5th-8th August, 2014

Himalayan Film School Screenwriting Labs

Phil Guidry (Two time Emmy Award winning writer!)

2 workshops from 5-8 August, 2014

Course Description


This is an intensive feature screenwriting course modeled on the renowned screenwriting program at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Acquire the dramatic theory, industry knowledge and practical experience required to write screenplays for feature length motion pictures. With a heavy emphasis on prominent cinematic examples and a collaborative workshop environment, this course is designed to provide the equivalent of a ten-week workshop in one detailed, information-filled, action-packed week.


Course Highlights


  • Acquire basic skills needed to write screenplays for feature films as well as shorter projects.
  • Learn practical film writing techniques and become familiar with the elements of a story to develop a solid, first draft screenplay.
  • Elements include the three-act structure, idea, premise, character arc, plot structure, stage directions, dialogue and the business of screenwriting.
  • Optional: Your work will be shared with fellow students and the instructor for review and critique in the workshop part of the class.


Course Formats


  • Intensive Screenwriting Workshop (Three-Day Course) – compressed course modeled after the UCLA screenwriting program : 6th-8th August
  • Fundamentals of Screenwriting (One-Day Seminar) : 5th August

Learning Objectives 


  • Gain a basic knowledge of the screenwriting process from idea, through synopsis, to fully developed treatment from which you will ultimately write your screenplay.

Prerequisites — Classes or Knowledge Required for this Course


  • Students must have a general enthusiasm for movies and the commitment to eventually complete a feature-length screenplay.
  • No other prior knowledge or experience is necessary.




  • Courses will be based on screenplay theory and classroom reading, along with lectures and discussion.
  • Instructor will also read students’ completed works after the course is finished, and provide full, detailed notes via email.


Course Text


  • No texts are required. However, as it is crucial that students have a proper understanding of screenplay structure, the following texts are suggested in advance due to their insightful analysis of the screenwriting process: Writing Screenplays That Sell the Ackerman Way by Hal Ackerman, and Screenwriting by Richard Walter.


Instructor Bio


  • Phil Guidry - Two-time Emmy Award-winning writer and producer for the NFL Network; written projects for ESPN, Walt Disney Imagineering, NBC, Tapestry Films, National Lampoon and Fox. Co-writer and –producer of upcoming feature film “Savageland” (Massive Film Company), the first feature film ever completed on the revolutionary new Adobe Anywhere ™ production platform. Has a B.A. from the University of Southern California and an M.F.A. from UCLA, and has taught screenwriting at UCLA and UC Irvine. 

Intensive Screenwriting Workshop:



Screenwriting is a craft that can take years, even decades, to master. But this course will provide the fundamentals in just three days.


As we’ll be covering a wide swath of material related to screenwriting and cinema in such a short amount of time, you are expected to arrive prepared and ready to work. (Yes, that’s the dirty little secret… screenwriting is actually a lot of work). Not only will you receive the same screenwriting workshop experience that UCLA’s graduate screenwriting students receive, but through this course you’ll also take part in a mini-development workshop where you’ll learn, step-by-step, how studios and production companies develop material into movies.


DAY One:


  • Introductions and class overview, with expectations, assignments and a general schedule


  • Structure: screenplay language, the way movies work, elements of a story.


  • Telling a visual story, with and without words

  • Film analysis: Casablanca. How the elements work together in perfect harmony 


  • Outlining a story: how to think in screenplay/movie terms 


  • Characters: how to create memorable characters and how to bring them to life on the page

  • Conflict: the building blocks of drama, how to manufacture and sustain drama over the course of a screenplay. 



  • Pitching: how to boil down the essence of your story into a few minutes, and how to tell it in a concise and interesting way


  • Preparation to outline and start writing: everything you need to do to set yourselves up for success with your project.


  • Tone and genre: how to keep these elements consistent throughout your writing


  • Overcoming writer’s block: tools and techniques to keep writing, and how to reach your writing goals.


  • Writing the biopic and finding screenplay inspiration out of true stories and everyday life.



  • Rewriting: how to self-analyze your work, demystifying the process, practice.


  • Course conclusion. Final lessons and inspiration for taking the next steps in your writing career.


  • Suggested individual writing exercises.


  • The future of screenwriting (global cinema, online, iPods, mobile episodes, etc.).




Fundamentals of Screenwriting

ONE-Day Seminar


Based on UCLA’s illustrious graduate screenwriting program, this one-day course involves a ten-step process, designed to equip you with the basic fundamentals to write a feature-length screenplay.



Step One: The Spark of an Idea


  • Introductions and class overview.
  • Story language, the way movies work.


Step Two: The Inciting Incident (The Writing Bug)


  • Discuss format – understanding the way scenes are constructed.
  • Analyze screenplay pages and scenes.


Step Three: First Act Turning Point (Accept Your Mission)


  • Character and character arcs.
  • Integration – expanding character and advancing story through every element.


Step Four: The Hero’s Journey


  • Outlining a story.
  • Thinking in terms of classic film structure.
  • Learn the rules so you can break them.


Step Five: The Midpoint


  • Detailed discussion of story and CONFLICT.
  • The internal struggles that fuel every scene.




Step Six: Conflict Arises


  • How to keep your story from getting bogged down.
  • Fleshing out your idea into a strong, cohesive story.


Step Seven: Second Act Low Point (All Hope Appears Lost)


  • How to survive the highs and lows of being a screenwriter.
  • Tools to keep your story moving forward.


Step Eight: Third Act Turning Point (In Which Our Hero Mounts a Final Challenge)


  • Crafting characters who are decisive and take ACTION.
  • Avoiding the static, uninteresting narrative trap.


Step Nine: The Epic Finale


  • An overview of the development process and understanding how stories are developed/chosen/rejected.
  • Avoiding the most common mistakes.


Step Ten: Happily Ever After


  • The Big Picture – how to continue taking your story ideas and turning them into screenplays.
  • Finding satisfaction in writing’s daily uphill battle.


Suggested Reading


Creative Process/General Writing


  • Letters to a Young Poet (Rainer Maria Rilke)
  • Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott)
  • Travels (Michael Crichton)
  • Ernest Hemingway On Writing (Ernest Hemingway)
  • Hero with a Thousand Faces (Joseph Campbell)




  • Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting (Syd Field)
  • The Writer’s Journey (Christopher Vogler)
  • Poetics (Aristotle)
  • Adventures in the Screen Trade (William Goldman)
  • Write Screenplays That Sell (Hal Ackerman)
  • Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (Peter Biskind)


And anything else that gets your creative juices flowing…