WENDALL THOMAS Author

PRIVATE CLASSES

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SCREENWRITING CLASSES:

I also teach private nine and ten week classes during the year. These classes meet for 3 hours one night a week (both online and in person) and alternate through the year. REWRITE and WRITING workshops are $900, “TAKE” Classes are $800, payable by check or PayPal. Payment is required for registration and is non-refundable. All classes are limited to 7 students on a first-come, first-served basis. Please see course descriptions below and watch this site or join my email list for upcoming 2019 classes.

REWRITING/WRITING WORKSHOPS:

Whether you're rewriting an existing feature or pilot, or developing a new idea, having a support group and deadlines can make the process not only faster, but less agonizing.  This workshop will be open to both writers who want to get an existing project into shape and those who are embarking on something new. I devise individual assignment schedules for each student, depending on their goals, and offer all the help I can.

THE “TAKE” CLASS:

Of all the classes I teach, this is my favorite. It will not only prepare you for the reality of industry meetings and improve your pitching skills, it will provide you with new ideas and sources for your own projects by concentrating on developing probably the most important skill a writer can have in the current market—the ability to create a "take" on existing material and to pitch that take in an intelligent and compelling way.

Most studio and independent films and television for the past ten years have been based on existing source material—novels, plays, biographies, life or crime stories, newspaper articles, previous films or shows, etc. These titles include recent Emmy and Oscar nominees and winners such as Moonlight, Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, The Martian, Call Me By Your Name, The Post, I, Tonya, Mudbound, The Disaster Artist, Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, Better Call Saul, The Crown, and Westworld, among others. And of course, there are all the box office hits based on Marvel or DC Comics characters, including Black Panther and Wonder Woman, etc.

Right now, most of you are focused on finishing a spec script and getting an agent. These are crucial goals, but they are just the beginning. Most spec scripts do not sell. Their primary function is to provide a springboard for your introduction to the town—for getting meetings with producers and executives who are interested in new writers and have projects, ideas, books, etc. which they want to develop.

Often the round of meetings a writer gets after sending out his or her first spec is the best set of meetings they ever get—everyone in Hollywood is looking for the next new, hot thing. This is your prime opportunity to forge relationships with development executives and producers who can help you over the course of your career. But many writers, including myself, blow those early meetings because, when the producer or executive hands us a magazine article, a short story or a 30's film and says "come back next week with a take," we have no idea what to do.

I have created this class to teach you first, what a "take" is, and then to give you the practical skills involved in looking at a piece of source material, asking the right questions about it, and turning it into something fresh and commercial, and pitching it properly, sometimes in a very short period of time.

THERE WILL BE NO WRITTEN WORK DUE IN THE CLASS.

Instead, I will be giving you specific source material and asking each person to come back and pitch his or her individual "take” on newspaper and magazine articles, remakes, short stories, comic books or novels, original producer "ideas, " actor deals and, ultimately, one of your own scripts.

The course should sharpen your basic story and pitching skills, increase your confidence and provide you with at least three original pitches you can take with you to meetings right away, as well as new sources for future spec ideas. Several former students have had sales and assignments come out of takes they developed for the course and it can provide a creative shot in the arm for those of you looking for new ideas.

THE LIVING ROOM LECTURES:

The Living Room Lecture Series originally began in 2004 as a resource for my UCLA students, because we never seemed to have enough time in our writing workshops to really delve into the nuts and bolts of the whole craft of screenwriting. I wanted to take a full day on one specific topic, like subtext or voice over, creating villains, writing a multi-protagonist story, creating relationships on screen, and really break it down. I also wanted to create an intimate and casual environment which allowed plenty of time for discussion.

The series now consists of 32 rotating lectures on specific aspects of structure, characterization, dialogue writing, genre, and pitching. The lectures run from 10am to 5:30pm in my house in Los Angeles, and include a full handout, plenty of film clips, bottomless coffee, tea, water and homemade brownies.

The cost is $125.00 per day, payable by check or PayPal. Payment is required for registration and is non-refundable. Participation is limited to 10 students on a first-come first-served basis.

PLEASE WATCH THIS SPACE, join my EMAIL LIST, or contact me directly at ewendallthomas@gmail.com for information on upcoming lectures in 2019.

THE LIVING ROOM LECTURES on the Road:

I have also brought the Living Room Lectures to San Francisco and Las Vegas and am now available to bring them to you.  If you have friends or a writing group who might be interested in more information about this, please contact me at ETWilkie41@aol.com.

SOME RECENT LECTURES:

CREATING UNFORGETTABLE RELATIONSHIPS on the SMALL SCREEN: I Love Lucy to Breaking Bad

 First up is the result of my watching over 100 hours of tv relationships to decipher what the great ones have in common.

Television writing has always been about relationships: from the best friends of I Love Lucy to Scully and Mulder's partners on The X-Files, the mismatched drug dealers of Breaking Bad, the competitive lawyers of Lockhardt Gardner in The Good Wife, and everything in between. It's the interplay and evolution of the characters' reactions to each other, and the tensions in the ensemble, that keep us coming back week after week or binging for thirteen hours in one day.

Although feature film and television characters have much in common, a television relationship, be it central or secondary, is more complex.  It may have to last for seven seasons or more, so the pace of the arcs and the necessity for creating a host of flaws and inherent, recurring conflicts in the character relationships is much more crucial. This workshop will break down a series of enduring comic and dramatic television relationships and offer practical advice on creating and managing these kinds of relationships on the page.

MASTERING THE DREADED SECOND ACT:

Whether your script is a comedy, horror, drama, or thriller, the second act of any screenplay is a challenge. So how do you navigate this “desert” of the middle with the the kind of elegance and skill of films like The Verdict, Chinatown, or Little Miss Sunshine, particularly in the current market, which favors genre-benders like Get Out, Thor, The Big Sick, or Deadpool, and complex, unconventional structures like Lion, Boyhood, Spotlight, Gone Girl, Dunkirk, or I, Tonya?

This lecture examines the specific pitfalls and possibilities of the second act, through in-depth, scene -by-scene look at this “desert” in three recent, successful, soundly-structured screenplays.

THE FORBIDDEN: Voice Over in Film and Television

Voice over, when it works, can be magic. It defines so many classics on the big screen— Double Indemnity, The Apartment, Good Fellas, Adaptation, High Fidelity, Bad Santa, Whale Rider, Mudbound, Birdman— and the small—Sex and the City, Dexter, House of Cards, Black-Ish, Bloodline.

This workshop breaks-down specific approaches to narrative voice over — first person, third person, multiple voices, framing, fourth wall, etc.— and offers suggestions on the kinds of stories where each technique can be the most effective.