How to Master Story Structure for Your Feature Screenplay - With Case Studies of PARASITE, GREEN BOOK and MYSTIC RIVER

Hosted by Sarah Cornelius

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Sarah Cornelius

Webinar hosted by: Sarah Cornelius

Creative and Production Executive at Whitewater Films

Sarah Cornelius is the Creative and Production Executive at Whitewater Films, an independent production company spearheaded by veteran producer Rick Rosenthal whose more than 100 credits include: BAD BOYS HALLOWEEN 2 TRANSPARENT BEAUTY AND THE BEAST BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SMALLVILLE Whitewater Film's mandate is to discover new writers with unique voices and to produce their projects. This approach has resulted in Whitewater producing numerous notable films which have won Independent Spirit Awards, the Sundance Directing Award, a Primetime Emmy, as well as collecting nominations for an Oscar and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. Whitewater has produced projects for: Paramount Classics The Orchard Showtime CNN Films Netflix IFC Samuel Goodwyn Films Whitewater Films recently completed their feature STANDING UP, FALLING DOWN starring Billy Crystal & Ben Schwartz with first-time director Matt Ratner. Their film, THE LAST SHIFT premiered at Sundance 2020 with two time Oscar-nominee Richard Jenkins. In addition they produced FIRST GIRL I LOVED (Sundance winner), HALFWAY THERE (Sundance Episodic Showcase winner), SMALL ENGINE REPAIR (SXSW premiere). Whitewater is releasing two features in 2021. The critically acclaimed festival favorite THE BOY BEHIND THE DOOR will release on AMC-owned horror streamer SHUDDER on July 29th. The second feature, SMALL ENGINE REPAIR starring Jon Bernthal and Shea Whigham has been acquired by Vertical Entertainment, release details TBA. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

Includes case studies and free script downloads of:

PARASITE

GREEN BOOK

MYSTIC RIVER

 

Writing a great feature screenplay is a gargantuan effort, and putting together something like this doesn’t just happen willy nilly. No matter how good of an idea you have, how fantastic your characters are, or how mind boggling your plot twist is at the end, none of it matters without a solid story structure. Structure is often the hardest aspect of writing for screenwriters of all levels and requires a large amount of discipline and a deep understanding of the craft. But no other elements of your script come together unless they can rest on this crucial foundation. Whether you’re working on your very first screenplay or already have many produced and under your belt, spending time better understanding and improving how you structure your film scripts is worth its weight in gold.

Ask any producer, manager, coverage reader, or gatekeeper of any kind—out of the thousands of scripts they read and the countless issues and problems they come across, no issue is more prevalent in a writer’s screenplay submission than their failure to effectively structure and plot out their story. It makes sense; implementing a tight story structure is HARD, a delicate and complex balancing process that is hard for ANYONE to nail. Yet it’s for this reason that mastering story structure is even more important—if you can present a screenplay with a rock-solid story structure, you’re instantly able to stand out and get your script noticed and considered.

Sarah Cornelius serves as Creative and Production Executive at award-winning Whitewater Films, helmed by director-producer Rick Rosenthal (HALLOWEEN II, BAD BOYS, TRANSPARENT). This approach has resulted in Whitewater producing numerous notable films which have won Independent Spirit Awards, the Sundance Directing Award, a Primetime Emmy, as well as collecting nominations for an Oscar and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. Whitewater has produced projects for Paramount Classics, Netflix, Showtime, IFC, Samual Goodwyn Films, The Orchard, CNN Films and more. Whitewater Films recently completed their feature STANDING UP, FALLING DOWN starring Billy Crystal & Ben Schwartz with first-time director Matt Ratner. Their film, THE LAST SHIFT premiered at Sundance 2020 with two time Oscar-nominee Richard Jenkins. In addition they produced FIRST GIRL I LOVED (Sundance winner), HALFWAY THERE (Sundance Episodic Showcase winner) and SMALL ENGINE REPAIR (SXSW premiere). Whitewater is releasing two features in 2021. The critically acclaimed festival favorite THE BOY BEHIND THE DOOR will release on AMC-owned horror streamer SHUDDER on July 29th. The second feature, SMALL ENGINE REPAIR starring Jon Bernthal and Shea Whigham has been acquired by Vertical Entertainment, release details TBA.  Sarah has been involved with development on each of Whitewater's projects and has the ability to communicate conceptual notes in a direct and effective manner.

Sarah will use her extensive experience evaluating scripts and discovering stories to delve into how you can master story structure for your own feature film screenplay will use notable past screenplays as examples as she breaks down, act by act, the elements necessary to turn your script into something special. She’ll begin by discussing three-act structure in general and explain why it’s necessary as your begin developing your script. She’ll also teach you some of the biggest elements needed for effective story development, including world building, effective characters, stakes, theme, and tone. Next, Sarah will zoom in on act one and explain how to master introductions and the inciting incident as well as spotlighting your central question. She’ll also reveal the most common pitfalls she sees in act one. Sarah will do the same for acts two and three, spending time to go over complications and escalations, transitions, subplots and turning points, effective revelations, climaxes and resolutions.

Throughout, Sarah will be drawing from examples of notable past screenplays and you will receive free downloads of each script that exhibits effective story structure after the webinar:

  • PARASITE
  • GREEN BOOK
  • MYSTIC RIVER

 

 

Praise for Sarah's Stage 32 Webinar

 

"Just a ton of information from someone that is clearly on the 'inside' of the industry."

-Kerry B.

 

"Sarah was spot on about structure, It aligns with everything else i have learned, seen, experienced.:

-David G.

 

"She was informative and great."

-Lauren F.

 

Like what you heard from Sarah during this webcast?

Send your script to Sarah and speak with her for a full hour by clicking here.

What You'll Learn

  • Approaching Story Structure
    • What is three act structure and is it necessary for your feature screenplay?
    • Tips on how to plan your structure
  • Elements for Story Development
    • World building
    • Effective characters
    • Stakes
    • Theme
    • Tone
  • Act One
    • Implementing natural introductions
    • The inciting incident
    • The central question
    • Common pitfalls in act one
  • Act Two
    • How to put in complications and escalations
    • Transitions
    • Subplots and turning points
    • Common pitfalls in act two
  • Act Three
    • What makes a good revelation or surprise?
    • The climax
    • Resolutions and closings
    • Common pitfalls in act three
  • Q&A with Sarah

About Your Instructor

Sarah Cornelius is the Creative and Production Executive at Whitewater Films, an independent production company spearheaded by veteran producer Rick Rosenthal whose more than 100 credits include:

  • BAD BOYS
  • HALLOWEEN 2
  • TRANSPARENT
  • BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
  • BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
  • SMALLVILLE

Whitewater Film's mandate is to discover new writers with unique voices and to produce their projects.

This approach has resulted in Whitewater producing numerous notable films which have won Independent Spirit Awards, the Sundance Directing Award, a Primetime Emmy, as well as collecting nominations for an Oscar and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize.

Whitewater has produced projects for:

  • Paramount Classics
  • The Orchard
  • Showtime
  • CNN Films
  • Netflix
  • IFC
  • Samuel Goodwyn Films

Whitewater Films recently completed their feature STANDING UP, FALLING DOWN starring Billy Crystal & Ben Schwartz with first-time director Matt Ratner. Their film, THE LAST SHIFT premiered at Sundance 2020 with two time Oscar-nominee Richard Jenkins. In addition they produced FIRST GIRL I LOVED (Sundance winner), HALFWAY THERE (Sundance Episodic Showcase winner), SMALL ENGINE REPAIR (SXSW premiere).

Whitewater is releasing two features in 2021. The critically acclaimed festival favorite THE BOY BEHIND THE DOOR will release on AMC-owned horror streamer SHUDDER on July 29th. The second feature, SMALL ENGINE REPAIR starring Jon Bernthal and Shea Whigham has been acquired by Vertical Entertainment, release details TBA.

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