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The Screenwriters Toolkit

Lesson 5 of 21

Interview Your Lead Character


The Screenwriters Toolkit

Lesson 5 of 21

Interview Your Lead Character


Lesson Info

Interview Your Lead Character

Interview your lead character basically the ground rules of this are the lead character has to answer the questions now I'm not saying it has to be just solemnly giving you the exact truth and but they have to participate they have to answer don't ask yes or no questions or that's what you'll get what I'd like to do is have one of you volunteer before I tell you what you're well I like to do is interview your lead character so for this exercise you are that person I'm going to be we can't be you but I'm gonna be the writer asking questions um what's your name happens to be ramsey anderson do you like that? I do I think uh there's a strong name where you from uh from the army I've been in the army for a long time where will I remember where were you born? Northern california um here to be specific about northern conflict um cinema county is uh where the vineyards are I have a lot of memories of playing in the woods and open space did you like the army? There were great things about it b...

ut I I lost my leg an army I see how do you feel about that? Uh I wanted to be a hero but um I lost the opportunity excise sent out continue I got anymore did you feel it anyway? Humiliated by yeah, it was my fault the accident was your fault that's why did anyone else get injured? Uh the person that I tried to say I couldn't I say how important was that person to you? Uh how is the colonel son so it, uh was very big toe our community I say but to you personally that's a good question um uh I think that all the people on our unit uh have significance and so not, um I didn't personally care for the individual uh probably wouldn't drink a beer with him but he was one of our guys right sense how did other people that you care about feel about you failing to save that person? They didn't make a big deal out of it. Um they thought what I did was amazing, you know, they supported me what's one of your memories from cinema climbing trees and china jump from one tree to another tree but not making it and breaking my leg. Um so what was your most embarrassing moment? And I don't mean the accident you're talking about but because of my disability of missing the lower part of my leg uh it's really quirky and it uh it is difficult for me to walk sometimes it locks up like uh uh pirates used to have a stick it's just one step above a stick the knee locks up and so sometimes I just fall over or I got to do something and it uh you know, a super reactive and kind of launches me a little bit it's got a lever on it where I can make it stronger so you know strong or weak and sometimes it just kind of acts funny and makes me look weird and you feel embarrassed about it is there, right? Yeah, I feel like a influence why she described that feeling um as somebody who likes toe save the day and help people uh it's very difficult tio not look like I can just do what I need to do um my day jobs audio video engineer and so, uh I'm constantly constantly moving things and setting things up people rely on me if I can't um uh do the task at hand it's really hard for me to ask for help I'll just kind of pushed through it and then sometimes I screw it all up are you in a romantic relationship right now? Now when was the last time you were in one? I've never been in one you've never been in one. Um have you ever been in a relationship that might you might consider non romantic like with my mom? No, I mean with a female a male I'm attracted to females yes um there's definitely then crosses there's been friendships I see anyone in particular who was a really good friend um there's a female audio visual technician that I work with his um she's gay but we get along really well and sometimes she gets me in the eye and sometimes I get for the eye so there's like a playfulness that's a lot of fun good do you trust her enough to talk about some of the things you've been telling me um I usually write it off as a joke oh yeah that's that's kind of how it is you know so we do talk about it but uh not the deeper level of okay good um so basically what I was demonstrating is to try to pursue where they're going with their answers and just keep trying to get different aspects of their life to be revealed now I want somebody else to volunteer okay your lead character what is your name when when you are all right it's better than wendy where you from? I'm from san francisco you're born in I wass how do you like san francisco it's? Pretty cool but I think I'm trying it out of the area soon were you trying to get out of the area? I really want to goto graduate school or a phd program somewhere else I say are you I'm not sure yet but I really really hope so I won't find out for a few more months so what was what your most embarrassing moment? My most embarrassing moment wass probably last year I was given a huge sociology presentation to my class and I'm a social major by the way and uh my parents aren't super great at keeping the fridge fully stocked so I ended up eating some food that had gone bad and I'm in front of my class gave me this huge presentation about anime and I just start spewing vomit all over my class it was horrendous and I thought I'd never be able to walk in there again but the professor was really understanding and gave me a second chance oh that's good in the moment though how did you feel mortified I had a lot of ah friends in there that I really was trying to connect with on an academic level and some folks that were above my level that was I was trying teo get in and do theory with but I felt so embarrassed that I couldn't really ask them for help with theory afterwards do you have one really good close friend in particular? Yeah evan and what kind of friendship is that since my best friend you talked to about a lot of different things yeah I could talk to about anything he's great that's good. How did you meet up in college? My freshman year he lived across the hall from me I see. So what would be maybe your most heroic moment where you really stepped up and honestly I think I hate saying stuff like this because I feel really obnoxious, but in my mind when I go home I feel like I'm always living in a heroic moment since my parents are really elderly so I live at home and take care of them in my younger sister so sometimes, like even something small like the rice went bad and I have to make more for my family feels like a gorilla moment to me well, that's good thanks. Um, what is the major objective that you want? I want to go to you, um and in order to do that I've been working on a really big sociology project with members of the sociology club and my recruiting process has been a little rocky with you but they said that if I do well and if our team does well in this big competition they will reconsider me for admission that's good. But I meant what do you want to go to the n y u for? What is your objective beyond? Uh, well, I initially decided to go to anyone you because it was one of the only schools I'd be able to get into for a phd program and that kind of made me realize that I need to get away from home because as much as I love my family and taking care of them, it's really held me back in my goals so I really want to kind of have a good excuse to get out of my house without kind of hurting anyone I say have you ever heard a friend, a friend? No, a family member? Yes, you have can you talk about that? Sure. So when I actually first started to go, teo, apply to undergraduate school for college, I had told my mother that I was really into stayed in going somewhere in southern california, perhaps to san diego state or even going is biggest somewhere like usc because I'm really serious about my academics, and I told her that and she cried for days it was unacceptable, and she was so hurt by it that in the end I got accepted to san diego state and didn't go I say she was hurt because you'd be gone. Yes, right? And you felt that that upset you enough or hurt you enough that you didn't go right? Do you regret that decision? I want to say no, but I think that I do and I think that's why it's so important to me now to go to school somewhere else and somewhere that's really the best for me? Great. All right, so this is an example of your characters or real people, so when you inhabit them fully, you need to sort of do this schizophrenic process it can be only it doesn't have to be on a tape recorder it can be I used that sometimes but on paper interview them and have it go for a long time because it might even take you a while in your questioning to kind of get to the places you want to go but at some point you should probably try to intentionally I didn't do this pissed them off um also find out where they're since humorous everybody has some kind of a sense of humor everybody has buttons that you push, they get upset this is all part of this character creation and an interview khun take you through a lot of contours and you're controlling it so you're creating your character outside of scenes and a script and really get into another person I never think about whether or not when I'm interviewing the lead character um if that interview is taking place after the story started after the whole story's over before the story begins but I probably think of it in terms of before the story begins except for the objective I will talk about the objective they're gonna have when the story means but it's really outside of the context of that and I know that the story you're going to tell is part of that person's life obviously but it's really mohr something that is not based on linear time it's just going into the soul of a character if there is any reason why, when you're interviewing him, it would be useful to push them into talking about things that are going to happen in your story. You could do that, but it's it's exploration, discovery of the person, because the main thing is it's a really person, and this gives you that feeling. Uh, and you can do it over and over again. And remember, as long as you know, right, a fifty page interview, don't do it all at once, come back to it, you'll think of things. You'll be going somewhere later, go. You know what I should ask you. He was dodging me on this. I'm gonna go back and ask him about so, and you'll think of that, and so go back and do it. There's, no there's, no rules telling you you can't interview your character in perpetuity. So it's very, very useful.

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.