This is a workshop for anyone who wants to learn how to write a screenplay. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, a screenplay is closer to a poem than it is to, say, a novel, depending as it does on verbal economy visual imagery, and effective use of sub-text in dialogue. And unlike a novel, a screenplay is a manageable size (120 pages max).
This workshop will focus on the screenplay’s most basic building block, the scene. Great scenes make for great screenplays. You’re channel-surfing on TV and happen upon, say, The Godfather. In less than a minute, you’re hooked. That’s the scene working, not the screenplay. Writing a screenplay is like driving in the fog—you only have to see five feet in front of you, but you have to train every ounce of your attention on those five feet—the scene. Put all those five-foot segments of the journey together, and you’re home free.
This workshop will begin with the group helping you to develop an idea for a screenplay and formulate a short synopsis (not a “treatment”). We will then spend much of our time writing, analyzing, and revising the scenes that participants write at home and bring to the workshop. The goal is not to multiply scenes but to write a few exceptional scenes and to understand what it is that makes them exceptional. Each workshop session will be a mix of lecture, discussion, scene analysis, reading, and writing assignments that explore the craft topics of the day, sharing work, and giving feedback. Among the screenplays and/or movies from which we will excerpt scenes for study are The Godfather, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Groundhog Day, Midnight Run, Soldier of Orange (Dutch), Love Actually, Witness, The Truman Show, and Sweet and Lowdown, among others. You will leave with a synopsis of your screenplay and a number of completed scenes that will motivate you to make the rest of the screenplay worthy of them. You’ll be well on your way to becoming a screenwriter.