Assignment 2 – Screenwriting 101: Write a 4 or 5 Page Script

This week’s assignment is to write a screenplay for a short film that’s 4-5 pages long. Start with a short TREATMENT (a paragraph or two describing briefly what the story is about).

Most stories include:

  1. A brief setup in which we see your character in his/her familiar life.
  2. Something happens (an “inciting incident”) that throws his/her life out of kilter. (For example, maybe your character’s routine is to for a walk early in the morning, around dawn, in a nearby park; an inciting incident might be that he or she witnesses a murder) (Murderer is masked, he/she can’t see their face)
  3. This leads to complications they have to respond to (for example, the murderer might have seen them, and now be out to kill them).
  4. End with some kind of a resolution. (Perhaps the killer turns out to be someone close to them who they went to for help, and murders them too at the end.)

Your script doesn’t need to be like the one I’ve described above, but do try to give it a setup, an inciting incident, complications, and an ending that wraps things up. If you have software such as Final Draft or Celtx, feel free to use it; if not, just left-justify it as in the example below.

If you have a way to print it, bring several copies to class; if not, email to me and I’ll print it. I would need to receive it by the Saturday before our next class, since I leave to teach some classes the next morning.

Here’s an example of a short film shot from a 7-page script.

Scripts that are just a few pages long can tell complete stories. Here’s an example of one with a pretty complex story. I made this one for a 48 Hour Film Project about ten years ago, in which the challenge was to write, film and edit a movie in a weekend; I was the writer and editor. If you have time this week in addition to writing your own script, watch it and do a little script analysis. Who’s the main character? What event occurs (the inciting incident) that upends the character’s life? What complications does it lead to? How does the story end?

More short films: see link below

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