Screenwriting 101: Mastering the Art of Story [TTC Video]
01 February 2018, 15:28
Course No 2126 | M4V, AVC, 1280x720 | AAC, 160 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 5.14GB
One of the 20th century’s greatest fiction writers, F. Scott Fitzgerald, was lured by the promise of Hollywood glamour to try his hand at screenwriting. He failed. His misadventure became a cautionary tale for aspiring screenwriters for decades. Meanwhile, Oscar-nominated scriptwriter John Milius, who penned the script for Apocalypse Now, once said that his job was “hackwork.” So which is it? Is writing for the screen a glamorous vocation or formulaic drudgery? Is it a difficult undertaking that can sink a great novelist at the height of his career, or simply another boring day job that requires minimal skill?
What lies at the heart of screenwriting is the same thing that undergirds all great fiction writing: the story. Writing a script is simply another way of telling a story, albeit one with its own special set of possibilities and limitations. If you want to write stories—in any style or genre—the practical and versatile skills you can learn from screenwriting will enhance any tale you want to tell.
Whether you want to write your own scripts or simply gain a deeper appreciation for the great stories you see unfold on the screen, Professor Angus Fletcher is here to show you the way in Screenwriting 101: Mastering the Art of Story. Professor Fletcher, Professor of English and Film at The Ohio State University, brings both a personal and scholarly perspective to this craft. As a screenwriter himself, he has experienced the ins and outs of the process first-hand. And as a key faculty member in Project Narrative, a think tank devoted to using cognitive science to study the effects of stories on the human mind, Professor Fletcher offers unique insight into storytelling from both a neuroscientific and a literary perspective. In the 24 lectures of Screenwriting 101, you will understand not only how to write a script, but how to tell a great story that moves audiences—the ultimate goal of storytelling in any medium.
As you learn the structure and techniques of screenwriting, you will also receive an immersive education in effective storytelling by looking at over a dozen successful film and television scripts. Whether you want to achieve the grand vision of Star Wars or challenge your audiences like Do the Right Thing, charm viewers like The Princess Bride or sustain comedy over time like The Simpsons, Professor Fletcher shows you how to use successful scripts to write your own, as well as come to a deeper understanding and respect for outstanding stories.
For those just starting out, understanding the reality of writing for the screen—what it can accomplish and the best methods to achieve your vision—is the first step to deciding if it is the right way to tell your story. If you have already tried your hand at screenwriting but don’t quite know how to best use the form to your advantage, the next step is to see how great scripts work and how the tools used by screenwriters can be used by anyone. And even if you have no intention of writing but want to see the inner workings of how great film and television works, learning the creative process is the key to genuine appreciation.
Begin at the End
There are two key questions a screenwriter must ask when embarking on a story: Where do I want to take my audience? How do I get there?
The question of where is about more than just physical time and place; it is the “where” of cognitive effect—the emotional and psychological response you want to elicit from your audience. This makes the “how” more complicated, as it goes beyond settings, costumes, and characters, and instead goes deeper, into the most fundamental processes of the human mind.
Despite what you may have been told, writing a great script is not about formulas and three-act structure. Great scripts—great stories—are those that create the desired emotional response in audiences, something that can only be achieved by knowing which methods are most effective and how they suit the story you want to tell. To uncover these methods, Professor Fletcher gives you an invaluable tool that you will put to use in every single lecture of Screenwriting 101 and in your work beyond: reverse engineering.
Reverse engineering a story allows you to begin at the end and work your way backwards to uncover the “secrets” of the story’s influence on the audience. It is not used to uncover tropes or archetypes—those are easy enough to discover without any special tools—but something much deeper and more fundamental. Start with the effect you want to achieve: from the tragic sublime and existential meaning to sympathy and romantic longing, the cognitive effects of storytelling tap into the primal roots of the human experience and are powerful because they are universal—just ask the ancient Greeks, whose storytelling techniques are one of many foundations Professor Fletcher utilizes as he shows you how structure can lead to innovation. Once you have identified the effect of a story, tracing the story structures that created it will give you limitless possibilities in your own work and a greater understanding of what makes great film and television work so well.
The Elements of Storytelling
Understanding the overall cognitive effect of a story is a crucial step in creating and understanding audience response, but that is not the only thing you must do. While there are no templates or formulas for the perfect story, there are four key elements that must work together seamlessly in every successful narrative:
- Story world: The rules of your creative universe. Is your story world one where dreams come true? Where superheroes can fly? Or is it rooted in harsh reality? Genres and other pre-existing structures can give you a little help, but you must always give the rules your own special twist.
- Character: A great character can lead an audience anywhere. Main characters need to be special to stand out from everyone else, but they are all created by tapping into three basic human experiences: conflict, fear, and sympathy.
- Tone: Every story has a narrative voice, a lens through which the story is viewed and which determines how audiences should feel about the characters and story beats. Film and television are visual mediums and the language you use as a writer is crucial to how your story will be translated to the screen.
- Plot: The plot is the engine that keeps your story moving forward. Humans are actually naturally inclined to plot, which can be a problem if you don’t know how to constrain your plots in the face of limitless possibilities. Rather than using diagrams and formulas, plotting your story beats backwards can keep you on track.
Study the Greats
Once you have a grasp on reverse engineering and the basic elements every story needs, you can take your newfound knowledge and apply it to a range of powerful and effective stories of film and television. First, you will study 12 film scripts selected by the Writer’s Guild of America as some of the greatest ever written. Then, turn to television by looking at several representative episodes and genres. Each story you encounter demonstrates a different sensibility in both technique and cognitive effect.
As you study the work of over a dozen great screenwriters, you will also get fascinating glimpses into the production and ongoing influence of groundbreaking films and TV shows. Throughout the lectures you will:
- See how a forgotten Hollywood genre can be revived by the right script at the right time;
- Understand how a film that flopped on initial release can go on to become a beloved classic through the power of community;
- Witness the ways collaboration can shape a film throughout production and shape the story beyond the script;
- Discover how a script that went through nineteen rewrites ultimately rewrote film history for decades afterward;
- Compare the storytelling structures of television and film and see why it is so important for writers to understand the different opportunities they offer; and much more.
Each story you encounter uses different tools to achieve a variety of psychological and emotional responses. Your journey through each script mirrors the pattern Professor Fletcher establishes within the first six lectures, beginning each by reverse engineering the overall story, then similarly deconstructing each of the four story components to see how they operate as part of the whole. From the redemption arc of the Western Unforgiven to the romantic longing of Annie Hall, each story offers invaluable insights you can bring to your own writing—and viewing—experiences. While Professor Fletcher encourages you to watch each of the stories he discusses in their final form, he forgoes video clips in favor of line readings in the lectures, adhering closely to the way screenwriters work from day to day. To further immerse you in the process, the video versions of the course feature on-screen scripts with highlighting to follow each passage and scene.
There is no cookie-cutter formula for writing scripts and no checklist for what makes a film or television show great. What Screenwriting 101 offers instead is an infinitely flexible storytelling tool that has worked for the greats—from Euripides to Shakespeare to Pixar—and a selection of resources to show you how to put it to use. In the end, you will have gained the invaluable ability to appreciate more films and TV, tell better stories, and write your own scripts. How you decide to use these limitless creative possibilities is up to you.
Learning Spanish II: How to Understand and Speak a New Language [TTC Video]
31 January 2018, 14:40
Course No 2816 | MP4, AVC, 856x480 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 30x44 mins | 8.02GB
Learning Spanish II: How to Understand and Speak a New Language follows on The Great Courses’ highly acclaimed first Spanish course, taking you to the next level of mastery of this beautiful and incredibly useful language. This exciting program grounds you in the fundamentals that will help you work toward fluency, enhancing your ability to converse with your Spanish-speaking friends and acquaintances, to speak Spanish more skillfully as a traveler—to enjoy the thrill and pleasure of communication in a language spoken by half a billion people around the world.
As in our precursor course Learning Spanish, these lessons, taught by world-class language instructor Professor Bill Worden of The University of Alabama, present a cutting-edge language-learning system that has worked brilliantly for adult learners for over twenty years.
If you’ve completed our first level of Learning Spanish, or have the equivalent of a first-year Spanish course, these 30 lessons will give you the opportunity to practice what you know while advancing into new territory, which will prepare you for more advanced conversations and enhance your ability to express yourself in Spanish on a wide range of subject matter.
Professor Worden’s system makes learning Spanish both fun and wonderfully accessible, and this course is expertly organized to give you the elements of Spanish most vital to daily communication. Within each lesson, you’ll work with three fundamental learning “modules,” each of which builds facility with listening and speaking in Spanish:
- Grammar: First, you’ll continue to build the core elements of grammar—the “skeleton” of the language—giving you a solid foundation for using Spanish in many contexts. In each lesson, you’ll build facility with verbs, adding important verb tenses for expressing actions in the present, past, future, as well as the vital conditional tense. You'll also communicate using the imperative and subjunctive moods, which allow you to express commands, desires, feelings, and states of mind. Moreover, you’ll further your work with adjectives, adverbs, nouns, prepositions, pronouns, and their essential usage.
- Vocabulary: An ample vocabulary underlies real fluency, and here Professor Worden teaches you a rich and broad spectrum of words and expressions, reflecting those used most frequently in the Spanish language. Each lesson adds useful new vocabulary to your repertoire, and key lessons delve into specific vocabulary on subjects ranging from health and medicine to money, shopping, cooking, time, family, and more.
- Culture: Each lesson grounds you in a knowledge of the Spanish-speaking world, as it applies to using Spanish—the cultures, customs, and ways of thinking that surround the Spanish language. Here, you’ll learn how Spanish differs from English as a medium of expression, and you’ll delve into subjects such as the evolution of the Spanish language, the geography of the Spanish-speaking world, and iconic works of art and literature.
In addition to the core work of speaking and listening, the course gives you extensive practice in reading and writing through the course workbook, which allows you to interact with new vocabulary and grammar in their written forms. Learning Spanish II is designed as a natural progression that gives you the basis for real facility with the language as you work toward fluency in Spanish, enhanced by a host of onscreen diagrams and visual aids.
Build Solid Skills in Speaking and Listening
Becoming truly fluent in a language means moving beyond memorization. To speak a language well is to have the right words and expressions exactly when you need them—to always have them ready on the tip of your tongue. Learning Spanish II builds the resources you need to achieve this ease, in a way that is highly effective, and at the same time captivating and enjoyable. Professor Worden adds new grammar and vocabulary in digestible units, making each lesson fun and engrossing by changing subjects frequently and by relating the language itself to the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world.
Spanish verb forms can seem intimidating in their difference from the workings of English, but they are surprisingly easy to grasp once you understand how the basic structures of Spanish work. Throughout the course, you’ll work deeply with verbs, both regular and irregular. As a case in point, after the present tense (which you’ll practice extensively), the preterite tense (as in, “I walked” in English) and the imperfect tense (“I was walking” or “I used to walk”), are the most commonly used tenses in the Spanish language. You’ll encounter these tenses all the time, both when speaking and when reading and writing. In these lessons, you’ll work extensively with the preterite and the imperfect, learning how they function in Spanish, and exactly when to use each. Later in the course, you’ll add the present perfect tense (as in, “I have walked”), and the imperfect progressive construction, which describes ongoing past actions—leaving you with a rich range of ways to talk about past and present events, processes, and feelings.
In learning to express actions and thoughts, you’ll add the conditional tense (“I would like to travel”), the future tense (“Tomorrow we will leave”), the imperative mood, which expresses commands, and the present tense of the subjunctive mood, which is used in expressing desire, doubt, and emotion. Professor Worden’s finely honed teaching method makes this process into a fascinating and inspiring learning journey, as you see the structure of Spanish taking shape within your understanding.
Learn Verbal Tools for Everyday Communication
Speaking a language well also means being able to communicate about the practical details of everyday life. In these lessons, in addition to essential vocabulary, you’ll master grammatical resources for speaking about common, daily matters, including:
- Spanish prepositions (such as “underneath” and “behind” in English), and prepositional pronouns (as in “near them” or “next to him”)—vital for speaking about physical location;
- possessive adjectives (“my” or “your”) and possessive pronouns (“ours” or “theirs”) and other words that describe possession and relationship;
- reciprocal verbs (“We see each other every week”), which express actions done by people to each other;
- how to make comparisons between people and between things; and
- direct object pronouns (“I see them”), indirect object pronouns (“They write to her”), and double object pronouns (“He sends them to us”), indispensable for real world conversations.
With these and other grammatical tools, you’ll build the ability to speak not only about action, thought, and feeling, but about the features and details of daily living.
Accelerate and Maximize Your Learning Process
Perhaps equally as important as the material of the course, Professor Worden offers vital pointers—based on his decades of teaching—describing the most effective ways to study and learn a new language, and how to move forward as quickly as possible. Here, you’ll learn about:
- the nature of language acquisition and three fundamental qualities of successful language learners;
- key methods for expanding your vocabulary and a two-step system for making new words an active part of your speaking;
- how to develop the best mental attitude for language learning;
- practical ways to connect with Spanish speakers; and
- how to accelerate your learning by expanding your contact with the language.
Enjoy a New Level of Mastery in Spanish
In its design, Learning Spanish II offers you a wealth of resources for learning and practice. In addition to the 30 lessons themselves, each lesson includes a separate audio glossary, where you’ll hear a native speaker pronounce all of the new Spanish words you’ve learned, as well as review their meanings in English. The course workbook gives you essential practice in reading and writing, using your new grammar and vocabulary. And, the audio speaking activities that accompany each lesson allow you to further hone your listening and speaking skills, using dialogues in Spanish.
As another core aid to learning, Professor Worden gradually increases his use of Spanish in the lessons, eventually teaching the lessons in both Spanish and English. Throughout the course, you’ll work on Spanish pronunciation, highlighting sounds that don’t exist in English, as well as sounds that are analogous between the two languages, yet different. And, as an additional useful tool, you’ll learn a range of effective conversation openers, to engage immediately with the person you’re speaking to.
In exploring the rich cultures of the Spanish-speaking world, you’ll learn about how the language evolved from Latin, and the influences on it by German, Arabic, and Native American languages; and you’ll sample great art and literature, in the lives and works of such beloved figures as the novelists Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and Gabriel García Márquez, and the great Renaissance painter El Greco.
Learning Spanish II: How to Understand and Speak a New Language takes you across an important and exciting threshold—from the beginning stages of communicating in Spanish to a more advanced level of speaking and understanding the language. Join a master language teacher in one of life’s great experiences—the never-ending adventure and discovery that speaking a new language brings.
The Great Trials of World History and the Lessons They Teach Us [TTC Video]
31 January 2018, 13:26
Course No 3767 | MP4, AVC, 856x480 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.53GB
There are trials that don’t simply end with their verdict. There are trials that have a power that reverberates throughout history. Many have shaped and transformed the very social, political, and legal traditions we take for granted today. It’s trials like these that are deserving of the description “great.”
What makes a trial one of the great ones in world history? According to award-winning law professor Dr. Douglas O. Linder of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, there are two main benchmarks.
First, the trial must have grabbed the attention of society in its own time and place, whether in the courts of ancient Greece or 20th-century Los Angeles.
Second, the trial must matter. Perhaps it matters because of how it shaped history; perhaps because it allows us in the 21st century to draw lessons that bring us closer to our highest ideals of justice; or perhaps because the trial provides an especially clear way of understanding a particular place or time.
No understanding of the past is complete without an understanding of the legal battles and struggles that have done so much to shape it. Inside a survey of world history’s greatest trials are the key insights to critical issues we still talk about today, including:
- freedom of speech,
- the death penalty,
- religious freedom, and
- the meaning of equality.
And even when trials illustrate grave miscarriages of justice, they still have much to teach us about how law is an ever-evolving aspect of human civilization.
Join Professor Linder for The Great Trials of World History and the Lessons They Teach Us, a 24-lecture investigation of important legal cases from around the world and across the centuries. From the trials of Socrates in ancient Athens and Thomas More in Henry VIII’s England to the Nuremburg Trials in the wake of World War II and the media frenzy of the O. J. Simpson murder case, you’ll discover what each of these fascinating and profound trials has to teach us about ourselves and our society. The horror of the Salem Witch Trials, the drama of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial, the trial for Nelson Mandela’s life—inside these and other cases are enduring lessons that can help us avoid repeating the errors of the past and that will strengthen your appreciation for the goal of justice.
New Perspectives on Familiar Cases…
Varied in its scope, The Great Trials of World History and the Lessons They Teach Us brings together a fascinating range of cases. Some of them advanced great causes. Some of them raised profound questions. Some of them turned defendants into martyrs. Some of them not only decided the fate of defendants, but also changed the hearts or minds of the public. And some of them went horribly wrong.
Professor Linder, with his broad knowledge of legal history and his knack for telling great stories, takes you back in time to revisit some of history’s most famous trials from fresh perspectives that ground them in the evolution of human ideas of law and justice.
- The Trial of Socrates: One of the many interesting things about the philosopher’s trial is the procedural rules of ancient Athenian courts. Any citizen could initiate criminal proceedings. To discourage frivolous suits, Athenian law imposed fines on citizen accusers who were unable to win the votes of one-fifth of jurors.
- The Salem Witch Trials: These trials are rightly considered one of history’s greatest travesties of justice. Evidence that we would exclude from modern courtrooms—such as hearsay and unsupported assertions—was admitted. Accused witches also had no legal counsel or formal avenues of appeal.
- The Nuremburg Trials: This monumental event, which brought the Nazi’s crimes against humanity to the world stage, was actually composed of 12 trials. By far the most attention has focused on the first Nuremberg trial of 22 defendants—the major war criminals—and which set precedents for judges in subsequent trials to follow.
- The Trial of the Chicago Eight: No legal case is more emblematic of American cultural divisions during the late 1960s. The chasm between the world views of the defendants and Judge Julius Hoffman reflected the deep divisions of the time: establishment versus the counter-culture, police versus protesters, and political decorum versus political violence.
…and Insights into Unfamiliar Ones
While The Great Trials of World History and the Lessons They Teach Us contains trials you may already be well familiar with, the survey also includes those that may be less familiar—but which are nevertheless equally important to a complete understanding of the history-making role trials have played throughout the vast story of civilization.
- Trial by Ordeal: In one of three medieval trials you explore, you’ll learn how (according to the Annals of Winchester) King Edward the Confessor’s mother, Emma of Normandy, supposedly proved her innocence against charges of adultery by walking barefoot over red-hot ploughshares. Trials like these were designed to attract God’s attention. If the defendant was without guilt, God would step in and perform a miracle.
- The Trial of Giordano Bruno: The execution of this original Italian thinker represented a failure of the Roman Inquisition to perform its mission, which was to “admonish and persuade” (not to terrify or punish). The man responsible for Bruno’s death at the stake, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, learned from Bruno’s case and proceeded differently 15 years later when he dealt with another alleged heretic named Galileo.
- The Dakota Conflict Trials: These trials—392 in all—raise a number of intriguing questions. Were trials the appropriate end to a bloody conflict between a native population and a wave of settlers? When trials take place on the frontier, where no courts are operating, who should serve as judge and jury? Can we trust military officers to be impartial when they’ve just fought the men whose cases they will hear?
- The Trial of Louis Riel: The trial and execution of Riel, who took up arms against the Canadian government and led the 1885 North-West Rebellion, became a turning point in the country’s politics. Opposition to Riel’s execution helped break the Conservative hold on French Canada. It also illustrates cultural tensions that continue in Canada today.
Throughout these lectures, you’ll also meet famous historical figures who played lead roles in some of world history’s greatest trials, including:
- Cicero, who attacked the corruption of Rome’s tottering oligarchy during the Trial of Gaius Verres;
- John Adams, the future president of the United States who paid a price for deciding to represent British soldiers during the Boston Massacre Trials; and
- Clarence Darrow, perhaps America’s most famous defense lawyer, who championed the cause of defendants in both the Leopold and Loeb Trial and the Scopes “Monkey” Trial.
Explore the Crossroads of History and Law
“Apart from being terrific theater, great trials can shape history,” Professor Linder notes. “They can change attitudes and reinforce ideals. And they can provide a remarkably clear window for observing societies, both past and present.”
For years, Professor Linder has been fascinated by the stories behind the world’s great trials. He’s studied transcripts, examined facts, even collected exhibits from many trials—all in an effort to study the intriguing intersection between history and jurisprudence. Now he’s crafted The Great Trials of World History and the Lessons They Teach Us to share that fascination with you.
But these lectures are about so much more than just facts and narrative. They’re a chance for you to get to the beating heart of deeply human stories involving innocence and guilt, truth and deception, life and death. As momentous and (sometimes) bizarre as these trials can be, Professor Linder never lets you forget that human life—and human history—is always at stake.