Write and Produce Your First Short Film

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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.


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Why not start your movie career the way every legendary writer/director did: by making a short film?

Take that burning idea you've always wanted to put on screen--a bizarre situation, a crazy scene, or one über-memorable character--and make it happen in 15 minutes or less.

In this course, we'll lay the groundwork for you to make your own short film, often using equipment you already have (even an iPhone!). We'll especially emphasize the most important and often most neglected component: the screenplay.

I'll walk you through the entire process, including:

• developing the idea 
• writing the script
• budgeting
• casting 
• directing basics 
• contests and distribution 

After just three weeks, you'll be ready (okay, at least much closer to ready) to write and produce your very first short film. Here's how it's going to go down:

Week 1: Conceiving the Script: Pick a topic, genre, theme, plot, and central conflict. Establish a powerful protagonist. Understand short-form structure. Cover the basics of screenplay formatting, dialogue, subtext, and scenes.
Homework: Write your first short script, using the free screenwriting program Celtx!

Week 2: Writing the Script: Table-read your screenplay in class. Learn how to offer each other constructive, useful critiques. Make your script outstanding by focusing on the core conflict/the most unusual moment. Raise the stakes. Start planning the shoot itself. 
Homework: Rewrite your script with an eye toward budget, directing, and the resources at hand.

Week 3: Producing and Directing: What does a producer do? What does a director do? Overview of casting, scheduling, crewing up, shooting, and editing. Showing your work to the world via film festivals and YouTube. Plus, I'll recommend the best books, links, competitions, and other resources.
Homework: Exchange contact info and/or scripts with your classmates so you can help each other make these movies and become Hollywood legends*!

*(Actual fame and fortune not guaranteed.)

Prerequisite: Please come to the first class with THREE original ideas for short films. Each idea can be as little as a single sentence, a snippet of conversation, or an alternate universe you thought of; the point is that they're all premises you think could make an entertaining short film.

Cancellation policy