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The Screenwriters Toolkit

Lesson 11 of 21

Act Three: The Climax & Advanced Techniques


The Screenwriters Toolkit

Lesson 11 of 21

Act Three: The Climax & Advanced Techniques


Lesson Info

Act Three: The Climax & Advanced Techniques

Act three is climax the main thing is to make it feel inevitable but not predictable you don't want everybody to know I know it's how it's going um but you want them to feel when they're seeing it oh it had to go this way or it has to be happening this way everything led up to this um it also has a final siri's of reversals I say serious but I mean at least a couple reversals right there in your climactic moment where hero villain hero villain that may not be heroes and villains but you know what I mean? It's getting really close and it's tips both ways for lead character that's one way to really lock in that zenith of the climax itself I want to move on to, um some advanced considerations here p o v now p o v is also a slug term it's a shot term it means point of view if you use it it means that's you're looking through the character's eyes at something jim's p o v this piece I'm not using it that way it's also used to me in the p o v of the film your lead characters p o v is the p o ...

v er the film what this means is that I mean if you're going to be really technical it means they're in every scene what it means is we follow this character when this character experiences something we experience when this character finds out something, we find it out when this character doesn't know something we don't know that's the p o v of the lead character now one of the things it does is it creates the empathic bond remember the idea that struggle creates empathic bon? Another thing is experiencing something through somebody else's experience following that person creates an empathic bond um alfred hitchcock used to do it remember the grocery store example of the old woman reaching up and you felt like that he would use visceral things a lot especially early in the movie just make you connect to that character um but it builds sympathy now you can get ahead of lovely character behind lead character this is generally considered a bad thing getting have a lead character is, you know more than the lead if it keeps happening consistently, you're eventually going to be like, when is this moron gonna have? No, what? All everything I know if you're behind the lead it's an interesting thing, by the way these techniques can be used well, I'm just giving them is bad examples at first, but behind the lead is the lead character I know something you don't know it's really a surprise to you to find out about your lead character that you've been following like you he's a fireman and you're watching and put out fires and goes to the fire station and everything and then he walks out and it turns out he's an imposter he's not a fireman they don't even know what they think he's a transfer from it? No, I mean that could be dramatic that could be interesting but it's an example from like we didn't even we were following somebody and we didn't even know something fundamental about them if you do it, it really needs to be done well and for a good effect you will always cut to non p o you can't always being the people be the characters it's this is just a a general sense of you want to generally speaking experience the story through your lead character you want to basically be along with him, you khun jump a little bit ahead a little bit behind, but you could also completely cut away now in an action movie thie I'm always gonna look at you when I say of course, cutting to what the villain or the antagonised is doing and the hero doesn't know about it it's very, very it's done a lot that's cutting out of the lead characters p o v um another example in parallel action it doesn't have to be the villain protagonist is doing something right now and another character supporting character friendly character even is doing something else but it will adversely affect what the protagonist is doing and you're cutting back and forth when you cut over to the supporting character you're not it the the protagonist doesn't know that you're seeing something doesn't know um so you do have to cut out of the lead characters pook it's just it should feel in general like the whole story is through the characters p o v um and that's what I was saying the antagonise actions and the stakes rise elsewhere that's the example with supporting character but it means that you know, sometimes things take place in your story that are not in the presence of the or in the knowledge of the lead character and it's part of your story telling that they'll find it out whenever they find it out but you can't for you you can there are movies they do it but you don't necessarily have to always just be with the lead character in every scene all the way through um when does it work to be ahead of the lead character? Well, an example of the, um the fire the false fireman I mean, if it's a movie, you know what we're going to spring it on you that it's about a con man like catch me if you can or something with this guy pretends to be a lot of different professions bam well we started that movie knowing what we're watching, watching something about a fireman just risked his life he's he did all this kind of stuff and it's great, and I kind of see what's going on with him and then bam, always not even a fireman. Well, if that's the kind of story you want to tell it's that works to be ahead of the lead character um, I mean that they're sorry that's being behind the lead character, he knew something and he was something that you didn't know being ahead of the lead character, of course, creates suspense so it makes it makes some sense, like, for example, on I'm sitting, I'm talking to you, I'm the lead and you're the supporting characters, none of us see somebody crawl in here and put a bomb under the table, we don't see it the audience season and we keep talking and I keep conducting the class and there's cuts to the timer on that we have no idea um they create suspense, we don't know what I'm the lead character, I don't know what, but it creates suspense so it's useful sometimes to be ahead of the lead character as well. Emotional logic is something I want you to think about, and this goes back to seen writing and conectiv ity of the tissue between scenes characters carry emotions with him from the previous scene now it doesn't mean that in this scene something happens and I've got to go into the next scene and be obsessed with what happened in the last scene, and I just can't get my mind out of it. It's not what it means. In fact, the next minute scene might be something where the character doesn't do anything that has anything to do with what happened in that last scene if that's works for your storytelling, but because all scenes lied to each other. But, um, you should know what that emotional flow is, because where you can get into a problem is if something happens in this scene and the next scene, they're just completely starting it fresh, unaffected by anything that's gone before, and they deal with it. Um, you don't want that feeling at all, so it could carry into what's what they're like, how they speak, they come out of a mood or they go into a different mood or something like that. But you should keep an emergent mocha emotional logic flow from your characters as they go through the story that goes with the whole track of it as the experience, everything that they're going to experience is they go through the story that collectively all becomes part of their psyche as they go through this so how they'll react to something at the end of act two is very different how they react at the beginning of the movie so it's keeping this emotional logic alive of what that character is like when they lived through this experience um the importance of a title untitled jim you'll chicago cop mail bomb porno ring corrupt city councilman father son reconciliation drama that's what I call until I figure out a title a title focuses your intense it's very important to have a title and sometimes I'll start something and I'll have what I kind of feel like is a placeholder title I don't think it will be the final name but I'm going to just use that that's not ideal either a title is like a statement of theme story all in one character themed story all in one tone all and wise like a poem it's a little short poem when you write with a title that feels right with the tone and the story and the character err on the theme of the whole piece it keeps you there as you right now I could write untitled secret servicemen drum or I could know I'm going to call it in the line of fire the whole time I'm writing it and it doesn't just mean through I'm in the way of bullets means what I throw myself in front of a bullet and get killed by it for the president united states so all carried in that title and I know it the whole time I'm writing so nothing is mohr debased and humiliating thin finishing your script without a title and then jamming on coming up with one I'm gonna figure it out I'm going to figure it out well I pulled out all my hair as you can see that that's how I lost titles entire weekends thousands of words no what if it was this whole no that's been used and your scripts done I mean it's really yeah you don't want to be in that position also um there may be something if you call it untitled or whatever then you wrote it it's not really all cohesively very and people kind of get a sense of when they read it but they don't know and finally somebody says we just stopped calling it untitled you know come up with a title for it so I like to emphasize that important um it's a good idea to tell your ideas logline logline is uh one sentence or two sentences will say go ahead after robin's horrific accident george's forced teo deal with his grief raise his children and the support of his overbearing wife sister and best friend that's good actually no it is that's very that's it okay trying to pull mine out right now step attack oh oh he's got a record so I got a movie poster and everything well that's going to play and well with the next thing I'm going to talk about but all right matt logline let's get got a girlfriend you want more the whole story a little bit more why are you going to force yourself to do two cents okay but gets got a girlfriend who was not this homeless person well if it makes you laugh is working so it's good. Okay, yeah it's two sentences uh inside the conference center a team of terrorists have taken the president's daughter and others hostage somewhere inside a group of audiovisual technicians hide armed with multi tolls and smartphones they're the only chance anyone has to save her. All right, abramovitz we fate made front of those navy guys in high school is coming from over there they're gonna win good lord what sea while putting together a a sociology project about unconventional families when tries to reach her dreams and break ties from her own no, I like that you like yeah, from her own family meeting's over, right? Yeah, well, good log lines. The next thing I want you to think about it remember I said transcribe a film because some of your homework but I also write a trailer for your film this, by the way makes me tremble in fear but it is the ultimate test of whether you know what you're writing and whether you're focused on it or not three pages of short cuts like a movie trailer of key moments and a voice over talking like it would in a movie advertisements write it because if you're moving out made they'll have to be one, so you've got to be writing something that can have a trailer made about it, right? It's another good tool to really focus your intent? Um, we talked about character interviews um that's an example of riding outside your script I mean, I encourage you to right outside your script when you're writing your script, you're writing your script, you've gotta write your script, you know, that's what you gotta do, it's got to be that it's got to be well sell what if you wrote outside of your script character interview is an example of that that's not in your script. Another example is key moments in that character's life that are not going to be in your story they're not in your story, but everybody had a whole life before. You might want to write something that happens after usually more useful to write before key moments in that character's life, right? Those scenes and remember, when you write these scenes you have to worry about in this he's this it's exploration, they could be fifteen pages on ofjust dialogue between with character and somebody else um it's exploration it's finding the person just like the interview waas so you have a key moments in their life that weren't in the store or you could have moments that weren't in their life and aren't going to be in the story but they're just a whole different dimension that you what if this person was in this situation or with these people it's experimentation and what I want to give you is the inner permission you to give yourself theater permission? I can do any kind of this kind of experimentation anytime I want to in addition to writing the script, which is really serious, you've got to do with their supposed to, um, it's a very good practice, it helps the intuitive side and of course, you know, there's going to be things that come up in these kind of exercises, you're going to go all what that could be in the script, right? So, uh, it's, good practice now I want to talk about rewriting, write your script all the way through to the end without stopping and going back and revising one syllable no matter what if you have to take notes and I do and I call him running notes it's like, oh, I'm gonna go back and change that whatever, but don't stop writing forward till the end because that has a medicine all its own it causes things that can't happen if you're constantly stopping, I'm going to go back and redo all this you'll rewrite act one for the rest of your life, I know I almost did um then what you have to do is you have to spend time away from that script you have to stop, you have to put it down and you have to not work on that's before you've done in your revisions. You just did a rough draft all the way through the end he didn't touch you have your notes, but all those things like, oh, I was going to go back and change that you haven't any revisions, you've got to get away from it, you've got to spend some time away from it, then go back and read it and don't read it with your notes sitting there reading cole just wake up in the morning and do it first thing in the morning just read it and make more notes as you're doing it. You got your old notes that you were making while you're right here, you got your new ones because now you are bringing in ah level of objectivity. So what you've been doing that you didn't have before because you were too immersed in it um so another thing to do is give yourself notes, um, as if you were somebody looking at the script, it's, not you. If you were on actor, a director, a studio executive, just sort of pretend what kind of notes could you get about this? Everybody did that really well with your own scenes, by the way, I mean, there's, a lot of good. You guys gave yourself good notes about stuff, so I think that's a good practice.

Class Description

Screenwriting classes often either lean too heavily on theory or simply study the technical approach to writing without a greater context for its use, as if the act of screenwriting exists in a vacuum – it does not. In The Screenwriters Toolkit with Jim Uhls, you’ll learn both the nuts and bolts of the craft, as well as its relationship to getting your work read and ultimately produced.

Jim’s sceenwriting credits include the modern classic “Fight Club” the feature-film "Jumper" the NBC television film "Semper Fi" and the SyFy miniseries "Spin" In this class, he’ll share lessons from his extensive experience writing for Hollywood and the small screen. He’ll teach you how to develop better scripts, get traction for your projects, and navigate the complex professional landscape of script development.

You’ll learn about screenwriting form and content, including:

  • Vocabulary and formats
  • Dialogue vs silence
  • Adapting existing works for the screen
  • Genre-writing

Jim will also share essential insights on developing a career in screenwriting. 

You’ll learn:

  • The differences between writing for television and features
  • Who to work with: agents vs managers vs lawyers
  • How to obtain and manage projects of various sizes and contexts

The Screenwriters Toolkit is a comprehensive examination of screenwriting form, content, craft, and traffic. You’ll learn how to adapt your content to the size, genre, and desired professional result of the script while also learning about the best on-ramps for aspiring writers.


Karla KL Brady

I would definitely recommend this class for first-time screenwriters and writers in general. I'm a novelist that would like to turn a couple of my stories into screen plays. I was mostly interested in the "dos and don'ts" which he supplied in a generous number. He gave a lot of great examples. I enjoyed the format with the students and he pretty much walks you through the entire process, including and especially the three-act structure which can be applicable to novel writing, too. He gave a lot of great examples. I would have liked a more extensive discussion on loglines and writing the action, but this certainly is enough to get you started. For the price, you can't beat it.


I came to this site by accident and then found some well known internet marketers here, who had already been sending me helpful emails and offers for some time, which I have used. What I like about the video contents is, that it is good old-fashioned skills and crafts development, rather than just formulaic, churn it out in big numbers advice. Whether screen writing, script writing, creative writing, news writing, etc. there is a structure and guideline for contents, order, grammar, etc., but the appeal is towards the development of one's creative side. I am normally involved in non-fiction writing, so this is a nice, creative side-kick, which no doubt will help my other work. As prolific author Isaac Asimow said, "If you want to learn to write, then you must write".


I would certainly recommend it to others, as there are some really great tips throughout the courses, across various aspects of film script writing.. That said, I would like to recommend however: - to have one version that is focused solely on film writing; eliminating the parts about teleplays and series, as those one or two did not relate to the rest of the course. - in its place, I would have loved to observe the coaching and critique on the writers film ideas, loglines, titles and such. I was very interested in knowing the do's and don'ts, what works and doesn't work, and what the proper approach is. Although he made mention of some of them in his overall content, relating them back to the writer's specific work would have been very beneficial.