How to Master Story Structure for your Horror Screenplay - With Case Studies of FRIDAY THE 13TH and HAPPY DEATH DAY

Hosted by David Ian McKendry

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David Ian McKendry

Webinar hosted by: David Ian McKendry

Writer/Filmmaker/Producer (Blumhouse, Universal, Fangoria, the Nerdist)

David Ian McKendry is a professional screenwriter, script consultant, and script doctor who has worked for Universal, Blumhouse, Lifetime Networks, and The Hallmark Channel as well as numerous independent production companies. He began working in the entertainment industry as a video producer and writer for Fangoria Entertainment before later putting together his own horror films, including the recent ALL THE CREATURES WERE STIRRING, starring Constance Wu (CRAZY RICH ASIANS). Through his own experiences writing and producing horror films as well as fixing other writers’ scripts and teaching screenwriting and production to countless students and aspiring filmmakers, David has a keen sense of what makes a script successful in the horror genre and will be sharing what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

If you’re a horror writer, you may have tons of great set pieces you can’t wait to terrify audiences with, but unless those pages are compelling and maintain the readers interest, your script will remain just a collection of words. The first priority of ANY writer, horror or otherwise, is storytelling. Before you make a classic horror film, you’ll need an effective and readable screenplay.

Horror movies are no exception to the importance of structure. It’s not just about terrifying the audience; it’s most importantly about telling a story. The story is what makes us care about the characters and the hell they are about to go through. You could have the most original scares imaginable, but if we don’t care about the story then we won’t care about the characters who have to endure those horror set pieces. Most importantly, without elements of structure, a producer may stop reading your screenplay. If that happens, it’s highly unlikely they’ll be interested in making your film.

So how do successful horror screenplays nail story structure? What are the major pitfalls most horror writers fall into and what can you do to make your script stand out from the rest?

David Ian McKendry is a professional screenwriter, script consultant, and script doctor who has worked for Universal, Blumhouse, Lifetime Networks, and The Hallmark Channel as well as numerous independent production companies. He began working in the entertainment industry as a video producer and writer for Fangoria Entertainment before later putting together his own horror films, including the recent ALL THE CREATURES WERE STIRRING, starring Constance Wu (CRAZY RICH ASIANS). Through his own experiences writing and producing horror films as well as fixing other writers’ scripts and teaching screenwriting and production to countless students and aspiring filmmakers, David has a keen sense of what makes a script successful in the horror genre and will be sharing what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community.

David will dive deep into how to write and structure an effective horror screenplay. He will begin by first teaching you what the horror industry looks like today, how to find work within it and what sort of horror trends are important to note right now. He’ll then break down effective structure in horror, including dissecting the cold open, Act One, Act Two and Act Three. David will conclude by providing tips on what to do with your script after you’ve written and re-written it to get it out into the world and find the attention it needs.

 

David will be using the screenplays for 1980’s FRIDAY THE 13TH and 2017’s HAPPY DEATH DAY as case studies as he continues to break down horror film structure. Everyone who signs up for this webinar will receive these screenplays to download for free.

What You'll Learn

  • Working in the Industry
    • Spec writing
    • Rewriting
    • Script doctors
    • Readers and coverage
  • Horror Trends
    • What are a few of the current horror trends?
    • How and why, you should write to current trends?
    • Why and when to write outside of current trends?
  • The Approach
    • How do we define three act structure in horror?
    • What is the cold open?
    • How do we remind people that this is a horror movie?
  • Act One
    • Setting up your story
    • Whose story are you telling?
    • Introducing your characters
    • Introducing conflict/horror
    • Building towards the act break and bringing the audience with you into Act 2
  • Act Two
    • Leaving the ordinary world behind
    • Keep building up! (aka putting your protagonist through Hell)
    • The light at the end of the tunnel
    • What’s blocking the tunnel?
    • Rewarding your protagonist
    • Escorting the audience into your third act
  • Act Three
    • You’ve rewarded your protagonist, now it’s time to take away that reward.
    • Reaching your climax
    • Can your protagonist go home yet?
    • The final scare
  • Rewriting
  • Where to Go With Your Script
    • Submitting your screenplay
    • Screenplay competitions
    • Creative ways to get your screenplay out into the world
  • Q&A with David

About Your Instructor

David Ian McKendry is a professional screenwriter, script consultant, and script doctor who has worked for Universal, Blumhouse, Lifetime Networks, and The Hallmark Channel as well as numerous independent production companies. He began working in the entertainment industry as a video producer and writer for Fangoria Entertainment before later putting together his own horror films, including the recent ALL THE CREATURES WERE STIRRING, starring Constance Wu (CRAZY RICH ASIANS). Through his own experiences writing and producing horror films as well as fixing other writers’ scripts and teaching screenwriting and production to countless students and aspiring filmmakers, David has a keen sense of what makes a script successful in the horror genre and will be sharing what he knows exclusively with the Stage 32 community.

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Reviews Average Rating: 5 out of 5

  • This was one of the better Webinar's I have watched here on Stage 32. David was engaged, inviting and really did a great job of laying out the structure of what makes good horror. Michael is genuine, and humble, which is refreshing in this business. I look forward to seeing more of David and what he has to offer the Stage 32 community.

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