I recently asked my local film community to send me questions they would like covered in my upcoming seminar, and I’d like to share what I’ve learned from that experience.
Screenplays seem to be a mystery to most people, which is weird to me. As a kid, I remember sitting in my room reading several transcripts (which were always in a script format) of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I grew up reading them from most of my favorite shows. I think it was when I first fell in love with reading scripts, the way you could read the page and replay an entire episode in your head intrigued me. I had always felt that way about plays, but plays were something I didn’t have nearly as much access to. They were something I frequently ONLY saw in my mind’s eye, not something I could repeatedly watch, read, and compare. When I got to film school was the first time I realized (though it was subconciously) that I maybe had a leg up on what these were supposed to look like, and how editing them worked. It was like I had secret knowledge that many of my classmates didn’t, all because I was a voracious reader of anything I could get my hands on as a kid.
Fast forward to today. I know sit here, coming up with a curriculum for a screenwriting workshop/seminar I’ll be doing with a partner, and the questions are the same ones I saw before. What is a script format? Why do people tell me mine looks different than normal? Is structure important, or is unstructured writing fine? Why do I overthink everthing? What do I do about overwriting? How do I get my screenplay in front of people who want to make it?
I think my biggest realization through this process of learning what to teach and how is this: I am so grateful to the Newhouse School at Syracuse for the priviledge of a great education, and to my parents for not encouraging me to read something else. I have been given tools that I didn’t even know I had, and learned things I didn’t even realize I was learning. Those tools and lessons are helping me teach others, and I am so grateful to have that opportunity.