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Screenwriting for Beginners 2-Day Weekend Class

3rd August 2019 @ 11:00 am - 4th August 2019 @ 6:00 pm


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Learn the essentials of screenwriting over one weekend.

Who is this class for?

This class is designed for the absolute novice, one who has never written a complete feature script. In addition, it is particularly sensitive to the needs of those for whom English is a second language. Although native speakers are welcome and the class introduces a lot of jargon, it will be taught at a general-vocabulary level appropriate for all learners of English.

What will this class teach you? 

While university-level film school classes will take you through baby steps as you learn to construct a scene and character, etc., this class aims to compress all that is taught through several years of film school into two intensive days. By the end of the class, you will be more than ready to start writing a full-length (90-to-120-page) feature script. Future classes will go beyond the basics contained within this one to look at such things as TV pilots, ensemble films, and character pieces. While many great films break the rules, this class will teach you the basics you must know before you decide to ignore and/or improve on them.

Meet the Instructor

Matthew Allen is an award-winning Australian screenwriter who’s written and rewritten scripts for, and optioned scripts to, the producers of such films as Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident (Lee Majors), The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came down a Mountain (Hugh Grant), Truth or Consequences, N.M. (Kiefer Sutherland), Resurrection (Christopher Lambert), The Boondock Saints (Willem Dafoe), Swimming Upstream (Geoffrey Rush), The Bucket List (Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman), Sacrifice (Cuba Gooding, Jr., Christian Slater), Grudge Match (Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro), Clown (Peter Stormare), The Equalizer (Denzel Washington), Night of the Living Dead: Darkest Dawn (Tom Sizemore), and Turbo Kid (Michael Ironside). Allen studied screenwriting under such luminaries as UCLA’s Richard Walter and Academy-Award-winning screenwriter, Leonard Schrader. In addition, he has worked in both development and production, interning for such power-players as Jon Landau (Titanic, Avatar). Having seen the business from the inside and out, Allen knows what both Hollywood readers (one of which he has been) and screenwriting competitions (several of which he has won or placed in) are looking for. Allen has lived in Japan for years and speaks with an easy-to-understand, American accent.


Day 1: Structure and Character

11:00am-1:25pm: Structure

Storytelling has ancient rules that transcend culture. You are not the first person to ever consider writing a story, and this class will teach you the basic and universal formula that is seldom strayed from. These fundamentals, while not to be viewed dogmatically, are perhaps part of our, as humans, genetic makeup—and therefore must be understood before being deviated from.

  • The Hero’s Journey
  • Three-act structure
  • Classical unities
  • Stakes
  • Ticking clock
  • Dramatic irony
  • Set-up and payoff 
1:25pm-2:25pm: Lunch Break
2:25pm-4:20pm: Character

Famed screenwriting guru, Robert McKee argues that the age-old debate as to which comes first, character or story, is an oxymoron. McKee argues that character is story, and this class will show you how to weave your character into the very fabric of your plot. The class will go beyond McKee however, to look at more recent screenwriting theorists who have built on his work.

  • Archetypes
  • Empathetic vs. sympathetic characters
  • Outer goal 
  • Inner need
  • Transformational arc
  • Aristotelian dilemmas
  • Three-dimensional characters
4:20pm-4:35pm: Tea Break
4:35pm-6:00pm: Q&A

Day 2: Action Lines, Dialogue, and Formatting

11:00am-12:50pm Action Lines 

The screenplay differs from the play or the novel, and this class will show you precisely how. The script for the 1979 classic, Alien was once described as “beat poetry” and screenwriting has, since then, developed more and more of its own style and conventions in terms of prose. This class will guide you through how to use the English language beautifully, from the all-important first page to the final “FADE OUT” at the end.

  • Opening image
  • Show, don’t tell
  • Character first appearances
  • Panache
  • Transitions
  • Bookending
12:50pm-1:50pm: Lunch Break
1:50pm-3:10pm: Dialogue

Dialogue may merely be the icing on the proverbial cake, but many an audience member lives for its taste. One Japanese film student once remarked to me that he was stunned to learn of the complex layers of meaning in the dialogue in Hollywood fare. This class will show you just what he was talking about.

  • Conflict
  • Exposition 
  • Subtext
  • Voice for each character
3:10pm-3:25pm: Tea Break
3:25pm-5:50pm: Formatting 

As McKee once said, any Hollywood reader who tosses a script for poor formatting and typos should be fired; after all, as the Shakespeare goes, “The play’s the thing”. Nonetheless, the fact remains that formatting is used by Hollywood’s gatekeepers as a shorthand code for sorting the pro’s from the amateurs. In this class, you will learn that code, one that is as essential to screenwriting as BASIC is to programming.

  • Impressing readers
  • Scene headings
  • Capitalization
  • Parentheticals
  • Acronyms and numbers, etc. within dialogue
5:50-6:00pm: Closing remarks.


3rd August 2019 @ 11:00 am
4th August 2019 @ 6:00 pm
Event Category:


ELFS Japan Studio
2-9-14 Suido
Bunkyō-ku, Tōkyō-to 112-0005 Japan
+ Google Map

Book Your Ticket

Or book with PEATIX
Cash payments available at convenience stores by booking through Peatix
Tickets are not available as this event has passed.