Gerald Martin Davenport

Screenwriting | Screenplay Writing Class | Script Writing

Structure - Formatting - Story

Writing a Screenplay - Creating a story

Instructor: Gerald Martin Davenport.

What is it about?

Understanding the art, craft, and connectivity

There are many genre's that you can write, and several can overlap and intertwine with each other; but they are all STORIES with characters, locations, action, conflict, and resolve — most of the time — however, each one has their own little unique attributes about them.  Writing is writing; there are characters, plots, story arcs, and action no matter what genre or location.  Just write it!

These Core Writing Fundamentals in our Introductory course are useful for any type of writing: Screenplay, Stageplay, Novel, and more; they should be learned and understood before heading down the creative path of story-telling — it will make the journey more enjoyable, prosperous, and satisfying.

Course SPF01: Introductory
Six 2 hour sessions - $220.00

Objectives:

  • Introduce writers to the conventions and structure of feature film
  • Understand the functions of each act in a feature film
  • Develop writing skills using targeted creative assignments

You will learn:

  • How to introduce and develop your protagonist and antagonist
  • How to plan a story using an outline and notecards
  • How to write memorable characters and surprising stories
  • How to choose the proper setting for your script
  • How to recognize and avoid weak and cliché plots

Session One: Why You Really Need an Outline and Why Act 1 Is the Most Important Act

  • What the function of an outline is
  • How an outline makes writing easier and better
  • What elements should be in an outline
  • The Surprise Factor
  • Why Act 1 is the most important act

Session Two: The 3-Act Outline

  • The detailed elements of the 3-Act Outline
  • Using notecards to assist in the outline
  • Introducing the protagonist and presenting the plot

Session Three: Introducing Characters in Act 1

  • Understanding major, minor, and peripheral characters
  • Introducing characters in active scenes
  • Making memorable characters
  • Character conflicts

Session Four: Introducing Conflict in Act 1

  • Matching plot conflicts with character conflicts
  • How plot conflicts dictate other plot elements
  • Creating stakes and suspense
  • Using misdirection to heighten impact

Session Five: Using Settings to Heighten Act 1

  • Changing the setting changes the tone, pace, and suspense
  • Choosing more interesting and appropriate settings
  • Using settings as a misdirection in information-loaded scenes

Session Six: More Plot Choices than You Want

  • Identifying weak plots
  • Identifying weak story points
  • How to finesse standard plot conflicts into more original conflicts

Separating the Elements and fine tuning the Style

With the Core Fundamentals in your tool box you are ready to expand the universe and world of your story and its setting by fine-tuning the specifics relating to Genre's and Locations.

Course SPF-SFF: Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Two 2 hour sessions: $80.00

Overview:

Science Fiction / Fantasy films push the boundaries of the imagination to another realm where anything in this world, other worlds, or even the entire universe, can exist — The sky is, in fact, not even close to the limit!

Science Fiction / Fantasy screenplays require the writer to create the world and its population so the reader will curiously and excitedly take the leap of faith and not only believing and understanding it, but care about it.

Visual effects, special lands, fantasty elements, and abilities beyond belief are no excuses for a weak story — remember story is important, story is key, story is vital!  Do not concentrate on the fantastical Sci-Fi portions of the screenplay, but focus on the story and fit the Sc-Fi / Fantasy into the story, not the other way around.

Session One: Where are on Earth (or not on Earth) Are They?  And Who are They?

  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Subgenres
  • Envisioning Your World and translating it from Your Imagination onto the Page
  • The Rules of Your World - Making the Implausible Plausible
  • Opening Scenes that Set the Stage

Session Two: Heroes, Villains, Monsters, and Aliens

  • Creating Memorable Protagonists
  • Writing Antagonists We Love (to Hate)
  • Meaningful Supporting Characters
  • Character Traits

Course SPF-HM: Horror / Monster
Two 2 hour sessions: $80.00

Overview:

Horror / Monster has been one of the staples of film ever since the medium was invented, because it taps into our most primal fears — isolation, the unknown, and death — in a visual, visceral way.  But at the same time that we are frightened out of our wits, we are granted the safety and protection of the theater — the best of all possible worlds.

In our opinion making horror movies is a no-brainer — most Horror / Moster films are terrible; it is so easy to scare people in the theater that is what most of them just concentrate on is the SCARE — there is little to no redeeming story!  However the box office tells a different story that the audience, the younger demographics, love being scared and will pay for it.

This genre is not a writer’s medium — horror screenplays consist of mostly action, gore, and not yet thought of, or can we do it, action by the filmmakers — the mostly visually sickening films rarely have a screenplay, just listing of action and some dialog.  But they do make money; so if you can present a new version of an old concept and scare the reader on the page, your story could sell — which is so far fetched that Horror screenwriters are a dime a dozen; Honestly, how many ways can you show people getting killed?  The killer is on the side of the camera waiting for that moment.  The only thing going for Horror / Monster films is they bring in money, but have no mainstay or longevity, and most are one time viewing and then it is on to the latest slasher — they are all the same; however, there is that rare moment when a Horror / Monster Film stands out as a well balanced scare. Yes, you can tell we are not fans of the B, C, and D list horror / monster films.

A great, or even good, Horror / Monster film should stay with the viewer after they leave the theater; it should effect them emotionally, as well as, being entertaining.

Session One: Develop a Unique Horror Concept

  • Devise a unique hook
  • Make situations worse for your lead than they can handle

Session Two: Build multidimensional characters, not stereotypes

  • Develop a backstory for your villain
  • Give your lead a major flaw
  • Create active, not passive, characters

Course SPF-FAM: Family
Two 2 hour sessions: $80.00

Overview:

Horror / Monster has been one of the staples of film ever since the medium was invented, because it taps into our most primal fears — isolation, the unknown, and death — in a visual, visceral way.  But at the same time that we are frightened out of our wits, we are granted the safety and protection of the theater — the best of all possible worlds.

In our opinion making horror movies is a no-brainer — most Horror / Moster films are terrible; it is so easy to scare people in the theater that is what most of them just concentrate on is the SCARE — there is little to no redeeming story!  However the box office tells a different story that the audience, the younger demographics, love being scared and will pay for it.

This genre is not a writer’s medium — horror screenplays consist of mostly action, gore, and not yet thought of, or can we do it, action by the filmmakers — the mostly visually sickening films rarely have a screenplay, just listing of action and some dialog.  But they do make money; so if you can present a new version of an old concept and scare the reader on the page, your story could sell — which is so far fetched that Horror screenwriters are a dime a dozen; Honestly, how many ways can you show people getting killed?  The killer is on the side of the camera waiting for that moment.  The only thing going for Horror / Monster films is they bring in money, but have no mainstay or longevity, and most are one time viewing and then it is on to the latest slasher — they are all the same; however, there is that rare moment when a Horror / Monster Film stands out as a well balanced scare. Yes, you can tell we are not fans of the B, C, and D list horror / monster films.

A great, or even good, Horror / Monster film should stay with the viewer after they leave the theater; it should effect them emotionally, as well as, being entertaining.

Session One: Develop a Unique Horror Concept

  • Devise a unique hook
  • Make situations worse for your lead than they can handle

Session Two: Build multidimensional characters, not stereotypes

  • Develop a backstory for your villain
  • Give your lead a major flaw
  • Create active, not passive, characters

Beginning Screenplay Writing Course

Courses

Course SPF01: Introductory
Six 2 hour sessions.

Objectives:

  • Introduce writers to the conventions and structure of feature film
  • Understand the functions of each act in a feature film
  • Develop writing skills using targeted creative assignments

You will learn:

  • How to introduce and develop your protagonist and antagonist
  • How to plan a story using an outline and notecards
  • How to write memorable characters and surprising stories
  • How to choose the proper setting for your script
  • How to recognize and avoid weak and cliché plots

Session One: Why You Really Need an Outline and Why Act 1 Is the Most Important Act

  • What the function of an outline is
  • How an outline makes writing easier and better
  • What elements should be in an outline
  • The Surprise Factor
  • Why Act 1 is the most important act

Session Two: The 3-Act Outline

  • The detailed elements of the 3-Act Outline
  • Using notecards to assist in the outline
  • Introducing the protagonist and presenting the plot

Session Three: Introducing Characters in Act 1

  • Understanding major, minor, and peripheral characters
  • Introducing characters in active scenes
  • Making memorable characters
  • Character conflicts

Session Four: Introducing Conflict in Act 1

  • Matching plot conflicts with character conflicts
  • How plot conflicts dictate other plot elements
  • Creating stakes and suspense
  • Using misdirection to heighten impact

Session Five: Using Settings to Heighten Act 1

  • Changing the setting changes the tone, pace, and suspense
  • Choosing more interesting and appropriate settings
  • Using settings as a misdirection in information-loaded scenes

Session Six: More Plot Choices than You Want

  • Identifying weak plots
  • Identifying weak story points
  • How to finesse standard plot conflicts into more original conflicts

Gerald Martin Davenport

With 20 finished screenplays — 7 of them made into movies — and over 200 more stories novel, screenplay, and script form since 1975, Gerald writes from the heart and from experience — maybe a little fantasy added in — his mind is a world of imagination gone wild.

Since 2009 he has been involved in 14 productions as either the editor, post-production guru, camera operator, writer, director that have been projected at the Crest Theater, Crocker Art Museum, and public access television in Sacramento, the Del Oro and Sierra Cinema Theaters in Grass Valley, the Davis Film Festival, and many other venues.

Gerald has worked on over 400 projects working as the creative director and editor since 1995;  he knows what it takes to take a project from start to finish and deliver it for viewing.

Gerald's passion for learning and creating is equalled with his enjoyment for sharing and tutoring.  One thing that irritates him is a weak story, or lack there of, when he watches any form of media.  “If your story cannot stand on its own merit by just being read, than no amount of acting, effects, or music is going to make it any better.”  He is also a believer in the phrase “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Class / Course Requirements and Tools

PREREQUISITE: aptitude and ability to tell compelling, moving, educational, or entertaining stories; to plant a vision in the mind, to invoke emotion, to motivate; these are just a few things a “Storyteller” must be able to achieve — it is not for everyone, but you never know if it is inside you unless you try.

You do not need to bring anything to the class except your willingness to learn and the ability to put that knowledge to use.  You may bring a laptop, or mobile device, to take notes.

It is highly recommended that you write your screenplay on a computer, or mobile device that has writing capabilities, with screenwriting software.  There are many FREE and PAID applications, as well as, online offerings available, but very few that I recommend using.

Writer Duet

Writer Duet is a free, online, screenwriting and collaboration service where you can upload, download, and print, there is also a paid version with more features.

Final Draft

Final Draft is the pinnacle application that began in Hollywood and is used by a majority of screenwriters because of its in-depth features and abilities for actual productions.



Others

List of screenwriting software for Mac, Windows, and Tablets, either download or web-based, as well as, free or paid; Choose the one you want.

Need to contact me?

I am a private person, but that contradicts the entertainment, filmmaker, and website designer part of me.  I am here to help.

Contact me