Screenplays: Crash Course Film Production #1
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Screenplays: Crash Course Film Production #1

Hi! I’m not Craig. But you’re in the right place; this is still
Crash Course Film. My name is Lily Gladstone, and I’m excited
to spend the next fifteen episodes with you exploring film production – how movies
actually get made. We’ll talk about all those jobs that are
listed in the credits, and how movies take a huge amount of collaboration, whether
you have a crew of tens or thousands. We’ll go behind the scenes to see how movies
are planned, shot, and edited, and take a peek at all the equipment involved. And we’ll learn how films are marketed and
distributed, whether they go to movie theaters or straight into your home. But, before we get anywhere near lights, camera, action… We need to start with a road map that gives everyone in the cast and crew the directions they need to make a film. It’s time to talk about the screenplay. [Music Plays] In most of these videos, we’ll be learning about how the vast majority of narrative fiction films get made. And to do that, we need to start with the
screenplay. A screenplay is a written version of a movie. Think of it as a blueprint. It’s not the final product; it’s a set
of plans to guide a team of artists, craftspeople, and engineers as they produce a film. Every screenplay is formatted with three basic
elements: sluglines, action, and dialogue. Each new scene begins with a slugline. It’s written in all-capital letters and
acts as a code to convey information to the crew. A slugline might look something like this:
INT. Here the INT. stands for interior, meaning this scene takes place inside. If the scene takes place outside, the slugline
would start with EXT. for exterior. The second word tells us where the scene
takes place, which is important information for a lot of the crew. The location scout needs to find somewhere
to film the scene, the production designer alters the location to make it fit the world
of the film, and the cinematographer decides how to light it. But before any of that happens, the line producer
uses the location to help figure out how much the film is going to cost. The same goes for the last word in the slugline,
which describes when the scene takes place, usually either day or night. Besides giving information to the crew, this
can affect the cost of the movie, partially because shooting at night is more expensive. After the slugline comes the action. These are short, assertive sentences that
describe who’s in the scene and what they’re doing. Since you watch a movie unfold over time,
the action is written in present tense. So instead of writing: “Iron Man flew
across the sky,” you’d write: “Iron Man flies across the sky.” The action is also limited to what the audience
can see and hear. In a novel, you can describe what a character
is thinking and feeling. Something like: “Luke Skywalker feels miserable.” In the screenplay, you’d have to write an
action to show us how he feels, like: “Luke Skywalker hangs his head and wipes away a tear.” There are a lot of guidelines and tricks to
writing action lines, but the most important rule is: show, don’t tell. Remember that this is where the thoughts,
feelings, and themes of the screenplay are turned into actions you can see. And the final piece of a screenplay is the
dialogue. These are the words spoken by characters. Feature-length screenplays are usually between
90 and 120 pages. And each page typically becomes about a minute
of the final film. This is more of an average than a hard rule,
by the way. Some dialogue-heavy pages will likely be shorter
than a minute, while some pages with lots of action may end up longer once the film
is shot and edited. Now, some stories are better suited to the
screen than others. Different media have different strengths,
so what makes a good poem or graphic novel won’t necessarily make a good movie. A film creates an immersive visual world – that
“illusion of reality” we keep talking about. And within that world, it can tell a story
packed with complex ideas and emotions. Movies tend to focus on three main things:
a protagonist, which is the film’s main character; a goal or objective, which is something
the protagonist wants; and obstacles, which is whatever’s standing between the protagonist
and their goal. Think about a heist movie. Maybe a master criminal wants to steal the
world’s biggest diamond, but finds herself facing off against a rival thief. Or a romantic comedy, where an awkward-but-loveable
introvert wants to date their outgoing neighbor, but is afraid to leave the comfort of his
routine. Protagonist. Goal. Obstacle. These are the building blocks of a screen
story, and it’s from these that everything else emerges, like setting, character, theme,
and tone. Now, the protagonist doesn’t necessarily
have to be the story’s hero. Films are full of anti-heroes like Travis
Bickle in Taxi Driver, or accidental villains like William H. Macy’s
character in Fargo. Usually, a movie’s protagonist will grow
or change in some way in pursuit of their goal. The master criminal might learn humility as
she attempts to steal the diamond. Or maybe the introvert overcomes his social
anxiety to befriend his love interest. But the most important thing for the screenwriter is finding ways to make all of this come across visually. One way to do that is by following what’s
known as the “Hero’s Journey.” This is a template for character development
that was popularized by the American mythologist Joseph Campbell. By looking at myths from cultures all over
the world, Campbell identified twelve common steps taken by main characters as they transform
over the course of a story. These range from resisting the call to adventure
and meeting their mentor, to facing their biggest fear and surviving a final ordeal,
armed with everything they’ve learned along the way. The Hero’s Journey was famously used by
George Lucas when writing Luke Skywalker’s journey from Tatooine farm kid to Jedi knight. Some screenwriters love it, while others think
it’s a stale, overused formula. But if you’re looking to write your first
screenplay, it’s not a bad place to start. Once you have some characters and plot points,
you need to throw some conflict in the mix. Conflict moves a story forward, and helps
us identify with the protagonist as they’re struggling against their obstacles. And screenplays can have different kinds of
conflict. External conflict occurs whenever the protagonist
encounters physical obstacles. Take the first Lord of the Rings film, The
Fellowship of the Ring. Our protagonist, Frodo, has a goal: to destroy
the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. No problem, right? Except, in order to get to Mount Doom, he
has to travel across the known world, avoid an endless army of orcs and monsters, and
outwit this powerful fiery eye that’s searching for him. Not to mention, he’s the shortest guy in
the movie and they make him walk barefoot the whole way. They don’t even give the poor guy shoes! On the other hand, internal conflict is when
the protagonist wrestles with some emotional or psychological obstacle. For Frodo, that could be his ignorance of
the wider world, a lack of faith in himself, or even his jealousy and selfishness. Usually, the more conflict the protagonist
faces, the more they transform to overcome it. But that doesn’t mean that the fate of the
world has to be at stake in every single screenplay. The writer should scale the conflict to fit
the kind of story they’re telling. Like, in Bridesmaids, Kristin Wiig’s character just wants to be a good maid of honor to her best friend. She faces a lot of external conflict, from
a rival bridesmaid to some severely undercooked Brazilian food. And internally, she feels conflicted
about her best friend getting married, the loss of her bakery, and her self-worth. The universe isn’t going to implode if she
doesn’t succeed, but we still empathize with her as she struggles to achieve her goal. Now, once you have some ideas for the story
you want to tell, how are you supposed to organize them all? Screenwriters often use something called Three
Act Structure, which is based on theories by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle
from more than 2,000 years ago. The idea is simple: that every story has a
beginning, middle, and end; and that certain kinds of events happen in each section. Act One sets up the world of the screenplay,
introducing us to the characters, and identifying the protagonist and their goal. In the Wizard of Oz, most of Act One takes
place in Kansas. It’s the black-and-white part. We get external conflicts between Dorothy
and that mean lady down the street, as well as Aunt Em.We also learn that Dorothy is unsatisfied
with her life and dreams of something more exciting, somewhere over the rainbow. Once she’s transported to Oz, she meets
her antagonist, the Wicked Witch of the West, and we learn that her goal is to find the
wizard so she can go home. In Act Two, the protagonist faces increasingly
difficult conflicts as they pursue their goal. They meet allies, encounter successes and
setbacks, and are often brought to a point of hopelessness. For Dorothy, this is when the wizard refuses
to take her home unless she can defeat the Wicked Witch. To get what she wants, she’ll have to face
her fears and do the seemingly-impossible. Finally, Act Three contains the climax of
the film. There’s usually some epic face-off between
the protagonist and antagonist, the person who most directly opposes them. That confrontation usually decides whether
or not the protagonist achieves their goal. And in most Hollywood screenplays, they do. Dorothy gets back to Kansas. Luke Skywalker blows up the Death Star. Simba defeats Scar and restores the circle
of life to the Pride Lands.But the guidelines of the Three Act Structure are just that. Guidelines. Foreign and independent movies can have more
ambiguous endings, from the open-ended final shots of The Wrestler or Birdman, to the heartbreak
of Brokeback Mountain or The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. Films like M*A*S*H, Traffic, or Magnolia split
their stories up among different protagonists, while movies like Pulp Fiction and Memento
scramble time, telling their stories out of order. And films like Mulholland Drive, Rashomon,
or Man with a Movie Camera seem to reject the Three Act Structure altogether. Remember: screenplays are one part of a longer
process; they’re a blueprint. Whether they follow more traditional rules
or invent their own, the clear, concise, visual language of a screenplay provides the foundation
for all the work that is to come. Today we learned about the format of screenplays
and why they look the way they do. We talked about the essential building blocks
of a film story, and we broke down the traditional Three Act Structure: what happens when and
why. Next time, we’ll talk about pitching and
pre-production, as the cameras get ready to roll. Crash Course Film Production is produced in
association with PBS Digital Studios. You can head over to their channel to check
out a playlist of their latest shows, like Coma Niddy, It’s Okay to be Smart, and Physics
Girl. This episode of Crash Course was filmed in
the Doctor Cheryl C. Kinney Crash Course Studio with the help of these nice people and our
amazing graphics team, is Thought Cafe.

About Ralph Robinson

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100 thoughts on “Screenplays: Crash Course Film Production #1

  1. Maybe a silly question, but where do I get to find examples of screenplays to get an understanding what’s good and what’s not so good?
    Thanks 🙏

  2. i just came across this and became so happy. and then you mentioned bridesmaids and kristen wiig and IM EVEN HAPPIER OMG BLESS THIS SERIES

  3. great video. just a heads up, if you EQ the vocals around 7K and just take out tiny bit then throw a desser on it really lightly, it can help tame that "S" squeak. you'll have to mess around with and make sure you don't go crazy on the desser because then you'll give her a lisp.

  4. People like Quentin Tarantino & Christopher Nolan have specifically said not to look at the screenplay as a blueprint but more like a book!

  5. Is multimedia programming and design similar or different from film production? I’m confused. If it’s different, what is different about it?

  6. It's not her, it's the sound editing fault, but every time i hear s in a word it's annoying (technical error, i guess).

  7. The hero of a thousand faces isn't a template for making hero's it's a study on shared traits in myths, it's not supposed to be a formula.

  8. hands down the best there is! i feel some what dumber having watched 3 or 4 clips before i found crash course?

  9. Very helpful. Thank you!

    Also, is it just me or does the host kinda look like Jennifer Lawrence at some point? The video first stared I thought it was J Law.

  10. Hey super talented writer, looking for you to co-create very popular animated YouTube series, contact me if this is something that you may be interested in.

  11. Аrе Yоu searсhing fоr gооd onlіnе coursеs . Ѕіmрly Gооgle sеаrch аs "Zoe Talent Solutions"

  12. First video I watch by you guys and damn you are talented! I learned a lot and was entertained 😀 Thank you! Subscribed!

  13. I have a question for anyone who might be able to answer. If i copyright a screenplay, will it some what protect it if i make a shortfilm of the screenplay or do I need to copyright both?

  14. what if im writing a screen play in an online game? like the movie/minimovie/seris is in the online game, and the text is not voice acting? like the talking is edited in after recording? help?

  15. Kind of Peed off, I wanted to know how to write a screenplay, not basic narrative.
    This is a problem I keep running into while studying narrative as a whole, classes & lectures aren't compartmentalizes just give general advice.
    I liked the first part about page format, I just want to hear the unique aspects to a script.

  16. So for TV shows and movies what do you do first the script or the screenplay?…. I'm currently a student of Columbia College for animation and I want to also produce my own cartoons so I'm trying to figure out as much information as I possibly can I have ideas in my notebook that just don't want to sit there.

  17. Nicely put together vid.

    8:06 or the death of the protagonist/hero along with all the captives and the ultimate victory of the bad guys/gunslingers/outlaws in The Great Silence (1968).

  18. I finished my feature movie, but went way off script..would I still need a script to pitch to producers to see my vision for a more professional movie? Or can I just pitch them the trailer and movie itself. Because my script is not even close now to what the movie shows.
    I could sell mine, but I feel it would be better to show other producers that could catch fire to my story and make a stronger movie of it.

  19. For those looking for good free stuffs to enrich your film appreciation and understanding abilities, this course seems essential!
    .Started this course 26th October, 2019 from Bangladesh.

  20. Really like the host. However she overlooks the fact the hobbits have special soles on the bottom of their feet which makes shoes pointless. I just don’t know if I can take this analysis seriously from this point on.

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