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Screenwriting Fundamentals

with Mark Tapio Kines

Video: Welcome

Walks through the process of getting your screenplay idea out of your head and onto the printed page.
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  1. 4m 31s
    1. Welcome
      1m 50s
    2. Overview of the course
      2m 41s
  2. 15m 12s
    1. Think like a screenwriter
      2m 33s
    2. Figuring out your story's scope
      3m 1s
    3. Understanding suspense, drama, and conflict
      3m 36s
    4. Basic character construction
      3m 34s
    5. Overcoming defensiveness
      2m 28s
  3. 16m 11s
    1. The end comes first: Your story's event
      4m 48s
    2. The beginning: What's the status quo?
      4m 16s
    3. The three-act structure
      4m 8s
    4. Locating your plot twists
      2m 59s
  4. 30m 34s
    1. Introducing your protagonist
      4m 58s
    2. Superpowers and kryptonite
      4m 59s
    3. Your characters's desires
      4m 24s
    4. Who are your supporting players?
      4m 51s
    5. The routine killer: Your first plot twist
      4m 0s
    6. Should I stay or should I go?
      4m 48s
    7. The act one plot twist: Saying goodbye to the comfort zone
      2m 34s
  5. 37m 11s
    1. Why adventure?
      4m 28s
    2. Your plot thickeners: Adding two new twists
      2m 54s
    3. The need for obstacles
      4m 22s
    4. How high are your stakes?
      4m 5s
    5. Status shifts and reversals of fortune
      4m 25s
    6. The first plot thickener: This is getting serious
      3m 17s
    7. The halfway point
      2m 55s
    8. The second plot thickener: The crisis
      3m 48s
    9. Preparing your character for resolution
      3m 24s
    10. The act two plot twist: The great revelation
      3m 33s
  6. 16m 19s
    1. How should act three open?
      2m 57s
    2. The decisive confrontation (AKA the climax)
      4m 42s
    3. Your story's event, in all its glory
      4m 17s
    4. Aftermaths, epilogues, and twist endings
      4m 23s
  7. 18m 2s
    1. One page = one minute of screen time
      5m 6s
    2. Screenplay page layout
      5m 4s
    3. Advanced formatting tips
      3m 37s
    4. Screen direction: What to include and what not to
      4m 15s
  8. 18m 28s
    1. Worry about the legalities now, not later
      1m 22s
    2. Has your movie been made already?
      2m 28s
    3. Adapting existing work
      2m 48s
    4. Public domain, fair use, and parody
      5m 51s
    5. Working with a cowriter
      1m 12s
    6. Being a work for hire
      1m 21s
    7. Registering for a copyright
      3m 26s
  9. 1m 9s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 9s

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Screenwriting Fundamentals
Video Duration: 0s 2h 37m Appropriate for all


View Course Description

Join independent film director and screenwriter Mark Tapio Kines as he walks you through the process of getting your screenplay idea out of your head and onto the printed page. Learn how to define your story's characters, obstacles, and scope; understand the importance of each of the three acts in a traditional narrative structure; and discover how to build tension and reveal key plot points. Lastly, Mark shows you how to format your screenplay to make it readable and well paced, and navigate the legalities of adapting an existing property, collaborating with a cowriter, or engaging in a work-for-hire contract.

Topics include:
  • Finding the drama in your story idea
  • Structuring your story into three acts
  • Defining your protagonist's short-term and long-term goals
  • Creating obstacles for your characters
  • Understanding the importance of suspense
  • Timing your plot twists
  • Formatting your script
  • Registering for a copyright


I love screenwriting. It's such a thrill to see the words and ideas you put down on paper literally come to life before your eyes. And for me, the screenplay is by far the most important thing in a movie. A good script trumps even the most beautiful cinematography or emotionally-real performance. Telling a story is what filmmaking is all about. And the story begins with a writer. My name is Mark Tapio Kines, I worked in the Motion Picture Industry for over 20 years. I have written and directed two live- action features and over a dozen shorts. I am the author of eight full-length screenplays of my own, and I have read hundreds of scripts written by other people, from Oscar winners to first-timers. I have seen the good, I have seen the bad, and the one thing I have learned is that every aspiring screenwriter can truly benefit from mastering the art of story structure and dramatic conflict. This course is for all writers at all levels, anybody who has an idea for a movie and wants to turn it into a screenplay. What we're going to do is attach a character to your idea. This will be your protagonist. We'll take your protagonist and build the story around them. The story will follow the rules of what we call the Three-act Structure, which is the foundation of all dramatic storytellers. In the first of these three acts, we will introduce your characters and establish your premise. In Act 2 we will take your protagonist and set them on an adventure full of dramatic conflict. In Act 3 we will bring the conflict to a satisfying resolution. After you built out your story, I'll give you some tips on how to format your screenplay. I will even go over some legal issues to help you protect your work. Above all, this course is designed to make you understand your number-one goal as a screenwriter, which is always keep your audience wondering what happens next. So, if you're ready, let's start exploring the fundamentals of screenwriting.

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