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Screenwriting for Film and Television: How to Begin

Lesson 8 of 24

Story Design: Hero

Julio Vincent Gambuto

Screenwriting for Film and Television: How to Begin

Julio Vincent Gambuto

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Lesson Info

8. Story Design: Hero


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Getting Started Duration:19:18
2 The Power of Stories Duration:18:42
3 Key Concepts Duration:12:29
4 Analyzing Stories Duration:07:23
5 Writer’s Purpose Duration:11:30
6 Story Design Duration:03:32
7 Story Design: Setting Duration:09:13
8 Story Design: Hero Duration:08:12
9 Story Design: Want Duration:10:02
10 Story Design: Villain Duration:07:46
11 Story Design: Conflict Duration:08:51
12 Story Design: Angel Duration:05:26
13 Story Design: Gift Duration:04:46
14 Story Before/After Duration:06:28
15 Using Emotion Duration:06:15
16 Story Structure Duration:12:13
17 Act 1 Duration:07:38
18 Act 2 Duration:08:37
19 Act 3 Duration:05:09
20 Seed-to-Script Process Duration:15:00
21 The Treatment Duration:06:10
22 Deepening Your Work Duration:02:24
23 Feedback Duration:08:07
24 Next Steps Duration:04:56

Lesson Info

Story Design: Hero

okay. We talked about the setting. A quick correction from the last section of the class. The reference I was making to the eighties TV show was not small wonder. It was out of this world. E V freezes time by putting her fingers together in the whole world stops if you got that reference good for you. You know, eighties TV. If you didn't google it, it's actually a fantastic show. So s we talked about setting Hero is our next fundamental fundamental number two. Now, when I say hero, I do not mean the one who comes to the rescue. I mean classic storytelling wise. The hero is the main character, the person that we're following on his or her journey throughout the movie or TV show. Now you may have an ensemble cast. You may have multiple characters. We may follow the journeys of many, many different characters. But for the purposes of this class and for the purposes of understanding the fundamental on what you think of the hero as the main character, here's some questions to ask Who is the...

main character? Let's write about that first before you sit and engage them in scene work before you interact, interact with them and other characters. Sit and figure out who this person is. What makes them special? What makes them unique? Why are they in the main character of your movie? Why does why is their story the best story to tell to communicate your writers purpose or your premise or your core message? Okay, who is the main character? Secondly, what do they believe about the world? What is their perspective on the world? Do they agree with your writers purpose your premise, or do they disagree with it? What do they believe about the world? Right? Juno sees the world very differently than Forrest Gump. Forrest Gump sees the world very differently than Will Hunting of Good Will Hunting, right? All three of them see the world very, very differently. One is the perspective of a teenage girl who finds herself pregnant. One is the perspective of someone who has special needs, who wants to go out in the world and live a normal life and has all these crazy experiences. One is a working class guy who's a janitor at the school at MIT and becomes a math Phanom. They have very different perspectives on the world. So I want you to take a look at your main character and decide. How did they see the world do some writing to develop that out? Three. What's their full bio? Right. I do that as an exercise. A lot. Well, all right. The bio either in the third person or the first person. Ah, full page where this person go to school. What was their home like life where they religious? Do they party a lot? Do they like peanut butter sandwiches? Whatever the details are that you wanna lean into. Explore that, develop it. The mawr. You know your character. The more you know your hero, the better your story is going to be and back to my key. Take away the thesis of this whole class. If you can find these fundamentals and develop them and deepen them and clarify them, you're gonna tell better stories. Four. Put them through all the senses. What does Juno look like? Sound like smell like taste like feel like right. Put them through those senses. What is their world like? What is that? What they feel and smell. And here at home at the office on the train, on the subway, whatever it may be, understand how their world hits them. Five. What their strengths and weaknesses. What is these characters? Flaws? What is their main flaw? What is the thing that they need psychologically? Emotionally? Um, side note. I recommend to all writers that they study some basic psychology or that they engage in therapy with a therapist. The closer you can get to understanding the way that humans behave, the better writer you're going to be. And the more you can understand the way you behave and what makes you tick the memorial. Understand and be able to apply that into your characters. Let's take a look at Coco. Cocoa is an animated movie. It's a family movie. It's from Disney Pixar. It's a fantastic film. Let's put the main character through these questions. The main characters, actually not cocoa. The main character is Miguel. Cocoa is his grandmother, and you learn throughout the course of the story why it's called Coco. But he's Miguel. That's the main character. He is what he is. A Mexican boy who's 12 years old. He lives in his town with his family, and he wants to be a musician. Okay, you could write a page about that, and I'm sure that the writer did. So this is who he is. What does he believe about the world? What is his perspective? He believes that music is his dream, that the world is his oyster. He believes that success and fame are important. Those air, his values. He also believes that music and art is important and those air his values. Right? So that's how he sees the world. Now. There's also an opposing force there. His grandmother, um actually Cook owes his great grandmother right, his grandmother, who says, Okay, you cannot follow your musical dreams and your artistic dreams and you've got to stay in this town and be a shoemaker, which is the family business. So she believes something else. She has a different perspective. Three. What is their full bio? Well, without getting into, ah, five minute video about Miguel, you could write a full bio of Miguel where he lives, where he grew up, who his parents are, who his grand parents are, who is great, great grand parents are because that's all in the movie. Where does he live? He Also, he has. Miguel is a really interesting character. He has this little attic hideaway where he watches old classic movies of this great musician that he believes to be his grandfather. Really fascinating character. What are the spaces he inhabits? Who are his best friends? He's a dog who goes on his journey with him. What is their relationship like again? The more you develop these things, the more you flesh them out, the stronger The story is that you're gonna tell, Put them through the senses. Okay, Miguel looks like, um, he's this tall and he's a Mexican boy and he wears sort of casual village like clothing. And he hears the sounds of music and loves them. He hears the sounds of his town and loves it. He understands his world through a lot of what he hears. Does he taste anything? I think there's a couple of scenes in there where he's eating, so we understand what that feels like for him. And what does he feel? He feels overwhelmed by the pressure to be a shoemaker. He feels he wants to be a musician, an artist. That's how his world makes him feel. Five. What is the strength and weaknesses. Okay, well, Miguel strength is that he believes in the possibility of the world. His strength is that he is willing to go out and get it. He's willing to do what it takes to become a musician. His weaknesses. He doesn't really listen to people right, which could be a good thing. And a bad thing. His main flaw, Miguel, is that, um he doesn't believe he needs people to help him along on his journey. He's going to do it himself. Um, he also has a main flaw, which is that he believes everything he's told, or that he believes everything that he sees in the photographs that he has. He's very good at narrative izing and creating a story around all of the information that he's getting, which actually does something really brilliant in the movie, which is that we believe the stories he's making up about the fact that this was his grandfather and that creates opportunities for reveals and twists and turns. So, um, uh, getting into the hero is super important. Get to know your hero, get to know your main character, develop that person out before you write another thing

Class Description


  • Organize your stories so they’re ready for the screen.

  • Write the screenplay you have always wanted to write.

  • Write strong story treatments that capture the attention of readers and executives.

  • Use a structured writing process that is productive, efficient, and deeply meaningful.

  • Watch movies and TV like you’ve never seen them before!


You have a great idea, but you’re not entirely sure where to start or how best to take it from napkin and notes to full-fledged screenplay. The process can be large and daunting without a structure in place to guide the way. Maybe you’re a writer looking for more clarity about structure. Or a writer who wants to move into film. Or even a director who wants to see the process from the perspective of a writer. This class is here to help.

Start your screenwriting journey with writer/director Julio Vincent Gambuto. Julio is a writer for film and television and a feature film director. He’s created content for Nickelodeon, PBS, E! Entertainment, and James Franco’s Rabbit Bandini. His latest project, Team Marco, is a family film, recently released by Samuel Goldwyn Films.

In this key foundational course, you’ll learn the fundamentals of the screenwriting craft, including story design, story structure, and a smart step-by-step process to keep your writing exciting and productive. By the end, you’ll write stories that can capture the attention of audiences and the business alike. 


  • How to identify your purpose as a writer and how to infuse your story with your specific message and voice.
  • What about “story design” and how to tell your stories with punch and passion.
  • The ten fundamentals of story design and how to use them.
  • Story structure and how acts break down for the screen.
  • How to architect the audience’s emotional journey.
  • The seed-to-script process — an efficient, smart workflow to keep you productive.


  • People who want to learn how to write movies and TV shows.
  • Writers who want to understand the fundamentals of craft for the screen.
  • Beginning screenwriters who want to root their work in a strong story technique.
  • Filmmakers who want to better understand story design and development.
  • Storytellers in all media who want to cross over to film and TV.
  • Creative people who want insights into the world of film and TV.


Meet Julio (“Giulio”). The son of a bus-driver-slash-bread-baker, Julio grew up in a large Italian family in the boroughs of New York City. His feature film, Team Marco, was released November 20 by Samuel Goldwyn Films. This year, his essay “Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting*” was the #2 story on all of Medium, with over 20M readers worldwide. He is currently developing the feature family comedy, The Julie Stories. In 2017, Julio founded Boro Five, an independent film and television content production company. He serves as Executive Producer of the company’s slate. Julio has written and produced film and television content for Samuel Goldwyn, Kerner Entertainment, Nickelodeon, PBS, E! Entertainment, Stone & Company Television, and James Franco’s Rabbit Bandini.


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!

Jack Vincent

I loved it. I've been a writer most of my life and transitioning into screenwriting. I've taken numerous courses and read many books. Julio's course was thorough and clear.. and no, we are no relation :-) I absolutely loved it.