Story Summaries: From Loglines to Beat Sheets

February 1st, 2016 by

From elevator pitches to development meetings to conference calls with talent, a screenwriter’s ability to share stories in a variety of narrative forms is both a valuable and necessary skillset. In the upcoming 1-week Screenwriting Master Class online course Story Summaries: From Loglines to Beat Sheets [February 8-14], you will learn six different story summaries that are critical assets for any screenwriter.

A screenwriter not only needs to know how to write a script, we also have to be able to convey our stories in multiple other ways. Beyond that, every time we shape a story in a different way, we learn something about it. As such, summaries can be helpful tools in developing, understanding, and crafting our scripts.

This 1-week online course that I will be teaching covers multiple story summaries: Logline, Synopsis, Breakdown, Treatment, Scriptment, and Beat Sheet.

Learn the ins and outs of six different story summaries including using them to help you craft your stories.

Plus you will have the opportunity to craft a logline of your own story with an optional workshop exercise.

The course consists of:

Seven lectures written by Scott Myers

Daily forum Q&As

Optional workshop writing assignments with instructor and class feedback.

A live teleconference between instructor and class members.

In the past, the response from participants in this course has been extremely positive. Here’s one reaction:

The prepared lectures alone are worth the price of this class. But, the added bonus of discussing the lectures as well as being able to workshop my loglines with Scott and my classmates was a fantastic learning experience that really helped me develop my ability to whittle an idea down to one intriguing sentence. If your manager, agent, guru, mother, or favorite reader asks you for a synopsis, treatment, beat sheet, or logline and you have no idea what any of those are then this class is for you. — Calvin Starnes

Just wanted to thank everyone in this class especially Scott for a most valuable week of learning. I found this type of interactive environment has been far more helpful for me than reading books has been. The group collaboration has been excellent and I have really enjoyed and valued everybody’s contributions. I’ve personally found this course has really helped me zone in on the crucial aspects of each respective type of story summary. This in turn has given me much more confidence in taking the next steps into creating the first draft and I would like to thank you all for that. – Steve Broughton

That’s the “secret sauce” in all the SMC classes you and Tom teach. It’s not a “here’s what to think” listing of so called “rules of writing.” Instead, the emphasis is always on HOW to think like a professional, about story, character and the business side of the craft. – John Arends

If you haven’t tried an online course before, this is a great and simple way to do it. You can download lectures any time and read them at your leisure. Peruse forum comments from your fellow classmates and respond whenever you want. The teleconference is on Skype and recorded so you can have access to it for transcription purposes. It’s amazing how convenient and effective online education is.

So why don’t you join me for Story Summaries: From Loglines to Beat Sheets? You can find out more about this 1-week online screenwriting class here.

I hope you can join me starting next Monday for this important and informative class!

Check this out: The Craft Package. Take all eight Craft classes and learn some of screenwriting’s most important principles and practices all for nearly 50% off.

  • Automatic enrollment in all 8 Craft classes as they are offered now through May
  • Immediate access to the online Craft Package site so you can go through all course content on your own time
  • A bonus 9th class — Character Introductions — exclusively for Craft Package enrollees

January 25: Craft: Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling
presented by Scott Myers

February 8: Craft: Story Summaries
presented by Scott Myers

February 22: Craft: Handling Exposition
presented by Scott Myers

March 7: Craft: Scene Description Spotlight
presented by Scott Myers

April 4: Craft: Character Development Keys
presented by Scott Myers

May 2: Craft: Create a Compelling Protagonist
presented by Scott Myers

May 16: Craft: Write a Worthy Nemesis
presented by Scott Myers

May 30: Craft: The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling
presented by Scott Myers

For more information on the Craft Package, go here.

Screenwriting Master Class: January-June 2016

December 11th, 2015 by

You can learn everything you need to know about the craft of screenwriting on your own.

Watch movies.

Read scripts.

Write pages.

Study the pros.

You can do that and get to where you need to be.

If you want to expedite your learning process…

Steep yourself in comprehensive, coherent writing theory…

Adopt and adapt proven writing practices…

And do all that with mentors who have over 6 decades of experience working in the film and TV business, a combined 2 decades of teaching experience, and a genuine passion for Story and Storytelling…

Consider working with Tom Benedek and myself at Screenwriting Master Class.

I honestly believe there is no better value in online education than what we have to offer, a combination of insightful lectures, active 24/7 message boards, an honest and positive evaluative community, weekly teleconferences, and direct interaction and feedback from Tom and myself.

Here is our schedule for the first six months of 2016:

January 4: Pages I: Writing the First Draft
presented by Tom Benedek

January 11: Prep: From Concept to Outline
presented by Scott Myers

January 18: Pages TV: Original Pilot Script Workshop
presented by Tom Benedek

January 25: Craft: Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling
presented by Scott Myers

February 1: Craft: The First 15 Pages
presented by Tom Benedek

February 8: Craft: Story Summaries
presented by Scott Myers

February 15: Craft: Writing the Low Budget Script
presented by Tom Benedek

February 22: Craft: Handling Exposition
presented by Scott Myers

February 29: Prep: From Concept to Outline
presented by Tom Benedek

March 7: Craft: Scene Description Spotlight
presented by Scott Myers

March 14: Craft: Character Driven Screenplay – Alexander Payne and David O. Russell
presented by Tom Benedek

March 21: Pages I: Writing Your First Draft
presented by Scott Myers

March 28: CRAFT TV: Writing the Original Pilot – 1 week class
presented by Tom Benedek

April 4: Craft: Character Development Keys
presented by Scott Myers

April 11: The First Draft — Introduction to Screenwriting
presented by Tom Benedek

April 18: Prep: From Concept to Outline
presented by Scott Myers

April 25: Craft: Joss Whedon – Creating Characters
presented by Tom Benedek

May 2: Craft: Create a Compelling Protagonist
presented by Scott Myers

May 9: Original Pilot Script Workshop
presented by Tom Benedek

May 16: Craft: Write a Worthy Nemesis
presented by Scott Myers

May 23: Craft: Writing Scenes — Sorkin to Tarantino
presented by Tom Benedek

May 30: Craft: The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling
presented by Scott Myers

June 6: Prep: From Concept to Outline
presented by Tom Benedek

June 13: Pages II: Rewriting Your Script
presented by Scott Myers

June 20: Pages I: Writing Your First Draft
presented by Tom Benedek

June 27: Core I: Plot
presented by Scott Myers

July 5: Craft: TV – Writing the Web Series
presented by Tom Benedek

If you’ve never tried an online course before, a great way to check it out is our 1-week Craft classes. Sign up for one or do what a lot of writers do: Enroll in the Craft Package which gives you immediate access to the content for all 8 of my Craft courses and automatic enrollment in each of the 1-week Craft classes, all for about 50% off the regular price.

For those of you thinking about entering the Zero Draft Thirty Challenge in March, pounding out a draft of an original screenplay in 30 days, consider my Prep: From Concept to Outline workshop which begins January 11. The timing is such you’ll finish breaking your story in prep right as the ZD30 challenge begins.

Jump start your writing with Screenwriting Master Class.

We look forward to the opportunity to work with you!

Private Script Workshops

December 7th, 2015 by

Imagine having your very own private script workshop. A structured environment with content and a schedule tailored to meet your specific creative needs. Your own unique online course site. And a one-on-one mentor relationship with a professional screenwriter and educator.

You can do this through Screenwriting Master Class.

Perhaps all you need is a 4-week rewrite workshop to add more depth to a couple of characters in your script and polish the overall dialogue.

Maybe you have gotten through a few drafts of your story, but you need to do a page 1 rewrite.

You could have already worked out your story and want guidance during the first draft process.

Or you’re starting with a concept and want to do prep and page-writing.

Maybe you are a beginner looking to learn the essentials of screenwriting and end up with a finished screenplay.

At Screenwriting Master Class, we can create private script workshops to match up with your individual goals as a writer.

Private Script Workshop

Since launching SMC in 2010, Tom Benedek and I have worked with writers of all backgrounds and interests in the context of numerous private script workshops. Here are testimonials from two:

“Working with Scott in SMC’s private workshop was an invaluable experience. The private workshop gave me the attention I needed to address my script’s problem. I was so impressed with the quality of his teaching, the way the course was structured and the interactive process. In the end, not only did Scott help me solve my character problem, he elevated my script as a whole. He is a wonderful mentor and I learned a lot about the craft of screenwriting.” — Gladys Stone, screenwriter of “Tulio” (Semifinalist, Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition)

“Working with Scott in a private workshop arrangement through SMC greatly accelerated my screenwriting knowledge and craftsmanship. Scott is a most dynamic, gifted and generous educator. He offered a holistic, character-driven approach to story that helped bring out my best as a writer. The flexible syllabus of the mentorship invites exploration of creative impulses without fear of losing direction or purpose. The script on which Scott consulted placed in the top one percent of the 2011 AFF screenwriting competition and has opened industry doors. Most importantly the SMC has cemented lasting self confidence in my abilities as a writer.” — Gyan Alexander, screenwriter of “Convinced” (Seminfinalist, Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition)

People who have done private script workshops through Screenwriting Master Class include professional screenwriters, best-selling non-fiction authors, playwrights, and novelists, as well as beginning, intermediate and advanced writers.

One popular approach: Combine Prep: From Concept to Outline, Pages I: The First Draft, and Pages II: Rewriting Your Script enabling you to take a story from its inception all the way through final polish — all with a knowledgeable mentor.

Here are three big reasons to consider an SMC private script workshop:

* Writing a screenplay involves making thousands of choices about characters, plot, theme and so forth. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have feedback from a professional to help steer you through the process enabling you to avoid huge story pitfalls that could derail your scripting process?

* Writing a screenplay is a thankless, lonely job. Wouldn’t it be great to have the ongoing support of a professional to enable you to overcome inevitable story problems and emotional downswings?

* Writing a screenplay is a mystery. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to learn proven principles and practices from a professional with years of experience working in the entertainment industry, an approach to writing you can use again and again on your future stories?

For more information, contact us here.

Tom and I look forward to the opportunity to work with you.

A different approach to “theme”

November 9th, 2015 by

Nearly everything I’ve ever read on the subject of ‘theme’ in relation to screenwriting has felt either confusing or impractical.

What does theme mean? How should we understand it? How can we use it in our writing?

The ironic thing is theme is incredibly important:

* Important in helping us find the focus of our story.

* Important in mining the story’s emotional and psychological depth.

* Important in elevating the impact of the events that transpire in our story.

That is why I created Core VII: Theme. And starting Monday, November 16, I will be teaching this unique one-week online screenwriting class.

The course consists of six lectures I wrote, message board discussions, insider tips, and an optional writing exercise to workshop one of your stories. All of those you can do on your own time, everything from downloading and reading lectures to posting comments.

There is also a 90-minute teleconference between class participants and myself where we discuss the course content and anything screenwriting related.

In this course:

  • You will learn a coherent take on theme, how it relates to the overall story, and tips on how to weave thematic material into your scripts.
  • You can put to use what you have learned by workshopping one of your own stories.

Scripts we will study in the class: The King’s Speech, The Silence of the Lambs, Tootsie, The Shawshank Redemption, Bull Durham, As Good As It Gets, The Dark Knight, The Social Network among others.

When I introduced this class, the response from participants was hugely favorable, the major sentiment that this approach to theme not only clears up a confusing subject, but also provides practical tools a writer can use to work with themes in their own stories. Like this testimonial:

Your “Theme” class for aspiring screenwriters is not just helpful, it is essential. From the personal attention to the numerous “A-Ha!” moments throughout the class, I was thrilled to simply KEEP LEARNING. How many teachers can boast about that with their students? — Heather Thompson

So sign up now!

I look forward to working with you!

Screenwriting as Scene-Writing

October 5th, 2015 by

Every time we sit down to write a script, we are faced with a scene. This can be a daunting task considering a script may have 50, 60, 70 scenes or more. In a very real way, screenwriting is at its core scene-writing.

Therefore it is essential for you to know how to handle writing scenes.

Beginning next Monday, October 28, I will be offering my 1-week online screenwriting course, Core VI: Scene. It is part of the 8-part Core curriculum which itself comprises the foundation of the screenwriting theory I teach in The Quest.

This class presents key guidelines to help writers develop a deeper understanding of scenes — what they are, how they function, and most importantly how to approach writing them.

* Learn six fundamental questions you should ask about every scene as you construct and write it.

* Put theory into practice by workshopping some of your own original scenes.

Six lectures written by Scott Myers
Special insider tips
24/7 daily forum interaction
Workshop writing exercises with instructor and class feedback
A 90-minute live teleconference between instructor and class members

Plus you can workshop a logline of one of your original stories and post it for feedback.

So go here and sign up now.

I look forward to the opportunity to work with you!

Saturday Hot Links

September 26th, 2015 by

Time for the 205th installment of Saturday Hot Links.

TIFF: The Best Of The 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.

TIFF: At Age 40, Festival Unleashes a Fountain of Youth.

TIFF: Brie Larson Drama ‘Room’ Wins Toronto Audience Award.

TIFF: In Defense of the Conventional Movie, from ‘Spotlight’ to ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’.

Emmys: The Complete Winners List.

Emmys: HBO Rules 67th Emmys With ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Veep’ and ‘Olive Kitteridge’.

Emmys: The Winners’ Reactions.

Emmys: The 10 Best Emmy Moments for Women.

10-Year Study Reveals Women in Key Roles Make Up Less Than a Quarter of Emmy Nominees.

When Are Venice, Telluride and Toronto’s Buzzed-About Movies Hitting Theaters?

Here Are All the Movies Opening This Weekend: What Will You See?

16 must-see movies at Fantastic Fest 2015.

Why Hollywood Isn’t Buying YA Movie Fatigue Despite ‘Divergent,’ ‘Maze Runner’ Sequel Performance.

Why We Bought Your Film: Top Distributors Answer The Tough Questions.

How Charlie Kaufman’s ‘Anomalisa’ Became the Surprise Hit of the Fall Festival Season.

Sicario, Jurassic World, and the Meaning of Box-Office Averages.

Writers Guild of America, West Announces 2015 Officers and Board of Directors Election Results.

Hollywood Flashback: In 1988, Donald Trump Nearly Bought Universal Studios.

Will Steven Spielberg Drop the DreamWorks Name?

Morgan Creek to Put Film Library Up for Sale.

Remakes Of ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,’ ‘The Exorcist,’ And ‘Major League’ In The Works.

New ‘Men in Black’ Getting Trilogy Without Will Smith In The Works.

Wonderful, Horrifying Tales of Film School Failure.

6 Ways to Maximize Theatrical Distribution in the Age of Digital On Demand.

What Two Teenagers Learned From Watching Every Best Picture Oscar Winner.

Old Men, Stuck In Their Franchises.

Film Independent Names 7 Screenwriting Lab Fellows.

Nick Hornby Kicks Off BAFTA and BFI Screenwriters’ Lecture Series.

John Landis Says Original ‘Star Wars’ Theatrical Cuts Will Be Re-Released.

‘Star Wars’ Stormtrooper Helmet Sells for $120,000 at Auction.

Disneyland’s ‘Star Wars’ Addition Prompts Ride Closures.

‘Furious 8’ Stuck at the Starting Line: Universal’s Director Dilemma.

Steven Soderbergh is making an interactive “choose your own adventure” project for HBO.

‘Goodfellas’ Producer Sues Warner Bros. Over Lack of Any Profits.

Vietnam Mulls “5-Second Rule” for Movie Sex.

6 Reasons Why Trailers Have to Spoil Movies.

Treasure trove of 100 year-old silent films discovered in U.K. recycling center.

9 Stars Who Were Interns (and Where) Before They Made It Big.

The politics of being a woman: by Romola Garai, Carey Mulligan and Anne-Marie Duff.

NALIP Announces 10 Selected Projects for 2015 Diverse Women in Media Residency Lab.

Vulture Built a TV and Movie Streaming Guide Just for You.

An Anonymous Showrunner Reviews TV’s Fall Shows.

‘The A-Team’ Becomes Latest TV Reboot.

The 25 Best Directors Working In TV Today.

Nickelodeon to Bring Back ’90s Programming.

How endless reboots are ruining TV.

WGA Candidates Consider “Shaming” Showrunners Who Don’t Hire Female & Minority Writers.

How Twitter is warping your favorite TV shows.

Reality TV Is a Snake Eating Its Own Tail.

Is Reality TV Dead or on Break? Networks Vote Genre Off the Island This Season.

Winners and Losers in TV’s New App Economy.

10 Character Types You’ll Come Across on Every Ryan Murphy Show.

ESPN Mulls Layoffs as Media Landscape Changes.

‘Sabado Gigante’ Ends 53-Year Run With Emotional, Star-Studded Finale.

Amazon Announces Six 2015 Pilots From Shane Black, Sacha Baron Cohen and More.

Netflix Knows When You Got Hooked on Breaking Bad.

Netflix Now Lets You Subscribe From iPhone, iPad Apps.

Netflix to Make More Shows of Its Own.

What Quentin Tarantino and Darren Aronofsky Think of Netflix and Other Streaming Services.

Instagram Now Has 400 Million Monthly Active Users.

Upcoming Season of ‘Serial’ Will Focus on Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.

Why the Major Labels Are the Streaming Wars’ True Villains.

Oculus CTO Says Virtual Reality “Content Needs the Most Attention” at Connect Conference.

Bob Dylan Announces Latest Bootleg Series Installment Featuring Rarities From 1965-66.

Welcome to the Age of the Unfunny Joke.

James Franco’s Movie Column: ‘The Keeping Room’ is a Feminist War Movie.

Screenwriting From Iowa: Robert Zemeckis on Blending Truth, Spectacle & Serving the Story.

3rd and Fairfax (WGA): Episode 8.

Chicks Who Script: Episode 59.

Scriptnotes: Episode 216.

Watch: Montage of Pixar Emotions Will Turn Your Heart Inside Out [video].

Watch: This Movie Phone Supercut is a Comical Cinematic Conference Call [video].

Watch: Learn How Science Has Helped Create Realistic Explosions in Blockbusters [video].

Watch: Take An 8-Minute Journey With Use Of Dolly Zoom Through Film History [video].

Watch: 10-Minute Retrospective Look At Marvel Phase One [video].

Watch: 12-Minute Countdown Of The Top 10 Movie Villians Of All Time [video].

Watch: 14-Minute Video Essay Explores The Differences Between Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ And Robert Bloch’s Novel [video].

Watch: Insightful 20-Minute Video Essay About The Use Of Punctuation In Film [video].

Watch: 21-Minute Documentary Short ‘Standing On The Shoulders Of Kubrick: The Legacy Of 2001’ [video].

Watch: 29-Minute Talk With ‘Sicario’ Cinematographer Roger Deakins [video].

Watch: Bill Wilder reads a scene from Some Like It Hot [video].

Screenwriting Master Class tip of the week: Did you know you can work individually with either Tom Benedek or myself in a private script workshop?

Prep: From Concept to Outline: This 6-week online workshop guides you through the story development process from concept to outline.

Pages I: Writing the First Draft: In this 10-week online workshop, you will use a series of lectures and weekly writing assignments to pound out pages and push you from FADE IN to FADE  OUT.

Pages II: Rewriting Your Script: This 10-week online workshop steers you through a critical analysis of your current draft, then through the entire process of rewriting, polishing, and editing your script.

One popular option: Combine both Prep and Pages I. You not only take a story from concept to complete draft, along the way you learn a proven, professional approach to prep and page-writing.

Each private session offers the same lectures and workshop structure as the group sessions, and unparalleled weekly feedback from Tom or myself.

If you are interested, drop us a line: info@screenwritingmasterclass.com.

Tom Benedek (Guest Post): Writer as Pioneer

September 14th, 2015 by

A guest post from screenwriter Tom Benedek (Cocoon) and co-founder of Screenwriting Master Class:

Stories have endings. Characters may have inevitable emotional destinations. They may start with an internal dissonance – a psychological itch they cannot scratch – something which they need to understand, come to terms with which they may not even know about. Writing teacher Lisa Cron, calls this “the live wire” in her book Wired for Story.

Some writers cannot start a project until they know what their theme is. Others ignore the T word entirely, never it even if readers or audience may eventually see great meanings in the work.

But this “live wire” — a character’s internal dissonance — may be at the heart of why we start to write anything. Even though it is not about the writer, it’s about the characters. Who they think they are? vs. Who they really are? What they really know about themselves? vs. What they think they know about themselves?

As plot moves forward, our characters often do grand battle within themselves. Identifying this “live wire” helps the writer understand how the protagonist will deal with the obstacles you throw at them in the story. So throw the compass and road map into the hands of your main character or characters, but be clear about what is disturbing their inner peace, making them tick in the here and now of the plot. And fascinating things may unfold.

You are a pioneer when you start making notes for a new writing project. A number of things may have popped into your head already. An idea, a place, a situation has grabbed you. No one has told your story before so you probably can’t just tell it. You must discover it. As you edge forward, you build your characters. You learn about their “live wires” — their internal dissonances. Plot and story will unfold uniquely through their unique world views.

We’re starting a new 6-week Prep story outline class this Monday, September 21. Pioneer your new script project. Uncover the “live wires” of your characters.

The Prep workshop is one of the most popular classes we offer at Screenwriting Master Class. Easy to understand why as it offers a dual benefit: Not only do you take one of your original stories from concept to outline, you also learn a prep-writing process you can adopt and adapt for all of your future writing projects. Having an efficient, effective way of breaking a story is a critical capability for any writer who hopes to work in Hollywood, either as a screenwriter or TV  writer.

For more information on the upcoming Prep workshop with Tom Benedek, go here.

The Benefits of a Writing Workshop

September 7th, 2015 by

Many writers benefit from the structure of a writing workshop to encourage them through their story-crafting process. Plus you receive the benefit of feedback and support from your peers and the instructor. Finally, you not only work your way through your story, you also learn proven principles and practices you may adopt and adapt on all future writing projects.

So if you’re ready to prep a story or primed to go to script, Tom Benedek and I have got two online writing workshops geared for you:

Pages I: Writing the First Draft: There is only one rule about a first draft: “Get the damn thing done.” In this 10-week online workshop, you will use a series of lectures and weekly writing assignments to pound out pages and push you from FADE IN to FADE  OUT.

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN

A professional approach to writing a first draft, everything from hitting deadlines to constructive critique, how to handle page notes to finding the motivation to write even when you don’t want to, and much more.

COURSE DETAILS

  • One written lecture posted each week
  • 24/7 Online Forum Q&As moderated by instructor
  • Page-writing assignments with instructor and class comments
  • Due dates to motivate you to write and post pages
  • A weekly teleconference with instructor and class members

WHO SHOULD CONSIDER TAKING THIS COURSE

Screenwriters who will benefit from the structure of an online class to encourage them to start and finish a complete screenplay draft.

“Over the years I’ve bought and read many books on screenwriting.  None of them got me as far in my goals and understanding as the Pages I: The First Draft workshop with Scott Myers.  Scott was a mentor, brain-stormer, and cheerleader.  I felt encouraged and informed all the way to Fade Out.”

– Dawn LeFever

Start Date: September 14, 2015

Instructor: Scott Myers

For more information, go here.

2104 Scott Headshot Cropped SM v2

Scott leading Black List screenwriters workshop
Las Vegas, 2014

Prep: From Concept to Outline: This 6-week online workshop guides you through the story development process from concept to outline.

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN

A proven, professional approach to prep-writing: From a Protagonist Character Treatment to a Master Brainstorming List, Ten Major Plotline Points to Narrative Throughline.

COURSE DETAILS

  • Six lectures to guide you through the prep-writing process
  • 24/7 online forum discussions moderated by instructor
  • Weekly writing assignments to develop and build your story
  • Instructor and class feedback
  • Due dates to motivate you to write and post assignments
  • A weekly teleconference with instructor and class members

WHO SHOULD CONSIDER TAKING THIS COURSE

Screenwriters, TV writers, novelists, and playwrights who want to develop their story to an outline enabling them to have the confidence to pound out a first draft.

“From Concept to Outline is a course I wish I had known about years ago. I would recommend this wholeheartedly for anyone who is about to embark on their first script or ANY script. This lays the foundation stone to your story.”

— Camilla Castree

Start Date: Monday, September 21

Instructor: Tom Benedek

For more information, go here.

BENEDEK TOM IMG_9102-682x1024

Tom standing in front stacks of his scripts

Remember: You can take any of our workshops on a private one-to-one basis. Indeed, one popular approach is to combine Prep and Pages I which takes you from concept all the way through the first draft process. It’s not only a great way to work your way through the writing process and complete a first draft, guided along the way by Tom or myself, it also enables you to learn a proven, professional approach to prep and page-writing which you can adopt and adapt for all future projects.

If you are interested in a private workshop, email us: info@screenwritingmasterclass.com.

“Screenwriting Master Class changed my life, and I wouldn’t be where I am as a writer without having taken these classes. I used to struggle to write every day. Now it’s something that just happens because Scott provided me with the tools I needed to learn the craft and helped me gain confidence in my writing. Scott cares about the success of each and every one of his students, and that’s what makes Screenwriting Master Class so special.”

– Amy Bircher

As always, Tom and I look forward to the opportunity to work with you.

Saturday Hot Links

September 5th, 2015 by

Time for the 202nd installment of Saturday Hot Links!

‘Scream’ and ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’s’ Wes Craven Dead at 76.

Why Wes Craven Mattered to Horror Fans.

Wes Craven Explains Why the Original ‘Scream’ Mask Is Too “Perfect” to Scrap.

Remembering Wes Craven, the Man Who Transformed Horror.

Director Edgar Wright Pays Tribute to Wes Craven.

Kevin Williamson tribute to Wes Craven: He Gave Me “a Master Class in Building Tension”.

Edelstein on Wes Craven, 1939–2015.

MTV Video Music Award Winners: Full List.

The Highs and Lows of the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards.

Hollywood on track for one of strongest summers ever at box office.

Summer Box Office: How Movie Tracking Went Off the Rails.

A New Movie Season, Same As the Last Movie Season.

‘Star Wars’ Won’t Be the Only Force at Holiday Box Office.

Why American Ultra Flopped.

The 20 Most Anticipated Films Of The 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.

An Alternative to TIFF for Toronto Moviegoers.

Telluride Film Fest Unveils Lineup Featuring ‘Jobs’ and ‘Suffragette’.

Telluride Announces 2015 Lineup, Including ‘Steve Jobs,’ ‘Black Mass’ and Rooney Mara Tribute.

Telluride 2015: 10 Must-See Films To Watch Out Of A Killer Line-Up.

Aretha Franklin Granted Injunction to Stop Telluride Showing of ‘Amazing Grace’.

Hollywood Continues to Use Telluride Film Festival to Launch Oscar Contenders.

From Venice to Telluride, Buyers Get Busy Before Toronto.

The Awards Pundits: Scott Feinberg and Stephen Galloway Debate Telluride, Toronto and Beyond.

Sony Lawyers Cut Material From Will Smith’s ‘Concussion’ To Avoid Potential Legal Hassles With The N.F.L.

Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks to Split From Disney, in Talks With Universal.

DreamWorks Deal at Disney Soured as Conglomerate Focused on Bigger Fish.

What Spielberg Really Wants.

Steven Spielberg predicts superhero movies will go ‘the way of the Western’.

Steven Spielberg Is Wrong About the Death of Superhero Movies.

Academy Names 2016 Oscars Producers.

James Bond Author Says Idris Elba Is “Too Street” To Play 007.

Here’s Idris Elba’s Response to Commentary That He’s “Too Street” to Play James Bond.

The Marvel Creative Committee Is Over.

Marvel’s Civil War: Why Kevin Feige Demanded Emancipation From CEO Ike Perlmutter.

Amy Schumer, Meryl Streep and the State of the ‘Strong Female Character’.

‘War Room’ Producer-Director Alex Kendrick on Prayer, Politicians, and Prospect of a Christian Superhero Movie.

The Premature Death of Physical Media — and the Cult Home Video Labels Keeping It Alive.

On The Rise 2015: 20 Screenwriters To Watch.

Six Up-and-Coming Women Writers Awarded $30,000 Rona Jaffe Awards.

TCM and WIF Announce Initiative and Programming Celebrating Female Directors.

Austin Film Festival to Honor ‘L.A. Confidential’ Screenwriter Brian Helgeland.

Who Broke the Blacklist? ‘Trumbo’ Splits the Difference in Battle for Credit.

Spanish Writers Guild ALMA Joins Hollywood’s The Black List.

Star Wars isn’t a movie franchise. It’s a toy franchise.

Apple Eyes Move Into Original Programming.

Why Apple Making TV Shows Is a Bad Idea.

25 Independent Movies Indiewire Excited to See in Fall 2015.

The 17 Indie Films You Must See This September.

Josh Gad Will Play Roger Ebert to Will Ferrell’s Russ Meyer in ‘Russ & Roger’.

Alex Cox on Why It’s a Great Time to Be an Independent Filmmaker.

Check It Out: The First Feature Film Shot Entirely with Drones.

Turner Classic Movies Taps Younger Movie-Lovers.

An entertainment power player: What it’s like to be a 65-year-old woman in Hollywood.

Inside The Persistent Boys Club Of Animation.

How Well Do You Know the Golden Age of Animation?

Announcing the 2015 SFFS / Hearst Screenwriting Grant Finalists.

Writers Guild Election Campaign Signals Tough Contract Negotiations.

How a Good Script Becomes a Bad Movie: The Inside Story of ‘Lucky Numbers’.

‘The Wire’ Creator David Simon On ‘Show Me A Hero’ and What Ails America.

‘Mad Max’ Director George Miller On Being Seduced by Storytelling in ‘The Director’s Chair’.

International Film Critics Vote ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Year’s Best Film.

19 Great Ways to Brainstorm Short Film Ideas.

Six Benefits of Microbudget Filmmaking.

Showrunner Shuffle: Last Minute Departures Explained by Booming TV Biz.

The Rise of the Sadcom.

Samantha Bee Will Join Late-Night Fray in January.

Ashley Madison: The TV Show? It Could Happen.

‘I Love Lucy’ to Return to TV…in Latvia.

The 100 TV Dramas Everyone Should Watch.

‘House of Cards’ Creator Beau Willimon On Which Shows Started The Golden Age of Television.

Summer Ratings: Broadcasters Hold Audience As Viewers Flock to Reality Favorites.

How Superhero Shows Escaped Their Awkward Phase and Became a Force on TV.

How Kids’ TV Networks Are Fighting Off Their Frightening Decline.

Hulu Unveils Ad-Free Subscription Pricing.

The Best Films Leaving Netflix in September 2015.

Netflix in Japan: Tepid Demand for Originals, Data Indicates.

How Netflix’s ‘Beasts of No Nation’ Could Change the Movie Business.

Binge or Bust? Why Streaming Networks Release Shows Like ‘Difficult People’ and ‘Community’ Weekly.

6 Tips for Getting Your Web Series Off the Ground.

Your Childhood Is Officially Over: Harry Potter’s Son Starts at Hogwarts This Week.

33 Must-Read Books for Fall 2015.

How the Tiny Graywolf Press Became a Big Player in Book Publishing.

4 reasons why independent bookstores are thriving.

Study: Adult Women Are the Biggest Demo in Gaming.

Digital Song Sales Hit Seven-Year Low as Streaming Continues to Rise.

How to Build Your Own ‘Ghostbusters’ Ghost Trap.

Beverly Hills’ $1 Billion “Vineyard”: The Bizarre Saga Behind L.A.’s Last Real Estate Trophy.

Hayao Miyazaki to Build Nature Sanctuary for Children on Remote Japanese Island.

10 Character Introductions Screenwriters Should Study.

The 10 Worst Workplaces in Movie History.

Werner Herzog’s No-Nonsense Advice to Aspiring Filmmakers and Creative Entrepreneurs.

Written By feature on Trumbo screenwriter John McNamara.

Written By magazine: Online.

Emma Thompson’s Wonderful Thoughts on Feminism, Ageism, Trump, and Teapots.

Hugh Howey: Letting Go of Fictional Characters.

Chuck Wendig: Why Star Wars Matters to Me.

Wil Wheaton: Tears in Rain.

The Black List Table Reads interview: Uzodinma Iweala.

Chicks Who Script: Episode 56.

Scriptnotes: Episode 213.

Watch: 30-Minute Video Essay Explores The Cinematic History Of The Action Hero [video].

Watch: Supercut Details The Religious Imagery In Martin Scorsese’s Films [video].

Watch: Sidney Lumet working with actors in rehearsals for the movie ‘Q&A’ [video].

Watch: 1963 Martin Scorcese short film [video].

Watch: Giant ‘Star Wars’ murals made from Post-it notes are what your office needs [video].

Watch: Supercut Assembles Some of the Best Opening Shots of All Time [video].

Watch: 7 Most ‘SNL’-Worthy Jon Rudnitsky Web Moments: Meet Lorne Michaels’ Newest Hire [videos].

Watch: Supercut Highlights The Visual Symmetry In The First 6 ‘Star Wars’ Films [video].

Watch: How Terminator Defined Action Movies [video].

Watch: Footage Surfaces of Young Angelina Jolie in Acting Class [video].

Finally, Oliver Sacks Dies at 82.

Screenwriting Master Class tip of the week: Many writers benefit from the structure of a writing workshop to encourage them through their story-crafting process. Plus you receive the benefit of feedback and support from your peers and the instructor. Finally, you not only work your way through your story, you also learn proven principles and practices you may adopt and adapt on all future writing projects.

So if you’re ready to prep a story or primed to go to script, Tom Benedek and I have got two online writing workshops geared for you:

Pages I: Writing the First Draft: There is only one rule about a first draft: “Get the damn thing done.” In this 10-week online workshop, you will use a series of lectures and weekly writing assignments to pound out pages and push you from FADE IN to FADE  OUT.

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN

A professional approach to writing a first draft, everything from hitting deadlines to constructive critique, how to handle page notes to finding the motivation to write even when you don’t want to, and much more.

COURSE DETAILS

  • One written lecture posted each week
  • 24/7 Online Forum Q&As moderated by instructor
  • Page-writing assignments with instructor and class comments
  • Due dates to motivate you to write and post pages
  • A weekly teleconference with instructor and class members

WHO SHOULD CONSIDER TAKING THIS COURSE

Screenwriters who will benefit from the structure of an online class to encourage them to start and finish a complete screenplay draft.

“Over the years I’ve bought and read many books on screenwriting.  None of them got me as far in my goals and understanding as the Pages I: The First Draft workshop with Scott Myers.  Scott was a mentor, brain-stormer, and cheerleader.  I felt encouraged and informed all the way to Fade Out.”

– Dawn LeFever

Start Date: September 14, 2015

Instructor: Scott Myers

For more information, go here.

Prep: From Concept to Outline: This 6-week online workshop guides you through the story development process from concept to outline.

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN

A proven, professional approach to prep-writing: From a Protagonist Character Treatment to a Master Brainstorming List, Ten Major Plotline Points to Narrative Throughline.

COURSE DETAILS

  • Six lectures to guide you through the prep-writing process
  • 24/7 online forum discussions moderated by instructor
  • Weekly writing assignments to develop and build your story
  • Instructor and class feedback
  • Due dates to motivate you to write and post assignments
  • A weekly teleconference with instructor and class members

WHO SHOULD CONSIDER TAKING THIS COURSE

Screenwriters, TV writers, novelists, and playwrights who want to develop their story to an outline enabling them to have the confidence to pound out a first draft.

“From Concept to Outline is a course I wish I had known about years ago. I would recommend this wholeheartedly for anyone who is about to embark on their first script or ANY script. This lays the foundation stone to your story.”

— Camilla Castree

Start Date: Monday, September 21

Instructor: Tom Benedek

For more information, go here.

Remember: You can take any of our workshops on a private one-to-one basis. Indeed, one popular approach is to combine Prep and Pages I which takes you from concept all the way through the first draft process. It’s not only a great way to work your way through the writing process and complete a first draft, guided along the way by Tom or myself, it also enables you to learn a proven, professional approach to prep and page-writing which you can adopt and adapt for all future projects.

If you are interested in a private workshop, email us: info@screenwritingmasterclass.com.

“Screenwriting Master Class changed my life, and I wouldn’t be where I am as a writer without having taken these classes. I used to struggle to write every day. Now it’s something that just happens because Scott provided me with the tools I needed to learn the craft and helped me gain confidence in my writing. Scott cares about the success of each and every one of his students, and that’s what makes Screenwriting Master Class so special.”

– Amy Bircher

As always, Tom and I look forward to the opportunity to work with you.

Why haven’t you finished that script?

August 31st, 2015 by

You know, that story you’ve been kicking around for months. Maybe it’s pretty well worked out, but you just can’t summon up the energy to type FADE IN. Or you have a partial draft and you’re stuck, not sure which way to go. Or a story concept you think has strong potential, but you’re battling your own Voices Of Negativity…

The simple fact is an unfinished script is nothing but potential. And nothing but potential is… nothing.

Maybe what you could use is this.

* A structured environment with actual due dates to inspire you to knock out pages.

* A workshop where you receive constructive feedback from a group of writing peers.

* A mentor who is a professional screenwriter and educator to accompany you on your writing journey.

That’s what we offer at Screenwriting Master Class with our Pages I: The First Draft workshop. 10 lectures [written by me] to spur your creativity, 10 teleconferences to review your pages, 10 due dates to motivate you to get from FADE IN to FADE OUT.

If you are comfortable with the sequence approach to screenwriting, you will feel right at home in this course.

If your grasp of story structure is a weak point, this workshop will help you ground your understanding.

If you have trouble finding the discipline to deposit your ‘derriere on chair’ and write, Pages I takes that problem on in a direct, practical and supportive manner.

Some thoughts by writers on the singular importance of the first draft:

“Then comes the great leap which is the first draft, I call it ‘the muscle draft,’ where you just muscle it out. You don’t worry about what you’re missing, you just get through it, get to the end.” — Darren Aronofsky

“Even if you write it wrong, write and finish your first draft. Only then, when you have a flawed whole, do you know what you have to fix.” — Dominick Dunne

“The first draft is nothing more than a starting point, so be wrong as fast as you can.” — Andrew Stanton

“Sometimes you’re swinging your way through a first draft like a blind miner with a pick-axe. That’s OK. Get it done, nothing else matters.” — Justin Marks

“First drafts are for learning what your story is about.” — Bernard Malamud

Winding Road Final

If you’re looking to go on that unique journey of discovery which is a first draft and could use the structure of an online workshop to help guide you through the process, go here to learn more about Pages I.

Our last session for 2015 begins Monday, September 14, so this is a great chance to make this year count in terms of your creative work.

I look forward to the opportunity to work with you!