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The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker

Lesson 3 of 17

How to Outline & Write Your Script

Francesca Gregorini

The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker

Francesca Gregorini

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Lesson Info

3. How to Outline & Write Your Script

Lesson Info

How to Outline & Write Your Script

Well, now we're going talk a little bit about outlining and writing your actual script and I just want to before we dive in I'd love to hear a bit about your process how do you go through outlining and writing? Okay, what line? So basically, I think, like, you just kind of have to come up with, like, you know, one sentence or two sentences in my case, I'm a little long winded, that is, you know, this is your your movie that you can tell people this is my movie and, you know, they're going to be interested in going to see it, hopefully and until you sort of, like, really lock that down and I know it sounds silly, but like, really taking the time, and I go through this with grant over and over, I'm like, what about this? What about that, um, and it's important, you know, because it's, like it's just is because then, you know, ok, this is my film, and you have to and each scene you feel like, is this moving this forward, you know? And then okay, so this is a sort of the log line about, yo...

u know, emanuel and it's, like, you know, a troubled girl, so you just you have to say say, like, what kind of person is this movie about so she's troubled to that already tells you ok, I know what this person is she's preoccupied with her mysterious new neighbor. Ok, she's mysterious so something something's going on here on dh she bears a resemblance her dead mother that's weird, like what's that about so already you're feeling like something's off here, which something is terribly often in this movie on dh then she offers to baby sit and then she you know, she becomes a gatekeeper, you know, the gatekeepers of protector so it's like how did she go from being, like, sort of a troubled girl that you just think is, you know, effing off and falling apart to suddenly she's this person and you know what I mean? So there's some irony to it. Hopefully it sounds interesting and, you know, and you want to see the movie that's what it's kind of got to do, you know? And you can test it by telling your friends hey, what do you think about this? And if they're just you see them glee's over, you go back to the drawing board and then on this is you know, olivia and it tells you sort of ok it's a period piece she's bright and rebellious and she's in an oppressive you know school so she's like you know a fish out of water she doesn't fit in so she goes somewhere else he goes to france ok that's exciting on dh there okay she's doing great she's doing great oh she's in a deadly love triangle like that's good right? I mean it's bad but it's good if you're watching it um and own their headmistress is oh okay so it's a girl on these air women so it's like you know hopefully it's enticing and engaging and you're just like ok I think I want to see this film for whatever reason but so it's like you just try to you know and cap put in a little capsule like what the whole movie is you know and that's sometimes it sounds easier then it actually is when you sit down and really try to do it but all these things I sort of helped focus you and you know, focus you which is a good thing ok, now I know a lot of people out there have their own process I'm sure our students here have a way that they do it and you want to talk a little bit about some of the different ways that I know there are a couple different processes that people can use to write a screenplay I mean this is kind of the basic situation right it's like and I'm a little bit messy so you know to me my treatment you know I'm never going to show anybody because it's not doesn't read that well it's just like ok this happens and then that happens and then this happens and then and then you know and then some people do an outline situation I usually too impatient to do that but it's probably a good idea I've been told on dh then you know, I kind of jumped from this area sort of into writing is also not idly recommended but then what happens is once I've got my screenplay then I kind of go back and it's not working which it never is in the beginning it just not going to be and then I go back and I just seen cards from what I've written and then I realize where the problems are usually by looking at my scene cards and then I revise and I revise and I revise and it's just like you know that's really you have to be down for that because it's like that's just what it isyou know what I mean on and I'm not I don't write novels or other things I'm assuming there's a lot of revision there but I know there's a shit ton here but basically yeah I mean you write your thing um yeah exactly more less when I just said but we're going to get into I'm going explain seen cards more just because here rio on dh blake snyder wrote a book called save a cat which is a book that I really like because it's tiny that and syd field screenwriting is sort of really the only books that you know that I've ever read I own story by yes, thank you on I own some other books I have read uh does that kid the campbell book here of a thousand faces but really like I said, I don't like to be much I think to do so just I recommend his book it's simple it's easy and it's just more than anything I refer to it once I've written something and I go back and try to see like why is this not working and sort of you know his stuff is super simple you can find this on the internet you can buy the book for eight bucks by the book but basically, you know, just start a movie with an opening image that is, you know, captivating in some way don't bore us from the beginning. I cannot be with you for the ride and you know, the set up is sort of you know, these air pages like you know, and this is just a rough situation, but you kind of be surprised even if you start to dissect movies that they pretty much do this if they're working, they're kind of doing this the senate is this sort of the world before the movie actually starts. Like, where is this person coming from? You know what I mean? And with tender hall, you see her with her mother on the way to the school, and you see their dynamic it's not so good and you know what I mean? So andan olivia, you see her in england and sort of at her school? Well and it's also not so good, but basically and in her family life for a minute, but just so we get a sense of who is this character before we go on this journey, that is actually your film, you know, and a theme stated, and this isn't sort of, like, boom over the head, but it's like olivia, you know, she has a conversation with one of the girls about love and it's, like that's what this movie is about, in essence, it's, forbidden love and first love and you know what I mean? But it's just it's just this subtle thing that goes in there and, you know, and it just kind of states a theme that happens around page five, but it's, like, roughly, like, you know, don't be crazy on dh, then the catalyst is sort of like, where you know the movie you think you're going one way and then the movie takes like a u turn and you're like, well, actually the movie's not about this it's about this you think like, oh, I'm watching a movie about a girl in england and she's an agnostic and she said a religious school and she's getting bullied and that's the movie I'm watching and you're like no actually she's going to leave england altogether she's going to france and you're going to finishing schools but it's like it's this is, you know, a moment that happens and around page twelve because you don't want to force someone watching a movie that's not the movie like the movie is going to be over here so let's take that u turn and let's take it by minute twelve more or less the debate this is sort of, you know goes on from like, you know, twelve to twenty five and it's sort of like is she going to stay at the new school? Is she you know, she going to go on this journey and it's her hesitation and her getting adjusted its you know, they speak french, whatever her, you know, your character struggles are with this new situation that they landed in that is the actual movie and you know and break into two sort of is like when a major action happens in this new school, I'm just talking about my movie because that's, just the way to explain it, but sort of in your movie, you know, around page twenty five is sort of like where you're like whoa what's happening at the school and it's like, oh, in this story, it's, like she has this connection with the headmistress, and so, like suddenly you're like, wait, that's the movie, and this is sort of like, you know, it sort of breaks you from act one into sort of act two and then the beast story line is sort of like in this particular movie, it's sort of there's, another young girl appropriate, not older and the headmistress that also has a crush on her. So this is the b story line, which is sort of, you know, usually ends up being the love story kind of in the movie and fun and games this is sort of where you just kind of are enjoying the movie and getting into sort of okay, now, what is happening? You know, in the movie, the midpoint is super important point because it's like this is we're sort of, you know, another kind of cataclysmic moment happens and in this movie it's where you know living in sort of makes a pass at her head mistress and it's like whoa now the stakes have like gone off the rails it's not like oh she has a crush on her and that's kind of whatever like now it's like things are really sort of happening on the bag ike's close in this is when you know the headmistress has her head mistress so having a young girl sort of in the middle of that is not going to be a good thing and so this is when jealousy and fear and whatever happens in your movie starts to because of what happens in the mid point it sort of starts toe escalate all his loss is sort of like more bad shit is going down it's all falling apart in this movie one of the headmistress is is killed so that's pretty pretty bad on on the main character hits bottom and you know it's like basically things were falling you know everything that we've built and we like it was so exciting and there's love and there's this and there's that and it's like oh it's really terrible actually on dh then you know here around eighty five is sort of where you get a respite and it's like ok but you know we want our main character somehow to win and to figure it out so this is where it starts tio you know, turn around and what she's learned and what her and she's gonna be fine and this is sort of the final image is kind of like, you know, in the beginning of my film were sort of she's being interrogated by police commissioner about this this death, and we don't know what this death is, and then in the final image we're back just on her face and it's like we see her in a different light after she's been through everything she's been through so it's, kind of like it's the same image, but different, you know, on dh like that so let's, just go into the quickly onto the cards that I made for this. So basically, this is how I organize my cards, you can organize and any way you want, but basically it just is like, where the hell are you, what pages? It and basically, just what happens in this scene? You know, the answers, questions related to a murder. So what? How I structured this film to make it in my mind, more exciting rather than just sort of following her from beginning to end is a murder happens on like page seventy five, and what I did was throughout, I peppered the the film with like scenes of an interrogation, so you're like right from the get go you know oh, this is exciting someone dies you know? So you're not like, oh my god it's a period piece is super boring super slow I'm goingto walk out of here it's like, oh no there's a murder so you're like kind of already engaged and you're watching that through the lens of lake something something is gonna happen, you know? But then so I just put an eye color code the cards like down here you know, red a red card means it's an interrogation scene, a blue car means it's a fantasy sequence a yellow card means it's a time lapse on orange card means it's a montage and purple means I've somehow jam two things happening and one thing but the color coding just helps because when you end up doing is you and the putting these cards on a corkboard or on your wall or however and so you can start to see where the colors are happening and making sure they're kind of times right so it's like you're not doing like three fantasy sequences within thirty pages and then there's nothing else anywhere else. So basically andi also what I do is I put I use blake slater's be cheat and I right where those things are happening so this is the opening image her defiant gays this is a set up over here and the theme stated is around here so I'm doing it on page three some kind of close to five I'm not going to sweat it on basically all these air set up until here is a catalyst moment so look at me I'm on page eleven I'm doing great this is when she accepts to go to the school and then here is sort of where the debate section starts she lands that elusive on and she's like you know wow there's weird characters here this is so different but and here is where I break into two where in and and the first fantasy sequence happens when she's looking at members oh julie and realizes oh I feel about her different than I thought and then we cut into you know another interrogation scenes so what pays twenty five we started the movie with an interrogation scene now we're cutting back into it here's the bee story line starts the fun and games of the whole thing sorry go back one grant this is a montage this is the first montage this's the second fantasy sequence and more or less like that but you see the the colors help it's hard to show you on the screen but when you have it all set up you kind of can tell how the movie's going to feel fun and games here's another interrogation that comes in here we're at the midpoint here's a time lapse a bit of action going down, so you kind of get a sense of, you know, and I'm doing pretty good where I'm kind of not doing good on this script. Let's go to the next one is all this loss. This is fine. Go to the next one get is I'm kind of late breaking into three I'm doing it at ninety five, which is really late and it's funny because the feedback I've gotten is like, wow, you're back three is kind of like lagging and it's lagging because this should should be breaking about ten pages of sooner, so much so I have to deal with this at some point, whether here or in the edit room, if I can't figure out here but at some point I can't have a night three that is dragging its us because they can't be doing that good in the next one yet. Yeah, and this is just the finale and the final images and whatever. So my act three is like super shore. It really can't be from ninety five to one. Oh two, that it's like just not gonna work. But this is where I'm at in the process, you know what I mean, so at least I know. I can tell what's happening and why it's wrong and now I just have to go in and fix it you know? But I'll be doing fixes all in way, but the good news is I feel like I'm kind of on track with everything else and sort of I know where my issues are in there in act three and then I'll just sort of you know, focus on that but ultimately you know, this is just kind of you know, a hanger on which to put whatever your story is and it's just I find it helpful just have like a road map on I don't find it limiting or uncreative I just find it helpful I'm going to take help if there's help out there I'm going to take it um and yeah that's how I mean that's how I do it and then yeah, but it's like to me like I would like to get to writing the screen play as soon as like characters are alive in my mind they start talking so I like I don't want to belabor doing all these scene cards when I've got a movie that's percolating in my mind so then I just start writing the screenplay and then when it's a disaster I go back to the cards and figure out what's not working you know, but whatever kind of works for you it's really you just you would have a horse for you that's how it works for me at what point in writing process to you start to share your screen play with friends colleagues to get some feedback when do you get to that point? Well, I mean my poor system has to every draft as we're going along, but you know, once you know I feel like it's in decent shape and it's kind of hitting its beats, you know what I mean and it's like then I you know, I come up with a list of people that I'm going to share it with and then I just use a couple of them out of time so I don't burn them out because they're not going to keep reading keep ringing the same craziness on dso I that's how I do it I just sort of get notes back and like, you know, and obviously, you know, it doesn't matter if they're not people in the industry just people that you think are smart people that read a lot people that you know, love movies and go to movies and you know, but I find feedback helpful with that I mean, you have to take it, you know, it just means like, oh, usually my red flag goes up when I hear the same comment from, like, more hundred two to three people I'm just like that's a problem whether I wanted to be a problem or I think it's a problem it's a problem because it's come up a couple of times and I take that when with my screenplay and when I do screenings of my movie cause I'm editing you know and I get feedback like I can ignore certain comments but not if they're coming up again and again I can't afford to ignore it because that's it's what's happening but also a thing that I find once I kind of you know I haven't done this yet with olivia because I'm not quite there but I'm almost there is two dio a table read of your work and wow, you really find out what scenes there working and what scenes aren't and what characters are working, what characters need more development in a table read it just is you know, when you should tape it so that you can listen back to it as a kind of an audio play and you know, you just really get a really understanding of, you know, what's working and what's not and try to cast it with people there aren't going to make it work sock so you know, actors, you know, go to a theater, you know, people are everyone's trying to work on their craft so it's, like people are willing to like, you know, and to you a solid and then you help them out you know you have to read their bad screenplay or whatever but it's like you know it's like I think reaching out and getting feedback is you know is really critical it's not going to water down your own point of view that's really hard to dio but it's going toe show you what's coming across um and yeah, that know what kind of people do you get for the table read I know some people may think like oh, well, I need to get a professional actor I don't have any professional actor friends what kind of people do you look for in the table read I mean me now because I can't I know enough actors you know what I mean? And I know enough casting directors like aiken get proper actors but it does not always good because they'll make your work seeing better actually is so it's like, you know, just get who you can get but just like be doing it you know what I mean? I think that's you know, not to sound like a nike ad but just do it is really kind of the thing like just just do it and it's like you learn from every experience that you d'oh so it's like, you know it's not going to be bad it's going to be insightful

Class Description

Independent filmmakers are often called on to not only write and direct, but to produce their projects. Wearing all three “hats” can be a daunting, yet inspiring proposition. In The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker with Francesca Gregorini, you’ll learn easily-applied strategies for balancing the demands of doing all three very unique jobs.

Francesca’s work has been officially selected by the Toronto Film Festival and premiered in the US Dramatic Competition at Sundance. In this class, she’ll discuss both the advantages and challenges of producing a film you’ve written and will direct. 

You’ll learn:

  • How to decide when its ‘right’ to produce your script and when to develop it further
  • Which "hat" to wear at what time from start to finish
  • Personalized paths for fundraising, production, and distribution

Francesca will explore the processes of writing, directing, and producing and how leading the charge can make these three unique perspectives more efficient, productive, and artistic.

The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker will help you develop best practices for all aspects of indie film production and inspire you to take control of your own destiny as a filmmaker. 

Ratings and Reviews

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I think there were TONS of marvelous takeaways, here, in this course. The examples she presented about Scene Cards, the hardships, and the beauties-- all of it was very beneficial information for aspiring filmmakers. However, the verbal hesitance; "um", "you know", "uh", "you know what I mean", "or whatever"-- that started to get really distracting really quickly. But the course and the overall purpose of the lessons, that was great!


The good - Lots of helpful info about pre-production, things to consider, and working with actors. The not-so-good - Not exactly self-sufficient. If you were to cut out all the " know..." clutter, the course would probably be about 30 minutes shorter.