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ScreenPlay Writing


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Keywords: Screenplays, Video editing, digital cameras
Subject(s): Art, Video, Social Skills, Technology, Writing, Music, Reading, Information Skills, English/Language Arts, Spelling, Service Learning, Grammar, Journalism
Grades 9 through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: GED Plus, Brooklyn, NY
Planned By: Ariff Hajee
Original Author: Ariff Hajee, Brooklyn
AIM: How can technology be used to teach Screenplay writing?

OBJECTIVE: Students will understand how to write a screenplay, direct/act out the screenplay and use technology- video and video editing software to produce a screenplay.

DO NOW: Students will write a short conversation that they make up between two people.

ACTIVITY ONE:
Responses to the "Do Now" will provide the students an initial entree into how conversations are written in a screenplay.

Teacher will share a sample screenplay with students. and summarize the steps of the screenplay while students will take notes.

Text: Culture in Action- Writing a Screenplay Published by Raintree, Screenwriting Step by Step by Wendy Henson

Lesson Content
The most important part of a script is the plot, or story. A good plot captures the audienceís interest from the start and holds its attention to the end. This activity will cover students learning about how the story or the plot is able to do this through the following:
- Characters and setting: The main character or characters should be introduced right away. The screenwriter must make the viewer care about what happens to them and what they will do. The setting must be believable enough to seem real.
- Problem: A problem for the main character should appear. The problem is the dramatic conflict that provides the drama or action. It pushes the character into action to seek an answer.
- Climax: The character struggles to find a solution. The climax could be a showdown, a car chase, or a battle.
- Resolution: The answer to the problem provides the ending. It should be believable and satisfying for the audience.
- Backstory: A plot covers a specific period of time and often starts at a certain point in a characterís life. A backstory is made up of the events that come before the period covered. For example, Batmanís backstory is how he witnessed the murder of his parents and grew up determined to fight crime. A backstory sometimes appears through flashbacks, dream sequences or dialogue. However, to much backstory can bore an audience.

This activity will also entail learning the specific parts of the screenplay:
- Scene description: Shows where the scene is set and whether it is an interior or exterior scene. It usually tells you if the scene is set during the day or night;
- Action Description: Describes the action of the scene and what the characters do;
- Camera instructions: If a certain camera move or angle is essential to the plot, it should be included;
- Camera Directions
o Point of View: Shot as if seen from a characterís point of view;
o Close Up: Shows detail, such as a characterís face;
o Pullback: When the camera pulls back, more of the scene comes into view;
o Cut To: This is a clean break from one scene to another;
o Fade out: The scene goes black;
o Fade in: A new scene comes out of the black;
o Dissolve: Change from one scene to another, without going to black:
- Sound directions: Special sounds or noises may be essential to the plot. Some written in capital letters to show their importance;
- Character speaking: the name of the character speaking;
- Dialogue: the dialogue is all the words that the performers speak. Dialogue is indented (nearer the middle of the page) so that it is easy to find and follow.
- Scene Number: Makes it easy to find a certain place in the screenplay. Scenes are often rehearsed and filmed out of order.
ACTIVITY TWO:
As a class we will fill out the parts of the written screenplay script template in order to understand the components. The students will be provided a setting and starting story that they will need to complete on their own in order to understand the components of the screenplay.

Students will also be provided an example of dialogue from a screenplay script in order to pick out what the dialogue is telling the audience. These include:
- Revealing Items about the Character, such as what they are thinking or what they are excited about;
- Providing information: gives extra details about the situation
- Providing backstory: Background information is important for this plot;
- Subtext: the important meaning or feeling behind what a character says;
- Plot: A sentence that moves the story along.
ACTIVITY THREE:
Students will write the background of the story that their script will be based on. Students will decide on the following items for their own story:
- Characters and setting: What are the characters that will be in the studentís story? What is the setting of the story?
- Problem: What is the problem for studentís the main character?
- Climax: What is the climax of the story where the studentís main character finds a solution?
- Resolution: What is the solution or answer to the problem?
- Backstory: Are there any backstories about the studentís main character that the audience should know? Or of another character in the story that influences the main character, the problem or the resolution?
ACTIVITY FOUR:
Students will draw their own storyboard of their story. They will plan and draw a storyboard of five to 10 pictures. Students will pick the most important scenes for each picture. They will need to include the problem or dramatic conflict and the resolution. Their storyboard will answer the following questions:
- What should be the focus for each scene?
- Will your picture show a close-up or a wide-angle view?
- Will it be from a characterís point of view? From the audience?
ACTIVITY FIVE:
Students will create a one act screenplay script with one to three scenes depending on their skill levels. The topic will be of their choosing. Students will have actors in their screenplay, yet due to size of class, students will choose two to five students to help them. Students outside the class can be recruited as actors.

Students will rely on what they have previously come up for about the characters, setting, problem and resolution. Based on this they will answer the following questions and using a screenplay template they will complete a screenplay script:
- What is the plot? What is the backstory?
- What are the characters like? How are they feeling?
- What do the characters want to happen next? Will anything they say or do change things?
- What will you make happen next?

Students should read their script out loud as they write it. Students should ask themselves: Does it sound natural?

MINI-LESSON: Explain steps to using video cameras and video-editing software to make screenplay into video.

ACTIVITY ONE:
As a class, students will receive 2 sessions on the workings of the video camera and editing. This would include: how to turn on the camera, how to focus, use of microphone (internal and external if available), how to zoom, and the basics of shooting scenes.
ACTIVITY TWO
As a class students will work with their cameras and shoot small scenes to practice. Then students will set up time with their actors of their screenplay and begin shooting the screenplay- during class time and after school.
ACTIVITY THREE
Students will schedule time to use the computers in the classroom to edit their screenplay footage. This will entail: editing into a complete 5 minute video (minimum), adding music as required for opening and ending screens, as well as title and credits.
ACTIVITY FOUR
As a class students will receive feedback on their video and decide to edit based on feedback or keep video as is.
ACTIVITY FIVE
As a class, students will host a screening of their work to their fellow classmates as well as a possible school-wide event.
SUMMARY: Review the major steps of writing screenplay and using video cameras to film and edit the film using editing software.
Materials: Whiteboards, Video Cameras, Flash Memory Camcorders, Flip Video, DVD Camcorder, Hi-Def Camcorder, Televisions, Hard Drives, Camera/Video Accessories, Camera Bags, Flash/USB Drives, Tripods, Batteries, CDs and DVDs, Computer Accessories, Power, Bags and Cases, Video Tools, Pro Composition, Early Composition, Sound Libraries, Midi Instruments, Autism