Attention all aspiring videographers and filmmakers!
Students begin the process of unleashing their inner Spielbergs in this thrilling introduction to the art and science of screenwriting. This project-based screenwriting curriculum is designed to enrich the writing and language skills of students in grades 6-8. This fun, engaging learning program gets right down to the business of developing scripts and encourages learners to brainstorm their experiences for a story idea. Students pitch their treatment to the class before proceeding to a final script!
They'll learn how to mesh characters, dialogue and scenes into an interesting and entertaining short film!
In Part 1, Generating Ideas for a Screenplay, learners begin in familiar territory, exploring the concepts of genre and theme in movies they already know. Step-by-step, they master the tricks of the trade, compiling ideas, shaping dialogues, creating fascinating personae, and investigating how conflict drives a story into production territory.
Exciting activities such as “The Psychiatrist’s Couch” and “Heroes and Heroines” provide hands-on, practical hints on how to put the pieces of storytelling together. These activities actually generate scripts and critical elements for a student’s initial outlines, and create springboards for further development.
Along the way, instructors guide students through peer review and sharing sessions that underscore the realistic process of shaping their ideas into workable screenplay skeletons. Throughout the course, a suggested writer’s journal encourages each learner to stay on task and collect wild flights of fancy that can be exploited for movie ideas.
Student writing comes alive in instruction that emphasizes the “show, don’t tell” principles that underlie successful film stories. Storyboarding activities also promote the visualization of scene creation that propels simple scripts into moving images. Games and exercises are designed to get learners’ creative juices flowing.
Most importantly, the key literacy activities, such as summarizing, brainstorming, and analyzing—a part of virtually every writing exercise—reinforce the critical thinking and standards-based benchmarks identified by national standards for achievement in English Language Arts. It’s no surprise that students discover—through Being A Screenwriter—just how much fun writing can be!
Part 1 - Generating Ideas for a Screenplay
Lesson 1 - The Kinds of Movies We Love: An Introduction to Genre and Theme
Students dive right into the screenwriting process with this introduction to understanding genre, in which the difference between Dracula and Cinderella really counts!
Lesson 2 - How Movies Work: The Three-Act Structure
What if Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz) found herself surrendering to Darth Vader (Star Wars)? In this lesson, mixing up the elements of storytelling helps learners understand the classic structure of movies of all kinds!
Lesson 3 - The Story You Can Tell: Writing from the Heart
Generating ideas for screenplays often represents a struggle between the heart and the head. Learners capture the best of both in this set of activities that use memories and photographs to jumpstart the creative process.
Lesson 4 - The Brainstorm: Coming Up with an Idea
The rapid-fire delivery of writing “prompts” in this lesson is sure to stimulate a swarm of new ideas. Most importantly, learners get the idea that inspiration can be found most anywhere—and that can always lead to writing something new!
Lesson 5 - Bringing It All Together: Making Your Ideas Work
“Story Stars”—an inventive activity that helps student screenwriters zero in on plotlines and story details—is at the center of this exciting lesson. Tabloid headlines also make a guest appearance in this lesson.
Lesson 6 - Developing Characters: Who Will Your Story Be About?
Characters come alive in this intriguing and revealing exploration of character development. Students discover new dimensions to character on “The Psychiatrist’s Couch”.
Lesson 7 - Understanding Conflict: What Will Your Story Be About?
Will the learners in your classroom craft stories with war, intrigue, disaster, crime, or failed romance at the heart of their stories? A return to familiar films introduces students to the concepts of analyzing conflict and its relationship to plot.
Lesson 8 - The Hero/Heroine's Journey: Managing Conflict and Character
Even the hero’s journey starts with a single step. Learners set off on the road to story-building in this important lesson that ties character and conflict in fun ways that stretch the muscles of imagination.
Lesson 9 - Thinking Cinematically: Showing Rather than Telling
The fundamental tool of screenwriting, the storyboard, is at the center of this introduction to cinematic thinking. As learners linking a chain of visuals in order to tell their stories, the principle of “show, don’t tell” makes good sense and great fun.
Lesson 10 - The Pitch: Writing Your Logline and Treatment
Imagine a film: “Twenty young screenwriters compete to win a Hollywood contract for a movie about themselves…” Learners wrap up their creations for the Hollywood litmus test: the challenge of “loglines” and “treatments” is explored in this activity on the big studio pitch.