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Seed-to-Script Process

Lesson 20 from: Screenwriting for Film and Television: How to Begin

Julio Vincent Gambuto

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Lesson Info

20. Seed-to-Script Process

In this lesson, we’ll introduce the seed-to-script process. You’ll learn a 10-step step-by-step process to move from a logline to a full screenplay. Learn how to organize your time and your writing so that you progress and stay motivated and productive.
Next Lesson: The Treatment

Lesson Info

Seed-to-Script Process

Yeah, I really hope you're enjoying the class so far. I'm having a good time here. I hope that you are too at home? We've laid the foundations of stories and why they're so powerful and looked at their role in our society. We then moved on to the story fundamentals. What are the 10 big things you've got to have in your story to make it a story well told. Then we looked at story structure. How do I plot out 100 pages of a screenplay? What should happen? Where should it happen? I hope that that was super clear. Now, I want to talk to you about process. I wanna talk about your writing process, my writing process and exactly how you get this done. You start with a seed of an idea. You want to get to a script? What does that look like? So, I'm about to present the seed to script process. I feel like an infomercial, the seed the script process by Giulio Vincent Benvenuto. Um it's it's this is just this is how I've learned it the hard way, right? And I'm hoping to save you time and energy and...

money and resources and brainpower and heart power because I want you to avoid some of the major mistakes that I made and the biggest mistake that I made was sitting in Starbucks for years and years and years writing scripts, Rewriting them writing them writing them, Rewriting them without getting feedback, without understanding the story fundamentals, without really understanding how to create conflict between my villains and my heroes etcetera, etcetera. So let's jump into this first, you've got the seed of an idea, right? You've got an idea, oh wouldn't that make a great movie? Wouldn't that make it a great tv show? You wrote it on a napkin? You put it in your notebook in your laptop and your phone a great idea is a great idea. But it's just an idea to get it from idea to script. You got to start putting it down on paper in fact, out in L. A. And in Hollywood, it's not it doesn't even have the potential to be intellectual property until it's on a piece of paper. So you've got to start that writing process but it can feel overwhelming. So what are those steps 1st? You got the idea. Next go to a log line, write out a sentence or two about what this story is. And I'm gonna show you some examples and I want you to take a look at them. A log line is just a sentence or two about the story. It's meant to be pitchy and sales E it's meant to grab your attention. It's meant to get you interested and intrigued. Right? Um Out in Hollywood, you literally people will just talk and log lines sometimes right at a lunch, you're in an elevator or it's it's that elevator pitch. It's the really quick, here's a line or two about my story. Doesn't capture your attention. So let's take a look at these and tell me if you know what the movies are the first one, an aging patriarch of an organized crime, destiny transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son. I'll give you three seconds, yep. The Godfather 2nd 1. During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its clone dinosaur exhibits to run amok anybody, anybody. Yes, Jurassic park the third after Young Riley is uprooted from her midwest life and moved to san Francisco. Her emotions, Joy, fear, anger, disgust and sadness. Conflict on how best to navigate a new city house and school. That is the animated movie inside out. These are all log lines there a sentence or two about how the story unfolds. In fact, all three of these are simply one sentence and in each of them you'll see who the hero is, what they want, what's happening in their life. You'll even see the conflict in some of these. These are one sentence to get your attention. So first you got the idea or the seed of the idea. And now I want you to write that log line, write a sentence or two about the story. Do not move on until you're really happy with that log line, choose your words really, really carefully in that log line. Why? Because this is the development of the story, right? If you decide on that log and that log line, that the family is a clandestine empire. You've got to prove that out in your story, right? You've got to develop that clandestine empire. If you decide in that log line that the emotions are joy and sadness and disgust etcetera etcetera, you've got to make those into characters in your movie. So one exercise that I love to do is when I've got a new idea for a movie, I write out 10 possible log lines for that movie. Just write out 10 possible ways that you could describe that movie and you'll start to realize, Oh, I really like that one where I want to grab a word from here and put it into their or try them out on people. Just pitch your friends, your family, your partner, your husband, your girlfriend, your boyfriend. What does that sound like to you? Sometimes people over pitch and that can get annoying too. But go for it, see what people think of your story. I really, really live and die by this rule. If you can't tell your story to someone else clearly succinctly you know, and and with passion then you can't write a script that does those things as well. So get your story down, you got the idea right? The log line. Now when you're happy with the log line that you've got to move on to the summary. The summary is just a paragraph, expanded version of that log line. So you've got your one or two sentences now expand that into a paragraph and that paragraph should cover act one act two, act three. What happens in this story and make sure that every word of that summary you love, run that paragraph by people. Run that paragraph by colleagues, flush it out. Rewrite it, go back to it. Feel like this is the paragraph. And the reason I spend so much time on these steps is that it helps you really decide, Okay, are you going to say that this character Freddie, for example, is selfish? A selfish young boy? Well that's a really different movie than an arrogant young boy, totally different movie. Right? And right now, if you're just in the paragraph you can revise and rewrite all you want. It's not gonna cost you money, it's not it's gonna cost you time and energy. But if you decide that he's selfish. Different movie than arrogant and you don't want to make that decision when you're in page of your screenplay, right? You don't want to be sitting there three months later going, oh wait, is his real problem that he's selfish Or is it that he's arrogant. Those are two different things. So you want to make that decision up front and it's a lot easier to make that decision in a paragraph than it is in a 12 page treatment or in a rough draft of the screenplay. Now, once you've got that summary. Really good, solid Rockin. Move on to one page. That one page treatment is what we call it is a one page long summary of your story. And on that one page you should have a paragraph for each act a paragraph for act one a paragraph for two A a paragraph for two B. And a paragraph for three. So four paragraphs. And in each of those paragraphs you were describing in prose, what happens at that point in the story? But it's got to include everything that we talked about. Right? You got to have your hook in there, you gotta have your inciting incident in there. How does act one climax? You've got to have the declaration of the goal, the journey that they're going to go on. How do they pursue their want what is it that they come up against? Where do you introduce the villain Build towards your 2nd act climax and so on and so forth. Again. The reason I do it this way is that it's a lot easier to make changes in one page than it is in 18 pages and 28 pages and 75 pages grow it like a seed the D. N. A. Of your story is in that seed water it and grow it and at every point water it and grow it water it and grow it. I promise you it's a much more efficient way to do it. Now you've got your one page right in your one page. Your four paragraphs now expand those 24 pages. So a page for Act one, a page for two. page for to be a page for three now, you've really got to flesh out your characters, you've really got to flesh out your story, you've really got to flesh out how every moment advances and progress is your story. I would give that to someone I really would when you're at four pages, you really can say, hey, can I shoot you? You know, you're a colleague or a friend or a teacher or can I shoot you? My four page treatment. Believe me, people asked me to read all the time. I would much rather read a four page treatment of a story than 100 pages. It's a lot easier to grab people's attention with a shorter document we're gonna talk about in a little bit. Talk about that in a little bit when I talk about treatments and why they're effective as sales tools, but as a creative tool, as as part of your creative process, four pages is really, really significant for you to understand whether or not your story is working. Whether or not your character is really moving along a journey and a trajectory that sizzles that sparks that, that captivates etcetera etcetera After that. Eight pages and then 12 pages. Yes. Again, make it a seed, grow it, grow it, grow it and what you'll find is that if you're really happy with those four pages, expanding it as fun expanding, it is easy and you'll be ready to expand it Now, once you get up to 12 pages, that's a good moment for you to jump into scripting because at that point you've really developed out your story and you're ready to write your rough draft. This is a great process. Any writer who works with me, I put them through it, they always say the same thing. I can't wait for my characters to talk. So after this you can let them talk and you can put your dialogue in. I'm gonna do a quick note about script and we're gonna move forward. The reason I focused so much in this class on story and story design is I think you've got to have all that in a place before you start opening up a final draft document and scripting the script should be the result. And the the dessert, if you will of all of the work that you've done on your log line to your summary, to your one page treatment, your four page treatment, you're eight page treatment etcetera etcetera. When you've gone through those paces and you feel like the story is really, really ready, go to script. Not before, don't do it to yourself. You'll torture yourself, go to script when you're ready to go to script and when you go to script, you'll do a rough draft first and then revise get feedback, revise, get feedback and before you send it to anyone that you really, really care about what they think do a polish on the whole thing. Now let's talk about script format for a bit. First things first, screenwriters use software in order to write screenplays. The most popular one is Final Draft or you can use sell text. Both of them are available online for download. So make sure that you do have one of these programs though, it makes formatting so much easier. Here's a page of the screenplay from Team Marco, my film. So take a look at a few things. I want you to notice one at the top. We've got the title in the header followed by which draft it is. So I always start with writers rough draft and then the date just so that that's in the header of all of your pages. And then to the right is the page number you want to make sure that everything is numbered. So that when people are giving you notes or feedback, they have a page number to refer to. Third thing here is the scene number. Now, final draft allows you to put the scene numbers in. It's really a production tool. I don't think you need the scene numbers when you're presenting these things in contests or to readers or to agents or two managers for the most part, when you're sending a script on, you don't have to include the scene numbers. Sometimes I do include the scene numbers because I do find it easier to get notes when someone reading can say, hey in scene three or in scene four, then you move on to the slugline. The slugline basically just says interior or exterior waiters is take place in this particular one. A lot of the action took place in the condo. So I always write condo and then a dash and then the actual room in the condo and then the time that it takes place. So for example, this particular movie, Marco's bedroom was different in the living room, in the condo, which was different than the kitchen in the condo. But for production purposes, it's always really helpful to know. First that were in the condo. Second more specifically we're in the bedroom. Then I move on to the scene action right here. So this is obviously a description of what's happening in the scene. You want to work as much as you can with the character names avoid pronouns as best you can because it gets confusing when you're reading or if you're reading quickly who he or she is. Obviously you don't want to repeat marco constantly or repeat the character name three or four times in a sentence, but just be conscious of that also capitalize anything that's really, really important. Either an image that really the reader has to stop and visualize or a sound that happens so that you can kind of illustrate that and paint that picture for the reader. Next take a look at this one particular line, Anna puts her mother's mass card on the refrigerator. Now a mass card is something that catholic, people know I'm catholic italian american, I'm familiar with a mass card but not a lot of people are, so if you're ever using a term or a noun that people just don't really know, I would put it in quotes so that people understand that this is something localized or something that's like of this world. And lastly just a reminder to capitalize sounds so that the reader can really hear them a chime a buzz, a bang, a boom or anything like that, Even a ring from a cellphone cap it so that it remains important. Format and format in your script are super important, but I don't want to get too far into the weeds about it because I think it's really important to remember not to stress about it. These are generally accepted formats across the industry. They're widely available on the internet for you to check out. And I've included a format bible for you in the bonus materials, so take a look at it, spend some time with it. Really go through sort of how things are laid out within a television script and within a tv script. Those will be really helpful for you

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Case Study Films
Story Analysis Template.xlsx
Sample TV Scripts
Story Design Worksheet
Story Fundamentals Worksheet
Seed to Script Process

Ratings and Reviews

Carlos Sandoval

Just a great way to start on your path to screenwriting. A clear and concise class with a friendly tone and humor. I think it is important that a teacher has actually worked in the field. Kudos.


Perfect for a beginner or actors who need a better understanding of what is and why is. Info packed and FUN too!

Asem Nurkina

I took this class last year. And after one year of working with presented tools (story design worksheet, story fundamentals workseet, seed to script process) on different projects I can say that it is very powerful and useful course I ever taken. I can strongly recommend this detailed screenwriting guidance by Julio Vincent Gambuto.

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