Screenwriting 101 | February 18 - May 19, 2012

In a new “Screenwriting 101” series offered by Atlanta Film Festival 365, writers new to the art and craft of screenwriting will have the opportunity to dive-in Hollywood style with a four-part collaborative workshop series. The series, taught by Kathy Cabrera, an independent writer-producer and UCLA MFA Screenwriting alum, embraces the philosophy of learning by doing. Beyond receiving instruction and how-to advice in each class, students will roll up their sleeves and collaborate with the instructor and each other with creative brainstorms, process and content critiques and real-time discussion following in-class viewing of movie examples. The series will cover these four topics key to writing one’s first screenplay: CLASS 1: Before Page One – Crack Your Premise and Plot

  • Saturday, 2/18/12, 10AM to 1:30PM

CLASS 2: Define Your Characters

  •  Saturday, 3/17/12, 10AM to 1:30PM

CLASS 3: The Craft of Writing a Screenplay

  • Saturday, 4/21/12, 10AM to 1:30PM

CLASS 4: What Do I Do Once I Finish My Screenplay

  • Saturday, 5/19/12, 10AM to 1:30PM

Bonus Session – Script Read-Throughs

  • Date TBD (May 2012)


Individual Sessions

In each session, new material will be presented that will serve as a continuation to content presented in the first class for returning students. However, each class will also serve as a new topic with its own standalone lecture and discussion for students who may not have attended previous seminars. In between classes, students will be able to interact and ask questions with one another and the instructor via a secure and member-only online group (access granted upon class attendance). As part of the workshop component to each class, students who bring completed assignments to the seminar will have the opportunity to gain in-class feedback.

Students who pre-purchase and attend all four classes will be given the opportunity to have 5-10 pages of their script performed via a sit-down, table read in a special bonus session. The number of pages read through will be determined by the number of students whose scripts qualify for the read-through (depending on number who signed up and attended all four classes). Location:

Georgia State University - Atlanta Film Festival 365 Conference Room 1 Park Place, SE 8th Floor, Room 840 Atlanta, GA 30303

CLASS 1: Before Page One – Crack Your Premise and Plot - Register Now

Date/Time: Saturday, 2/18/12, 10AM to 1:30PM

In class no. 1, students will learn the essentials to coming up with a story that will sustain them to write 100+ script pages that will in turn warrant 100+ minutes of their audience’s attention. Below are highlights of what will be covered in this segment:

  • How to tell a good story
  • Coming up with a logline
  • Developing the basic idea of a story
  • How to develop plot structure for the opening act - hitting on key points from opening hook to inciting incident
  1. Students will leave with a premise that they can use to start writing or thinking about for their story.
  2. Supporting hand-outs will be provided complete with recommended follow up reading and resources as well as film-specific examples.

Assignment for Class No. 2: Students should develop a two-page treatment for their screenplay.

CLASS 2: Define Your Characters - Register Now

Date/Time: Saturday, 3/17/12, 10AM to 1:30PM

In this session, new material will be presented that will serve as a continuation to content presented in the first class for returning students. This class will also serve as a standalone lecture and discussion for students who were not able to attend class no. 1.

In-class warm-up & workshop:

Students who attended the first class and return with their completed assignment (2-page treatment) will receive in-class review and feedback. In this class, students will learn:

  • How to develop a worthy protagonist
  • How to create a multi-faceted antagonist
  • The role of supporting characters relating to fleshing out the elements of the main characters of the script and their relationship to one another
  • How to define their characters on screen with action, and in the story with emotion
  • How to merge the character’s arc with the appropriate occurrences in the story

Students will be given a checklist of the top aspects they should know about their characters at the start of their story.

Students will also be provided with film-specific character examples discussed during class as well as hand-outs and recommended materials for further reference as they work on their characters at home.

Assignment for Class No. 3: Students should write character bios for their protagonist and antagonist and any key supporting characters.

CLASS 3: The Craft of Writing a Screenplay - Register Now

Date/Time: Saturday, 4/21/12, 10AM to 1:30PM

Students who attend class no. 3 will continue building incremental knowledge needed to either start their first screenplay, or continue building their craft. This session will also welcome new students with standalone material that doesn’t require attendance of the first two classes as a pre-requisite or to fully understand and appreciate what will be offered in this session.

In-class warm-up & workshop:

  •  Students who attended class no. 2 and return with their completed assignment (character bios) will receive in-class review and feedback

The craft of screenwriting will then be broken down, examined and demonstrated in this session, covering the following key formatting elements of screenwriting mechanics:

  • General rules from sluglines to capitalization
  • Structure of a scene
  • Dialogue formatting
  • Standard delivery formats of a screenplay

Hand-outs will be provided to illustrate examples of points discussed in class. Film-specific references will also be made in class.

Assignment for Class No. 4: Write a 2-page scene. Students who submit assignment (2 pages max.) to instructor via email by 5/11/12 will receive comments on their work by the next class. The instructor will provide direct feedback to each student in lieu of holding an in-class workshop component in class no. 4.

CLASS 4: What Do I Do Once I Finish My Screenplay? - Register Now

Date/Time: Saturday, 5/19/12, 10AM to 1:30PM

The entire Screenwriting 101 Series is designed to give new writers the guidance and direction they need to understand the starter elements to writing a screenplay and the know-how to then go off upon completion of the class to finish a script. While the immediate aim of the class itself is for students to write the first 10 script pages, it is important to have an ultimate goal in sight as to what their options are once they do finish their full screenplays. This class will be relevant as a standalone lecture or a conclusion for students who attended previous sessions as to what they should look to achieve once a first draft of their scripts are finished.

Highlights of what will be covered follow:

  • Collecting peer feedback – how to interpret notes received on peer or professional reviews/consultations and determine when to make changes
  • Writing is rewriting – how to maintain the energy and excitement level and putting a process and timeline in place for revisions for the second draft

Students will also receive guidance to help them:

  • Recognize when their screenplays need further work
  • Determine when their scripts are truly ready to be sent out to the industry

Hands outs for reading outside of class will be provided to also help guide students on:

  • How to ‘qualify’ or have their work recognized by selecting contests/competitions they may consider submitting it to
  • How to find resources for targeting agents, production companies and managers relevant to the genre or specific story your script tells
  • Tips for writing query letters and networking in the industry

Assignment for Class No. 5:  Students should write the first 10 pages of their screenplays.

CLASS 5: Special Session and Read-Throughs

Date/Time: TBD (May 2012)

Students who’ve attended all four of the previous classes will be given the opportunity to have 5-10 pages of their script performed via a sit-down, table read. The number of pages read through will be determined by the number of students whose scripts qualify for the read through (depending on number who signed up and attended all four classes).

Register Now

Instructor Bio:

Kathy Cabrera is a graduate of the UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television’s MFA in Screenwriting program. In addition to penning six feature-length screenplays and a drama television pilot, Cabrera has also written and produced several short films. Cabrera has one screenplay optioned and was a finalist for the 2007 NAACP & NBC Screenwriting Fellowship and awarded the 2008 Young and the Restless Fellowship in Television.

A short film she co-wrote with UCLA MFA director Walter Richardson and produced entitled Forgive Us Our Transgressions was awarded the Silver World Medal at the 2010 New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards. The short film, a thesis project for Richardson and Cabrera as part of the UCLA MFA program, was also sponsored by Panavision, Kodak and Technicolor and received generous financial support from the Directors’ Guild of America (DGA) when it was awarded the distinguished Frankenheimer Fellowship. Cabrera and Richardson are currently partnering on a new documentary featuring retired world champion boxer Terry Norris and his mission to protect the long-term health and lives of boxers. Cabrera also produced Atlanta writer-director Jenna Milly’s debut short film, A Peacock- Feathered Blue, which screened first at the Atlanta Film Festival in 2009 and went on to become a featured selection at Austin Film Festival, The Baltimore Women's Film Festival, London Short Film Festival, LA Shorts Fest, DC Shorts Fest and Branchage International Film Festival in England. Kathy also penned the script for the short film Stew, starring Lourdes Benedicto of the ABC drama V.

In addition to filmmaking and currently working as a freelance writer-producer, Cabrera also serves as the Director of New Media for Carabiner Communications, where she leads the agency’s social media and video initiative to help businesses create a narrative in their messaging to engage their audiences and to build and integrate social media tools and compelling content into their communications campaigns. Cabrera is the media manager for celebrated storytelling guru, movie industry expert, and longtime chairman of UCLA’s legendary graduate program in screenwriting, Richard Walter; as well as Peter Desberg, Professor, California State University Dominguez Hills and Jeffrey Davis, Screenwriting Department Chair and associate professor of film and TV writing at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, co-authors of SHOW ME THE FUNNY!: At the Writers’ Table with Hollywood’s Top Comedy Writers.

Cabrera earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication studies from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. She began her own journey in learning the craft of screenwriting by attending classes at the Atlanta Film Festival (then called IMAGE Film & Video Center).