Course curriculum

  • 1

    A story is...

  • 2

    Heroes, goals, and obstacles

    • Critiquing your own work

    • How and why to read scripts

    • Read the first 10 pages of the screenplay "Bergman Manor"

    • Heroes

    • Goals

    • Obstacles

    • Does it matter?

    • Brainstorming heroes and goals

    • Exercise: Brainstorming five original hero-goal pairs

  • 3

    Developing compelling characters

    • The Hero Questions

    • Exercise: Answering the Hero Questions for an existing character

    • Exercise: Answering the Hero Questions for an original character

    • Dr. Showers' Eight Character Traits

    • Exercise: Finding Dr. Showers' Eight Character Traits for your original character

    • Character defining moments

    • Exercise: Discovering your character's defining moments

  • 4

    Telling original stories

    • The creative discipline of brainstorming

    • Unleashing your inner mad scientist

    • Exercise: Brainstorming from a prompt

    • Unleashing your inner critic

    • Exercise: Selecting your best ideas

    • Lego time

    • Exercise: Playing with your Legos

    • Log lines

    • Exercise: Write a log line

    • Mad Ideas

    • Exercise: Brainstorming Mad Ideas

    • Project Milestone: A "hero changes" story

  • 5

    Is structure really that important?

    • Introduction to movie structure

    • "The Raft," an animated short film

    • Tools for structuring movies

    • The Structure of the short "The Raft"

    • The structure of a feature-length film

    • Exercise: Locating the first 5 of the Eight Essential Story Points for Bergman Manor

  • 6

    Building your movie

    • Understand the story you're looking for, part 1

    • Short film: "Black Hole"

    • Short film: "Spin"

    • Short film: "Table 7"

    • Short film: "Father And Daughter"

    • Understand the story you're looking for, part 2

    • Exercise: Brainstorm an idea for a short film

    • Pan for gold

    • Exercise: Pan for gold

    • Bulk up your hero

    • Exercise: Bulk up your hero

    • Build up your obstacles

    • Exercise: Build up your obstacles

    • Make it personal

    • Who else is in the room?

    • Find your ending first

    • Then find your beginning

    • Your movie in three sentences

    • Project Milestone: Tell your story in three sentences

  • 7

    The scenes in your movie

    • Locate your scenes

    • Exercise: Break your movie into scenes

    • Digging into your scenes, part 1

    • Exercise: Dig into each of your scenes

    • Digging into your scenes, part 2

    • Exercise: Filling in the details of your scenes

    • Digging into your scenes, part 3

    • Project Milestone: Script Outline

    • Exercise: Reading the conclusion of "Bergman Manor"

  • 8

    Script formatting and style - part 1

    • Setting descriptions

    • Exercise: Write a description of a setting for one of your scenes

    • Character introductions

    • Exercise: Introduce one of your characters

    • Action!

    • Exercise: Describe yourself as a character in action

    • Sounds on the page

    • Exercise: Describe a sound

    • Format your script like a pro

    • Screenwriting software

    • Review of the best free screenwriting software

  • 9

    Script formatting and style - part 2

    • Dialogue

    • Exercise: Write a dialogue scene

    • Do your characters all sound the same?

    • Exercise: Polish your dialogue scene

    • Mixing direction with dialogue

    • Adding emotion

    • Formatting dialogue

    • Exercise: Polish your scene

  • 10

    The first draft

    • Writing your first draft

    • Don't lose your work!

    • Some tips while you're writing

    • More tips while you're writing

    • Deep work

    • Project Milestone: Finish the first draft of your script

  • 11

    Gathering feedback and rewriting

    • Why we need notes

    • The trouble with notes -- and how to survive them

    • Gathering notes

    • Exercise: Gather three sets of notes

    • Review the notes

    • Make a rewrite plan

    • Exercise: Make a rewrite plan

  • 12

    Emotion and connection: making the audience laugh and cry and scream and cheer

    • Shaping an emotional experience for the audience

    • Connecting and disconnecting on The Raft

    • Expanding our emotional vocabulary

    • Crafting an emotional experience for the audience

    • Project Milestone: Write your second draft

  • 13

    Learning to speak the language of cinema

    • Making your movie sparkle

    • Setups and payoffs

    • Rewriting

    • Read "The Detective's Secretary"

    • "The Detective's Secretary"

    • Gathering notes on your second draft

  • 14

    Exploring meaning in film

    • Exercise: Make a rewrite plan for your polish

    • What do stories mean... and how do they mean it?

    • "The Raft," an animated short film

    • How "The Raft" explores and communicates meaning

    • List your favorite films

    • Finding your own key themes

    • Charging symbols with meaning

    • Read the second act of "The Detective's Secretary"

  • 15

    Polishing your script

    • Title page format

    • Read to the end of "The Detective's Secretary"

    • Reviewing all we've learned about writing for film

    • Project Milestone: Deliver your polish draft

    • The writer's road ahead

Course materials

Downloadable electronic copies of Bergman Manor and The Detective's Secretary are included in the price of the course and will be provided to learners after enrollment. Paperback copies may be purchased from Amazon or any other major retailer. The Hollywood Standard is not included in the price of the course and must be purchased separately.

Please note: As an Amazon Associate, Story Masters Film Academy earns from qualifying purchases.

Pricing options

Get full access to all the video lessons and writing exercises for $350. For an additional $150, you can receive professional feedback on your project milestones.

Mini Courses

Interested in a specific topic? Already know about movie structure but not sure how to format your script? Want to skip all the stuff on brainstorming original story ideas and jump straight to writing your first draft? Take one of our Mini Courses!

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    $60.00The Art of Film Writing: Telling Original Stories

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    $60.00The Art of Film Writing: Heroes, Goals, and Obstacles

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    $105.00The Art of Film Writing: Movie Structure

    Learn to structure your script to grab and hang onto your audience.
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    $75.00The Art of Film Writing: Script Formatting

    Learn how to format your script from the man who wrote the book on script formatting and style.
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    $30.00The Art of Film Writing: Emotion and Connection

    Learn how to craft an emotional experience for the audience.
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  • Free

    FreeFilm Writing: Exploring Meaning

    Learn what movies mean... and how they mean it.
    Take a mini-course for free!
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    $30.00The Art of Film Writing: The Language of Cinema

    Learn how to make your movie sparkle.
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    $60.00The Art of Film Writing: The Writing Process

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