This winter’s screenwriting students embarked on an ambitious collaborative project… a 43 page Choose-Your-Own-Adventure love story entitled Valentine’s Day!
Taught in a nurturing workshop setting, this 8 week writing-for-film class tackles screenplay structure, character and writer’s voice through weekly progress on individual screenplays, discussion and scene readings. Writers enjoy acting out parts in one another’s work and get to hear their own work read aloud by their peers. Instructor Marlo Angell takes inspiration for this class from her film training at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.
“I’m a huge advocate of the writer’s workshop model of learning by doing. The opportunity to get feedback from peers from all walks of life is a true gift. And the ability to give and receive criticism in this kind of safe setting is essential to the craft of screenwriting. Writing can be a solitary endeavor, so the group dynamic makes the process much more fun. We act as cheerleaders – pushing one another to the finish line. And most importantly, providing deadlines and motivation, so that each person makes consistent progress in getting their stories told.”
– Marlo Angell
Angell tries to do something a little different with each session, and this winter, created a model for the students to create a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure screenplay in addition to their individual projects. The talented group of writers were given some parameters… the time and the place (Valentine’s Day and a restaurant). But, after that, they had free reign to let the stories take them where they may. From comedy to action and espionage, the drama unfolded into a delightful array of happy, tragic and occasionally even ambiguous endings. Interesting to note was how frequently current events entered the writer’s work. A true indication, Angell says, of how art reflects the times we live in and the important role of artists in this moment.
The students reflected on the experience on their last day of class:
“This class made me really think again… observe and see the world around me.” – Kelly
“I loved every week with you all!” – Mena
In addition to classroom time, Lawrence Arts Center screenwriting students stay connected through social media and social networking outings. Look for more screenwriting classes in the near future!