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Making A Scene: For Screenplays and Novels

A Masterclass in Four Sessions with David P. Kirkpatrick
October 7 - 15 & November 4 - 15, 2024

Middlewick, Glastonbury, UK

Soapdish copy.jpg

David Kirkpatrick, working on a scene with Academy Award actors Sally Field and Kevin Kline on the set of the Paramount comedy, Soapdish.

"I have worked in theatre all my life, but I have never experienced a class that changed my perception of storytelling so much as David Kirkpatrick’s masterclass in playability."


"I just love David's whole 'write a movie, not a script' idea - learning how to write a screenplay that excites potential producers, directors, actors, is what it's all about. It's what we all want, after all, to produce something that gets people excited and gets our movies made.​"


Note from workshop-leader, David: The same concepts in this workshop apply to screenplays as well as novels. In fact: we will be reading scenes from novels (Gone With the Wind, The Great Gatsby, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Lessons in Chemistry) as well as screenplays (On the Waterfront, Network, The Miracle Worker, and Barbie).

In today’s marketplace, if you hope to get your screenplay in front of the camera, you must write roles that actors want to play. In fact, your script needs to be “packaged” with recognizable actors in order for a streamer or studio to produce and finance it.

In other words, the screenplay must have “playability"—scenes that work and characters that resonate. When an actor reads your script, your words need to connect. “I can see myself doing this,” says the actor. “I want to do it.” How can you get that response?

This is nuanced and subtle writing. It’s professional writing that enables actors to work their magic by embodying the characters you’ve written.

About the Workshop Leader

David Paul Kirkpatrick, former president of Paramount Pictures and former production chief of Walt Disney Studios, will take you through this five-night interactive workshop. David has worked on thousands of screenplays, hundreds of movies, and with some of the most influential actors of the 20th century, including Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Shirley MacLaine, Harrison Ford, Jack Nicholson, Julia Roberts, Eddie Murphy, and Kathy Bates, among others. He will show you how to amp up your craft and intuitive skills so you can write a part that connects with actors and filmmakers alike.

From David Kirkpatrick's Masterclass at the Kauai Writers Conference in November 2021.

Here’s how the four sessions will unfold.

​Overview of the Masterclass Workshop

  • Why playability makes all the difference.

  • Creating as a visionary, not as a writer.

  • Why the inclusion of light source, props, and costume are so important to creating excitement for your written work.

  • The power of reading aloud.

  • Clearing the field of noise for the reader/viewer.

  • Your seduction of the reader/viewer.

  • Creating a character mapping

Character Mapping


Workshop Activity: Reading scenes based on character mappings.

  • How a simple one-page map on two characters changes everything.

  • The backstory of relationships that works between the pauses in dialogue.

  • The seduction of the actor or reader.

  • Why the scene is the most important emotional grounding to your screenplay.

  • The importance of an entrance and exit of characters.

  • The mapping of The Miracle Worker.

The Need for Arias


Workshop Activity: Reading selected arias written by class participants.

  • Aria is about discovery. What you may have thought about the character is suddenly full-blown, and you as an audience member take great delight in its confirmation.

  • The Academy Award game.

  • The packaging strategy/Brie Larson in Lessons in Chemistry.

  • Creating a brilliant soliloquy for your actor.

  • Studying the three arias in Paddy Chayefsky’s Network, which won Oscars for three different actors.

Props, Costumes, and Light for novels and film

Workshop Activity: Grab-bag writing and performing a scene with a prop given to you by another participant.

  • Creating “business” for the character (and the actor).

  • Using props to create an interior and outer world.

  • The use of arm and hand gestures in scripts.

  • How to use a character’s clothes as subtext.

  • Speaking without words: The lessons from William Gibson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, The Miracle Worker.

  • Examining scenes from The Great Gatsby, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Gone with the Wind.



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