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Screenwriting for Beginners

3rd September 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 1st October 2019 @ 9:30 pm



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Learn the essentials of Screenwriting

Who is this class for?

This screenwriting 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 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 screenwriting class aims to compress all that is taught through several years of film school into five easy nights. 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.


03 September 2019 — 19:00-21:30

10 September 2019 —19:00-21:30

17 September 2019 —19:00-21:30

24 September 2019 —19:00-21:30

1 October 2019 —19:00-21:30

Meet the Instructor – Matthew Allen

Matthew Allen is an award-winning Australian screenwriter who has written and rewritten scripts for, and optioned scripts to, the producers of such films as The Boondock Saints (Willem Dafoe), The Bucket List (Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman), and Grudge Match (Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro). 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 placed in) are looking for. Allen has lived in Japan for years and speaks with an easy-to-understand, American accent. Find out more about Matthew Allen.

Class 1: 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

Homework: Prepare own idea.

Class 2: 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

Homework: Prepare pitch of own idea.

Class 3: Action Lines

The screenplay differs from the play or the novel, and this class will show you precisely how it does so. 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

Homework: Prepare structure of own idea.

Class 4: 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

Homework: Prepare one-page outline of own idea.

Class 5: 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 pros from the amateurs. In this screenwriting 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

Homework: Write first ten pages of own idea (as preparation for advanced class).


3rd September 2019 @ 7:00 pm
1st October 2019 @ 9:30 pm
Event Category:


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


The numbers below include tickets for this event already in your cart. Clicking "Get Tickets" will allow you to edit any existing attendee information as well as change ticket quantities.
Tickets are no longer available
Tickets are no longer available