First Impressions: How to Create Memorable Character Intros - Includes Case Studies

Hosted by Steve Desmond

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Steve Desmond

Webinar hosted by: Steve Desmond

Screenwriter (Warner Bros., Film Nation), Filmmaker

Steve Desmond is a professional WGA screenwriter who works across a variety of genres. He sold his sci-fi adventure screenplay, HARRY'S ALL NIGHT HAMBURGERS, to Warner Bros in a bidding war and now has an Oscar nominated producer attached. FilmNation (ARRIVAL, KING'S SPEECH) hired him to adapt the Stoker-award-winning horror novel THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD. He’s also been hired to write a feature film for Legendary Pictures, and two TV pilots for IM Global. His screenplays have been voted onto the prestigious industry Black List three times in the past four years. His short film, MONSTERS, that he wrote and directed, has amassed over one million views online and screened in over 100 film festivals worldwide, winning 45 awards, including being a winning film in the Stage 32 4th Annual Short Film Contest. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

You only get one chance to make a first impression… And the same goes for your characters in your scripts. Think about when you go to a party… Sometimes, you meet a new person that just stands out to you, and you never forget them. Those are the kinds of characters you want to create. A compelling character introduction can hook a reader instantly so that they climb aboard for the rest of your story. So many people talk about how a screenplay needs to grab a reader within the first five pages – let's dive in to how you grab them and keep them turning pages.

If we don’t care about the characters, we won’t be invested in the story. Far too often, we’re so eager to get into our script’s plot, that we don’t give our characters the attention that they need. Ultimately, a character doesn’t have to be likeable, or even relatable, but they do need to be captivating. While a character introduction might only take two or three pages, its ramifications are felt throughout the entire screenplay. It’s the foundation that everything else is built off of. If you’ve ever received a note like, “I don’t like your protagonist,” or “I’m not sure what the character wants,” or “the characters felt one-dimensional,” or “the story took a while to get going,” then this is the webinar for you.

Steve Desmond is a professional WGA screenwriter who works across a variety of genres. He sold his sci-fi adventure screenplay, HARRY'S ALL NIGHT HAMBURGERS, to Warner Bros in a bidding war. The project now has an Oscar nominated producer attached and is in active development. FilmNation (ARRIVAL, THE KINGS SPEECH) hired him to adapt the Stoker-award-winning horror novel THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD. He’s also been hired to write a feature film for Legendary Pictures, and two TV pilots for IM Global. His screenplays have been voted onto the prestigious industry Black List three times in the past four years. His short film, MONSTERS, that he wrote and directed, has amassed over one million views online and screened in over 100 film festivals worldwide, winning 45 awards including being a winning film in the Stage 32 4th Annual Short Film Contest.

Steve will focus on different methods to introduce your protagonist, antagonist, and supporting characters in your projects. By using both real life examples and case studies in film and TV, he’ll help you to tailor your thinking to “character first, plot second.” Whether your characters are larger than life heroes, cruel villains, or average Joe’s and Jane’s, he’ll give you tips to help them leap off the page from the first time that we meet them. Ultimately, your character introductions can become microcosms for entire arcs and plots. Beyond your main characters, this webinar will also cover bit characters as well, so that each introduction makes a strong impression on the reader. Steve will not only dive into your main characters, but supporting characters including your villains. He will also go deeper into how to create suspense, setting up opposites for your characters, and establishing contrasting needs. Finally, Steve will illustrate everything he's gone over with real world examples from films and shows such as PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, WHIPLASH, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and BREAKING BAD.

 

"Most times, you'll never know why someone passed on your screenplay. But more often than not, it's because your characters didn't grab and hold them in the first 5-10 pages and then they're off to the next script on their desk. Let me help you assure that your characters jump off the page and keep your reader hooked from beginning to end."

- Steve Desmond

What You'll Learn

  • Character before Plot
    • Why a Character Intro is one of the most important parts of your script
    • When does a Character Intro begin and when does it end?
  • Character Intro Basics
    • How would you introduce yourself in the movie of your life? How would you introduce your friends?
    • Establishing a character arc through one scene
    • Establishing the central character relationship through one scene
    • Using a character intro to establish tone and theme
    • Giving each character their own private moment with the audience
  • What NOT to Do
    • Tips for avoiding complex introductions that are hard to pull off
    • Exploring common tropes to stay away from
  • Meeting your Heroes
    • Wish fulfillment vs. Relatable
    • Winning the scene vs. Losing the scene
    • On top of the world vs. Down in the dumps
  • Meeting your Villains
    • How to make them compelling but threatening
    • Establishing their goal and arc in one scene
    • Considering the Opposite – A likeable person with bad intentions
  • Supporting Characters
    • Allowing them to “steal the show” while driving the story forward
    • When to do stand-alone scenes and when to meet them with your leads
    • Making your Bit Characters pop
  • Additional ways to introduce your characters
    • Creating Suspense – How to introduce a character before you even meet them
    • Setting up Opposites – How to introduce your heroes and villains to put them on a collision course.
    • Setting up Contrasting Needs – How to introduce your love interests and setup their relationship before they even meet.
  • Case Studies
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
    • Whiplash
    • The Silence of the Lambs
    • Breaking Bad
  • Q&A with Steve

 

About Your Instructor

Steve Desmond is a professional WGA screenwriter who works across a variety of genres. He sold his sci-fi adventure screenplay, HARRY'S ALL NIGHT HAMBURGERS, to Warner Bros in a bidding war and now has an Oscar nominated producer attached. FilmNation (ARRIVAL, KING'S SPEECH) hired him to adapt the Stoker-award-winning horror novel THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD. He’s also been hired to write a feature film for Legendary Pictures, and two TV pilots for IM Global. His screenplays have been voted onto the prestigious industry Black List three times in the past four years. His short film, MONSTERS, that he wrote and directed, has amassed over one million views online and screened in over 100 film festivals worldwide, winning 45 awards, including being a winning film in the Stage 32 4th Annual Short Film Contest.

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A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!

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