This is a course designed for anyone interested in tackling storytelling for film and television. You have a story to tell and you've decided that the best way to express it is through film or television. In this workshop we will explore the peculiar demands of the screenplay form; the pacing, characterizations and physical constraints to writing the blueprint for a filmed story. Each student will arrive with a short treatment or outline, and then in class we will immediately dive in and help focus their ideas to the particular constraints of film. We will talk about the famous three-act structure of dramatic writing, but each individual student needs to decide for themselves how closely to hew to that convention. There are as many types of films as their are novels and plays, and a major goal of the workshop is helping the student decide what type of story they are burning to tell. Beyond the macro questions of structure, we will also explore the micro question of what makes an unforgettable scene. Scenes, like entire films, have beginnings, middles and ends. In class and after class we will all be writing and rewriting both our outlines and individual scenes.
Trey Ellis is a novelist, screenwriter, playwright, essayist and professor. He is the author of Bedtime Stories: Adventures in the Land of Single-Fatherhood. His acclaimed first novel, Platitudes, was reissued by Northeastern University Press along with his influential essay, “The New Black Aesthetic.” He is also the author of Home Repairs and Right Here, Right Now which was a recipient of the American Book Award. His work for the screen includes the Emmy nominated Tuskegee Airmen, and Good Fences starring Danny Glover and Whoopi Goldberg which was shortlisted for the PEN award for Best Teleplay of the year. His essays have appeared in The New York Times, Playboy, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, GQ and Vanity Fair, among others and he has contributed audio commentary to NPR’s All Things Considered. His first play, Fly, was performed at the Lincoln Center Institute, The Vineyard Playhouse and Washington, D.C.’s historic Ford’s Theater where the First Lady and her family were in attendance. He is a regular blogger on the HuffingtonPost.com and an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of the Arts at Columbia University. He is a 2012 Fletcher Fellow and non-resident fellow at Harvard University.