November 16, 2018

Free Screenwriting Seminar: Pages 10-20 (Week 2)

We're back for week two!

We’re back again with the Free Screenwriting Seminar: Week Two. My goal is to help you write a feature-length screenplay in 10 weeks. That’s about 1.42 pages a day. Can you handle that?

I bet you can.

This week we’re going to talk more about setting up the world, protagonists, and how pages 10-20 in your script will make a promise to the audience.

We’re going to release 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.

Let’s get going!

The Free Screenwriting Seminar Mission Statement

Most people access No Film School because they want to get free 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 with your utmost potential.

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

So over the next 10 n weeks, I’m going to give a free screenwriting seminar. 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.

We’re going to release one of these every Friday, so if you’re joining late, take this link back to week one.

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

Now, to the fun parts!  

Where Are You Now?

You should have written the first 10 pages of your masterpiece. Well, it’ll become a masterpiece with rewriting, but we’ll get to that.

Pages 1-10 were important because you had to hook the reader right away. But now it’s all about immersing them in your world and showing them what they’re in store for as they keep going.

But now you’re hitting 11-20. The focus has to be immersion in the world and setting up the characters problems.

We’re still in the first act (read what’s ahead), but now that we’ve met most of the characters, it’s time to show them in their world and plant some stuff that may pay off later.

Plus, we need to set up the thrust of the movie.

This sounds like a lot, but let’s check out some examples to inspire our own writing.

Screenplay Examples: Pages 10-20

Okay, we’ve seen your dynamic opening, and we’re entertained. Now we want to go along for the ride. Pages 10-20 are where we really get a sense of the world and prepare for adventure.

First up, let’s take a look at Raiders Of The Lost Ark. After we’ve seen Indy in action, we have to learn he’s a college professor and now we’re going to get the mission.

We know Indy is a professor with a bit of a rep, but this scene shows how far reaching it might be. When Army Intelligence shows up, you know things are going to kick in.

The mission is presented to Indy, and we get the legend as well.

What are we planting here? The powers of the Ark. Indy’s expertise. Hitler’s motivations. So in one scene, we get a sense of the villain, the stakes, the protagonist’s drive, and a nervous anticipation of what the Ark can do...level mountains.

But this kind of scene is really explicit to one genre. What about something a little less straightforward?

In Enemy At The Gates, we use these moments in the movie to set up the thrust of the story. Vassili is good with a gun, but in this war, it takes more than that. After he saves the life of an officer, he’s able to move into the sniper ranks.

Since this is an action movie, we want an exciting set piece here, but it also has to show the theme and thrust of the story. This one is about Vassili being used by the Russians during the war.

In Black Panther, we use these pages to see more of Wakanda, understand the ritual for how to become king, and to meet the antagonist.

Killmonger’s entrance here sets the theme for the movie.  

This story is about a people who were left behind, fighting a people who have closed their doors to the world. The protagonist and antagonist are mirrors of one another. But we set up the eventual plan in this scene.

It’s engaging and exciting.

So far, these have all been action-based scenes. But what about stuff in dramas?

In There Will Be Blood, these pages are used to get Daniel Plainview to the part of the country that will eventually make him one of the richest people of all time. 

In an elongated scene, we set up why these guys would move, how good they are at prospecting for oil, and the general thrust of the movie...which is that Daniel Plainview is going to try and cheat some farmers out of their oil.

Check out this dissection of the scene that puts the whole story in motion.

So does that all make sense?

In pages 10-20, I want to see your world and characters expand. Show them trying to do one thing and letting failing (or succeeding) at that one thing be what pushes them off on their adventure.

Have your finger on the pulse of the movie, as we need to make sure it’s alive and rife with thematic scenes and exciting turns.

Okay, let’s get on track for this week.

Screenwriting Page Goals: 11-20.

  • Who are your characters and what are their problems?

  • What are the rules to the world?

  • What can you plant now and pay-off later?

Summing Up Week Two of our Free Screenwriting Seminar

You have your marching orders. I want to see expanding worlds, nuanced characters, and a clear set of goals and a theme.

These pages are where you tell your audience what the story is really about.

Friendship?

Love?

Revenge?

Set it up and push us toward the culmination of Act One!

Remember, I’m here for all the complaints, the frustrations, and to brainstorm. Throw whatever you need in the comments and I’ll try to keep track of them.

So get to work on pages 2-20. Next week we will tackle 21-30, and go over some ways to rewrite as you continue to also push forward.

As always, leave a comment if you want to chat.

TL;DR of this Free Screenwriting Seminar: Wk. 2

Week Two Screenwriting Goals:

  • A World.

  • A Theme.

  • Pages 11-20.

Week Two Music Listen to While Screenwriting:

Your Comment

3 Comments

How's the writing going?

November 16, 2018 at 3:46PM, Edited November 16, 3:46PM

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Jason Hellerman
Copywriter
Writer

Amazing! I started writing my script a little bit before you started week 1, but I was very inspired by your post, reorganized and re-outlined my beginning, and I wrote the first 9 pages. I'm using this week to figure out how I'm going to set-up my character's problems and figure out what I want to plant for payoff later in the movie. My only question I suppose is, what kinds of tricks do you use to get to know your character? What kinds of questions and homework do you like to do about a character to discover their flaws and how that fits into the larger narrative?

November 16, 2018 at 9:36PM

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Avi Zephyra
Producer
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Great question! Think about what your characters likes doing and what they hate doing - I love the opening of the movie Hot Tub Time Machine. It breaks down who those guys are and how bad their lives can be? Their one respite? Hanging together. What are some of your favorite films? How do they put characters in situations that highlight their personalities? Chasing Amy shows us two comic nerds, in their element. One inker has a Napoleon complex, and the artist gets love, but is not IN love. Again, build your scenes around how to bring tension from all that stuff.

November 17, 2018 at 1:08PM

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Jason Hellerman
Copywriter
Writer