This course is an introduction to the theory and practice of writing for film to the fundamentals of visual storytelling, character, plot, dialogue, subtext, and theme, as well as the integration of these elements into short scripts.
In the first two weeks, we’ll discuss screenplay formatting. This will include topics such as sluglines, margins, transitions, formatting software usage, flashbacks, montages, and general guidelines for "how to write" action (writing in present tense, when to use passive voice, how to write description, how to incorporate sound effects, etc.).
Then, students will read some recent and classic screenplays—including Get Out, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Little Miss Sunshine—while we cover things like plot, dialogue, subtext, character development, and visual storytelling elements in class together. While reading these screenplays, we’ll work to integrate what we’re observing about craft into our own writing.
The last few weeks will be dedicated to workshop. Students will turn in up to five pages weekly in the second half of class, starting on Week 4, and students will receive written and verbal critique on those submitted pages from classmates and the instructor.
At the end of the course, students will submit a “final draft” of a 15-20 page short script to the instructor. The last class will include a conversation with students about how to package writing in the future (writing loglines, synopses, and elevator pitches).
*No class February 14
Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility.
Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.
- The ability to implement the basics of screenwriting formatting
- A deeper understanding of storytelling fundamentals
- The ability to analyze/critique/revise scripts.
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will be asked to read 1-2 feature length screenplays and/or watch a few screenwriter interviews a week ahead of class time for in-class discussion. Students will also draft up to 5 pages a week for workshop, and be expected to read and comment on their peers’ 5 page submissions weekly. Students can expect to receive written and verbal feedback in workshop from their peers and the instructor on their short submissions, and they will receive written feedback on a final 15-20 page draft of their script at the end of class.
Week 1: Introductions and Basic Screenplay Formatting
Week 2: Writing Action and Creating Character
Week 3: Story Structure, Treatments, and Outlines
Week 4: Dialogue, Subtext, and Visual Storytelling
Week 5: Partner Critique (Pages 1 - 5)
Week 6: Partner Critique (Pages 6 - 10)
Week 7: Partner Critique (Pages 11 - 15)
Week 8: Partner Critique (Pages 16 - 20)
Dominique Saint Malo is a writer, filmmaker, and cafe con leche drinker from Miami, FL. She earned her B.S. in Scriptwriting from Ithaca College and her M.F.A. in Film Production from Full Sail University. Passionate about her Latin background and social justice, she loves telling stories that explore cultural bounds as well as moral ambiguity (whether dangerous, funny, or both). In her free time, she writes and produces her own short films, freelances in production, and is currently in development for her own/first feature film.
"Dominique goes above and beyond what is expected to bring you expert insight in how to take your script to the next level. From formatting to overall themes and intention, she helped me refine and transform my scripts into the best version they possibly could be. I recommend her to everyone I talk to and will continue to use her expertise on every story I tell! The finesse of a veteran in the field, paired with fresh eyes, Dominique is the perfect professional to help your script."
"Dominique’s detailed feedback helped me figure out what my script was really about. Her feedback changed how I thought about my story and helped it grow into something better."
"My professor had a very knowledgeable and commanding understanding of the subject - especially in today's world. The professor explained expectations, encouraged the students to speak their thoughts, and organized a well-structured environment. The workload was challenging, but not impossible with the help and input from my professor and peers."