Free Screenwriting Seminar: Write a Screenplay in 10 Weeks (wk.1)

By Jason Hellerman

You’ve thought about writing a screenplay and we’re here to make it happen.

Many people come to No Film School because they want to get information about cameras, gear, and storytelling. We’re aware that the luxury of attending film school is not available to most of the world, so we do our best to keep you all up to date on what’s out there and how you can shoot and create with your utmost potential.

But what’s at the root of all filmmaking?

Storytelling.

And before you can start telling the story on the screen you need to tell it on the page.

So over the next ten weeks, I’m going to give a free screenwriting seminar.

You’re going to learn ALL the fundamentals of screenwriting, we’ll coach you through ten-page sprints, and answer your questions about how your story can move forward in the comments section below each week.

We’re going to release one lesson every Friday, so if you’re joining late, take this link back to week one. That link won’t exist if you’re ready week one. We’re cool.

If we’re going to finish this screenplay, we should get started right away. If you have stuff to do, and just want to find out what to do this week, scroll down to the TL;DR portion.

So let’s dive in!

Wait. I hear a question already. Is it…  

Why Should I Listen To You?

This is the internet. The first thing you’re going to do is Google “Jason Hellerman” and realize that I’m not an A-list screenwriter. Then you’ll probably find the only movie I have listed online, Shovel Buddies, and see that it’s only a 5/10 on IMDB.

If that makes you think these posts are worthless, then I encourage you to go out there and seek out any of the extremely expensive screenwriting seminars. I hear they’re fun.

I’m not going to sell you a book. I’m not going to ask you to pay for this service.

And I’m not going to pretend I’m some genius or guru.

What I am is a D-list working writer in Hollywood. I had a script on the Black List. I’ve sold pitches and even a treatment. I do comedy punch-ups, dialogue passes, give professional notes, and I even handle a ton of commercials and some live television.

I have my Masters of Fine Arts in Screenwriting from Boston University. So I’m certified to teach and have taught some courses, on the collegiate level.

This blog is about to save you 50k a year. You’re welcome.

Trust me, I have student loans, they’re crushing.

Here’s the real deal: I’m not going to bullshit you.

I’m going to tell you my experience, occasionally reference people much further ahead than myself, and if I don’t know the answer to your question I’m going to direct you to someone that does, or just Google it until I think I do have the answer.

Oh…and while you’re all taking the next ten weeks to write a script.

I’m gonna do that too.  

We’ll be in the trenches together.

I can’t wait to read the comments. Nasty ones and all.

So stop stalling, and let’s get writing.

How to Prepare To Write A Screenplay in 10 weeks…

I just brewed a pot of coffee and ate a cheese danish. I’m sitting in my favorite chair. I have a scented candle lit; clean laundry. Are you ready to go?

No so fast.

Before you start writing, I hope you’ve consulted our Eight Best Screenwriting Software post and have an adequate way to get your ideas onto the page.

If you picked one with an outlining or treatment feature, you’re in luck. Because before we dive into our pages, I want to talk about prewriting.

What Is Prewriting?

In general, prewriting is all the work you do before you sit down to write your screenplay. It can be outlines, treatments, notecards, or even drawings.

Look, we all love to procrastinate. There’s an essential fear when it comes to staring at the blank page. I have it. You have it.

So before we dive into all that, I want to prewrite. Your prewriting will become part of your process, so you want to tailor it to what works best for you.

Here’s what works best for me:

First things first. I have to write a logline.

What Is A Logline?

A logline is a one to two sentence summary of a film or tv show. It should wholly encapsulate the main drive of the plot, and also include the tone if possible. 

We’ve covered learning how to write a logline before

In an unprecedented move, here’s the logline of the screenplay I’ll be writing along with you guys. It’s an original idea. Please don’t steal it.  

The Left Outs: After their high school bully decides to run for Senate, a group of people perennially left out of parties form a friendship and vow to get revenge on their tormentor.

The logline needs to be evocative of the tone. Hopefully, you can tell this one is a comedy. So how is your logline helping you?

After I’m done the logline, I explore the idea in a treatment.

Writing a Screenplay Treatment

We have an entire article on how to write a screenplay treatment, so I won’t belabor the point here. But a huge part of my process is writing a treatment, and I really suggest you do it too.

While I don’t want to post the treatment for The Left Outs, I’ll tell you that it’s 15 pages, single-spaced, and I used the screenplay treatment template available in the article I linked.

I don’t like to just sit and write without knowing where I’m going. A treatment eases that stress, and allows me to fix story beats or add nuance on the screenplay page, without thinking too hard about what needs to happen next in the story.

If you’re having trouble finding the beats in your screenplay, try using our Story Map.

  1. Unraveling The Map – Do you have an opening scene that defines the movie?
  2. The Launch Point – Where are we, and who are we with?
  3. The First Leg – What’s a normal day look like in this world?
  4. Change Course – What sets our characters off on their journey from normalcy?
  5. The Foot of the Mountain – Okay, we’re going on this journey together
  6. Climbing The Side – It starts hard, but you get used to the problems as you go
  7. Through The Cave – Do you have a B story? Set that story off on its own now too.
  8. Reassess the Problem – You’re at the middle. Is there another way to get it done?
  9. Try and Fail – Things begin to fall apart, can they handle it?
  10. The Fall – The worst thing happens, something so bad you don’t think you can get up.
  11. The Hidden Clue – What do your characters discover about themselves/the problem that they never saw before?
  12. Race To the Finish – They’re up and running no matter what.
  13. The Treasure Chest – Did they get what they came for?
  14. Where We Go From Here – Show us the world in a new light, hint what’s next.

Once you have your logline and treatment, it’s time to open that software and get to writing.

Screenwriting Page Goals: 1-10.

Sitting down and writing a feature-length screenplay can seem like a daunting task, but if you take it in increments, it can seem a lot easier.

I like to print out my treatment and have it next to my laptop.

Okay. We’re here.

So what do people expect from pages 1-10 in a screenplay?

Let’s be real, we learned from an Acquisitions Executive that most people know if they like a screenplay within the first few pages. So you have to nail these.

Generally, you want to introduce your characters, their central conflicts and show us the world.

Continue reading at: https://nofilmschool.com/write-screenplay-seminar-week-one

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