“Building A Hollywood Script” is an intermediate screenwriting course conducted by Los Angeles based director-screenwriter Thomas Lim.
The purpose of the course is to learn about film screenplay structure, analyze dramatic strategies in film writing, learn and apply correct script form, and creatively engage in the various stages of original scriptwriting. The assignments will include the writing of scenes, a treatment, with special emphasis on the steps leading toward creating a final screenplay fit for pitching to even Hollywood executives.
The course begins with a review of the importance of a strong protagonist, a clear hero’s goal, and a firm understanding of the three-act structure, and moves on to examine what makes an intriguing “hook of the movie”, and how to set the tone for the genre you have chosen for your movie.
We will also study the formats that scripts are written in, and analyze our stories in terms of Acts, Scenes and Beats (the smallest details that make up a script). Then, we will re-create our scripts back into a stronger beast than it ever was. We will then learn how to create interesting characters and give the characters meaningful dialogue. We will finish off with students presenting and reading each other’s scripts to understand how a script sounds different in the writer’s mind, than what it is when read aloud.
By the end of the course, students should have a good first draft of their script.
Thomas Lim profile:
Thomas Lim is a film director and screenwriter based in Los Angeles. He is one of the most successful film directors in Macau, having directed, produced, and written the Macau movie “Roulette City” which was released commercially in major cinemas in Japan, Singapore and Macao.
Lim’s filmmaking career spans across Asia and America to countries like Japan where he has directed new films such as “Mari”, and the U.S where he produced films such as “The Dead Planet”. Lim is currently writing a new Macau film “The Escape Box”, that is aimed for co-production between the U.S and Macao. Thomas Lim was born in Singapore and trained as a director and actor at one of U.K’s top drama colleges: Rose Bruford College.
DAY-BY-DAY BREAKDOWN OF COURSE:
To create a one line synopsis, one paragraph synopsis, and a ten to twenty page script for a film.
Review and confirmation of knowledge that every student understands the need and purpose of a strong hero, a clear and motivated goal for the hero, the 3-Act structure, and a one paragraph as well as a one-line synopsis. Here we begin to require students to also write a one-page synopsis.
Students present their one line and one paragraph synopsis to get their ideas clearly on paper. This is also a chance for new students to familiarize themselves with the important elements that were taught and emphasized in the basic-screenwriting course last year. In these two days, we also introduce new screenwriting knowledge, such as “The Hook Of The Movie”, “Why the first ten pages are crucial” and “setting the tone of the movie”.
Script format. Here we learn the standard formatting of an English language script (accepted by Hollywood). We learn how to tell if a scene takes place indoors/outdoors, how to write transitions between scenes, where the character names and dialogue are positioned, and why one page on the script translates to one minute on screen. Students also try to write a one-page scene on this day.
Introduction of a beat-sheet: a movie is made up of “acts”, each act is made up of “scenes”, and each scene is made up of “beats”. Before we write the dialogue in a script, it will be necessary to lay out the scenes as well as the beats.
Introduction and incorporation of “Action Points”: These are dramatic events that drive the story forward. They include “The Obstacle”, “The Complication”, “The Reversal”, and “The Twist”. Students will examine if their stories contain the Action Points needed to move forward.
Creating the Scene: We examine what a good scene should entail. It should advance the story, reveal traits of characters involved, and explore a theme. Students will incorporate these elements into their stories and start to build meaningful scenes.
How to write good dialogue. On this day, we examine how to create meaningful characters and dialogue. We learn the importance of subtexts (no one in real life say what they really think about all the time, and neither should characters in scripts), and how every character in the script should serve a particular purpose. By this day, students should have at least a few scenes or ten pages of scripts written out.
Presentation. Students form groups to work on their scenes. Then, they read the dialogue in each other’s scripts. For the first time, students will hear how their written dialogue and scenes play out in front of an audience (fellow students), and how dialogue sound different in the writer’s mind, versus how it’s like when it’s read. Accordingly, students will make amendments to their scenes and dialogues.
Presentation. Students should at least have a short film script written, and ready to do a re-write by the end of this course. As the old saying goes, writing only begins in the process of re-writing. Students can then take home all the new things they’ve learned in this course, and apply to their re-writing.