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The Fundamentals of Screenwriting & Story Structure

Filmmaking is all about storytelling. Learn how to get your movie ideas out of your head and on the written page.
Instructor:
Kenn Crawford
34 students enrolled
English [Auto-generated]
Screenwriting & Story Structure with a focus on Short Films
Proper Screenplay Formatting
The Fundamental Elements Needed to Write a Great Story
How to Create Believable Characters your Audience can Relate to
How to Write Realistic Dialog
Basic Filmmaking Principals so you can Write Screenplays that Can Be Shot on a Small Budget
CASE STUDIES of 3 Short Films and the Lessons Learned while Shooting them.
Some of the Equipment you’ll need if you want to Turn your Well-Crafted Script into a Low-Budget Film

Born in the trenches of low and no-budget filmmaking by an active indie filmmaker, this course won’t waste your time with irrelevant and outdated theory – you learn what you really need to know to get your story idea out of your head and on the written page in a format that can be shot by you or independent filmmakers without the need for a big budget.

With a focus on short films, because they’re easier to write, easier to shoot, and cost the least amount to produce, you’ll learn how to write a screenplay that people want to read and actors want to be in! You’ll learn how to create compelling characters, how to write believable dialogue, how and why to use suspense, drama and conflict. You will learn the Screenwriting Elements you need to know, how to properly format and use them, and so much more!

“Natural and compelling dialogue is a key to screenplays that really stand out. Kenn Crawford understands the importance of effective dialogue; as a result, his screenplays flow perfectly. Kenn also structures his screenplays to maximize audience interest. His characters and situations feel real, and each story is compelling. I highly recommend Kenn Crawford’s course on screenplay writing. It will help you take your ideas and turn them into tightly written screenplays that are ready for production.”
~ Professor Michael G. MacDonald, Cape Breton University. Stage and Film Actor

“Kenn is a visual writer. His dialogue is natural, his settings real, and his stories entertaining. I was fortunate to have Kenn guide me through the screenwriting process for THE ROSE and THE TATTOO. Believe me when I say, if he can teach me how to write a screenplay, he can show anyone.”
~ Dan Yakimchuk, PhD., Cape Breton University.

“In a Kenn Crawford screenplay you get thought-provoking dialogue and a unique plot that keeps you reading until the very end. As a mentor, he showed me that creativity and a little courage can turn a good idea into a great script.”
~ Felix W. Pottie, Indie Screenwriter

“Kenn is a hardworking guerrilla film maker who embraces the DSLR revolution. He is proof you don’t need a million bucks to make a movie, just passion and elbow grease.”
~ Brett Holmes, Indie Screenwriter & Filmmaker

Introduction

1
Introduction

ADDENDUM: A new resource has been added to this video.

The Fundamentals of Screenwriting and Story Structure doesn't bog you down with a bunch of techie mumbo-jumbo that usually only confuses beginners. It's taught from the trenches of low and no-budget filmmaking. You'll learn what you really need to know from Kenn Crawford, an independent writer and filmmaker who is still in the trenches doing what he loves... writing and shooting short films.

2
Free Preview Lesson

One of things you will notice as you take this course is that some of the lessons are relatively short. I'm not here to waste your time - if it only takes a minute to explain the topic, you get a minute-long video!

In fact, this Free Preview lesson covers 2 topics and it's only a 3 minute, 22 second long video! That there shows you that I don't drag things out just to make it "look" longer and more in-depth - each video is jam-packed with valuable, usable information... so have a pen and paper ready to take notes!

Here' what we cover in this Free Preview Lesson:

  1. The Four Goals in all of Narrative Screenwriting

  2. The Four Emotions of your Protagonist

3
Review System
4
Preparing for Your Online Course

If you're new to distance education you should find the tips in this document helpful. If you've taken online courses in the past, this quick refresher should be equally as helpful.

Best of luck with your online studies,
Kenn

Overview of Screenwriting Basics

1
Download Your workbook
2
Who Are You Writing for?
3
Why Screenwriters Need to Keep Budget in Mind when Writing.
4
Screenwriting is Storytelling
5
Ready, Fire... Aim.
6
The 3-Act Structure
7
Story Structure
8
Action, Conflict & Drama
9
The First Step to Screenwriting
10
The Filmmaker's Triangle

The Three Fundamental Elements of Writing

1
Think Like a Screenwriter
2
The Fundamental Element of Suspense
3
The Fundamental Element of Drama
4
The Fundamental Element of Conflict
5
Action, Suspense, Conflict and Drama Addendum

Characters

1
Creating Believable Characters
2
Reactive vs. Passive Protagonist
3
Writing Exercises

Writing Better Dialog

1
But First... a word about audio
2
Writing Better Dialog
3
On the Nose Dialog
4
Say it, Don't Write it
5
Study People
6
Writing is Re-Writing
7
More on Show, Don't Tell

Screenwriting Mistakes

1
Screenwriting Mistakes Introduction
2
Character Names
3
Mistake #1 - Passive Lead Character
4
Mistake #2 - Mild Conflict or No Conflict at all
5
Mistake #3 - No or Mild Consequences
6
Mistake #4 - Being Technically Correct

Screenplay Formatting

1
Screenplay Formatting
2
Screenplay Elements
3
Story Parts
4
Scene Heading or Slugline
5
The Character Element
6
The Dialog Element
7
The Parenthetical Element
8
The Transition Element

The screenwriting software I used to write some of the examples is Celtx (version2.9.7)  - it is an older, stand-alone version before Celtx went cloud based, but it gets the job done and I still occasionally use it. It depends on what and who I am writing for.

It's worth noting that the grey bar that surrounds the Scene Headings/Sluglines in the examples shown is only on the screen when you're writing to help you quickly find each scene heading; the script itself is not printed with that grey bar across the scene heading.

Screenwriting Software

1
Screenwriting Software Introduction
2
Celtx
3
Final Draft
4
Fade In
5
What's the Best program to use?

Short Films

1
The Short Films - Introduction
2
The Final Goodbye
3
Lessons Learned: The Final Goodbye
4
The Battle Within
5
Lessons Learned: The Battle Within
6
Unscheduled Visit
7
Lessons Learned: Unscheduled Visit

What Your Story Needs

1
What your Story Needs
2
Finding the Next Great Idea
3
Addendum

Basic Indie Filmmaking

1
Basic Indie Filmmaking
2
Locations
3
Characters
4
Keep it Short
5
what if I Screw up?
6
A Word about Cameras

Tips from the Trenches of Indie Writing & Filmmaking

1
Tip #1 - Grammar & Spelling
2
Tip #2 - Spell Check is Not your Friend
3
Tip #3 - Don't Read it
4
Tip #4 - Color Code your Characters
5
Tip #5 - Write a Treatment
6
Tip #6 - Start at the End
7
Tip #7 - Be Wary of Writing Groups

That's a Wrap

1
That's a Wrap

The Bonus Section

1
Bonus Section Introduction
2
Bonus Addendum
3
BONUS #1: I Should Be Filming, episode 1

In this short introductory episode to the I Should Be Filming podcast, I talk about what may be keeping you from chasing your filmmaking dreams, with some great advice I learned from filmmakers like Robert Rodriguez and Mark Duplass, as well as discussing the cameras that filmmaker Sean Baker and Directory of Photography Shane Hurlbut used to shoot Tangerine and Act of Valor.

I studied filmmaking for years but didn’t do anything with it because I was really good at making excuses – I didn’t have a good enough camera, I didn’t have enough money, I didn’t know any actors – excuses, excuses, excuses! When I finally decided to stop making excuses and start making movies, a whole new world opened up to me.

In my first year as a filmmaker I shot half a dozen short films, some commercials for local businesses, music videos, and I was hired by the Cape Breton University to shoot footage for the Ethnomusicology workshops they were holding in schools around the island, including an 8-hour live-feed of a performance workshop at the Boardmore Playhouse.

More importantly, I met a lot of talented people interested in filmmaking – everyone from actors, writers and directors to people interested in working behind the scenes as crew members or appearing on camera as an extra. People I would never had met if I continued to let shyness and fear make excuses as to why I wasn’t making movies.

If you want to be a filmmaker – start making films!

4
BONUS #2: I Should Be Filming, episode 7

Every director has his or her own style, and not every actor responds well to Result-Driven directions. Some work better with Playable directions. Knowing the difference between the two can help you get the best performance out of your actors.

On today’s episode I explore the difference between result-driven and playable directions, I explain how and why you should direct your characters instead of your actors, and I’ll give you some directing tips that’ll help you create the type of film set that actors will want to work on – even if they’re not getting paid.

5
BONUS #3: I Should Be Filming, episode 8

Over the years I have read a lot of books and tutorials on filmmaking, I’ve help writers rework their screenplays, and I watched countless short films. I noticed there’s a few mistakes that we tend to make when we’re first starting out, I made a few of them myself, so I thought I’d share them with you so you don’t make the same mistakes on your next film.

Mistakes are not uncommon on a film set. Regardless of how much planning you do, something inevitably goes wrong – either on set, or in the editing room when you’re trying to cut your film together. You can’t plan for every possible scenario and often have to make adjustments on the fly, but when you know what some of the more common mistakes are, you’re better equipped to deal with them should they rear their ugly head.

6
BONUS #4: I Should Be Filming, episode 9

Do you know what your shooting ratio is?

It is the ratio between the total duration of the footage shot for possible use in the project, compared to what actually appears in the final cut. A film with a shooting ratio of 2:1 would have shot twice the amount of footage that was used in the film. The other shooting ratio we need to be aware of is how many pages of script can we shoot in an hour... and why knowing it is so important.

As a side note, this was the last episode recorded for my podcast - filming projects, health and life in general got in the way. I will be recording new episodes so if you're interested in subscribing to the podcast, or to hear the interviews I did in the other episodes, visit the I Should Be filming website at https://ishouldbefilming.com/

7
BONUS #5: The Workbook (34 pages)

On this screen (usually the upper-left on a computer screen) you should see a blue box with a folder icon and the words:"Resource Available" - Click that to download your workbook.

You can view and review the lecture materials indefinitely, like an on-demand channel.
Definitely! If you have an internet connection, courses on Udemy are available on any device at any time. If you don't have an internet connection, some instructors also let their students download course lectures. That's up to the instructor though, so make sure you get on their good side!
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