D-Girl Project – 8th Assignment

I’ll just say it. 6 more fucking weeks of winter people. 6 weeks!! I told everyone it would be a brutal winter, but no one believed me.

But people believe that stupid little ground hog.

Famed weather prognosticating groundhog Punxsutawney Phil has only one eye open as he prepares to make his annual prediction on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney

In honor of the little rat bastard and our predictions, you’ll read Groundhog Day and have 6 weeks to complete your assignments, but we’ll have 2 meetings, one in roughly 2 weeks for a tutorial, and one at the end of the 6 weeks to discuss the work.

Members of the class have foolishly asked to learn how to breakdown a script, and as writers it’s a valuable tool for a number of reasons. You won’t need a computer or program to complete this assignment. All you need is a #2 pencil, some colored sharpies or pens or crayons, and a sheet of paper that I provide that you’ll have to copy for as many scenes as are in this screenplay.

It will teach you what it will take to shoot without ever doing a budget. It will show you how many speaking roles you really have in your movie, how many locations the company will have to move between, how many vehicles will be needed, how many extras will be needed, how many continuity days your script has which translates to how many outfits your characters will need to change into, among other things.

It can also help you find the holes in your story. When I do a breakdown, I always find the holes – the things that don’t make sense, the continuity problems, and the inconsistencies in the storytelling, which all need to be fixed before you head into pre-production. It also allows you as a writer to clarify the questions this process brings up, so you can communicate your ideas more effectively as well as add additional descriptors in order to help you more truly realize your vision.

People ask all the time – why are movies so expensive. This process will help you understand where the money goes.

For those interested, email me at the usual address and I’ll try to come up with a date and time that works for everyone for the meeting in roughly two weeks. Does Sunday work for you? Do you prefer Sat am? A weekday night? Which one? Maybe we can meet in a bar for an hour or two? (If we do that, you must order a drink, even if it’s ice tea. Don’t want to waste a servers time for no tip money.)

PLEASE NOTE: IF YOU HAVE NEVER ATTENDED A MEETING BEFORE OR DONE HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS IN THE PAST, YOU WILL NOT BE INCLUDED IN THIS PARTICULAR ADVANCED HOMEWORK SESSION. THE IN-PERSON MEETING NOTES AND DETAILS OF THE ASSIGNMENT WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED HERE OR EMAILED. YOU MUST ATTEND THE MEETING TO PARTICIPATE. AND IT IS UP TO MY DISCRETION ON WHO GETS TO ATTEND.

For those NOT interested in this assignment, new to the group, or who don’t qualify yet for the advanced assignment above, I offer the more traditional homework.

Due February 15th: Turn in 3 different, yet compelling loglines and a one paragraph synopsis via email. Tweet your best logline with the hashtag #DGirlProject. (If you chose to send it to @lindawashere, include my name last, like so: logline #DGirlProject @lindawashere)

Due March 16th: Write a long form treatment for this movie. Your treatment should include the following: the protagonist and his goal; the supporting characters and what they each want; the order of events, sequences and act divisions, and the central obstacle in each; a list of the scenes you think will help tell the story; the beginning and the end. You are creating the blueprint for this screenplay. This should be at least 5-10 pages long if not longer. If you would like to be creative and take it a step further, feel free to include photos that a writer might use to visually represent their idea for the screenplay when pitching the idea to others. Email this to me as a pdf. I think this exercise will help teach you the importance of a treatment both for pitching and your own process of writing.

Good luck and enjoy!

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