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Story Before/After

Lesson 14 from: Screenwriting for Film and Television: How to Begin

Julio Vincent Gambuto

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Lesson Info

14. Story Before/After

Next Lesson: Using Emotion

Lesson Info

Story Before/After

we're nearing the end of our 10 story fundamentals. Talked about setting, hero want villain in Conflict Angel gift. Now I want to talk about eight and nine together as one, the before and after, specifically the before state and the after state. Remember earlier when I said that stories exist to explain change, write stories? Yes, they order are a narrative or they order are chaos of the world. They exist to explain a change that has occurred. Think of you know the stories that you tell every day to your co workers or friends or family members. There's a change that happens in each of those stories someone or something or something that that starts at the beginning of the story is different by the end of that story. So the Ark, that's what's called the Ark right. You'll hear that in screenwriting parlance or around the business. What is the ark of the character? That something means where they begin and where they end? How do they start the movie thinking, feeling wishing, hoping what ...

they believe about the world and where do they end the movie? Same things. So some questions to think about in your own writing. What is the before state of your main character? What is your after state of your main character? How did they begin the movie? How did they end the movie? And then you're gonna take them on the journey in between. What does each state look like? How can you visually represent the before state and visually represent the after state? We did that with hair in Team Marco, right? We did that. He starts out with this more disheveled hair, and he slowly, over the course of the movie, starts to do his hair a little more classically, like his grandfather. By the end of the movie, he's wearing his grandfather's hat and dressing a little bit more like his grandfather. If I reach out the movie, I would have pushed it even further, right? How can you illustrate that change visually, how does the change occur? So in Team Marco, it occurs because the relationship on the friendship is growing between the little boy and his grandfather. For your script and your story, it may be completely different. I want you to ask the question, though. How do I get my character from A to B What do they have to go through that will actually change them for one of the words or images that mark that that change has occurred so very similar to number two. But are there words right there, words that the character uses to describe themselves or describe the world that then change? We're gonna look at Little Miss Sunshine, and the word that changes is that they go from losers. Two winners. And if you look at the script, there's a lot of talk of losers and winners. Will Olive win the competition or lose the competition? Are they themselves winners or losers? That word changes and its description in this context throughout the movie, and it's a really good marker of to show that arc of the characters. How will we know that the changes everlasting really important? You wanna watch a movie and as an audience be fully satisfied that at the end of it, you know, Ah, this character has changed. There is good in the world where I can believe and be hopeful about it. So think about that question and think about your story through the lens of these questions. So let's take a look at Little Miss Sunshine. For those of you who don't know the movie, Little Miss Sunshine is about a young girl who is not exactly beauty pageant perfect. Who wants to win a beauty pageant in California? And so the family goes on this road trip so that she can compete. It's a great example of before and after, because they really move these characters from one state to another. The before state is that this family is in complete disarray. The mother is stressed out, the father is about to lose his business. The brother hasn't spoken. And, I think two months. The uncle was just in the psych ward because he tried to slit his wrists. He's just released and the grandfather doing cocaine in the bathroom like they are fully dysfunctional. And where they move this family to in the film is that by the end, there on stage at this beauty pageant, celebrating how odd and strange they are, you know, their physicality is all up in the air. There cheering, they're dancing. They don't care what people think, and it's a really beautiful transformation for you to see the before and after what does each state look like. I mean, you can actually take film stills from this movie to see the change in the family. On paper, of course, you would use words describing their emotions, describing their physicality, describing the state of their life before and after. How does the change occur? Well, in this movie, it occurs because of this road trip on this VW bus. And so there are moments where each of these characters sort of has to reckon with all of the shit that they're dealing with, right? And so the brother starts to speak again. The grandfather winds up dying. There are events that occur throughout the movie that allow the change toe happen and make the change happen. One of the words or images that mark that the change has occurred well, you see the grandfather after he's dead, they try to get his body out of the hospital, right? You see, the boys speak when he didn't speak before. You see Olive nervous in the beginning of the movie and at the end, not nervous. In fact, their physicality changes completely from the beginning of the movie to the end of the movie, there are visual markers of that change. And lastly, how do we know that the changes everlasting while the grandfather's dead? So he's not coming back? The young boy has learned to be loved by his family. Olive is proud of herself. There's great change throughout the movie, and you believe at the end that this family has been renewed. So it's really important to think about the before and after state through the lens of your work or or put your work through this lens. Understand exactly that. You want to paint them one way at the beginning, them being the family. In this case, maybe in your work, just being the hero, the main character and one way at the end and your movie, your TV show. Your first season is gonna move them from A to B.

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.

Student Work