Writing Your First Short Screenplay | Kasem Kharsa | Skillshare

Writing Your First Short Screenplay

Kasem Kharsa, Artist-Filmmaker

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11 Lessons (1h 38m)
    • 1. About this Class

      2:17
    • 2. Screenplay Style and Format

      9:25
    • 3. Screenwriting Tools

      4:51
    • 4. Plot, Concept and Poetry

      14:41
    • 5. First Stabs at the First Draft

      7:58
    • 6. Giving and Getting Feedback

      3:32
    • 7. Rewriting and Rethinking

      3:51
    • 8. Conclusion

      2:09
    • 9. Appendix: Adobe Story Screencast

      17:30
    • 10. Bonus: Beginner's Mindset , a simpler 'Project' and Multiple Lives

      14:20
    • 11. Bonus: The Russian Doll Exercise

      17:25
34 students are watching this class

About This Class

This class is about the fundamentals of screenwriting, but tailored specifically to the canvas size and opportunities a short film offers. We'll cover the basics of screenwriting format and style and use examples of short films to discuss how we can use narrative, visual approach and poetry in our own films. Along the way you'll get advice on tools for writing your scripts, brainstorming and revising in order to leave with a screenplay that has received at least one round of feedback. 

The class is rather ambituous, but I've tried to make it easier with several resources: the video lessons, reading material, viewing list and of course a realistic class project. Remember the more you put into your class project and the projects of your fellow students (via feedback) the more you'll get out of the class and screenwriting in general. 

If you still have any questions or concerns feel free to send me an email

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Go here for handouts mentioned in video lessons

Transcripts

1. About this Class: We have a tendency to think of short films as a stepping stone towards feature films, which is OK, but I think that with that mindset, we sometimes underestimate what short films can be and that short films are a medium and art form of their own. We can be bold, we can take risks. We can tell microscopic, intimate stories. So this class is really about appreciating all of that about appreciating how we can use narrative visual concepts and poetry in our short films. And the goal of this class is quite ambitious because it's not about just writing your first draft. It's about writing your second draft. It's about leaving with the draft that's been revised, and that's received feedback from myself as well as your fellow riders. In order to achieve that ambitious goal, we've got a couple of essential components to this class. The first, obviously are the video lessons where I try to be concise and informative. We also have excerpts from what I consider to be a strong screenplays, strong examples, a visual writing in order to understand what we mean by cinematic riding. There's also a group of short films that I really want you to watch, because I think it will sort of broaden your horizon and show you what's possible in the short short film format. Finally, the most essential part. I think of any skill share class. We have the community. We have the place where we can leave our projects. Um received notes, received feedback, but also read other projects and provide feedback. I will say, relative to other courses and workshops and books out there. I am relatively light on the theory. I found that it's very easy for theory to become paralyzing and for theory to begin to feel like a checklist that you have to hit. So instead of being three having the beginning, you'll receive theory as we go along and you'll receive suggestions that are actually relevant to the project that you're working on. This class is meant both for the beginner as well as someone that has some experience with screenplays and once a deadline, wants some accountability for finishing an idea that they have. So if you're interested in this, if you're interested in the idea of a safe sort of writing environment, then I suggest you join us and be part of that community. Thanks 2. Screenplay Style and Format: So this first lesson is really about the fundamentals. It's about how screenplays were written, so we're gonna cover style as well as formatting. And in order to do that, you're gonna need to have the handout for this lesson handy. In fact, most of the instruction for this lesson will be through the hand out through the notes that I've left for you. So go ahead and print that out. Just have it open on your computer. And if you go through it, you'll see that it's comprised of a couple of different sequences from different feature screenplays. These air screenplays that I think are examples of really strong visual writing and their screenplays that maybe you want to look at after the class. You know, look at the read the screenplay In poll. I chose feature screenplays because the screenplay, as well as the film, is readily available. So you're able as a writer to compare the two and see how a screenplay was the blueprint for the final film. So go ahead and have that have that hand out open and read the first sequence from the opening of Bright Star and don't read anything else and then come back and continue with this video. So you've had a chance to read the opening sequence, and I just wanted to mention a couple of things that, um um, you might not be familiar with if that's your first time reading a screenplay. The first thing is that a screenplay is quite skeletal. It's not like a short story or novel where you might have a lot of flowery language. It's really just giving the bare bones of what the audience can see in here. And your job is a screenwriter is to provide, um, enough details to do that without going overboard, where you've maybe confused the reader or clouded the reader. You have to remember as a screenwriter that you're not making the final product. The final product is the film, and you're gonna have collaborators that come in and add and give flesh to the things that you've written. So, for example, there's no need to talk about the furniture in a room or the wallpaper a room unless it gives us a sense of of something that's important in the film. For example, maybe, maybe by describing the furniture, we get a better sense of the character. But if it's an extraneous detail, then you don't need to mention it. And actually, a lot of the work that we do between drafts is to look at these extraneous details and to make sure that, um, we're providing the reader all that they need nothing less than nothing more. The second thing that you'll notice about screenplays is that they are, regardless of when they're taking place. There, happening in the presence of the text is always written in the present tense, and it's always written in the third person, Um, and again, that's regardless if if the scene is a flashback, courts in the future or whatever. Um, also, you noticed that, uh, screenplays don't flow the way that a novel or short story does, because everything seems to be formatted differently. Everything really pops out. And of course, that's intentional. It makes it easier for your collaborators to come in and get the information that they need so the actor could find his or her lines easily. Production manager can find out where this scene takes place. For example, style is not something that you figure out overnight Style is something that you work on, um, for the rest of your career, and it it does become easier. And one of the things that makes it easier is by reading other screenplays and seeing what other writers have done with the same with the same language, basically. So that's why I've included other excerpts in this handout so that we can look at examples of what we mean by strong visual writing, cinematic writing. What do we mean by skeletal language and how, as a writer, you still within those limits within those parameters, you still have opportunities to, um, to convey emotion to your audience by your award choice. So when I say skeletal, that doesn't mean that your script is cold and you can You can still make a powerful work within within the confines and within these limitations, and you can still produce images in your reader's mind with with something as simple as a sentence or whatever, it can be quite powerful, and that's why I wanted Teoh include some examples of riders doing exactly that. So let's move forward and talk about formatting and again for this section of the lesson, you're gonna wanna have the handout handy If you turn to the next scene in your hand out the second scene excerpt, you'll see that I've marked that up and I have a lot of notes there that will help you with the nitty gritty of formatting and how to do for men incorrectly. In this video, I just want to mention again, just broad strokes. What is formatting look like? And what do you have to kind of concern yourself as a writer? Um, the first thing that simplifies our life is that in a script you only have five basic script elements. So you have the scene heading, which is the first thing that you see in a scene that's that tells me where the scene is taking place and when it's taking place after the scene heading, we have the description or the action of the scene. The third element is dialogue. Whenever character speaks, we put their name first in all caps, and then their dialogue follows. The fourth element is para tentacles, and we can use those in our dialogue to make it clear how a character is delivering a line or if the scene is taking place in a room full of other characters to make it clear who that character is speaking to. And then finally, I have transition, which is the cut twos and the fade outs and the dissolves so that those of your five, that's what you have to remember. The great thing is that when you're actually writing and you're using a piece of screenwriting software, which I highly recommend, and we'll talk about that in the next lesson, the software does most of the the work for you, so you don't have to memorize that a dialogue is dialogue is so many inches over in your margins and etcetera, you just have to recognize, um, when it looks right, or if you did something wrong. So if you didn't format your dialect correctly or you didn't put your pair of identical in the right place, you just have to kind of recognize that it looks correct. That's essentially formatting. And again, when you go through that excerpt, you should have a stronger sense. And that covers, I would say about 90 to 95% of the situations that you're going to confront in your writing and in particular to your story. There's always exceptions There's always sort of unique situations where a scene is very complicated and there's multiple things going on. We can cover those things on a sort of project by project basis. If there's if you have a very unique situation, you need help. You're not sure how to write. You know that this is happening. This is happening the same time. Or if you have a very complicated structure, where we're going in the past and we're going to different places, etcetera, those air sort of the exceptions or the advanced formatting rules that we can cover. I did want to say that there's something called screenplay convention, but within that there is some leeway. So you will see writers, um, formatting slightly different, but staying within the same rough parameters. So sometimes the way they well entered the way they write their seen heading might be different from writer to writer. So you might have a writer that likes to bold their scene headings. Some like to underlined it again. These slight differences air not big. I just in this lesson, I just want to cover what people agree upon in terms of screenplay convention, but you still have a little bit of leeway. So finally, please finish that hand out. Please read through the scenes. Whenever you come across one of my footnotes, try to just go to the footnote immediately so that you can see what I'm trying to point out . But by the end of this handout, you should have a stronger sense of what we mean by formatting and how how straightforward is how easy it is to be honest. But also more importantly, you should have some examples of what we mean by cinematic writing and and how tough. It is really a screenwriter, that you have to take the images in your head that translate them into words that hopefully will generate those images back in the reader's mind. It's not an easy job, but that's what this course is about. That's what hopefully we will be. We will be better at by the end of it. So thanks 3. Screenwriting Tools: in the last lesson I mentioned that you're gonna want to use some kind of screenwriting software because it's gonna make the writing process a lot easier. You won't have to worry about the Four Matic. So much you won't have to worry about is my dialogue over on in the right part of the page , you'll be able to focus on the actual writing and in the resource sheet for this lesson. I mentioned a couple of options. These air sort of my picks. These are things that I've tried out. I've used quite a bit and I think our dependable and each has its own pros and cons. But, um, these are things that I feel safe and recommending. But to be honest, there are dozens of options out there and for this class, if you're not sure if you're gonna be, you know, a screenwriter in the foreseeable future. If if If you're just trying out this medium that I don't recommend you make the investment of actually purchasing a ah program right now, I recommend that you you you try out a trial version of one of these paid versions or you try out of free option, and you use that for the direction of this class. Um, I do want to say something about final draft because that's considered the industry standard. That's what all these other alternatives inevitably get compared to. Some writers will love it. Some runners hate it, but it's something that you should be aware of aware of. It's something that you, you know, eventually you want to try out a trial version of and just familiarize yourself with it. But for the for this class, I think it's kind of overkill, and, um, and I think it's a bit expensive also. So for this class, I I recommend that you you try out a trial version. Just be aware of the limitations. Some of these programs will limit how many pages or screenplay can be in the trial version or they'll put a watermark all across their pages. So be aware of that. If you're stuck and you don't know what the download and I've given you too many options, then I recommend that you you use Adobe Story. Um, I actually go through a screen cast of how to use this Web app. If if you need that help So in your video lessons, you should see a screen cast for Adobe Story, and that's just gonna cover like an orientation as well as some more advanced stuff. When we get into revising the screenplay and I picked this app, I actually I picked this Web app or I'm recommending this Web app. Sorry, because I know a lot of you are adobe users to begin with. Some of you already have creative cloud memberships, and so if you use the free version, the disadvantage is that you can't work offline. You actually have to have Internet connection to be able to open and save your files. But if you're a creative cloud member than you have, sort of the plus version, which allows for the offline saving, will give you a disc desktop app. So that's why I'm recommending it. I also like what Adobe is trying to do that they're trying to include Adobe Story into the rest of their workflow. So if you're a filmmaker, you be able to do things like import your screenplay into premier um, so if you're stuck and or not, you're clueless. What to use. I recommend you just use Adobe story. And if you need a little bit of help just getting orientated, I recommend you look at the screen cast below. Finally, I want to leave you with a suggestion. Uh, I personally don't like to start off writing my film using any of these programs, especially the first draft. I just find something about the blank screen very artificial and intimidating, and I actually prefer to write in journals and scraps of papers and post it notes. And so I I've collected a lot of journals over the years and for the scraps of paper. When they become too numerous, I'll just put them in something like an according album so that I don't lose them. Um, and then when? When? When? I have a lot of material. When I when I feel that my film has some volume to it and I have I have something I don't know what I have, but I have something. I'll then began to arrange all of those things on the table and try to find shape to this raw material, and then I'll use my program final draft, adobe story, whatever, as the place where I put all of those scraps of paper, you know, into the program and use the program as a place where things can begin to be polished, organized. So I just want to make that suggestion if you if you two are also a tactile writer. Um, but that's about it. I hope that you're able to decide on what program you want to use. If not, look at my screen cast for Adobe Story. Thanks. 4. Plot, Concept and Poetry: so I personally have had to distinct periods in my education. As a writer, I had the sort of the informal years where I was trying to teach myself how to write by reading a lot of novels and short stories. Andi thinking about them as well as picking up any books that I could on the subject, as well as just just writing on just trying to learn through the process. And the advice that I was getting at that time was really about, uh, learning through doing and not so much through theory. And, um, I mean, it was great. I remember writing a lot of crap and rewriting, and stories wouldn't really get any better. But there was something just so freeing about learning. You're learning about your story and learning about your characters through actually writing and trying things out. And I remember spending a lot of time sort of writing in the dark where I don't know where I'm going. I don't know what the character is going to do. I don't have a planned out, and I'm tryingto especially in that first or second draft trying to to find out for myself and then um I went to film school where my formal training started and where I began to really focus on screenwriting and that what was very theory heavy up front. And we spent a lot of time reverse engineering what the teachers felt, where the successful films and were the films that we should somehow mimic and spend a lot of time trying to find out. Um, what was the magic or what? What were the keys to writing the $1,000,000 idea? And, um, that type of writing was very much template based on. Do you know you can do this? You can't do that, etcetera. And you have to satisfy all these points. Um, and I think that those so those are two very extreme ways of teaching writing. I think there are pros and cons to both, so I don't want to say one is better than the other, but I do wanna borrow a little bit from both. And so, in today's lesson, we are going to cover a bit of theory. Not too much. Um, but enough that you have set of tools next to you so that if you do want to write organically and you get kind of stuck and you want some advice, Let's say, for example, you're writing a plot, um, driven story. You want some advice or you want a tool to help to help you with the next set of scenes There are there hopefully be something in this lesson in the short set of short films that we're gonna watch that that help you. So I want to try and provide a little bit of structure, a little bit advice, but the same time you know it's got space to work and you've got spaced fool around. There is a handout, for today's lesson is just a set of short films. Um, I'll talk about how they're categorized in a moment, but I do want you to try to watch as many of the short films as you can some of them you have to pay for. But I think the more that you watch, the more, um, the more chance that you'll find something that really resonates with you. And even if you, even if I'm recommended recommending a film that you watch and you hate like God, why did he? Why did he make me watch that that still is helpful. I mean, knowing learning more about what you don't like is as helpful as watching the stuff that you do like. So please try toe watch as many of those films as you can. Um, you will see that they are categorized these air categories that I came up with. They're not there, nothing official, different teacher will categorize them a different way. But these are very broad, and they give us a way of, of, of handling, of being able to talk about each set. So very broadly the categories air plot driven, conceptually different and poetic, driven or experimental. And we're gonna talk a little bit about each. Actually, most of today's lesson will be about the plot driven type stories, because that's really where, UM, most of the literature, Most of the theory. Most of screenwriting teaching deals with plot driven stories. Let's examine the basics of the most common structure of plot driven films, which is the three act dramatic structure to help you better understand. I'll use an example from my viewing list. The film Raju. In a plot driven story, you have a sequence of connected events. This sequence forms the narrative that we're watching. In a sense, everything in the film is meant to serve this narrative. The three act dramatic structure is the most popular model for plot driven stories. These three acts are also referred to as the beginning, middle and end of the story. The beginning is really about setting up and portraying the main character or characters also known as the protagonist and what their world their life looks like right now. What is their status quo? At some point, our main character experiences a major disturbance to their world and life, and that disturbances something so significant that they have to confront that they have to fix it somehow. That confrontation, that journey to fix what is wrong is what the middle is made up of. A series of battles or fights, a struggle. These attempts to get what they want aren't easy, though, because they evolved going up against an antagonist or some set of antagonists. The antagonists are really what make this an uphill battle for him in character. Without them, they would just be too easy. An antagonist can be human or they could be non human elements like bad weather or bureaucracy. Those antagonists can be subtle. Maybe they're just trying to make our main character's life difficult. Or they can be life threatening, depending on the type of film Warren. Depending on the length of your film, your protagonist might experience several of these battles, culminating in a climax the final attempt or final fight. Where there's a real sense, everything is at stake, and this is the final chance to fix this disturbance. Usually the protagonist does succeed and finds a new status quote that is the resolution or ending of the film. Not only have they resolved their disturbance with the journey itself, the fights, the struggles has changed them. They're different in some way. They've experienced a character arc that's important to remember. A plot driven film isn't just about the physical events. It's also about how these events change or shape our protagonist again. This is the broad pattern of the three extraction that you can find in many shorts and feature films. Now, if we're following the character or set of characters for 90 minutes for two hours, I mean this sense of transformation can be quite dramatic. I mean, a character really can go from one extreme to the other or the stakes can continually be raised during the course of the film. The climax can feel really dramatic and really feel because it comes at the end of a series of smaller battles and we really have a sense of of something's at stake and we really care . And we want the hero, the protagonists, to succeed the problem with a short let's say that you're working on a five minute short. You're not gonna have that sets same sense of drama because we, the audience, are only following that character or that that situation for five minutes of screen time. And so everything is gonna become truncated. The amount of time we spend in the beginning, middle end, the sense of a climax, a sense of character, unbelievable character art is gonna be a lot less. It's gonna It's gonna feel, um, that a lot a considerable less is at stake, then say in a feature, we're spending two hours with the main character. In fact, we confined shorts that are just comprised of beginning. Basically, they introduce a main character. They introduce his or her story world, and it's very visually very interesting and very unique, but they don't go anywhere, and they end after five or 10 minutes. In my opinion, that the the compass, the thing that's going to be the most useful to you when you're when you're writing and your, um, trying to find the right beginning trying to find the right structure. Teoh, your story is you want to write about something someone some issue that you yourself are interested in, that you yourself want to see on the screen, and you have to try to find a way to make your audience as interested in that thing as you are. And so it could be something quite ordinary. But you're trying to find and trying to pick the magic or the thing that you find quite, um, extraordinary in the ordinary thing. In a conceptually driven film, the concept is the king. The concept is the reason why we're watching. It's the reason why we are recommending the film toe our friends. There's something about the visual concept of visual approach that the filmmakers taken that is very memorable and very powerful. There might be a sense of plot. There might be a sense that there's a series of events, but the reason why we watch it, it is really because of the visual approach. And if you look at the examples that I provide in the hand out, you'll see what I mean. Conceptually driven films share some kinship with music videos, and so there is sometimes a kind of music video feel to it that there is no story. There's no sense of something happening, but it's just visually very exciting and knowing how to write a screenplay. It's still gonna help you out if you're interested in consecutive and films. I would argue that in a conceptual film, maybe it's even more important to have a screenplay because you can't depend on improvising your way through something you really not need to, because everything's sort of visually tight. Everything needs to be planned out. I need to know where I'm shooting, what props I'm gonna have. Or how am I gonna animate, for example, this part of the interview? You know, what is that gonna look like? So I would argue that in a conceptual film, um, as a writer, a screenplay is still very important. You might have supplemental material to that screenplay, you might have some visuals, some storyboards, some video excerpts. That's OK, but a screenplay written document a blueprint is still gonna be useful to you. Poetically driven or experimental films is probably the hardest category to talk about, because I think it's it's what we could have a class just about that right. We could talk about the history of the movements and filmmakers and different categories. But in general, the images of a poetically drew film are not governed by a rigid narrative spine or serve a narrative logic. If there is a narrative plot, it might feel threadbare and almost inconsequential to the images themselves. The writer or filmmaker might borrow from poetic concepts like abstraction, hyperbole in visual motifs. There might be an intended meaning to the sequence of images, but not necessary, something you can put into words more of an emotion and experience. A sense of place. The filmmaker might be more interested in using cinema as a photographic medium than a storytelling device playing with motion and rhythm. Or the film could also be a kind of record of a dream, surreal images that are up to the audience to make sense of them. You could make the argument that in many of these example films, the rial writing is happening in the editing room after the footage has been captured and one can Corgan eyes the images. But I still feel writing a script ahead of time as a kind of rough guideline of your poetic film is a good idea. As with conception driven films, looking at some examples and looking at some of the hybrid, some of the films that borrow from poetically driven an experimental films you'll get a better feel of how these function and what the what the opportunities are again. As with conceptual driven films, you can borrow and steal ideas and approaches for your plot driven stories. And you see this in feature film making a lot that a film will have a clear plot, clear narrative. But we'll have these tangents that are very subjective or are very sort of point of view. Perspectives that are are reminiscent of of what has happened in some poetic experimental film making. I think the hybrid films that I mentioned in the handout are probably going to be the most interesting because I personally find them to be the most exciting. When a film sort of borrows a little bit from from each of these broad categories, I think that there's something very powerful and something very inviting about them. They allow the audience to kind of have something to hold onto a plot, but also provide space for the audience to kind of feel and come and meditate and come up with their own idea of what it all means. I hope by now you get the sense that I really don't want to exclude a certain type of story telling. If you're interested in poetry and experimenting and just raw imagery, then I'm cool with that and you and you can present a screenplay like that and you know, we'll try to provide useful feedback in the context of what you're trying to do. Just remember that the compass, the compass that I talked about earlier on in this lesson that, um, think about the person the the thing, the emotion, the place that you want to share, that you feel something very strongly about something very emotional about and you want to share that feeling with us and you wanna make us feel the way that you feel. I think that's the point or the goal of most art. And if you want to employ plot to do that, if you want to employ concepts, visual concepts to do that or poetry, that's that's that's your prerogative. That's the freedom that you have in in short film screenwriting. 5. First Stabs at the First Draft: so we've covered a lot of ground. So far, we've talked about screenplay formatting style. What we mean by visual writing. We've Hopefully you've picked a screenwriting program by now. And you've seen some shorts that again hopefully one or two resonate with you and have inspired you to write a screenplay of your own. So you have the foundation. And, um, it's time now to actually sit down and write. And I wanted to talk about, um, a mindset that I think will be helpful to you as you sit down to write, especially if you're a beginner and especially if you don't know what to write. You don't have a kernel of an idea, and you're kind of struggling. Teoh fill the blank page. The first thing it might help you to know that the point of the first draft is not produce something that's perfect and that stellar and that we all sort of stand up and applaud you . The point of the first draft is to get your ideas down on paper in some kind of comprehensible way, when the point of the first draft is to make it physical. Basically, take the ideas in your head and make it into something that you can see that we can see in that we can give you feedback on. So there's a good chance that it's it might suck. It might be terrible, but that's okay. You have to find a way to kind of lower your standards in that first draft. And the great thing about writing and the great thing about this classes that you're gonna have an opportunity to rewrite, um, you're gonna have an opportunity to make it even better. So, uh, that's important. And, um, the handout for this class is excerpts from two books Bird by Bird and Running Down the Bones. And the authors. They both talk about this kind of idea and this kind of mindset, and you know, the idea of shady first drafts. So make sure to read the that hand out. That's gonna be really helpful in reinforcing this. This idea. I did want to offer a few suggestions in case you are, um, blank, and you don't have any ideas of what you want to write about. The first thing on again. This is going back to mindset. We have a tendency tendency to underestimate our taste in our gut and, um, underestimate all the hours that we've spent consuming some form of stories or entertainment. Um, and that's a shame, because I think that, you know, we all have. We each have our own preferences of the type of stuff that we like to watch would like to read. But we've spent in the case of many of us decades developing that so we know what we like, and we know what we don't like. And you shouldn't underestimate that because that could be a wonderful compass in determining the kinds of films that you want to write. And it can help you figure out or feel the gap between, um, like where you where you want your writing to be and where it is, and your and your work from now to till the end is really about trying to bridge that gap between you know, the quality of your inspiration and where you are the quality of your work. So one starting point for just trying to find ideas is look at this stuff that you consume . Look at the films, the novels, the TV shows, whatever and try to find if there's a frequency or if there's ah feel Teoh those forms of of storytelling and you can use that as a starting point. It kind of riff off of it. I mean, that's how a lot of musicians start is that they kind of make music in response to the music that had been listening to so you could do the same thing. That's a writer. Um, the other thing is that you can look at your own personal life or the lifes of your friends . And if there's something that has recently happened, you can use that as a starting point. And in your story, um, find the kind of resolution that you maybe can't find in real life. You know, in that in that way, right, it could be a great form of therapy. Another thing that's really important. And if you're not, if you haven't started yet, you might want to start now, because this is also I think they inspire some ideas is you can start to treat your inspiration the things that you've seen, read, heard, whatever treat them as sacred possessions, Aziz things that really are important to you and find ways of saving them and being able to go back to them because they really do have the power of sparking new E new stories and new film ideas. And that's something that I've tried recently to get better at doing at X, storing these visual ideas as well as you know, doing something like a tumbler site where I'm able to, um, storage if for store a sound clip or whatever. I don't know what its value is yet, but I know that there's something there that resonates with me and I want to be able to go back to it. I want to be able to tag it, and I find that that form of visual journaling is more powerful than then. Maybe not more powerful, but it's a great compliment to the, you know, journaling by hand, journaling with words. I find that I have to have a way of journaling with visuals as well, and I think that if you were a screenwriter, if you're inspiring screenwriter, you also think in images and you want to try to find a way of storing, storing the things that you see the visual things that you see. I would prefer that When you submit your first draft, you are submitting your you know, your complete screenplay. But I would rather you you turn in something that nothing. So if if all you can ride are a couple of scenes and then you get stuck, that's okay. Turn that in and just give us a little context. Explain. You know, um, something about what? What you're film idea is way you got stuck where you need help so that we can maybe offer a suggestion that will inspire you and help you complete that screenplay. And finally, just remember that this supposed to be difficult. This is supposed to be hard. You're supposed to feel a little lost when you're facing the blank page. You're supposed to feel like you don't have all the answers. Maybe you don't know where your character is going to go next. Um, did you are exploring? Ah, a story or a film idea. This is This is like you are traveling through unknown country and, um and there's something I think something scary about that. But it has the potential be very exciting. And I would rather that you veer sort of more on the cherishing that excitement and enjoying that unknown and what's gonna be behind this corner. And then, later on, you know, we can begin to, um, look at that Rome material and to shape it a little bit better and make a little bit stronger. So I really do hope you enjoy this process. And, of course, if you have any questions, any frustrations along that way in writing your first draft, just drop me a line and I'll try toe, try to help you and try to guide you as much as I can. Thanks. 6. Giving and Getting Feedback: feedback is an important part of the writing process, and I wanted to talk a little bit about how do you give and take feedback in terms of giving feedback. You know, the the world is can be quite cruel. And what we're trying to do in a writing community like the one we were creating for this class is we're tryingto establish safe place, a comfortable place where people can share their rough scripts, their rough ideas with us, and not feel like they're going to get bombarded with negativity and poison. So when you read and give someone notes, um, you're not you're not trying to tell them that their script is perfect because that can actually do more harm than good. But you're trying to find a way to see what their intention was and helped them close the gap between their intention and where their script is. It's not about taste. It's not about, you know, Do you like their film, or would you go see their film? Cause Maybe, maybe, maybe that film is on a different frequency than the types of films that you enjoy, But it's really about, you know, just being a friend and finding a way to support their vision and help them get closer to what they're trying to realize in terms of receiving feedback and deciding you know what we want to change in our script in our story. The reality is that even though we try to create these safe environments where we can share a work, um, we're always gonna hear some negative. No, we're gonna hear something that's kind of rude. That's kind of poisonous. If we believe it's something that can damage our self confidence, our ability to write our belief in the story that we're trying to work on. So one, we have to develop our armor. We have to be able to resist those kinds of attacks. You know, the problem as a writer is that, um, were different than the average Joe, right? We have this sensitivity that allows us to pick up on what's happening around the world. We pick up on body language. We hear a line of dialogue that's really curious and interesting. We kind of file a lot of stuff away that the average Joe would just we just forget about, and that sensitivity is your strength and It's also your Achilles heel because, um, if any of those small things are directed towards you a tour towards your work as an artist , it's really hard to forget about. I mean, it just stays with you in a confessor, so you have to find a way to develop your armor and still retain your sensitivity. You have to find a way to be able to file away the things that aren't useful, you know? And it could be a note. It could be that someone says, You know, this beginning doesn't work for me in your screenplay. But if you don't agree with it, you have to find a way to be able to file it away temporarily as you work on your script so that it's not just circling in your head. And if you go back to the chapter from Bird by Bird, that chapter that we read in the last lesson, um, you'll see that Angela Melt talks about this idea of taking the voices and sort of this visualization exercise of taking the voices and treating them like these little mice that you put in a jar and you put the jar on the shelf and it's a silly. It's a silly idea, but it's a great visualisation exercise if you go through it. So those are my notes, my bits of advice on giving and receiving feedback. 7. Rewriting and Rethinking: So the rial writing takes place in the rewriting phase. You know, when we began to take our raw material and we shape it into something that is a more polished version on something that's closer to what we originally intended. So that's for me the difference between an amateur or a hobbyist and a professional. The professional will sit down and rewrite their script that we write their story. Whatever they're working on, they'll do it, you know, and they'll do it. However many times it takes, you know, and it's painful because sometimes you have to get rid of this stuff that you love. Sometimes you have to like, literally rewrite. You know it's not. It's not just about changing a word or something. It's about taking another stab at this thing that you're trying to do, and you know that it requires energy. Um, but that's the writing process. That's that's the rial writing. And so I wanted to give a couple of bits of advice if you're stuck or if you, you know you're not sure how to go about doing it. First of all, um, hopefully the time that you spent away from your script has been helpful because sometimes after a week or after a month, or sometimes it takes a year without reading your script. If you if you read it with fresh eyes, sometimes you you can see immediately the things that you need to change. Um, so hopefully re reading it now, after a little bit of a break, you kind of have a sense of what you wouldn't want to improve on. Also, hopefully, the feedback has been helpful that maybe you you know, two or three people are pointing to the same problem area. And that could be a place that you you you look at and you begin to kind of tweak and experiment with to see if it can be stronger. Another possibility if you're stuck as toe toe, what change or what to improve upon is to actually get a chance to hear your screenplay being read out loud. And so if you can find a group of friends and sign all the different roles and assign the the description exposition to one person and all that, all the different characters toe, you know all your other friends and actually get a chance to hear it out loud. They don't have to perform it like it's a play, but just to hear it out loud. And some things might not ring true for you when you heard out loud and you might want to, you know, note those and try to change those. Another idea is to look at your script, a re read your script as if you are a cinematographer or director, and you have to actually make this script into a visual thing. And by re reading it that way, you can kind of ask yourself, You know, are there images missing that helped me tell this story or help me make the audience feel the way that I want them to feel? Is there, You know, lines of dialogue better extraneous is just redundant and things like that. So by putting on a different hat and imagine yourself in a different role, you can be more critical about what you've written. Finally, the you know, the last suggestion, I'll say, is that this is not meant to be a forced rewrite, like I don't want you to rewrite your script just to rewrite it. I want you to rewrite it because you generally feel that there's something that's not quite working for you, and you feel it's it can be stronger. So I do want this second draft to be not based off of, you know, because we told you you should change this or or someone else told you to change this. I wanted to be because you you really feel that there are places that you can improve upon it. 8. Conclusion: So congratulations You got to the end of our class and you accomplish something that a lot of people talk about doing but failed to realize sitting down and actually writing your story is a really hard thing. And sitting down and revising your story is even harder. So congratulations for that. I wanted to leave you with a couple of suggestions for how to move forward with your project as well as how to move forward as a storyteller. The first thing, the most obvious thing is I suggest that you continue to take classes yet skill share. You look for classes that are relevant to the specific project you're working on, as well as classes that help you with your weaknesses. So, for example, if you developed a project here that is meant to be a live action film and it's something that you want to direct one day look at the leading classes, look at the composition classes. But basically, if you look at skill shares offering, you're gonna find something that helps you move forward as a storyteller. The second suggestion is I would look at the resource sheet that I left for you. It's a hand out of, like, four titles I didn't want to give you. Ah, a list of 200 books to read. I wanted to give you sort of the books that I think are gonna be maybe the most useful. If your time is limited and you can't afford to go out and buy 100 books, take a look at those. Those are useful for you as a beginner as well as an advanced student. Finally, I spoke about how important feedback is for the writing process. It's also essential for the teaching process, so I would appreciate if you leave me feedback, even even if it's negative. If something didn't work for you. If you wish there was, you know, a little bit more material concerning a certain subject. Please write that down because that will help me develop as a teacher. That will help me improve the class for the next batch of students. Finally, and probably the most important thing. Please keep me updated if you move forward with your project. If there's any progress reports, please send me an email. I would I would be really excited to hear that students are continuing to push forward with their projects that they developed here. Um, that's about it. And thank you again for taking this class. 9. Appendix: Adobe Story Screencast: we're gonna go through the basics of how to use Adobe Story. First thing you're gonna want to do is go to a story dot adobe dot com and depending on what browser you're using, you might get ah, error message saying that your browser is not supported. I've had that come up before, and I just you know, I hate continue, and nothing bad happened when I was actually typing my script. So go ahead. And if you don't have an account with the DHOBI, you're gonna want to join. Otherwise, if you have an account, go ahead and do sign it. So we're signing in now, and the first thing we're gonna see is all of the scripts, all the projects that we're working on. If this is your first time working on Adobe Story, you're gonna see a lot of sort of sample templates and scripts, and Adobe Story allows you to create different kinds of documents. So, for example, I can create a character bios for characters that I'm working on. There's other kinds of templates, but basically these templates, from from what I've been ableto gather there just kind of blank pages, so it's not like a character bio. Like, if we actually look into one of these documents, you know, there's nothing. There's nothing really special about the template here. This is something that the authors create for themselves. But otherwise for today's ah, to toil, we're just gonna go the basics of how toe create a script. And we're not going to go through these other templates. Something that I mentioned in the in. The lesson for today was that the negative of using Adobe Story It is free, but you don't have the offline editing and the offline capabilities. If you want to be able to add it on the go without an Internet connection, you're gonna need to pay for it, and you're going to pay the subscription or you're gonna need to be a creative cloud member of some sort. That's a big disadvantage. I mean, for me personally, I do travel, and sometimes I don't have Internet connection. So I make sure to have my files with me, and I'll show you how to do that. In case you are gonna be traveling, we're gonna be working in a in a cafe, for example. That doesn't have Internet. Um, we'll go over how toe had a export so that you have some kind of file that you can add it with you and again says are you might graduate from using Adobe Story to something more heavyweight like final draft. But this will give you, um this is this is a free sort of beginning. This is this is a way to get started writing without actually having to invest into an expensive program. So let's get started. In order to create a new script, we're gonna do new. It asked me for the name of it. So I'm just gonna create the script with you, um, and just give some kind of random net name and we'll come up with a random story. So let's call it raspberry to There's gonna be a strange film. Um, it's creating that template for me. And the first thing that we're going to see, we're going to see the blank page, but it also creates a title page for me, and it's already put it in the title for me Respirator, teak. The name is wrong because that's I used my initials for my user account. So let's go ahead and put in my full name. Um, it gives me the based on if any. If if this is a story coming from a novel or a short story or some other existing property in this case, it's an original idea. So I'm gonna go ahead and delete the based on and then it's given me space to put in my address and phone number. And this is this is intended to be the contact information. So if someone reads the script and they really wanna follow up and learn more from the writer about about this film, if they want to, you know, if they're producer, they want to get the film made. This is where we leave our contact information so it doesn't have to necessarily be our address and a phone number. It could be just our name and our email. It's auto correcting here. So let me do that little trick. And, um, you know, back in the day, usedto have to actually physically center in a script. There wasn't there wasn't email. There wasn't Internet. Um, nowadays, the way people contact each other is by email. So this is what I prefer. You can also put in, You know your city. Ah, you know, Ah, phone number if you want to. But for now, this is what this is what will put. And so let's go ahead and get started with page one. You can see that it's already created the page numbers for me. That's something that I can delete. And I can show you how to do that later on the tutorial. But for now, it is trying to provide what the convention with what's the conventional screenplay format . Now, a lot of what we go over in this tutorial in the way that Adobe Story works is is going to be applicable to the other programs as well. So one of the cool things that last screenwriting software does is that it tries to guess what you're typing next. Usually, a script starts off with the scene heading, and so that's what I want to do here for this page one. But I do want to point out something so adobe helps make by showing what kind of elements I'm on right now. So it tells me that I'm on the scene heading element, so I've actually type. It's going to capitalize and it's and it's gonna interpret that first line as a scene heading for my story. It does give me the option either before I write or after, all right to go back and to actually switch what that element is. So if I wrote something and for some reason by mistake, it interpreted that element at the scene heading. But when in fact, it's dialogue. I can go back on and have my cursor on that line and switch over the element. So let's go ahead and get started and I'll show you how these kind of programs try to predict what you're typing. So if let's say that we have our film called Raspberry tea, Um and we have a character called Frank and we are inside of his living room, So let's get that first scene down. Let's introduce Frank. So the first thing that type is, you know, I NT the the abbreviation for interior. I pushed down I and it already is predicting what I'm gonna type so I can scroll down. Either with my arrow keys like that or with the actual mouse, can point to what I want. Okay, If I don't want to use the mouse because that could be kind of tedious. Going back and forth from the keyboard and the mouse, I can just type I scroll down to what I want and when it's highlighted, pushed tab and it goes ahead and and auto completes that for me. Now I wanna be in Frank's house. I want to be in the living room and I want to put the time of day and again it knows that I need to put the time of day. So it's giving me a couple of options again. I can use the mouse to pick any one of these, but I'm just gonna type the beginning of day and then do Tab and it auto completes. Now, I've finished my scene heading. When I push enter, pay attention to what happens here. Okay, so I'm gonna push enter, and it switches to action automatically. It knows that after a scene heading, usually you have action. You have description of what's happening. So I'm gonna go ahead and just try types, um, descriptions so that we can begin to have a scene here, So I'm gonna say the room is nearly empty, Frank. Ah, and This is the first time we're introducing Frank. So I'm gonna capitalize him and parentheses. Just give him a rough age. Frank, uh, sits on the couch smoking a cigar. Okay, So, um, and then I go ahead and push. Enter, and it still assumes that I'm on action, but I'm not. Now I'm gonna have Frank say something and voiceover. Okay, so there's a couple of ways that I can switch to switch the element to character name to signify. It's Frank speaking. I can do it here, right? So I can click on that and put character, and it takes the cursor over to the character position. So then I would say, you know, Frank or I can actually push inner again on I can do it here, right? It's exactly the same thing I could do character. Or And I think this is really the fastest option is I can actually push tab. And what tab does is allows me to go through the different options. So if I pushed, have, once I end up on character name, I pushed tab again. I ended up on transition. Push tab again on the back. Seen heading, pushed tab again on action. Okay, So, tab for me personally, Tab is like, the quickest way to get to t change. Ah ah, script element. OK, so let's get to character. Let's type Frank and it's gonna be in voiceover, right? He's not gonna be talking out loud in the room. He's just gonna be talking to us as a kind of narrator. So in parentheses, I want to put voice over and again, it's auto completing for me, or it's just giving me a suggestion so I can go down here. The voiceover do tab on. I've got voiceover. Um, and what is he saying? I'm gonna This guy looks kind of depressing. I get a feeling that he's depressed, so I'm gonna say, I hate my life. I wish it was over and again. This is just a sample script. This is not meant to be a work of art. I push enter and it tries to predict what I'm gonna type next. So it takes me to another character as if Frank is talking to someone else. And that's usually how characters interact right? We rarely have voice over. We rarely have characters talking alone in a room so. But in this case, it predicted incorrectly. So I wanna push tab and get back over to a scene heading. I want a new scene. So, um, we're gonna be outside again. You can see how it tries to predict what I'm typing. Now you don't If you don't like this whole, um, predictive text and on auto complete, you can just ignore it and you could just type out. And sometimes I'll do that as well. I'll just you see here how it's again trying to predict what type. But this can get kind of annoying. And sometimes I feel like it's faster just to, um, type it out myself. Um, I Maybe I could work faster that way. Um, so we're outside of Frank's house, and I'm just I'm just trying to get us to, ah, three scenes because then we can begin to play around with this and you can see what the different options that adobe story offer. So we're outside of his house, and I'm just going to say the neighborhood and I misspelled neighborhood. So how it highlighted neighborhood is the neighborhood lights are all off. Okay, so then let's go back into his house. Um and you see that when I pushed inner, it took me to action. But actually, I want that to be seen heading. So push enter again and I'm seeing heading interior. Ah, Frank's house. And again, I could just select it. Uh, bathroom night. Okay, um, Frank sits on the toilet reading a magazine. So that's the basics of how to use auto complete, um, and basically writing your script again. This is not a very good set of scenes, but you get the idea. Now let's talk a little bit about how to export. Export is really simple. You just go to file and you have a couple of options you can export as a pdf as a text document. Sorry, the text document and Excel sheet is because Adobe Story allows you to do budget, so exception. It's not gonna help us here. But also, the cool thing is that you can export as fdx. So if you do graduate to using script writing pro program that little bit more powerful, like final draft, or like its competitors, you will be able to, um, transfer, migrate your projects over. You won't have to retyped them in a new file format. So for this class, let's just do in Adobe Pdf. And that's how you're gonna be delivering your first and second drafts anyways. So it gives me an option to export comments as well. We're gonna go over comments, but for now, just leave that on and say, OK, uh, it exports it and asked me where I want to say that. So it's saved. So I now have my project, and I'm able to email it, and I've got a snappy little title page. So I'm done. Let's go over some a little bit more advanced stuff here. So, for example, if I've got this line Frank since on the toilet reading a magazine and I think it's a maybe a very un interesting image Or, you know, maybe I could do something a little bit more powerful, something that captures Frank, I'll leave a comment for myself, right? So I'll click here on these little you see, when I move the cursor, I get these little bubbles on the side. If I click on click on it, I can actually type that in Aiken. Type that comment. And the cool thing is it records My date, my time. So I could just say, um, go back. Sorry its in capitals go back and try to find a more powerful image and that I have that on the side, and I can I can put these all over the script now. The cool thing is, if you go back to the exporting function and export as a pdf, that's where that export comments comes from, right? So if I don't want, if I'm delivering this, for example, to a friend or if I'm delivering this to the class and I don't want them to see all the comments I left for myself or that I left for somebody else, they're not meant for public consumption. I can turn that off and it won't export it. But if I leave it on and I export it and I'm gonna save on top of the the old pdf that I created So I'm just gonna place that if I look at my pdf, I can see the actual comments. So the cool thing is, it doesn't litter my script with all those comments, right, cause that could become really confusing if I'm trying to read the script and see the comment at the same time. It just provides a little one, and that one is hyperlinked. If I click on it, I go to the end of the document on a separate page, and I can see the comment that I left for myself. So that's pretty cool. I like the way that Adobe Story allowed to leave the comments and then in the pdf they they're not too distracting. Let's go back to our program. Maximize this again. Let's talk a little bit about outlines. So when we began to have a lot of scenes, three is not a lot. But if I began to have, let's say 2050 scenes and I want to be able to manage them, I wanna have sort of an aerial view of them. I can get a outline of them by going to view outlined view. And then I see the three scenes that I've written when you begin to have a lot of things like this and you want to play around with rearranging them instead of trying to copy, you know, like cut that out and then paste it somewhere else. I'm able to do the same thing here, So I'm able to click and drag and move things around and you can see how these scenes are moving, and now I've completely scrambled them. Let's go over seen numbers. So sometimes you want to deliver a script to somebody with actual numbers next to the scene headings that just makes their life easier. It makes it easier for them to provide feedback to you because instead of them saying, on Page five, you have a scene in the middle of the page they could just say, Seen 16 because you have provided numbers next to each scene, so that's really easy. You just go to production and you say, Manage, see numbers and I'm able to science the numbers and I'm Let's turn this off for now. But those two things might be useful when you are revising your scenes, revising your script and you want to keep your existing see numbers. But for now, turn those off. Say OK and it gave me a C numbers, so that's about it. We've covered the basics as well as some tools that'll hopefully be useful to you in your in your second and third and so forth draft and what we covered the concept of auto complete the idea of a program trying to predict where you gonna right next? That's gonna be true of just about any screen running software that's on the market right now. So if you are familiar with using this, you're gonna be able to migrate very easily to something like Final Draft or any other program. So basically, you're set your you should be ready to actually start writing or scripts. 10. Bonus: Beginner's Mindset , a simpler 'Project' and Multiple Lives: So I wanted to make this quick, impromptu video for the students who are taking the workshop or the session, whatever skill shares calling it, who are following some kind of schedule and deadline. And I apologize for the the quality of this video, the sound quality. I'm just doing it very quickly to see how to structure these videos and what is and isn't helpful to the students. So the first thing that I'm observing based on the feedback or based on the communications have been having with some of the students is that it seems that there's two types of students. Is the student that has some kind of experience with creative writing or with screenwriting . Engine is specifically, and they're coming in with some rough ideas of what they want to talk about. And so I think those students are a real advantage because this material, um, is just kind of a reminder of stuff that they already knows. It's maybe basic, um, and they're using the class to finally get to that project that they've been obsessing about her dreaming about for a while, which is great because those students make my life a lot easier uh, there's the other extreme. And again I'm speaking broadly. But the other extreme is the student that's coming in with no riel experience with screenplays or screenwriting. Um, they've never read a book on creative writing, so, um, and they don't have any rough ideas of what they want to write about their interested in strengthening. They know that they want to learn more about short films and running short films, but it's just is truly, like a a new thing for them. And, um, and I think for those students, you have a kind of rough because, um, in the structure that I've outlined, um, I think in less between less and three and less and four, which is like Week three week for I'm just kind of throwing you off the side of the building and hoping that you take off and fly away and right, you know, right, beautiful stories. And I think for a lot of you that's not happening. Your just going split on the on the pavement. That was not my intention, but I think that there is a kind of chasm between the theory part of the class and where you're supposed to start to take that theory and run with it and write your own stories. So I wanted to try to start addressing that from the very beginning of the workshops so that you can if you're that student. If you're let's do that doesn't have any ideas. You can begin to lay down the foundation for a story for scene for something that you turn in. And I think turning in a project is really important. It's not important for me, but I think important for you. It's important for cementing the theory and the knowledge and for you to at least leave with this is like the The basic thing that I really want students to leave with is an ability to, um, write screenplays in a correct format and understand. Um, I understand visual writing and understand what we mean by, you know, narrative poetry and sort of cause ality. You know, the basics of of what you would see in short films and feature films. Also, that's really what the aim of the project is is to feel like you. You understand those concepts. It's not too present a masterpiece because I think that that's kind of a crazy expectation for me or for you, Um, that would that would make the class a lot less fun. So let me try to address that with three exercise that you can start from now. And, um, again, I don't know how I'm going to structure these videos, but I will try to present ah, a couple of other things in later videos just to help you along and lay that foundation before you get two week three week for So the first thing is, I really want you to adopt a beginner's mindset. And what I mean by that is if you have no technical, uh, experience with writing screenplays if you have If you don't have that much experience running, you know, creative writing with creative writing, then you have to assume you are at the sort of beginning of your learners. Curve your learning curve, your your personal learning curve. And what I mean by that is if you look at what you do for a living right now, you're probably very good at it. Um, and that came through practice and making mistakes and, um, people, you know, observing other people and people telling you how to do it and lectures and, you know, depending on what kind of work you do. But you had a point in your career where you are at the beginning of your learners curve and you and you started moving forward with all those little mistakes and successes. And with screenwriting, it's no different. Um, you have to assume in that first piece, and for me it was the first couple of pieces that they're not those screenplays. Those projects are less than stellar, and you can and you can feel it. You don't need anyone to tell you, you know, that it's not as good as it could be or or when you stand back from the screenplay, and but, But still, it's important to make those ideas physical. You don't have to share them. You don't. You know. You don't have to share with the public these first few failures. You can do it privately, but making it physical is is really important. An artist has to do that. A musician has to do that. Screenwriter has to do that because, um, something happens when you make it physical. It's like there's Yeah, it's almost like the peace talks back at you, and it tells you, um, something about its quality. It tells you something about the craft. It tells you something about what your obsessions are. And what you're interested in is a writer. So for the sake of your learning her for the sake of your craft, you you you need to go from theory to actually doing something. Um, and be it being okay with the less than stellar results. I'm not trying to be pessimistic. I'm just trying to prepare you for, um, the reality because I don't know if there's a shortcut around that. I think you actually have to go. You have to experience that part of the journey as a learner, as a beginner on. And if there was a shortcut, if there was a seven step, um, way of skipping that phase, that uncomfortable face, I would give it to you. But I don't know what it is. And I as as a beginner, I couldn't find it, either. It required. I had to produce a lot of stuff that I look back on now. And I say it was crappy. Um, it was cliche aid. It was romantic. It was melodramatic. It was whatever. But I had to make those pieces because I think they taught me a tremendous amount about myself and about the craft, etcetera, etcetera. So that's beginner's mindset. The second thing is that I think the word project is commentating, a very big thing. And what I'm expecting is something relatively small and what I mean. But by that is I think some of the students are interpreting project to mean they have to turn in a kind of masterpiece, something that is just, you know, Wow. And, um, I didn't intend that, and I thought that in the description or the videos I had, I made that clear. But I don't think I did. So what I mean by project is that something that illustrates you learned three basic things . Formatting had a format correctly what we mean by visual writing and how that's different than other forms of prose. And the third thing is, um, how to use, you know, if you want to use poetry if you want to use narrative if you want to use, you know, whatever. But that you have a sense of, um of of there's a logic to the flow of your sentences and eso you understand what sort of narrative logic is, or poetic logic is experimental logic. Now, most of you have chosen to so far have chosen to pursue narratives, and I think some of you are interpreting that to me. And so a narrative project. You interpret that to mean that you have to submit a script that has beginning middle end has catharsis, has the disturbance, has a resolution, has all these things, And that's not what I had intended. If if you if you can't think of something like that and for those students that are coming in with no, um background, that's gonna be a pretty tough thing to come up with an entire story and art. I'm OK with you turning in, um, seen and that. So that scene could be the beginning of what you imagine to be, uh, a complete short film. That scene could be an exercise, so that scene could be, for example, a portrait of a character. So, for example, if I wanted to write about my grandmother and I wanted to write a scene where I've captured her essence in her space on. I'm trying to write it in the most visual terms possible so that someone reading it can imagine my grandmother in her space and what she does and the things around her in her relationship with that space. That's okay. I can turn that in and there's But there's no story. Nothing happens. But But you've just demonstrated to me that you understand the three, um, principles or three goals of this class with the project. Uh, so when we say project, we're really talking about something that, um, um, we can begin to have a conversation about and we can begin to talk about Did you Do you understand formatting? Or are you making some mistakes? Do you understand visual running? Or you know, is there's things that you've written that maybe it could be instead of a bit of dialogue, maybe could be an actual action. Things like that. I want you to turn something that we could begin to have a conversation on, and we can begin to move forward on your learning curve on those first. That first piece that you make in those first pieces, um, will be building blocks for your future will be building blocks as you get better at a short screenplay writer as well as if. If you decide to migrate to feature films, those first pieces, even if it's an exercise, will help you become a better writer. The third thing is, um, and again I thought this was clear, but I don't think it's coming through. Um, you don't get just one chance to turn something in. So if you have something if you're a beginner, okay, but and you have some story, but it's been percolating for a long time, and you're not ready to get it down on paper, you're not ready to share it. Then share something else. You know, do the do the exercise that I was suggesting. For example, if you want to do a portrait, turn that into ah, formatted seen and submit that as your project. Um, there's nothing nothing in the fine print of this class that says you can't submit more than one project, so you can you can submit something that you're using as a kind of warm up project or something that you know you're using to show that you understand those three goals of the class The illustrates that you understand these three principles the formatting visual writing and, um, the logic afloat. You know how things flow from one sentence to another, whether it's by a narrative, poetry or by experimental choices. Um, and then later on, if you want, you can submit another project at another project. I mean, again, I putting a limit on that. And and, uh, for those students that air uncomfortable sharing a particular idea right now, you can do that. At least submit something. At least submit something that we can see if there's sort of gaps in your craft. Onda, Um and then you can learn from that and then use that that that knowledge, that wisdom for the next piece that you haven't mind. Um, that's it. I think I've gone over my time for today. So I apologize. I appreciate you being patient with me, but I just wanted to try toe provide these three tips. Hopefully, they'll be helpful to you in the beginning as we start this workshop, and I'll think about other exercises tips that I can give you so that when we get to that chasm between theory and actually writing, you feel a little bit more prepared. But thanks 11. Bonus: The Russian Doll Exercise: So this is our second video in the workshop, Siri's and again, these videos are meant for the workshop students, but obviously anyone can can watch these. Anyone that's taking the class can watch these videos, and I'm going to be a proposing, um, an exercise in this video that you can use is your project. So if you're a student who hasn't been able to come up with a story idea if you don't want to share the story ideas that you have, this is an exercise that you can use that you can submit to the Project gallery as a way of saying, This is my This is my class project, and I think when you hear the idea, you'll agree with me that the exercise is substantial enough to feel like a project. It doesn't feel like an exercise. Um, so the exercises called the Russian Doll exercise, and I'll explain why it's called that. But basically the idea is that if you don't have a story idea, if you're stuck, you will follow this exercise, which entails submitting to the Project Gallery script of three scenes. Okay, um, and I've got some, uh, crops with me to demonstrate how we're going to go about doing this before I get to my dolls. Um, let me give you some background as to why I came up with this project, so this will help you understand the exercise better. So what I noticed in a lot of the student projects is a trend to deal with characters that have experienced some kind of trauma in their life. And usually that trauma is in their childhood, and that trauma is somehow related to this story is powering the character. Third story is setting up the goals and desires the thing that this character is trying to overcome, Um, which I find all of that very interesting. Um, and I find it very interesting also because we didn't talk about it in the lectures or and I think in the example film. So I think that's pretty cool that there's that, that students have, um, intuitively sense to use that to think about the back story for a character and to think about how that can power, uh, story and And some of the stories, um, you're seeing you're seeing that, Baxter. You're seeing flashbacks and memories. You get a sense of who this person used to be, what happened to them in their childhood, why the why they are the way they are now and in some of the scripts, that back story is suggested. So it's kind of like an iceberg submerged iceberg where you the reader, you're only seeing the tip of the iceberg, but the rest is kind of implied. And so I find it very interesting how, uh, different writers have different strategies about how much they will show, how much they will imply there's no right or wrong, especially at this stage. But this is something that we can play with, and we can begin to think about more. So what I think or the way I sort of model it in my own mind, metaphorically or figuratively, when I'm thinking about a character or what I'm thinking about myself is that, um, you have the previous versions of the person that you used to be right, So I'm assuming everyone that's watching this is is somehow an adult. So you had a childhood and that childhood, um, and and by remembering that childhood or reminiscing about a moment in their childhood in that moment you're able to, um, not only imagine it in your mind's eye, but in a way you, um, kind of become that child again in that moment as if it was a different person. And sometimes it's not so different. Sometimes you are exactly who you were as a child, and sometimes you're completely different. We can also go in the opposite direction. We can think about our future, and we can extrapolate what's happening to us today, Um, and think about the person that we're going to become. And that's a way of better understanding our present, because we have to extrapolate because we have to project. I get a better handle of of who I am today in the direction that I'm going in. Um, but in that case, also, sometimes we imagine someone that is so distinct and so different, like like that is, you know, famous and rich and successful and all of that, or wise, as if it was a completely different person. And that might happen. You might become someone in your twilight years that is very distinct from who you are today, and that is very distinct from who you were as a child so metaphorically speaking, the way we can imagine that is sort of like thes nestling dollars. The Russian does right. You've seen these before, right? So you have dolls within dolls. So I just talked about three different phases of a character again. This could be a fictitious person. This convey. Be a real person. This could be you. You change your name to protect your identity. But me standing here today because I have that memory of who I was, a child and that child in a way I can make that child rial by reminiscing. It's almost a Ziff. That child is inside of me, not not scientifically but again, poetically or metaphorically, Um, and all these previous versions of who I will, especially if I was distinct they are. They are inside of me there, there. And if something happened, let's say, for example, my childhood was very traumatic. It wasn't, but let's Let's pretend, um, I carry that with me, and that wounded child is there with me, and it's affecting my present. Or maybe it's not. Maybe I've overcome it, but either way it's it's there. I'm reacting to it. And so this exercise. I think you hopefully can see where we're going. So basically, what you're gonna do is you're gonna take your character and you're gonna write three scenes, and they're gonna be one of the scenes is gonna be from their childhood, whatever you defined as childhood. So that could be this person's five years old, 10 years old, 15. Whatever. Whatever childhood means to you, basically, um, there they're beginning development years. You're gonna write a scene from their young adult midlife again. Whatever you wanna, however, you want to define that and you're going to finally write a scene from their twilight years . And I'll let you define what twilight years twilight years might mean. They're about to die. Twilight mean years might mean they're very wise. Whatever. However, you wanted to find that basically gonna write these three distinct versions of who they were. Oh, I'm not not who they were, but, um, who they are. Okay, so if you choose a character that is, your character is like, mid thirties, and so now you've got to think about what their childhood was like and what their twilight years might become. If you choose a character in their twilight years. You have to think about the past. If you choose a character that's a child, you have to project and imagine what their future might look like now when I say past them future. What I'm describing is, is writing a scene that is, it can either be a portrait. It could be a slice in their life at that particular age, so it could be like nothing happens. You know, It's just like, uh, the child version of themselves sitting in their room, listening to music. So nothing happens. There's nothing dramatic. There's no story, but it's just a portrait. I I want to see that portrait I want to see. Um, What you decide to show from that child, what you think is useful. Interesting for me to get a sense of that, you know, young version of who they were. Or you could instead of, um, writing a sort of a portrait where nothing happens, you could write. Ah, very cataclysmic event. So maybe something happened in your childhood that you wanna share with me. Ah, share with us. So you have that option. You have that flexibility. Like if you're not really feeling the drama thing and you just wanna, you know, describe. You know what this person's room looked like and what their parents were like or or how they used to sit by the lake when they're 10 years old. That's fine. Just write that scene that seem, could be a short as half a page. And then you move to the other ages, right? And you think about okay, like, what would their young adult life be like? What would their what would their twilight years be like? And again, it depends on what your starting point is. So if you're choosing a character that's very young, you have to project. You have to imagine, uh, who they're going to become If you If you pick yourself in your mid thirties, you have to imagine who you're going to become in order to the to do this exercise. Now the cool thing is, when we project, we have to extrapolated from who we are or who that character is today, and so that's a way of better understanding your present day character. You better understand the road that they're on, and you have a better handle of what they're doing to themselves. What what good and bad things are in their life that's going to allow them to be the person that they're going to be. Now, um, this sounds like an exercise, right? This sounds very boring and very fill in the blank. But it's not because even if your individual scenes are static, Portrait's where nothing happens when you began to put them together as one script, right? So we're just gonna leap in time to these three phases. We can leap in time chronologically or in reverse order, or you can mix it up. And each one has its own feeling, right? I mean, it will. It will not be the same. Um, the order will really decide the rhythm of of how we feel that end of reading this. But when you begin to put scenes together like this, especially scenes of the same character in three distinct phases um, we the reader I want to connect those dots we want to see. Did their childhood did what happened to their charter, what their childhood look like? How did that affect their later years, and how did that affect their later years? Or did it? And so we it becomes a little bit of detective story where we want to connect those dots and we want to see um, It, for example, is the trauma that this person went through is that are they just reliving that over and over again? Have they overcome it? Or where their later years more traumatic than their, uh then they're young years, younger years. And so you're the juxtaposition of these boring scenes that maybe have no drama will create a bit of kinetic energy. And so we will begin to create some excitement some energy in, um in what you've written, and that's that's really important lesson Teoh. Leave with that. If you just leave with that, that idea that order matters and, um, juxtaposition matters and how that can create drama. It's not just the scenes that create drama, but it's also the transitions and how we move and the contrast between scenes. The contrast. If you're dealing with a story that has a character moving between different ages like this and changing in dramatic ways, the transition could create a lot of energy. And, um, if you don't believe me, I would look at an example from popular culture. Hopefully, most of you, all of you have seen this, Um, which is Ah, Batman begins, right? So in Batman begins the 1st 30 minutes. What people don't remember about the 1st 3 minutes is that the the order of the scenes is very it's It's very non leaner, like a lot of Nolan's films, and you're seeing several different versions of who Bruce Wayne was is and, of course, ultimately the Batman character that he will become. And so what that does is as a viewer, first of all, because it's not, it's non leaner. There's a little bit of excitement in that, right, because I'm a little bit disorientated when I'm watching this right, and I'm trying to figure out Where am I right now? But the interesting thing is that me as a viewer, I'm I'm constantly trying to make connections between this child version of Bruce Wayne and the adult that he but the younger adult that he becomes and the more mature younger adult that he becomes, and then the Batman character they becomes. And so it becomes this kind of kinetic thing between these different, distinct, um people and versions and Of course, they're very similar. Bruce Wayne as the boy has has some similarities with Bruce Wayne as the man, but I would say that those similarities are really about, especially in that film or in in these kinds of I don't know how to describe it, But, um, it's not the superhero films, but it's it's. There are class of films where the childhood trauma is so great that it's not that there's a similarity between the child and the man version or the child in the woman version. It's a feeling like again, Like I was saying, I was saying this metaphorically, but in that film it's very clear. It's almost as if that child, that little boy, is inside of this bigger man. And it is still feeling, you know, all those that trauma and the death of his parents, etcetera, etcetera. So I hope I hope that convinces you so again, this exercise. Do this. If you are stuck on what to write about. If you, um, need help coming up with a story idea. Now, the great thing about this, the reason I'm proposing this is at the end of this exercise. I think you will, You will know your character again whether they're real or imagined much, much better. And maybe you will fall in love with them. Maybe you will grow to hate them. Either way, you will have very you will have a stronger relationship with them. And you'll be in a better place to write about them. If you want to, you'll be in a better place to begin to think about. Okay. How do I take this? This, um, raw material. This, like, whole iceberg that I've got on the table. And how do I begin to think about? Okay. What? What part of their life? Um, I'm gonna show. What? What story am I gonna come up with? Where that story, maybe, maybe, is powered by all these emotions by this trauma By the good things that they came up with experience by, by the way they were raised by the things that they saw. I have all of this now on the table. How do I use this and begin to think about, um, like, where they're going to go, you know, let me let me let me pick one h when they pick. Now I know I know their entire life. Now let me tell a story from their adult life, and this will be the story. And this story, somehow in the background, will be about getting over this thing that happened to them or the fear that they have about the future, right? Because that's also, um, the way some people are motivated. They're not motivated by the past, but they're motivated by their fears and their their their goals for the future. So hopefully what you'll see by doing this exercise, you'll have that raw material where you can then take it to the next level and began to think about maybe a more refined or more substantial story. So please do that if you're stuck and submit that to the Project Gallery. So again it's going to be a script of three scenes. You choose the order you choose, the character you choose if those sins are more of a portrait or more dramatic, and then we'll take it from there. So in the meantime, uh, please let me know if this helps. If this makes things clear, if this makes things easier, if it does, then I could go back and try to refine the video a little bit. And in the meantime, I will try to think of another exercise that we can do to make the writing easier. Okay, thanks.