Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Taking Master Classes

I discovered Master Classes on Facebook. My daughter Blair recommended the James Patterson novel writing class. That was my first Master Class.
Patterson reminded me of my mentor, Harry Whittington. Both work at a fast pace. It was a wonderful experience and I came away with a complete outline and chapter for a book I will be writing as soon as I'm done with my other projects.
I answered the MC survey after the Patterson class and recommended Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin may have already been on their list, but I was ready to sign as soon as they posted Sorkin was developing a class.
I have no affiliation with the Master Class site, other than being a fan and student. As mentioned in a prior blog post, I completed a script for my novel Marquel.
Taking Sorkin's class helped me understand some of my story issues. I was having problems with the resolution in Act 2, though I didn't know it was Act 2, until I learned more.

I was also one of the lucky students who got to call in and ask Sorkin a question. Master Class offers different bonus events from contests for co-authoring, to office hour Q&A, to live events like the one I participated in.
I asked Aaron Sorkin something like this, "If I disagree with the notes I've been given on the setting or period of my script, do I have to follow that advice." I say I said something like this, because I was so in awe of the chance to speak with Sorkin that I just remember part of my question and his reply.
Sorkin said something like, "If you feel strongly about something, you can tell Mr. Spielberg  why it has to be this way." Hurray! I thought. Because I had a note from a producer, who wanted me to change the period and challenges of my screenplay from the 1990s to the 1950s.
I am still a novice, but it is nice to hear a pro say that you can stand up for your work. However, the reality is if you are being paid to write a script, you may not have the luxury. It depends on the agreement.
After taking Sorkin's class, I took Shonda Rhimes Television Writing and David Mamet's Dramatic Writing Master Class.
All four of the classes were honest, instructional and provided recommended reading and resource materials. To think that you can learn from the top experts for less than the price of a college text book is mind blogging.
The Master Class format is entertaining, if one just wants to watch an educational program. However, if you ever wondered what it would be like to be a college student who enjoys a guest lecture from one of the industry experts, you'll find Master Class a treasure.
I am super lucky, because I enjoyed working with a pulp master, Harry Whittington. And now I have resources online that make it possible for me to get closer to my book to film reality.

- Next,  What I've learned about Successful Screenwriting

Typos happen.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

How to write a script based on a book

 Writing a film based on a novel sounds hard, unless you wrote the book as a movie. Not that I am an expert...
When I wrote the novel Marquel, I saw it as a movie.
The chapters are plotted in the progression of a suspense film, short and enough info to keep you guessing.
I was taught plotting by my mentor, the late master of the pulps, Harry Whittington. Harry approved the outline and sample chapters of Marquel before he passed away.
My chapters are film scenes with just enough background, emotion and dialogue to keep the reader engaged. Well, I hope so.
I work with my completed novel in Microsoft Word open, along with Final Draft Screenwriting software open.
I’m pretty much toggle between them.
Knowing that a book and film need to grab you from the opening doesn’t mean they’ll have the same initial start. A film might introduce a scene later in the book. Regardless, both book and film should interest the audience immediately.
I cut and paste sections I want to work on from Word into Final Draft. Naturally, it will be a bit jumbled moving from one program to the other.
Films have a specific format and the software is easy to use once you’ve read enough scripts and learned the structure.
However, I still mess up.
I put in camera shots and direction that shouldn’t be there. I get complaints in script coverage about formatting. So, I’m still learning.
Each page is a minute of screen time, so I edit down everything that isn’t dialogue. I pretty much wipe out all the descriptive stuff and get to the bare bones of the discussions my characters are having.
From there I add in the scene headings, action and such.
It takes time to learn how to set up the introduction to a scene, but reading award winning film scripts helps you get the hang of it.
I’m not going to explain what gets capitalized and such, I’m just talking translating book text to a script.
Good storytelling is key in book and film, however in film there is a three-act structure that Hollywood expects. Masterclasses and workshops will help you become more familiar. 

-Next, Taking Masterclasses