.

  2. Listen to strategies that will help you maintain your MENTAL HEALTH and preserve a positive mind-set while you work.

  3. Learn about WHAT CAN GO WRONG for many new screenwriters, so that you can avoid the same pitfalls.

  4. Express your MOTIVATIONS and learn why setting healthy goals is important.

  5. Study how to combat the stereotypical ANXIETIES and INSECURITIES many writers struggle with.

  6. Identify your own INSPIRATIONS and how best to leverage those for success.

  7. Discuss A SCREENWRITER’S PLACE in the filmmaking process and the industry at large.

  8. Learn the THREE QUESTIONS you need to be able to answer articulately before you begins writing your screenplay.

Day One, Chapter Two: CORE INGREDIENTS
Students Will…

  1. Learn what the term “High Concept” means and why it is critical to your success.

  2. Study what a PREMISE is and why starting there makes most sense.

  3. Learn how to add a unique HOOK to your premise so that it will stand out from other, similar concepts.

  4. Understand how THEME gives every story complexity and deeper meaning.

  5. Define the word GENRE and explore its effect on story.

  6. Explore how to effectively leverage GENRE CONVENTIONS.

  7. Learn a simple method for generating and effectively assembling your core ingredients into a winning screenplay concept (Subject, Premise, Hook, Theme, Genre).

  8. Learn how to create an effective LOGLINE that sells.

Day Two, Chapter Three: STORY
Students Will…

  1. Dissect and explore the definition of “STORY”.

  2. Understand the profound effect of MYTHOLOGY and the MONOMYTH on modern storytelling.

  3. Explore the HOLLYWOOD STORY FORM being used over and over by most popular filmmakers.

  4. Explore the attributes of a POETIC SCREENPLAY.

  5. Learn how to use SURPRISE as fuel for your narrative.

  6. Learn how TRAGEDY can “supercharge” your story.

  7. Explore and identify 18 STORY MODELS that you can use to create the framework for your screenplay.

  8. Learn DYNAMIC CONTAINMENT TOOLS and how they can give your story more focus.

  9. Study insightful CONSIDERATIONS to be mindful of while crafting a story.

  10. Use a STORY WORKSHEET to answer dozens of questions that will help you compose your screenplay’s story.

Day Two, Chapter Four: CHARACTER
Students Will…

  1. Explore the defining attributes of any successful CHARACTER and how characters can make or break a screenplay.

  2. Learn how to create powerful character FIRST APPEARANCES and why they can help save your script.

  3. Identify TEN QUALITY INGREDIENTS that help make any character fascinating and unforgettable.

  4. Learn how to write BETTER BAD GUYS.

  5. Study popular and effective character ARCHETYPES.

  6. Explore how using the ENNEAGRAM personality chart can help you create complex character relationships.

  7. Learn how to create powerful CHARACTER ARCS that will elevate your work.

  8. Study a concept known as THE LIE YOUR CHARACTER BELIEVES that will help you create rich, complex characters.

  9. Determine how to identify your protagonist/Hero character’s WANTS vs. NEEDS, what makes them different from one another and why each are so important.

  10. Study strategies that will help you identify your protagonist/Hero character’s INNER WOUND and how that fuels character choices and motivations.

  11. Review the 7 QUESTIONS of NARRATIVE DRAMA and how they can help you create even more powerful character arcs.

  12. Discuss the BECHDEL TEST and how a diverse cast makes for better storytelling.

  13. Learn how to use a CHARACTER BUILD WORKSHEET.

Day Three, Chapter Five: STRUCTURE
Students Will…

  1. Discuss how DRAMATIC TENSION IS STORY FUEL and how to harness it.

  2. Study the EVOLUTION OF STORYTELLING and the trends of today.


  4. Study “POLTI’S 36” dramatic situations of storytelling and how they can help combat your writer’s block.

  5. Explore the strengths and weaknesses of PLOT DEVICES.

  6. Learn several PLOT and SUBPLOT CONSIDERATIONS that will have you answering questions designed to elevate your craft.

  7. See exactly how the number of pages in your script affects a movie’s RUNTIME and what the average number of pages, scenes and sequences are for today’s feature screenplays.

  8. Learn Sighthound Studio’s MASTER RECIPE for structuring 18 story milestones for your screenplay.

  9. Using the MASTER RECIPE template and customized index cards, you will create 18 plot points incorporating effective mythic devices and place them on their own screenplay timeline to help develop your story, plot and character arcs.

Day Three, Chapter SIX: SCENE
Students Will…


  2. Study “THE THREE FREQUENCIES” that screenwriters use to deliver important story information to audiences.

  3. Explore the 7 ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS of any scene.

  4. Experiment with 8 IMPORTANT QUESTIONS you need to ask before drafting a scene.

  5. DISSECT A SCENE from a popular movie and learn the 7 DRAMATIC STAGES that you can use in your own script.

  6. Work with the provided SCENE WORKSHEET to create plot and character-driven scenes.

Day Three, Chapter Seven: DIALOGUE
Students Will…


  2. Learn what DIALOGUE SUBTEXT is, how it works, and how not employing it will ruin your screenplay.


  4. Identify the dangers of character “MONOLOGUING”, and its devastating effects on your script.

  5. Study the best practices of screenwriting pros on how to “BURY EXPOSITION” within dialogue.

  6. Explore tactics designed to give each character unique dialogue and a unique “VOICE”.

Day Four, Chapter Eight: TECHNIQUE
Students Will…

  1. Understand why SCREENPLAY FORMATTING is more important than most new screenwriters realize.

  2. Discuss SCREENWRITING SOFTWARE: industry favourites, excellent free options and where to find them.

  3. Identify the best books available to study SCREENPLAY FORMATTING.

  4. Learn the basics of SCREENPLAY FORMATTING from page one’s“Fade In” to the final page’s“The End”.

  5. Study the importance of WHITESPACE and why leaving empty space on the page is a good thing.

  6. Discuss the effects of good SCREENWRITING RHYTHM and how to harness it in your writing.

  7. Explore the concept of “TEXTURE” and how it should affect your work.

  8. Learn the FUNNEL TECHNIQUE to add additional excitement to your screenplay.

  9. Discuss numerous screenwriting techniques such as “COMPRESSED IMAGERY”, “LESS IS MORE”, THE PARAPROSDOKIAN and a “LIST OF BAD WORDS” to avoid.

  10. Study how “SHOW, DON’T TELL” is the cornerstone of successful screenwriting.

  11. Learn how an uneven TONE can destroy a screenplay.

  12. Explore the “invisible” ingredient that is STORY SUBTEXT and why you cannot write anything worth reading without it.

  13. Study the power of Andrew Stanton’s (Pixar) 2+2 TECHNIQUE for establishing character details and conveying theme.

Day Four, Chapter Nine: FINISHING
Students Will…

  1. Learn effective strategies for tackling your FIRST DRAFT and why it is much closer to the start of the writing process than the end..

  2. Discuss the “ZERO TOLERANCE” attitude towards spelling, grammar and syntax and its devastating effects on both your screenplay and your personal credibility as a screenwriter.

  3. Explore how to assess your screenplay’s strengths and weaknesses by using the provided SCRIPT ASSESSMENT QUESTIONNAIRE.

  4. Study the SIX TARGETED REWRITES and why editing one aspect of your script at a time will make your rewrites more effective and greatly improve your script.

  5. Learn how to CHOOSE AN EFFECTIVE TITLE and how it will affect your screenplay’s performance in the marketplace.

  6. Study how to compose a polished ONE PAGE SYNOPSIS.

  7. Study how to compose (or avoid) the dreaded TREATMENT.

Day Four, Chapter Ten: POST-WRITING
Students Will…

  1. Explore how PITCHING your script and defending your work to professionals will make you a better screenwriter.

  2. Learn the MARKET POTENTIAL TEST and how to apply it to your screenplay.

  3. Learn how to write an effective QUERY LETTER.

  4. Study all of the ingredients of a professional SUBMISSION PACKAGE.

Your copy of THE SCREENWRITER’S COOKBOOK reference manual will also include:

  • An updated list of respected CONTESTS & FELLOWSHIPS you can submit to.

  • A list of credible “COVERAGE SERVICES”.


  • And a GLOSSARY of the most common screenwriting terms and jargon.