Screenwriting: Writing the 10-minute Short

Sarah Zucker, Screenwriter

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7 Lessons (1h 21m)
    • 1. Trailer

      1:18
    • 2. Three Act Structure & the Anatomy of a Short Film (8:06)

      7:57
    • 3. Character Development (4:15)

      4:07
    • 4. Writing a Treatment (3:04)

      2:56
    • 5. Elements of Style for Screenwriting (2:33)

      2:24
    • 6. Writing Visually (3:08)

      3:07
    • 7. Rewriting and Seeking production

      59:18
20 students are watching this class

Project Description

Write the screenplay for a 10-minute short film

Storytelling and The Short Film

  1. Watch the video...

    After you’ve  watch the video lecture on Three Act Structure and the Anatomy of a Short Film, you should be thinking about the basic elements that make for a good story.

  2. 3 ideas for a short film

    Come up with 3 ideas for a short film to pitch to others - classmates or friends. Since these are pitches, I want you to try and make them as succinct as possible, no more than a paragraph each.

    Please post in your WORKSHOP GROUPS and give each other feedback. If you haven't joined a workshop group yet, please do! You will find that feedback from your classmates will be the most invaluable tool as you learn more about the craft of screenwriting.

  3. Tips From Me...

    Tips From Me: Try to be analytical and honest, but always constructive when you read each other's ideas and give feedback. Think about which basic concepts make for more compelling stories, and guide your peers toward choosing the story that would be ideal for a short film.

  4. Select a Story to Write

    Of the Three Pitches you posted in the projects section, select one idea based on the feedback you receive from the instructor and your peers. This will be the idea you write for this class (and please stick to it...even if it gets tricky, it will make for a better learning experience to stick with one idea than to switch to others)

Developing Characters and Writing Treatments

  1. Write a treatment

    Write a treatment of the short film idea you selected from your three pitches. Use this week's lectures on Character Development and Writing a Treatment to guide you, and check out this sample film treatment to familiarize yourself with the formatting.

Elements of Style for Screenwriting and Writing Visually

  1. Formatting Tip

    When you are finished with your first draft, the easiest way for you to share it in your project is to save it as a .pdf and embed a link.

    The easiest way to link to the .pdf is to upload it to your dropbox public folder, and link to it within your project. 

  2. Post a 1-2 page selection

    I also encourage you to post a 1-2 page selection within the body of the project itself: This will both illuminate the strongest part of the script for you, as well as entice your classmates to download and read the full script.

  3. Elements of Style: The Book

    ***If you really want to continue with screenplay and improve your formatting abilities, I highly recommend the book Elements of Style for Screenwriters, which gave me the title of my lecture. It is an in-depth guide to all the standardized screenwriting style elements.

  4. First draft of 10-page screenplay.

    Share the first draft of your screenplay in .pdf format (use dropbox or google docs), and post a link in your project. 

    I encourage everyone participating to read each other's scripts and give clear constructive feedback: the best way to learn screenwriting is to give and receive feedback!

Rewriting and Seeking Production

  1. Project feedback!

    We're in the thick of project feedback now! Submit a rewritten draft of your screenplay based on the feedback you've been getting from classmates in the project section.

    All students who participate in the class and submit a draft of a screenplay will receive feedback from the instructor, using a rubric of story structure, visual writing, character development, and elements of style.

  2. Completed 10-pg screenplay

    All students who have participated in the course will receive feedback from the instructor.

    Students are highly encouraged to read each other's work and give constructive feedback, as this will make you think analytically about what makes a screenplay work.

Additional Resources

  • Resources for This Unit:

    When watching The Maiden and the Princess take note of the film's plot structure, and how it differs from that of a longer, feature-length film. If you have any questions or interesting observations, please post them in the discussion section!

    One of the best ways to learn the correlation between page and screen is to read screenplays for films you can watch. Check out the collection of sample screenplays I have provided for the purpose of this class.

  • Character Development Worksheet

    (In editable .doc form for ease of use if you wish to fill it out)

    Sample Film Treatment

    (This shows you the style your treatment should be written in. Keep it to one page maximum, single-spaced in a 12pt font)

    Short Films to Watch 

    (A discussion forum here where you can find short films to watch, and add your own!)

  • This week's resources:

    The Elements of Style guide will be especially useful, as you will begin writing the first draft of your screenplay this week. The best way to get started is to jump right in and see what you can express in the screenplay format. 

  • Make sure to keep reading screenplays of films! This is the best way to teach yourself the correlation between the page and the screen.

    Take a look at the sample screenplays I have provided for the purposes of this class.

Student Projects

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Holly Bowers
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JP Lewis
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Asa Guice
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Megan Budnick
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Olivia LaRoche
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Jessica Wallace
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Ben Dayton
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Rachel Li
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Mick Winter
7 comments