Writing Effective Action With Meaning for Your Film or Series - With a Case Study of THE BOURNE IDENTITY

Hosted by Joshua Todd James

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Joshua Todd James

Webinar hosted by: Joshua Todd James

Action screenwriter (Jean-Claude Van Damme's POUND OF FLESH)

Joshua Todd James is a well-established screenwriter, playwright, and WGA member, who wrote the action feature POUND OF FLESH, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and currently has multiple projects in development with action stars like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins, Alain Moussi, Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White and former UFC champion Micheal Bisping, among others. He also adapted Peter Biskind’s best selling book Down & Dirty Pictures into a feature screenplay and Matthew Polly’s New York Times bestseller American Shaolin into a television pilot. Joshua has spent much of his life writing and learning the art of action writing and is excited to share his experience with the Stage 32 community. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

Have you ever sat through a movie that was filled with fights, car chases, gun battles, and explosions and yet it was all you could do to keep from falling asleep in spite of the noise? This is because good action movies aren’t just about kicks, punches, and car crashes. Celebrated recent action films like EXTRACTION or Mile 22 or classics like BOURNE IDENTITY and ENTER THE DRAGON pop off the screen because of strong writing that lends itself to the story. Action writing is an art. And to write it, you’ve got to understand how to make your story matter to the audience.

Action movies need to sustain the attention of viewers not just with suspense but with emotional appeal. It needs to have meaning. Explosive scenes are great, but action without a substantive story can only take you so far. Characters still need to have wants and desires, even if they’re armed and dangerous. The stakes need to be high and the flaws of each character apparent. If you are able to master this important balance of storytelling, your script will be a hit to those in the industry who are on the hunt for exciting action stories.

Joshua Todd James is a well-established screenwriter, playwright, and WGA member, who wrote the action feature POUND OF FLESH, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and currently has multiple projects in development with action stars like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins, Alain Moussi, Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White and former UFC champion Micheal Bisping, among others. He also adapted Peter Biskind’s best selling book Down & Dirty Pictures into a feature screenplay and Matthew Polly’s New York Times bestseller American Shaolin into a television pilot. Joshua has spent much of his life writing and learning the art of action writing and is excited to share his experience with the Stage 32 community.

Joshua will teach you how to write effective action with meaning for your film or series. After discussing why action doesn’t always work on screen, he’ll break down what can make action effective. Joshua will dive deep into defining character objectives, establishing stakes and crafting identity in each scene. Joshua will also spend time focusing on the elements that action must reveal and walk you through the three primary revelations of story. You’ll walk away with the resources to improve your current script, or fire off a new one.

Joshua will be using the action classic THE BOURNE IDENTITY as a case study to illustrate the elements of effective action writing that he will lay out. Everyone who signs up for this webinar, will receive the BOURNE IDENTITY script for free.

 

What You'll Learn

  • Why Good Action Comes Down to What’s on the Page
    • Why does action not always work in films and TV?
  • Defining Your Characters’ Objectives
    • What are characters’ wants and desires?
      • And how this will aid your actors
    • Flaws and weaknesses
    • Goal vs. motivations and desires
  • Stakes and How to Get Them Right
    • What are stakes?
    • Cake or death
    • The different types of death and why does it matter?
    • When death turns to life
  • Using Ego to Hone Your Action Scene
    • What is ego?
    • How to express characters’ secret fears and weaknesses
    • A look at how DJANGO UNCHAINED achieved this
  • Action Needs to Establish Identity
    • Why THE BOURNE IDENTITY works so well.
    • Clear objective
    • Clear stakes
    • Clear flaws
  • The Elements All Action Must Reveal
    • The 3 prime revelations of story
    • Examples of all three from THE BOURNE IDENTITY
  • Final Thoughts
    • Achieving efficiency in action
    • Moving the story forward and when to cut what’s not needed
    • Casting in your head before you write
    • Why no one really cares about reader pet peeves
  • Q&A with Joshua

About Your Instructor

Joshua Todd James is a well-established screenwriter, playwright, and WGA member, who wrote the action feature POUND OF FLESH, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and currently has multiple projects in development with action stars like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins, Alain Moussi, Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White and former UFC champion Micheal Bisping, among others. He also adapted Peter Biskind’s best selling book Down & Dirty Pictures into a feature screenplay and Matthew Polly’s New York Times bestseller American Shaolin into a television pilot. Joshua has spent much of his life writing and learning the art of action writing and is excited to share his experience with the Stage 32 community.

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Reviews Average Rating: 5 out of 5

  • This was awesome! I learned so much. Especially the questions to ask scene by scene. Thank you!

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