Screenwriting 101: Your First 10 Pages
Taught by Timothy Cooper
Timothy Michael Cooper is an award-winning writer, director, and improvisor based in Brooklyn.
He wrote and directed the Writers Guild Award-nominated CONCIERGE: THE SERIES, starring Kate McKinnon. His short comedy LEMON, starring Jennifer Westfeldt, Noah Bean, and Jenn Lyon, premiered at Tribeca, played at dozens of festivals throughout the world as well as on United Airlines and Amazon Prime, and is currently being developed as a sitcom.
At Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in NYC, he created and directed the improvised shows SUNNY-SIDE UP and FAREBEATER: IMPROV IN A CAB, starring cast members like Pete Holmes and Thomas Middleditch.
Timothy also wrote the feature AWAY FROM HERE, starring Nick Stahl, Alicia Witt, and Ray Wise, now available on Amazon Prime.
He’s been part of the writers’ room for the Writers Guild Awards for the past six years, writing monologue jokes and sketches for comedians like Lewis Black, Colin Quinn, Larry Wilmore, Amber Ruffin, Michael Ian Black, Roy Wood Jr., and many more.
Through his company, Blueprint Screenwriting Group (blueprintscreenwritinggroup.com), he’s taught hundreds of writers, helping them sell their scripts to major studios; staff on multiple network and cable TV shows; find representation; screen and win at SXSW, Sundance, Tribeca, Cannes, and many more; and get their movies and shows made across the globe.
Timothy is a proud member of the WGAE, the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective, and the Hollywood Radio & Television Society.
Do you wonder why so many movies are so bad—and think you could do better? Have you been itching to try your hand at that cool film premise you've been bouncing around? And why are those Twilight movies so popular, anyway?
I can't answer that last question, but I will introduce you to the art and business of screenwriting, teach you the basics of screenplay structure, and help you write the opening 10 pages of your first feature screenplay!
Week 1: Read excerpts from some of the greatest screenplays, then discuss what good screenwriting looks like. Cover the basics: What's a logline? How do you write a strong hook? What's the difference between plot and theme? We'll learn about three-act structure, genre, outlining, synopses/treatments, voice, active protagonists, the hero's journey, and intriguing characterization. (That's not just fancy terminology; trust me, it will all make sense after this class!) Then we'll go over your original movie ideas and transform them into sales-worthy loglines.
Homework: Refine one logline and write a brief synopsis/begin your outline.
Week 2: As you prepare to start your screenplay proper, we'll cover formatting basics, dialogue, subtext, scene structure, and conflict. We'll discuss your synopses and work on raising the stakes/expanding the world.
Homework: Write your first 10 pages using the free screenwriting program Celtx.
Week 3: We'll read your 10 pages aloud in class (optional). I'll give constructive feedback, set goals for rewrites, discuss getting notes and whom to get them from, give you recommended reading, and offer tips from the trenches.
Homework: Go out for drinks after class.
Prerequisite: Please come to the first class with ideas for three (3) (trois) original screenplays. Each idea can be a few words, a sentence, or a paragraph; the point is that they're all premises you think could make an entertaining movie.