Learn how to hook an audience

Date:  June 17-23, 2018
Levels:  Intermediate, Advanced
Workshop Fee:  $1095
Class Size: 12

The first ten minutes of any film or TV show are crucial. In those minutes you will hook or lose the viewer. How do you bait an audience so that you’ve got them locked into your story? Whatever the genre, a well-told story is propelled by mystery. The need to know what happens next. It’s as true of Seinfeld as it is of Gone Girl. We’ll explore how to lay a trail of crumbs in such a way that the viewer (and reader) has no choice but to surrender and follow you into the heart of your story and characters. Dig deep into the dynamics of narrative seduction and leave the week with a solid launch for your script.

You’ll learn how to determine where the story really begins (and why page 40 in many scripts should really be page 10), how to craft defining first impressions for the characters, make exposition invisible, and grant an audience emotional access to a key character in their introductory scene – even if the character is unlikable. We’ll explore how to quickly connect the audience to what most compels them. Film sequences will be discussed to examine the hidden dynamics at work.

Students are invited to bring a new idea or a work in progress to the class. While we will consider the structural implications for the complete story, our focus will be on the opening. You will write and rewrite the first ten pages of your script, more if time allows. This opening will be workshopped and critiqued until it is a strong foundation for you to build your story and characters on.   

Relevant exercises will be assigned for non-writers (directors, producers, and filmmakers) who do not have a script in progress but want to understand the dynamics being explored. While our focus is on film and TV, the lessons will also resonate for novelists and playwrights, as well as filmmakers working in non-fiction.

Note: In addition to being offered on an individual basis, this course is also week one for those participating in the Screenplay Development Lab, and Week Three of the 10 Week Directing Intensive.

Image Credit: David Tejada

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Instructor: Wayne Beach

Wayne Beach has written screenplays for Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, Sony, TNT, Wolf Films, Village Roadshow Pictures, and other studios and networks. He has developed projects for the makers of Pirates of the Caribbean, The Matrix, The Great Gatsby, Law & Order, House, Chicago P.D., and Ocean’s Eleven. His students have gone on to write hit films and TV shows.