Saturday, December 05, 2009

Story Development Workshop Taught Through UCLA Extension

"...a priceless experience that allowed a first time screenwriter the knowledge courage and skills needed to develop my first animated film..."

Paula Blackmon-Bailey
Producer, "Zea Zoo & The Land of Boo: An Urban FairyTale"
Former student (and now filmmaker), UCLA Development Workshop, Spring 2007

In its sixth exciting year, the purpose of this unique program is to provide aspiring and emerging film producers with a comprehensive "crash course" understanding of how to assemble the elements of a feature film project in order to effectively compete in the global marketplace. Mr. Grasty's Story Development Workshop is being taught through the Entertainment Studies and Performing Arts Department at UCLA Extension and begins April 5, 2010 and extends through June 14, 2010 (Spring quarter 2010).

FILMTV X 476.244: Story Development Workshop

Course Description:

Producers, development executives, directors, and writers gain practical experience in adapting and developing stories for film and movies made for television from a variety of sources, including original ideas, rough draft screenplays and teleplays, novels, short stories, stage plays, magazine articles, and real-life events. Emphasis is not only placed on honing one's own storytelling craft, but also on the spirit and process of collaboration. Workshop participants are called upon to write development notes; treatments; character sketches, and story outlines for motion pictures, movies-of-the-week, and miniseries. Participants are welcome to submit written works in progress for in-class critiques.

FILMTV X 476.244 will provide a basic understanding of story structure and writing for television and film, including the "format" demands of both creative disciplines. Students will learn the principles and essential elements of "dramatic structure" and "character development," and how to apply those principles and elements when writing for a "visual medium" (i.e., TV-film).

Students will be required to read/analyze produced teleplays, screenplays, treatments and written pitches. Additionally, students will watch/analyze a number of made-for-television movies and feature films during the semester. Additionally, students will be required to complete assignments as well as analyze/critique their colleagues’ work.

We will also briefly cover a few special topics, such as submitting your work; protecting your work; giving notes; completing writers/directors lists; writing collaboratively; writing for television; and adapting work from other media. If possible, I will arrange for an internet discussion with a guest writer.

Learning Goals:

Students will demonstrate what they have learned by writing a 13-15 page "original" story based on their story (event) outline. This story will take the form of a treatment for a feature-length film/teleplay employing principles, elements and proper format guidelines that they have studied during the semester.

The Text: Students will use Christopher Volger's widely-popular, "The Writer's Journey," as the primary course text. This text will be supplementated with dozens of other handouts, charts, graphs and assorted articles throughout the semester.
Volger's book draws extensively on Joseph Campbell's work, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces," which is a major influence on many filmmakers. Click on the image of George Lucas and listen how the writer/director drew on the principles we'll be studying in our class when be was creating the "Star Wars" trilogy.

FILMTV X 476.244: Story Development Workshop (Online)
Class Registration & Calendar:

Registration for Spring 2008 Workshop begins February 26, 2010.

Class meets for 12 consecutive Mondays.
The first class is Monday, April 5, 2010.
The final class is Monday, June 14, 2010.

A Few Links:

To learn more about UCLA Extension and the "Entertainment Studies Program" go to:

To learn more about Mr. Grasty's other endeavors, including the release of his new novel, BLOOD ON THE TRACKS, go to Tom Grasty Central.

To contact Mr. Grasty, post a blog on this site or e-mail him directly at