Welcome to Being a Screenwriter Part 2!
This 10-unit, project-based screenwriting curriculum is designed to encourage the understanding of film and the creative writing process for 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 will then translate their ideas into an authentic script through this fun curriculum. They'll learn how to mesh characters, dialogue and scenes into an interesting and entertaining short film!
Our goal is to demystify creative pursuits for instructors and students alike by providing a step- by-step, fun learning process. This course is Part II of a three-course unit (developing a screenplay idea, writing a screenplay, and filming a screenplay).
In Part 2, Writing Your Screenplay, students armed with loglines, pitches and treatments are ready to jump right in to the work of turning their initial sketches into fully conceptualized and workable screen instructions. 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.
The critical thinking skills essential to successful communication get a workout in real-life screenwriting tasks. Learners’ activities focus on extending ideas, leveraging creativity, encouraging conceptual development, and putting writing into a context of fun and imagination. Students use reflective journaling techniques to “free write,” practice dialogue, storyboard and sketch scenes, and to practice criticism and evaluation of their own work and the work of their peers.
Working from clips of an actual movie, Being a Screenwriter 2 also provides young writers with real-world examples of the concepts they are trying to master. Young writers come to grips with the notion of a screenplay as a plan, and learn to recognize the skills and attitudes of negotiating, flexibility and adaptation as fundamental to writing success!
About the Organization of This Course
The consistent step-wise presentation of each lesson makes Community Learning materials and activities easy to follow for any instructor.
Each lesson contains the following helpful elements:
What students can be expected to learn from this activity.
Clear identification of the materials required for each lesson.
Preparation Notes (set-up)
Easy set-ups that ensure learner engagement is on task and on time.
Notes for the Instructor
A brief introduction to the subject matter and challenges presented in each lesson, often with real-life examples from history, popular culture, and, of course, movies.
Notes for the Students (including new vocabulary)
Introductory material for the students to read, discuss, watch or listen to in order to “set the
stage” for each lesson.
Overview of Each Lesson
Lesson 1: Screenwriting 101 - Keys to a Great Script
A quick review of the screenwriting basics - genre, theme, setting, protagonist and antagonist - reinvigorates classroom excitement about the screenwriting enterprise. Students use a "Three-Act
Structure" poster to launch their writing progress.
Lesson 2: Understanding Scenes - The Building Blocks of a Screenplay
Using a logline, learners begin the process of sketching the fundamental scenes of a hypothetical
movie. Next, students apply scene structure diagramming to their own exciting movie ideas.
Lesson 3: The Scene Outline - Planning Your Screenplay
Students create their movie "blueprints" in Lesson 3, sketching up to fifteen different scenes for their upcoming blockbusters. Working with a partner, learners exchange ideas and get their frameworks for success down on paper.
Lesson 4: How Screenwriters Write - Screenplay Formatting
Form and function of the parts of a screenplay become abundantly clear to learners as they participate in a "table reading." Students have fun as they channel Pitt and Jolie in an exercise that helps them differentiate the unique purpose of individual script elements.
Lesson 5: How to Start a Screenplay - Writing Slug Lines and Transitions
Getting from one scene to the next is one of the most challenging tasks for screenwriters. In this lesson, learners get acquainted with the "fade," "cut," and "dissolve" techniques and begin to see the shape of their storylines.
Lesson 6: What Your Characters Do - Writing Action
From a raised eyebrow to a high-speed chase, all action in a screenplay can be scripted, and its relationship to character is critical. Learners develop "action points" in two activities in this lesson.
Lesson 7: How Characters Talk -The Importance of Dialogue
Dramatic language - the language that moves both stories and audiences - gets its due in this intriguing experiment with dialogue. Learners also test their knowledge of hallmark movie moments in a game of "Name That Quote."
Lesson 8: Writing Dialogue - Deciding What Their Characters Will Say
Before diving in to their own dialogue, learners practice dialogue formatting. Then they begin to reveal their quirky, evil or brainy characters for each scene developed earlier in Lesson 3’s
Lesson 9: Bringing It All Together - Finishing Your Screenplay
Great writers, and even screenwriters, know that sharing their work with others helps them identify their script’s greatest strengths and weaknesses. Feedback from fellow screenwriters in this peer review helps students put their best foot forward - before the cameras roll!
Lesson 10: Your Script Comes to Life - The Table Reading
Scripts at the ready, learners take on the roles of actors and hear the results of their hard work in this culminating activity. Even a "director" gets to participate. Ready? Lights, camera, action!
A Note About Supplies
Each lesson comes with a complete supply list and all the handouts for each activity. Many of the supplies needed are found in most classrooms, others can be found at any local retailer. A complete list of supplies by lesson is included with this download.