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EGL 126 — An Introduction to Screenwriting: You Oughta Be (Writing) in Pictures

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: On-campus course
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 5—Jun 7
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm
Drop Deadline: Apr 18
Units: 3
Tuition: $650
Instructor(s): Adam Tobin
Limit: 21
On-campus course
6:30—9:20 pm
Apr 5—Jun 7
10 weeks
Drop By
Apr 18
3 Units
Adam Tobin
Long before becoming an Oscar-winning feature film or a history-making flop, every movie begins with a simple screenplay. But there is rarely anything simple about effective, entertaining screenplays, and they all start with strong concepts, characters, structure, outlining, and scene work. In this course, we will learn what it takes to lay that essential groundwork for a film. We will start with simple exercises to generate and identify core ideas of your story, which can be turned into dramatic scene material. We will then progress to character development, act structure, basic scene writing, and finally, longer sequences of script material. Weekly film viewing of such films as North by Northwest, Thelma and Louise, and Toy Story will help us demystify core screenwriting concepts and industry terms like “high concept” and “three-act structure.”

Meanwhile, students will workshop sequences of a feature film or television script and give feedback to others. Finally, we will develop a sense of how to complete the feature-length script after the course has ended. Whether you are an experienced writer or just a film fanatic, this course will help you grapple with the building blocks of your own blockbuster screenplay.

Adam Tobin, Senior Lecturer, Film and Media Studies Program, Stanford

Adam Tobin is a screenwriter and an actor. He created the sitcom About a Girl and the reality show Best Friend’s Date for Viacom’s TeenNick (formerly The N channel) and has written for ABC, ESPN, Discovery Channel, and the National Basketball Association. Tobin was a story analyst for Jim Henson Pictures and has taught story and pitching seminars at DreamWorks Animation, Twentieth Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios, and Aardman Animations. He was a founding member of the Stanford Improvisors (SImps) and the Los Angeles performance group The But Franklies. He received an MFA in screenwriting from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Textbooks for this course:

(Recommended) Paul Gulino, Screenwriting: The Sequence Approach (ISBN 0826415687)
(Recommended) Neil Landau and Matthew Frederick, 101 Things I Learned In Film School (ISBN 0446550272)