January 11, 2019

Free Screenwriting Seminar: Pages 90-100 (Week 10)

What's the lasting scene you want people to remember? How will you close your story? 

Oh man. I am sort of sad we've reached the ending of the Free Screenwriting Seminar. It has been amazing to hear from all of you along this journey. We've had people from Mumbai. Nigeria, Paraguay, and even West Chester, Pennsylvania, join us throughout the weeks. Tell me in the comments where you're from. Rep your city and be proud of your writing. 

Speaking of being proud, HOLY CRAP...IT'S WEEK TEN!  

We have released one of these every Friday, so if you’re joining late, you can find all the other weeks in our free online screenwriting course here.

I know your scripts might be longer than 100 pages (mine is), but the idea was just to get you all writing every week. If you can write 10 pages in seven days, you can write 100 in 70. I am so damn proud of everyone who has shared their progress, and I expect a mention in all of your award speeches. Or not. I'm just happy you played along with us. 

Let's not waste any more time. 

Get writing on week ten! 

The Free Screenwriting Seminar Mission Statement

Most people access No Film School because they want to get information about cameras, gear, and storytelling. We’re aware that the luxury of attending film school is not available to most of the world, so we do our best to keep you all up to date on what’s out there and how you can shoot and create to your utmost potential.

What’s at the root of all filmmaking? Storytelling.

Over the next ten weeks, I’m going to give a free online screenwriting course. I’m going to teach you the fundamentals of screenwriting, coach you through 10-page sprints, and answer your questions about how your story can move forward in the comments section below each week.

If we’re going to finish this screenplay, we should get started right away. If you have some other stuff to do and only want to find out what to do this week, scroll down to the TL;DR portion.

Now, to the fun part!

Free Screenwriting Seminar Week Nine: Pages 90-100

As John August and Craig Mazin once said, good screenplays start with great endings

As you cross page 100, it's time for your screenplay to come to a close. These are the moments when you decide how to close the themes, payoff any last plants, figure out if there's a big twist, and decide whether or not you want to leave hope for a sequel. 

And in 40-Year-Old Virgin, it's where they break into song...also, that happens in Bridesmaids too. 

As you end your screenplay, I'd like to refer to the Story Map to see where we are in the plot beats. 

The Treasure Chest - Did they get what they came for?

Where We Go From Here - Show us the world in a new light, hint what’s next.

You've taken your characters through the worst. Now is the time to figure out if they get Keyser Soze, or if he limps off into the sunset, ready to kill again. 

Let's take a look at some examples of memorable movie endings to help you land the plane (or have your pilot admit he needs help, like in Flight).

Pages 90-100 Screenplay Examples

Creating a memorable ending is about more than just closing up the story beats. 

Sure, everyone wants their questions answered. We have to know if the guy gets the girl, the girl gets the job, and the job becomes the career. 

But you also have to deliver your characters to a place where the audience understands where their lives are going — or not going. 

At one point in my life, I did some work with Mickey Rourke. A lot of the stories I have probably belong in our Ultimate Hollywood Assistant Survival Guide, but during the times we weren't arguing over Sprinkles Cupcakes or sparring at Golds Gym, we talked about The Wrestler

The Wrestler has one of the greatest endings in modern movie history. 

Randy "The Ram" makes his peace with his family, his legacy, and the woman he loves. He finds a priority in his craft, and we know that as that movie ends, he's solidifying his legacy and legend. 

Is there going to be a sequel? Hell no. 

Did Randy get the treasure? Yes. Just listen to his speech. 

While the story is ambiguous about whether he lives or dies, we get a sense of closure and we will never forget Randy's leap of faith. 

What about a more conventional ending? 

Or a movie with a sequel? 

At the end of Horrible Bosses, we see Charlie Day's character, Dale, finally standing up for himself after one boss is dead and the other is in jail. We get closure. The gang gets what they wanted, to be ostensibly rid of all their bosses, and we get the hint that these men's lives have changed. Nick is promoted to president of the company under a sadistic CEO, Kurt retains his job under a new boss, and Dale blackmails Julia into ending her harassment by convincing her to sexually harass a supposedly unconscious patient, while Jones secretly records the act.

What I like here is that while we don't officially set up a sequel, we get the sense that these men have changed for the better, and their newfound confidence gives them the win they've been looking for the whole movie. We can kind of surmise that a sequel could fit into this world if it had to and if the movie was successful. It was, and that's why we got Horrible Bosses 2

But what about a movie that ends AND directly sets up the next chapter? 

Let's go to one of my top 10 all time movies...

Back To The Future. 

Holy crap, is there a more fun movie than BTTF? Maybe Raiders, but don't get me sidetracked. 

What makes the Back To the Future ending so perfect is that it pays off everything we've been looking for the entire movie. We see that not only has Marty's family gotten back to normal, but all of his actions paid off. The real kicker is that just when we think the adventure is over, Doc Brown shows back up and lets us know there's room for another chapter. 

This sets up a bigger world, and in today's studio realm, where everyone is looking for a new franchise, it's a great way to show how profitable your idea can be in the marketplace. 

And above all else, Back To The Future leaves us with one of the top three movie lines of all time...

"Roads? Where we're going...we don't need roads!"

I got goosebumps just typing that. 

Imagine reading it and seeing the franchise's potential...

Great endings do that. 

Summing Up the Free Screenwriting Seminar: Week Ten

Well, there you have it. That's how you end a Free Screenwriting Seminar. 

As I mentioned in the opening, no matter what page you're ending on, you've ended it. 

All writing is rewriting, so after you reward yourself for finishing, get back into this draft and make it something special. 

For those of you eager to keep writing, we're going to push ahead with a Free Pilot Writing Seminar starting next week. So get ready to make 2019 the year you finish a ton of screenplays. 

I'm honored to be a part of your hero's journey and hope I have been more Dumbledore than Voldemort along the way. 

Till we write again...

TL;DR of this Free Screenwriting Seminar: Wk. 10

Week Nine Screenwriting Goals:

- Finish the damn thing.  

- Give us a memorable ending. Set up a sequel? 

- Pages 90-100.

Week Ten Music Listen to While Screenwriting:

"Closing time..."

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