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Posts Tagged ‘college’

The continuing fictitious conversation between OLD PRODUCER (OP)—who’s 99-years-old— and YOUNG WRITER (YW).  Their goal in this two-person team is to develop (in a free-wheeling style)  a coronavirus-like story. (Part 1, and Part 2)

OP: So let’s review the bidding. We’re using the coronavirus to inspire our storytelling.

YW: And take our mind off of the havoc it’s doing around the world.

OP: We’re telling a contained story—maybe one location—that is going to take us from order, to chaos, to new order. 

YW: Through the eyes of a high school or college student.

OP: Which way are you leaning?

YW: College. I just think the clash of spring break with social distancing is too good to pass up.

OP: Last night, I decided to jot down a bunch of high school and college movies and TV shows to see what that would reveal.  Surprisingly, I wrote down ten high school films before I wrote one college film. 

YW: Can I see your list?

OP: Yeah, I started a look book and I’ll share my screen with you.

TeenMovies1

YW: Sorority queen/lawyer against the world.

OP: Or Reese Witherspoon against Reese Witherspoon.

YW: Why is American Graffiti in brackets?

OP: Because it’s a hybrid. That gap summer between high school and college, work, or joining the military. 

YW: You know what jumps out on me about that list?

OP: That those films and TV shows span over 60 years. 

YW: That you totally missed the spring break movies— that’s where I’d start. Spring Breakers, Where the Boys Are, and helloRevenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise. 

OP: Point taken.

YW: But, it’s interesting  your list is full of comedy.

OP: I kept adding to the list and what do you think I came up with?

YW: More drama?

OP: Apparently the only thing better than comedy—is more comedy. And more high school than college.

teenmovie2

The young writer scans the list of movies and Tv shows.

YW:Wow. What is it you say? Don’t reinvent the wheel. I haven’t seen all of those, but I’ve seen enough that the high school side has more quality and quantity. But together there is still a lot of comedy.

OP: Why do you think that is?

YW: Because your teenage years are so painful.

OP: Richard Pryor said all humor is based on pain. 

YW: So in the great high school vs. college smackdown it appears that high school is the clear winner.

OP: Times of transitions have built-in drama.  

YW: And a world of change happens between the ages of 15 and 18.

OP: High school is also more universal throughout the United States. Only about 35% of adults finish college.

YW: Makes sense then that the college experience resonates with fewer people, so fewer movies.

OP: So I’d say let’s lean toward our hero being a teenager in high school.

YW: Sold. And a senior—because it has to suck to have the last two months of high school not really happen.

OP: What’s worse than that?

Young writer thinks.

YW: That play you’ve been rehearsing for months doesn’t get performed.

OP: What’s worse than that?

YW: They also get the coronavirus—or whatever we use to symbolize to change culture.

OP: Now we’re really making progress. 

YW: Got any more lists to share?

OP: Just one. If our hero is going to be on the screen for the majority of the time—and let’s say it’s a 90 minute feature—what kind of person would hold your attention for that long?  Here’s my mind mapping list. 

DJ

Young writer tries to connect the dots.

YW: You have comedians, and comedians turned actors, YouTubers, DJs, TV hosts, TV shows, podcasters. Again a lot of humor.

OP: Want to add to the list?

YW: Let me think. . . . What about Will Smith, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Taylor, Kanye, Chance the Rapper. Oh, and George Burns.

OP: Great. The hard part is over. All we need to find is am 18-year-old who can act, sing, do improv, play multiple instruments, and is really funny.

YW: How hard can that be? Is this mind mapping of movies and character a typical way of coming up with story ideas?

OP: Creativity is messy. It’s one way of mixing a bunch of things together and seeing what fresh and exciting can emerge. Here’s a video ofJoshua Brand talking about some of the influences on him coming up with the TV show Northern Exposure. (John Falsey was the co-creator.)  Followed by a second video of one of the best DJ performances in modern cinema. Robin Williams unleashed.

Scott W. Smith

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Back on the first day of summer I wrote a post called Screenwriting Summer School and while most schools are in their Fall session now, it’s technically still summer. Heck, tomorrow it’ll be in the 90s here in Orlando so it’ll feel like summer long after the first day of Fall next Tuesday. So we’re still in summer school mode. Today’s class features Professor Stephen King.

While King has given talks before at various colleges and universities, I’m not sure if he’s technically ever taught a class at the college level. But Professor King just sounds right. Before his writing career took off, King did teach high school English in Maine. Here are a couple of quotes pulled from an interview he did with Jessica Lehey in The Atlantic article, How Stephen King Teaches Writing.

“It went best for me when I could communicate my own enthusiasm. I can remember teaching Dracula to [high school] sophomores and practically screaming, ‘Look at all the different voices in this book! Stoker’s a ventriloquist! I love that!’ I don’t have much use for teachers who ‘perform,’ like they’re onstage, but kids respond to enthusiasm. You can’t command a kid to have fun, but you can make the classroom a place that feels safe, where interesting things happen. I wanted every 50-minute class to feel like half an hour.”
Stephen King

 “Always ask the student writer, ‘What do you want to say?’ Every sentence that answers that question is part of the essay or story. Every sentence that does not needs to go. I don’t think it’s the words per se, it’s the sentences. I used to give them a choice, sometimes: either write 400 words on ‘My Mother is Horrible’ or ‘My Mother is Wonderful.’ Make every sentence about your choice. That means leaving your dad and your snotty little brother out of it.”
Stephen King

P.S. Wouldn’t it be nice if every 2 hour movie felt like it was 90 minutes?

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Screenwriting Quote #33 (Stephen King)
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Scott W. Smith

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