THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF PROFESSIONAL SCRIPT ANALYSIS
Workshop for producers, screenwriters and/or directors
Duration 12 days / 19 days
After the sweat, tears and laughs
At the end of the workshop the students will know how a professional analysis of a screenplay for a low budget or a very big budget or a high concept or an arthouse or any other kind of film should be elaborated. How should a serious analysis look like? Which elements are important for the estimation of the market potential? What are the basic structural elements of a dramatic story and how could a dynamic structure be worked out? How to get three dimensional characters? etc. Furthermore, they will know what a “cinema audience” could be and to which important story and screenplay elements a wider success is related to. And they will know for ever the only real and important question of script and film analysis. Last but not least they will get “in touch” with writers, producers, directors, actors like Billy Wilder, Ernest Lehmann, Ridley Scott, Fritz Lang, Sylvester Stallone, Bo Goldman, James Cameron, Milos Forman, and many others. The students will not become the best script analysts of the world but they will know how a professional analysis is looking like and that it is not possible to get one for free or in two hours.
The to dos and the trained basics
Normally, film students or film professionals know one or more of the recipe books like the ones of Syd Field or Linda Seger. In fact it would be very helpful if they would know David Howard’s “The Tools of Screenwriting” as well and if they would have studied all the script/film analysis there.
For this workshop it is useful to know the basic dramatic rules and the recipes. They will learn that the rules are right and wrong, and that the art begins in breaking the rules in the appropriate way offered by the story. At this workshop the main goal is the research for the story “behind”, between the lines, the essence and effect of the cinematic and artistic story telling.
Reading and explaining as well as reading and analysing of hand-outs and scripts, doing homework every day, watching movies and at the same time analysing their scripts etc. are the main parts of this workshop. The following elements and expressions used in analysing or writing scripts are treated during this workshop:
- idea, story, plot, substory, subplot, synopsis, logline, characters, topics, subject, myths, archetypes, set design, etc.
- story-step-outline, event, irony, originality, plausibility/credibility, theme, genre, protagonist, antagonist, dialogue, and much more
- master scene script, acts, sequence, scene, shot, adaptation, planting, pay-off, predicament, aftermath, climax or culmination, premise, empathy, and more
- the producer’s, writer’s and the director’s role, the distributor, the sales’ agent, the audience, the film markets and the festivals, and the awards, etc.
Some of the tools
Hand-outs with the definition of the terms used for the script analysis. Screenplays like “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”, “The Apartment”, “Some Like It Hot”, “Rocky”, “Titanic”, “American Beauty”, “Thelma & Louise”, “When Harry Met Sally”, etc., and one or two of projects from the home territory as first or second drafts which were distributed to potential buyers or funds in order to finance the budget. Examples of synopsis, analysis, story-step-outlines, etc. Hand-outs with short explanations of some terms by masters like František “Frank” Daniel.
The teaching method
As much theory as necessary for a workshop about basics. The most important thing is the teaching by screening films on big screens. Even that the analysis of scripts is the topic of this workshop the films on screen and the commentary, the explanations above as well as the interrutions and replays and the discussions will help to achieve the biggest learning effect. The participients will learn to read scripts on paper and on the big screen. They will learn and feel that a film is much more than its plot. Some of the scripts to analyse will be given much time in advance, others on short terms. There will be homework (exercises) every day. Collaboration in groups of two is great and should redouble the learning effect.
Duration and warning
The 12 days of this workshop are intense, there is no time left for other activities. It starts on a Monday morning and ends up on a Friday evening. At the weekend (days 6 and 7) a story-step-outline and a detailed analysis of a new screenplay as well as a market estimation of this film project has to be worked out by groups of two participents. The weekend homework asks for at least 20 hours of full concentration. This analysis of the new screenplay has to be based on a story-step-outline. In this intense workshop about 7 more scripts, from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” to “American Beauty”, are to study and there are to analyse some of the most important elements. At the end the participents will be able to read, to feel, to understand and to see much more. They will loose some of their greenness and they will have more pleasure to watch good films – and the best ones even several times.
(The very serious version of this workshop takes place in 19 days including two weekends with the analysis of two complete scripts and the analysis of some short films and projects of the students.)