How do movies influence, change or effect us? How can 1 scene have so much staying power in our lives? I’ve seen it many times. Friends will refer to a specific scene from a movie to relate experiences in their lives. They’ll use scenes in movies to justify a decision. It goes on. Your Task: Watch your favorite scene of a movie. Freewrite for 20 minutes on anything that comes up.
The three-act structure has been one of the most influential tools for screenplay development. An understanding of its history and applicability is essential to the burgeoning screenwriter.
Write a four-page essay on the three-act structure. Where did it come from? What is it and how is it used? What are some of the challenges against it? What are some of the movies that use it? Has it developed over time? How?
“In describing action, don’t let it take longer to read than it would to do it on screen.”
- Hal Ackerman (Screenwriter, Author and Professor)
Watch an action movie of your choice.
Pick one scene and write the action elements using as few words as possible.
Written/Contributed by Hal Ackerman
Write the full name of your character down the left side of a page, one successive letter on each line. On each line, write a true statement about the character (or from his/her voice) beginning the first word of each line with each successive letter of the character?ÇÄôs name. So for a character named Holmeyer:
He lives with a rabbit
Ebbs when he should flow
Yearns for love
Runs from life
Try it with all your main characters. (Try it with your own name)
What changes in your scenes when you reduce or expand them? Screenwriting books almost unanimously call for an economy of words — choosing your words wisely and using less to say more. Practice this. Your Task: Come up with a scene from a movie and write 3 versions of the same scene. Write the first one using a 1/2 page; the second one with 1 1/2 pages; and the third one using 3 pages.
Written/Contributed by Hal Ackerman
In a series of one-line (or at most, two lines) impressions, make a litany of all the times you “broke the rules,” Lied, cheated, stole, set fire, pilfered, prevaricated, deceived. (eg: Poisoned my sister’s gold fish. Enjoyed it. Took joy rides in the family car at age 14 while parents were in hospital.
b. Extract the juiciest of all those incidents. Write it as a story, in prose. However long it takes — a page, 10 pages.
c. How would you adapt it to a screen story? Make a running order of the scenes. Would you need to invent other scenes to dramatize events that were mentioned in the prose version? How would a movie audience know who the characters were and what was important to them?
Science fiction movies create new worlds for audiences to partake in. Identifying and showing the rules for these worlds are important tasks when explaining the plot.
Write a three-page science fiction script.
Before you begin, identify two rules for your new world. For example, is there gravity?
Make up the rules and write your script around them.
Here’s another practice exercise for creating a scene. Your Task: Think of an incident that happened in your life where you were unsatisfied with the end result. Now, write a scene that goes through this incident. Change the scene to reflect the way you’d rather have this incident turn out.
Relieve writer’s block by finding new stories to tell. If you’re not planning your own adventure, check out weird stories from around the world.
Navigate to an online search engine and query “weird news”.
Pick a site, then a story.
Imagine the actions and dialogue that make this story a reality.
Write a two-page scene.
A Hero is often considered to be someone who was born with extraordinary talents and abilities. But are heroes really superior beings? I think not. In my opinion, heroes are everyday people who take on challenging obstacles to reach noble goals. Everyone has been or will be a hero in their lifetime. Your task: Write a 1-page synopsis of your life as a hero’s journey. Identify the goal you’re working toward and 3 challenges faced. Craft this synopsis in a creative way, telling your story interestingly.