Film Studies

The Building Blocks of the Screenplay

8 Mondays, October 23 to December 11, 2023, 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm  
Instructor: Marty Leicht, M.F.A., Author and Screenwriter

Proof of vaccination required for enrollment. Masks must be worn during class sessions.

Regardless of what many directors would like to believe, films do not spontaneously spring to life the moment the cameras start rolling. The first concrete step in making any film—good, bad, or ugly—is to write a screenplay. This is the blueprint the director, production team, and actors will use to create the world, characters, and story that come to life on the big screen several months later. In this course, we will discuss how screenplays work on a micro level and learn the essential building blocks of a sturdy and engaging film narrative.

Outside of class, students will view films, closely examine the story “beats” that advance the narrative, and answer such questions as: “Who is the protagonist?” “What is his/her goal (i.e., what does he/she want)?” “Who or what stands in the way of the protagonist achieving this goal?”

Using the answers to these questions and the lessons gleaned from the films, each student will produce original, focused scene work, starting small and building toward the final project: a screenplay for a short (ten-minute) film. Student writing will be read aloud and discussed in class to maximize the benefits of the workshop format.

This class is limited to eight students. Early registration is encouraged.

Course Information

$250 for members, $275 for non-members


  • Monday, October 23 · 6:30 pm
  • Monday, October 30 · 6:30 pm
  • Monday, November 6 · 6:30 pm
  • Monday, November 13 · 6:30 pm
  • Monday, November 20 · 6:30 pm
  • Monday, November 27 · 6:30 pm
  • Monday, December 4 · 6:30 pm
  • Monday, December 11 · 6:30 pm