In our second term, BA Filmmaking and BA Screenwriting students split to focus on our chosen disciplines. In BA Screenwriting, our module was ‘Introduction to Writing Drama’, a thorough exploration of all the techniques used to lay down a strong foundation in writing for the screen. Over the course of the term, we covered everything from conflict and characterisations to plots and protagonists. This was all essential material that we needed for the final
submissions where we had to write a short film script, a short film treatment, a feature film
treatment and a feature film presentation pitch.
We further expanded our screenwriting fundamentals by reading the screenplays from major Hollywood successes such as ‘L.A. Confidential’, ‘Legally Blonde’, ‘The Terminator’ and ‘Thelma and Louise’. By dissecting these scripts and learning how their story structures helped and hindered their box office success, it allowed us to reflect upon our own work and develop our own writing without falling into the traps of on the nose dialogue, deus ex machina, inconsistent character and unsatisfying endings.
In this module, we were actively encouraged to create small writing groups where we could read and give feedback on each other’s writing. This had proven invaluable as throughout each of our drafts we had discovered that external viewpoints often allow us to uncover easily fixable issues with our scripts as well. It also gave us the necessary knowledge on how to respond to a prospective script professionally, aiding us not only for our next module (Script Coverage) but also for when we enter the industry and are open employment as script doctors.
Also during this term, we were introduced to a variety of writing exercises, each one enforcing our creative impulses and allowing us to discover a variety of paths to take in ourwritten stories. We learnt the importance of brainstorming and being unafraid to put seemingly stupid ideas on paper (that rubbish idea may hold something golden within).
Throughout the process of developing our script and treatments, we had numerous one on one meetings with our lecturer where we had ample time with an industry professional to develop our scrappy first drafts into well polished final versions. We held many table reads of each other’s scripts and the evolution of everyone’s work was exhilarating. Hearing our words spoken for the first time was enlightening as you could hear every moment that hit with an audience and every moment that could be improved in the next draft. At the end of the term, we had all developed varying scripts and film treatments. Romantic comedies, sci fi, kitchen sink dramas, medieval fantasies, horrors, anime and tragedies filled our final submissions.
In ‘Introduction to Writing Drama’, we learnt many invaluable lessons. We are now confident in how to configure a story within both a short and feature film structure, how to utilise brainstorming techniques to uncover exciting stories and how to successfully pitch a film to producers from a writer’s perspective. It was the perfect set up for any budding
screenwriter. And now? Well… We’d better keep writing!
Will Randlesome. BA Screenwriting.