Screenwriting: Telling the Truth Through Fiction

Open—Spring

The landscape for the screenwriter has dramatically changed during the past several years, with new opportunities to write producible short films, YouTube® sketches, and Web series seen by millions of viewers, as well as long-form “films” or “movies” initially conceived for and destined for the “silver screen”—a screen that is seemingly changing in color, size, and setting on a daily basis. The disarray of the current film industry has created confusion and opportunity. Nevertheless, the baseline expectation in the contemporary narrative “film form” still remains: It is the expression of a character or characters progressing through a structured journey or series thereof. Elemental to this process is having your audience believe your characters, believe the universe that they inhabit, and find “truth” in the screen story that you’ve created. In life and in film, we laugh, we cry, we cringe, we shield our eyes, and we stare in wonder when we see and feel the truth. It’s ironic that in our quest to create dramatic fiction, we must actually “tell the truth.” There is a writer’s saying, “A writer must lie her way to the truth.” The audience engages with material when they realize: I’ve been there. I know that feeling. I know that person. I am that person. This course supports the process of finding and expressing truth in fiction. Designed for the emerging contemporary screenwriter, the course includes opportunities for those creating a new idea, adapting original material into the screenplay form, rewriting a screenplay or Web series, or finishing a screenplay-in-progress destined for whatever screen or screens s/he aims to assail. A review of screenwriting fundamentals during the first few weeks, as well as a discussion of the state of each project, will be followed by an intense screenwriting workshop experience. Published screenplays, several useful texts, and clips of films and Web series will form a body of examples to help concretize aspects of the art and craft.