white_chairs

 

What do you see on the screen?

Nothing until you put it on the page. And then, for someone to see something while they read that page? The writing must be Visual with a capital V.

Visual Writing begins Tuesday.

There are open seats.

:::HIT THAT:::

 



Two January classes, The Art of the Pitch and Visual Writing, start January 10th.

There are a couple seats left if you act fast:

 


VISUAL WRITING

Begins January 10, 2012

Visual Writing | Putting Vision Back Into Viewing | Online 6 Week Master Course | Start Date : 01.10.12 |

MAKE YOUR READERS “SEE” YOUR MOVIE: You will learn how to use the visual elements space, light, and texture to create locations and scenes readers can “see”; how to establish and utilize perspective in scenes and sequences to make a script visually dynamic; how to create and utilize perspective; techniques to make characters visually dynamic and “real” for readers; techniques to juxtapose exterior and interior visuals to create visually dynamic motion and space on the film screen; and more….

Instructor | Max Adams

Reading Material | supplied in class forum & library. Some outside material is linked to.

Viewing Materials | posted or available via Netflix, iTunes, YouTube or your friendly neighborhood video rental.

Weekly Chats | Thursday nights | 8 PM EST.

class seating limit : 12 | a writing sample may be requested prior to acceptance | a course deposit is required for this class
course fee : $375 |

REGISTER TODAY – SEATING IS LIMITED

more info : CLASSES

 


THE ART OF THE PITCH

Begins January 10, 2012

The Art of the Pitch | Pitching Stripped of the Nonsense | Online 6 Week Master Course | Start Date: 01.10.12 |

GET READ AND SELL: You will learn the five essential elements your pitch must contain to sell to producers and studios; the two pitch models; action driven vs. character driven pitching; the six points an elevator pitch must contain to interest a potential buyer — and what an elevator pitch is; how to open; how to close; how to use your story’s turning points to make your story compelling; when film comparisons work — and when they don’t; how to address the specific concerns of different members of the entertainment industry; and how to condense and expand your pitch to take advantage of new pitching opportunities and mediums.

Instructor | Max Adams

Reading Material | supplied in class forum & library. Some outside material is linked to.

Viewing Materials | posted or available via Netflix, iTunes, YouTube or your friendly neighborhood video rental.

Weekly Chats | Thursday nights | 9 PM EST.

class seating limit : 12 | a writing sample may be requested prior to acceptance | a course deposit is required for this class
course fee : $375 |

REGISTER TODAY – SEATING IS LIMITED

more info : CLASSES

 


MARCH CLASSES

Two classes are coming in March 2012, High Concept Writing and Character Writing.

March classes begin March 13th.

•For more info on upcoming classes visit CLASSES.

 

 

ooh la la a guest

February 2, 2011

 

In Praise of —

Visual Writing
~ by Patrick A. Horton

 

I recently found myself in an unexpected conversation with an accomplished colleague about some of the things most writers are taught and not taught that can make difference between subsequent success and failure in their work and careers. The colleague was the one and only Max Adams, whose own very able and largely unique contribution to teaching, discussing, and creating story with an emphasis on what she calls visual writing reminded me the importance of these issues and of a script I did a number of years ago that broke many of the so-called rules and prevailing wisdoms that still prevail today and doom others to creative and commercial failure.

The script, Crossover, literally prompted ‘thank-you’ notes from production company and studio readers and got on a brief fast track for possible back door pilot for series development (bypassing accepting an offer to sell it as a feature). It also prompted two separate friends to call some time later to tell me they had spent considerable time and duress trying to remember where they had ‘seen’ this little movie that materially existed only on the pages they had read. In truth, we all need those who read our scripts as gate keepers and buyers and all those who then translate them to ‘see’ and feel the story we are telling. Unfortunately, the way most people are taught screenwriting neglects how to write in this way at best and often tells students and clients they cannot and should not write this way at worst. The result is unneeded impairment to outright failure of what often could have been great material and soul-fulfilling and career-making writing.

What were the primary prevailing rules or shared wisdoms that were broken? That you cannot write anything ‘internal’ in a screenplay (thoughts and feelings of the character) and more especially that you cannot use valuable script page space writing any kind of substantial scene or action description. Both of these rules or pseudo wisdoms are true if you do them badly. They both are horrifyingly false when you provide internal or visual information well. It can make the difference between a script that reads relatively well to one that jumps off the page and vividly plays out in the mind of a succession of readers, creative collaborators, and decision makers on its way to the screen.

On the polar extremes, this includes many readers and many more development execs who really do not know how to read a script to begin with and have very little ready imagination for painting the images not expressed or suggested. On the other extreme are directors and others who genuinely do not want too much information or instruction, but who you most definitely want you to give them both a fast read and clear impression of what you are offering up. There is a whole string of people in between who will not look at large blocks of black ink (and stupidly are given encouragement and permission not to bother), but who realistically need to be quickly oriented to the setting and tone of any scene in an instant, and who need help seeing the movie that so far just lives on the page if it lives at all. A script that is too detailed and dense will slow them down and stop them just as a script that conveys too little will lose them.

Now, in some ways, Max the teacher and consultant is the best of all possible worlds for addressing the issues and needs above. In addition to her success as an award winning screenwriter and author of the book, “The Screenwriter’s Survival Guide,” she is an unusually articulate and dedicated teacher who draws on all of her training and experience to help writers discover how to give voice to their voice. Fortunately this include her formal training in directing and strong understanding of the many artistic visual and auditory elements that must converge to make a scene work to engage the audience in a complete and clear experience. Most importantly, she understands the importance of conveying a quick initial vision of each scene along the way to orient the reader to where they are and keeps them oriented along with ‘seeing’ what it ‘looks’ and just as importantly feels like. She knows how to capture and convey the feel and tone of what is really going on emotionally that we want the audience experience and feel in the ride – first on the page and then on the screen.

As a quick double examples she uses herself, we can take a quick peek at the simple handling of conveying a kitchen setting as we enter a scene which, again must orient the reader, make the scene play visually in their mind, and convey a great deal more.

INT. KITCHEN – DAY

The kitchen is ugly, small, cramped beyond thought, one small bare bulb overhead tries to illuminate the dirty linoleum floor and old Formica table without any help from windows.

 

OR


INT. KITCHEN – DAY

The kitchen is huge, spacious, whoever lives here has more money than God. More than modern refrigerators with glass doors going on forever line the wall, frosty interiors illuminated by harsh artificial light….

 

Unfortunately, most of you having read this piece will encounter the advice over and over again not to attend to what the above suggests is not only important to attend to but crucial. To that I simply repeat my oft given warning to keep in mind that a great deal of what you are told by many so-called experts (and/or are guilty of telling others yourself) may not only be partially to completely wrong, but the costly and unneeded cause of limiting, maiming, and/or completely killing what otherwise could have been great writing and successful storytelling could have left the reader engaged, moved, and changed.

 


For more information on Max Adam’s classes on visual writing, consulting services, book, or work as a writer, visit http://theafw.com

 


where this article comes from :
that is from screenplay.com

where the art work comes from :
that is from jonathan safran

© patrick a. horton
republished with permission

 

go mamet go!

January 9, 2011

 

I love this —

It is a letter from David Mamet to the writers of a television show THE UNIT. THE UNIT didn’t make it — probably they did not listen to Mamet.

Every time I read a Mamet memo I grow fonder of Mamet. The only other people I know of who have ever been this brilliantly disdainful of suits are Bette Davis and Jonathan Hensleigh. Oh and maybe Patton Oswalt. But Mamet manages to top them all.

Also, those caps and asterisks are Mamet’s.


TO THE WRITERS OF THE UNIT

GREETINGS.

AS WE LEARN HOW TO WRITE THIS SHOW, A RECURRING PROBLEM BECOMES CLEAR.

THE PROBLEM IS THIS: TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN *DRAMA* AND NON-DRAMA. LET ME BREAK-IT-DOWN-NOW.

EVERYONE IN CREATION IS SCREAMING AT US TO MAKE THE SHOW CLEAR. WE ARE TASKED WITH, IT SEEMS, CRAMMING A SHITLOAD OF *INFORMATION* INTO A LITTLE BIT OF TIME.

OUR FRIENDS. THE PENGUINS, THINK THAT WE, THEREFORE, ARE EMPLOYED TO COMMUNICATE *INFORMATION* — AND, SO, AT TIMES, IT SEEMS TO US.

BUT NOTE:THE AUDIENCE WILL NOT TUNE IN TO WATCH INFORMATION. YOU WOULDN’T, I WOULDN’T. NO ONE WOULD OR WILL. THE AUDIENCE WILL ONLY TUNE IN AND STAY TUNED TO WATCH DRAMA.

QUESTION:WHAT IS DRAMA? DRAMA, AGAIN, IS THE QUEST OF THE HERO TO OVERCOME THOSE THINGS WHICH PREVENT HIM FROM ACHIEVING A SPECIFIC, *ACUTE* GOAL.

SO: WE, THE WRITERS, MUST ASK OURSELVES *OF EVERY SCENE* THESE THREE QUESTIONS.

1) WHO WANTS WHAT?
2) WHAT HAPPENS IF HER DON’T GET IT?
3) WHY NOW?

THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS ARE LITMUS PAPER. APPLY THEM, AND THEIR ANSWER WILL TELL YOU IF THE SCENE IS DRAMATIC OR NOT.

IF THE SCENE IS NOT DRAMATICALLY WRITTEN, IT WILL NOT BE DRAMATICALLY ACTED.

THERE IS NO MAGIC FAIRY DUST WHICH WILL MAKE A BORING, USELESS, REDUNDANT, OR MERELY INFORMATIVE SCENE AFTER IT LEAVES YOUR TYPEWRITER. *YOU* THE WRITERS, ARE IN CHARGE OF MAKING SURE *EVERY* SCENE IS DRAMATIC.

THIS MEANS ALL THE “LITTLE” EXPOSITIONAL SCENES OF TWO PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT A THIRD. THIS BUSHWAH (AND WE ALL TEND TO WRITE IT ON THE FIRST DRAFT) IS LESS THAN USELESS, SHOULD IT FINALLY, GOD FORBID, GET FILMED.

IF THE SCENE BORES YOU WHEN YOU READ IT, REST ASSURED IT *WILL* BORE THE ACTORS, AND WILL, THEN, BORE THE AUDIENCE, AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO BE BACK IN THE BREADLINE.

SOMEONE HAS TO MAKE THE SCENE DRAMATIC. IT IS NOT THE ACTORS JOB (THE ACTORS JOB IS TO BE TRUTHFUL). IT IS NOT THE DIRECTORS JOB. HIS OR HER JOB IS TO FILM IT STRAIGHTFORWARDLY AND REMIND THE ACTORS TO TALK FAST. IT IS *YOUR* JOB.

EVERY SCENE MUST BE DRAMATIC. THAT MEANS: THE MAIN CHARACTER MUST HAVE A SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD, PRESSING NEED WHICH IMPELS HIM OR HER TO SHOW UP IN THE SCENE.

THIS NEED IS WHY THEY *CAME*. IT IS WHAT THE SCENE IS ABOUT. THEIR ATTEMPT TO GET THIS NEED MET *WILL* LEAD, AT THE END OF THE SCENE,TO *FAILURE* – THIS IS HOW THE SCENE IS *OVER*. IT, THIS FAILURE, WILL, THEN, OF NECESSITY, PROPEL US INTO THE *NEXT* SCENE.

ALL THESE ATTEMPTS, TAKEN TOGETHER, WILL, OVER THE COURSE OF THE EPISODE, CONSTITUTE THE *PLOT*.

ANY SCENE, THUS, WHICH DOES NOT BOTH ADVANCE THE PLOT, AND STANDALONE (THAT IS, DRAMATICALLY, BY ITSELF, ON ITS OWN MERITS) IS EITHER SUPERFLUOUS, OR INCORRECTLY WRITTEN.

YES BUT YES BUT YES BUT, YOU SAY: WHAT ABOUT THE NECESSITY OF WRITING IN ALL THAT “INFORMATION?”

AND I RESPOND “*FIGURE IT OUT*” ANY DICKHEAD WITH A BLUESUIT CAN BE (AND IS) TAUGHT TO SAY “MAKE IT CLEARER”, AND “I WANT TO KNOW MORE *ABOUT* HIM”.

WHEN YOU’VE MADE IT SO CLEAR THAT EVEN THIS BLUESUITED PENGUIN IS HAPPY, BOTH YOU AND HE OR SHE *WILL* BE OUT OF A JOB.

THE JOB OF THE DRAMATIST IS TO MAKE THE AUDIENCE WONDER WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. *NOT* TO EXPLAIN TO THEM WHAT JUST HAPPENED, OR TO*SUGGEST* TO THEM WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

ANY DICKHEAD, AS ABOVE, CAN WRITE, “BUT, JIM, IF WE DON’T ASSASSINATE THE PRIME MINISTER IN THE NEXT SCENE, ALL EUROPE WILL BE ENGULFED IN FLAME”

WE ARE NOT GETTING PAID TO *REALIZE* THAT THE AUDIENCE NEEDS THIS INFORMATION TO UNDERSTAND THE NEXT SCENE, BUT TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO WRITE THE SCENE BEFORE US SUCH THAT THE AUDIENCE WILL BE INTERESTED IN WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

YES BUT, YES BUT YES *BUT* YOU REITERATE.

AND I RESPOND *FIGURE IT OUT*.

*HOW* DOES ONE STRIKE THE BALANCE BETWEEN WITHHOLDING AND VOUCHSAFING INFORMATION? *THAT* IS THE ESSENTIAL TASK OF THE DRAMATIST. AND THE ABILITY TO *DO* THAT IS WHAT SEPARATES YOU FROM THE LESSER SPECIES IN THEIR BLUE SUITS.

FIGURE IT OUT.

START, EVERY TIME, WITH THIS INVIOLABLE RULE: THE *SCENE MUST BE DRAMATIC*. it must start because the hero HAS A PROBLEM, AND IT MUST CULMINATE WITH THE HERO FINDING HIM OR HERSELF EITHER THWARTED OR EDUCATED THAT ANOTHER WAY EXISTS.

LOOK AT YOUR LOG LINES. ANY LOGLINE READING “BOB AND SUE DISCUSS…” IS NOT DESCRIBING A DRAMATIC SCENE.

PLEASE NOTE THAT OUR OUTLINES ARE, GENERALLY, SPECTACULAR. THE DRAMA FLOWS OUT BETWEEN THE OUTLINE AND THE FIRST DRAFT.

THINK LIKE A FILMMAKER RATHER THAN A FUNCTIONARY, BECAUSE, IN TRUTH, *YOU* ARE MAKING THE FILM. WHAT YOU WRITE, THEY WILL SHOOT.

HERE ARE THE DANGER SIGNALS. ANY TIME TWO CHARACTERS ARE TALKING ABOUT A THIRD, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF SHIT.

ANY TIME ANY CHARACTER IS SAYING TO ANOTHER “AS YOU KNOW”, THAT IS, TELLING ANOTHER CHARACTER WHAT YOU, THE WRITER, NEED THE AUDIENCE TO KNOW, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF SHIT.

DO *NOT* WRITE A CROCK OF SHIT. WRITE A RIPPING THREE, FOUR, SEVEN MINUTE SCENE WHICH MOVES THE STORY ALONG, AND YOU CAN, VERY SOON, BUY A HOUSE IN BEL AIR *AND* HIRE SOMEONE TO LIVE THERE FOR YOU.

REMEMBER YOU ARE WRITING FOR A VISUAL MEDIUM. *MOST* TELEVISION WRITING, OURS INCLUDED, SOUNDS LIKE *RADIO*. THE *CAMERA* CAN DO THE EXPLAINING FOR YOU. *LET* IT. WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERS *DOING* -*LITERALLY*. WHAT ARE THEY HANDLING, WHAT ARE THEY READING. WHAT ARE THEY WATCHING ON TELEVISION, WHAT ARE THEY *SEEING*.

IF YOU PRETEND THE CHARACTERS CANT SPEAK, AND WRITE A SILENT MOVIE, YOU WILL BE WRITING GREAT DRAMA.

IF YOU DEPRIVE YOURSELF OF THE CRUTCH OF NARRATION, EXPOSITION, INDEED, OF *SPEECH*. YOU WILL BE FORCED TO WORK IN A NEW MEDIUM – TELLING THE STORY IN PICTURES (ALSO KNOWN AS SCREENWRITING)

THIS IS A NEW SKILL. NO ONE DOES IT NATURALLY. YOU CAN TRAIN YOURSELVES TO DO IT, BUT YOU NEED TO *START*.

I CLOSE WITH THE ONE THOUGHT: LOOK AT THE *SCENE* AND ASK YOURSELF “IS IT DRAMATIC? IS IT *ESSENTIAL*? DOES IT ADVANCE THE PLOT?

ANSWER TRUTHFULLY.

IF THE ANSWER IS “NO” WRITE IT AGAIN OR THROW IT OUT. IF YOU’VE GOT ANY QUESTIONS, CALL ME UP.

LOVE, DAVE MAMET
SANTA MONICA 19 OCTO 05

(IT IS *NOT* YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO KNOW THE ANSWERS, BUT IT IS YOUR, AND MY, RESPONSIBILITY TO KNOW AND TO *ASK THE RIGHT Questions* OVER AND OVER. UNTIL IT BECOMES SECOND NATURE. I BELIEVE THEY ARE LISTED ABOVE.)

class updates

January 7, 2011

 

There is —

One unexpected seat opening in the pitch class. There are also a couple open seats left in the visual writing class. Both classes start Tuesday so if anyone is interested, drop me a line now: :::contact:::

 


Update: The pitch class is now full.

 

open seats 11.08.10

November 8, 2010

Okay festivities are over. Drat. Back to business. I have two seats open in the 5150 workshop, the January pitch class is full, there are four seats open in the November visual writing class. Also, the March high concept writing class is now open for registration and I will be appearing at Showbiz Expo giving a short pitch seminar on December 4.

*high concept writing is very popular please register early to reserve a seat in that class

*visual writing begins nobember 16th please contact me now if you wish to register for this class


:::class info:::

open seats

October 11, 2010

 

I have one seat open in the 5150 workshop, three seats left in the January pitch class, and seven seats still open in the visual writing class.

*irony, everyone wants to know how to sell, no one is worried enough about how to write, hmm

 


:::class info:::

 

 

max adams at neon venus art theatre july 2010

max adams, photo by deborah chesher

I am filling seats in the next two ONLINE classes:

Visual Writing which is next up and begins 11.16.10
The Art of the Pitch which begins 01.11.11
_________________________________________________ _____
Visual writing is about setting scenes in ways that will make readers “see” a film or scene. This is especially important for film writers — without visual impact, scripts do not feel like “movies” to readers. Using light, space and texture as scene setting elements as well as making characters visually vivid to a reader and making action visual are a few of the elements covered in Visual Writing.

The Art of the Pitch is about pitching stories in ways that allow executives and producers to “get” and buy scripts and script concepts — and sell them to the studio head upstairs who cuts the checks. There are elements a pitch must contain to make it a viable project for a studio executive. And there are ways to create premise statements that make stories more appealing to people queried which is pretty important — if you don’t get read, you can’t get sold. These are some of the elements covered in The Art of the Pitch.

More info about upcoming classes: :::classes:::
To register for a class drop me a note via the contact form: :::register:::

 

_________________________________________________ _____
*note, the art of the pitch is new, very popular, and already more than half full,
visual writing is not far behind, please do register early if you wish to attend either class, seating is limited to 12 students per class and once rosters hit the limit, well that is it no class for you.

 

where the art work comes from :
that is a shot of max taken by
deborah chesher

visual writing ahoy

September 23, 2010

 

The Visual Writing class begins November 16th and I am currently building the course roster for this class.

This is an online class.

Class size is limited to 12 people, please register early once that cut off is reached, no more seats will be available. This course also requires a writing sample so be prepared to send one in if you apply to be accepted to the class.

For more info on classes visit :::classes:::

 

pictured above:
max adams pitch seminar
neon venus art theatre july 2010
photo by deborah chesher

last day

May 5, 2009

 

girl with dunce cap by arthur tressThis is the last day —

To register for the Visual Writing class. Info about that is at :::in person:::

 


[I figure I should post that but really the class is just about the right size so do not all come swooping down at me last minute I can only actually fit two more people in there.]

 

where the art work comes from :
that is girl with dunce cap by arthur tress

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