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Wendall Thomas Screenwriting Lecture Series


UCLA lecturer, renowned screenwriter and consultant Wendall Thomas is back in Australia 23-25 March at Brisbane Multicultural Arts Centre (BEMAC) for another edition of her always-popular lecture series for screenwriters

Wendall Thomas teaches in the Graduate Film School at UCLA and has worked as an entertainment reporter, script consultant, and film and television writer for companies including Disney, Warner Brothers, and Showtime. She has provided lectures, workshops, and script consultation for Arista, Screen South, Northern Film and Media, and the Northern Ireland Film Commission, the New Zealand Film Commission, Script to Screen, Screen Australia, Film Victoria, Screen Queensland, and the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Full series pass and one-day passes available.


March 23rd Day 1: HOLLYWOOD THREE ACT STRUCTURE: Myth And Method
10:00am – 5:00pm

Three Act Structure is the core of the “Hollywood” movie. In Los Angeles every agent and film executive is trained to recognize this structure and to pass on projects which lack its essential plot points. So, any writer who is interested in submitting projects must be familiar with and master the form to compete in the market.

Although Three Act Structure can lead to formulaic films and is sometimes a cause for suspicion from international filmmakers, it has also contributed to the brilliance of Sunset Boulevard, Chinatown, Casablanca, The Verdict, Taxi Driver, Tootsie, Little Miss Sunshine, Gravity, and many non-linear and non-American films like Memento, Lantana, Babel, or Slumdog Millionaire, and Moonlight. It is more flexible and forgiving than you might think.

An understanding of this structure can help improve the drama, suspense and comedy of any script. In this seminar, we will demystify the structure and look at it as it functions in a variety of genres.


March 24th Day 2: PROTAGONIST UNBOUND: Character as Story
10:00am – 5:00pm

What makes us remember, quote, even emulate the characters we see on the screen? What careful selection of detail and imagination makes those characters indelible? What is the balance between a rounded, three- dimensional character and one who is so complex as to be incomprehensible in two hours?

What elements of character attract actors? What is the relationship between character and structure? This lecture, through the use of clips and examples, will dissect the creation of character from the ground up, showing the myriad, subtle and creative ways a writer can introduce a main character’s secrets, desires, fears and flaws, drawing the audience fully into the story from Act One.


March 25th Day 3:”WAKE UP, TIME TO DIE!!!” Dialogue and Genre
10:00am – 5:00pm

Creating unique and memorable character voices is one of the best ways to get noticed in Hollywood and one powerful way to approach your dialogue writing is to consider it in terms of genre. If you know what each genre requires in terms of tone, type of characters, crucial structural moments, etc. it’s much easier to create characters and voices which both serve the genre and can transcend it.

This seminar will look at the function of dialogue in a variety of genres, asking the questions “What kind of line does the audience expect at the climax of an action film?” “Is a declaration of love a necessity in a romantic comedy?” “Why is there always a villain “rationalization speech” in a thriller? etc. We’ll look at writing fights in a drama vs. a comedy, how one can create a black comic tone with one uncomfortable line, how to separate voices in an ensemble piece, and which genres are most conducive to the use of voice over and subtext.