Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The 434 Experience...

434 is UCLA's advanced screenwriting class, and we pretty much have to take it each quarter. In 434, we write a script a quarter. Good practice. But it is also a place where you will feel the thrill writing good scenes, and the despair of writing bad ones. Basically, you spend a week working on your script, and then you bring it in for critique. Even the most confident writer can leave a 434 feeling raw and unconfident after a session where either your classmates or teacher doesn't get what you're writing.

Today in Hal's, it was pretty rough. Folks are going over their Scene-O-Grams (get Hal's book for further info, but basically it is the event at the end of every ten pages in an Act, plus the inciting events, exposition, etc.). One of the things I like about the Scene-O-Gram is that it's basically a schematic for your script. One can get loosey-goosey with where things are going if you don't have a roadmap, and the Scene-O-Gram keeps you focused on the various points within your script that are important. But the other thing a Scene-O-Gram can do is point out where your characters are flat, one dimensional, or the story is too linear.

So as we roll through our second week, each student has to take their Scene-O-Gram up to the overhead and hear real criticism, notes, comment, and "I just don't know what the fuck you were trying to do" comments. Some of the comments are REALLY good, because I think most students in this program want to read the best script you can write. I know I don't want to write crap, and since I'm not a singular genius, I'm open to as many good ideas as possible. But it can be tough to take, especially as you stand there and listen. However, it's good preparation for the real Hollywood. In real Hollywood, and not film school, producers, marketing folks, etc. all have two cents to add to your script, and not all of it you'll like. But at least film school is a safe place to learn.

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