There’s an old saying that there are two approaches to writing your first movie script – study and train for it, or waste two years writing in circles, going nowhere with your film idea… before studying and training for it. I took the second approach many years ago, but wished I was less of a rebel and used the first instead.
“Re-scripting For Hollywood” is the third installment of my screenwriting courses in Macau. In this course, we will re-examine the basics of structuring a movie screenplay, creating interesting characters for our stories and the proper formatting for a screenplay. In addition, we will also examine what it takes to be successful in the film industries in America, and Macau, with a section on writing short films and a strong synopsis.
15/2 Day 1: Why Get Into Screenwriting?
This lesson gives an overview of the film industry in America, Hong Kong, and Macau, and examines the students’ motivation for joining the course. It’s necessary to be ambitious, but also realistic about what it takes to write a script. This first day will help us set the right priorities as an important first step toward writing a good screenplay.
Days 2-4: Structure, Format & Log-lines
16/2 Day 2: Three-Act Structure – breaking a story into beginning, middle and end.
An important review of the three-act structure that dictates the way scripts in Hollywood (and many countries worldwide) are written. This includes a close look at how we design good “Turning Points” – where the action in our story is taken in different directions.
17/2 Day 3: Proper Formatting.
Learn industry standards and techniques in formatting scripts. Without proper formatting, our scripts will never be read by producers and investors. The first technical skill to acquire to become a professional writer is mastering the proper format of writing.
18/2 Day 4: Synopsis, treatment, and log lines.
It may come a surprise to some that writing a good log-line, synopsis, and treatment is just as important than the script itself – at least at beginning of the project. Film festivals always require a log-line and synopsis, and it’s unlikely that producers and investors read your entire script without first being intrigued by an enticing log-line and synopsis.
On Day-4, Students will be asked to begin thinking of a story they want to present as a script or synopsis by the end of the course.
19/2 Day 5: Short Films.
On this day, we take a close look at writing short films. Many filmmakers in Macau make shorts, which is a great way to launch a writing or filmmaking career.
Day 6 to 8: Character, Conflict and Action.
22/2 Day 6: Building Your Protagonist and Antagonist.
In this first lesson on character-design, we explore the need(s), flaw(s), and transformation of the protagonists in our scripts. We also look at what it takes to create an antagonist. This lesson also describes how to take your experiences in life to develop lead characters for your story.
23/2 Day 7: Conflict – The cornerstone of any great drama is conflict.
Here we examine the different types of conflict, how to create good conflict, and study the conflicts that exist in different film.
Students are required to start writing their synopsis/script on this day for presentation in the final two days.
24/2 Day 8: Writing Action/Description.
Film is a visual medium, told through images and not words. The greatest mark of an experienced writer is the ability to write action and description to “show” the story, and not merely “tell” it. Students will try their hands on writing a short description/action in this day.
25 & 26/2 Days 9 and 10:
Presentations of student’s scripts and/or synopses.
Thomas Lim is a prominent filmmaker in the Macau film industry, having directed and produced the Macau feature film “Roulette City,” which was commercially released in major cinemas in Japan, Singapore and Macau, and garnered numerous press articles from the same countries.
As an actor, Lim is also known for leading roles in Chinese TV drama series like “The Game,” musicals “The Wizard of Oz” (as the Cowardly Lion), and movies such as “One Last Dance.”
Lim was born in Singapore and trained in one of the U.K’s top drama colleges: Rose Bruford College. In the last 14 years, he has lived in Macau, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, and London. He now lives in Los Angeles where he’s developing 3 film projects in collaboration with China, Japan and Macau.