Filmmaking for High School Drama Departments/Script Writing

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This school is:
Narrative Film Production
This course is:
Filmmaking for High School Drama Departments
This lesson is:
Lesson #001: Creating the script
The only page of this lesson is:
1. Writing the Story - Introduction and Your Assignment
Script writing for drama departments
Introduction and Prologue


A Sample Story
for a Jr. High School Drama Department





"The School Play"
by Robert Elliott
The audience in the junior high school auditorium is sitting in their chairs waiting for the performance of the new school play. In the audience are three young students, Richard, Jane, and Robert.

The lights dim and the audience quiets down as the conductor (played by Jane) begins to conduct a dreadful school orchestra playing a short and dark piece of music from Giuseppe Verdi.

Prologue (in front of the curtain)

The audience applauds as a boy about 12 years old named Alfraido (played by Robert) enters from right side of the stage, walking to the center of the stage in front of the curtain. His costume consists of a cape, huge boots, a plumbed hat, a very ruffly white shirt, and a huge sword on a black belt worn over his shoulder. When the audience stops clapping, the boy begins to speak. "I am the evil villain, Alfraido."

The audience reacts with "boo" and hissing and stomps their feet which is appropriate for a melodrama.

Then the curtain in the middle of the stage parts briefly as a girl enters. She is Esmeralda who is played by Jane wearing a beautiful damsel costume. The audience applauds. Esmeralda is slowly but dramatically plucking the pedals off of a flower; first one lovingly, then one angrily, as if she is thinking, "he loves me, he loves me not." We see that Esmeralda acts more like an awkward Tom Boy than a refined young lady. The crowd applauds for her and when everyone is quiet, Esmeralda sings a musical scale (up and down one octave in the cord of C, slightly off key) and then goes back to madly plucking her flower.

Esmeralda sings, "La la la la la la la."

Alfraido continues to explain the situation to the audience, "And I love the beautiful maiden, Esmeralda."

The audience sighs at this romantic news. When they are finished, Esmeralda sings her scale again (one pitch higher, again off key) and begins to speak in a very melodramatic voice. "La la la la la la la. I am so beautiful, all the boys want to kiss me. But I only love the gorgeous Rodriego."

Immediately, from left stage comes a swashbuckling soldier who walks to the center of the stage next to Esmeralda in front of the curtain which still remains closed. (Rodriego is played by Richard.)

Rodriego faces the audience and announces, "I am the gorgeous, Rodriego."

The audience cheers and then Rodriego continues, "I am so gorgeous that all the beautiful young girls are in love with me."

The audience applauds as the three actors exit to the stage wings. After a short musical interlude by this particularly wheeze orchestra, the curtain finally opens.

Your Assignment
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Script writing for drama departments

This course shows how junior high school and high school drama departments can make their own motion pictures. This is the first lesson of the course.

  • In this first lesson, your assignment is to write a story that schools can film.

After your script has been accepted, your next lesson shows you how to format your story into a script using the free demo version of Final Draft.

Storyboard School Play 1.jpg

The story requirements

The goal for your story
Your goal is to create a story which is both a play and a motion picture that can be filmed by a high school drama department or a junior high school department on the school stage. See the story on the left as an example.

The rules

Here are the rules that you must follow.
  • Filming must be done on a the school's stage using the normal stage and/or auditorium lighting and equipment. (The audience is optional.)
  • The set on the stage must be a traditional stage set with stage flats, stage props, stage curtains, etc. This provides a familiar and controlled environment.
  • The acting requirements of the students must be simple. As an example, a melodramatic acting style is easiest for junior high school students.
  • The story must be 1 to 9 minutes long. The shorter the story is, the more likely it will be turned into a motion pictures. There is nothing wrong with a one minute motion picture.
  • No special equipment must be required. Example: no green screen or other non-stage items. (Matte paintings are allowed since they are done in post production. With a matte painting, you build only part of the movie set where the actors are and the rest of the movie set will be "painted" in with a matte painting during post production.)


Act I
Act I - Haggar's Cave

Alfraido turns to the audience and explains, "Here is the cave where Haagar, the witch, lives." Alfraido then shouts to the cave, "Come out, old witch, for I need your help."

As the orchestra plays a few dreadful cords, the old witch hobbles to the center of the stage. Haagar is a humpbacked old crone who is played by Jane. She looks up at Alfraido and speaks in a raspy voice, "And what do you want?"

Alfraido boldly announces to the audience in a good melodramatic style, "I want a love potion so that Esmeralda will love only me."

The witch smiles an evil smile, "No problem!"

And Alfraido continues, "And I want a poison..."

The audience boos and hisses and when the audience is finished, Alfraido continues, "to kill that gorgeous Rodriego."

The audience reacts even more violently with more boos and hisses and stamping of the feet.

Again, the witch looks up and says in her horrible voice, "No problem! Now pay me in gold." The witch begins to cackle like a mad woman and exits into her cave.

The curtain falls and there is yet another short but highly dramatic musical interlude from a Verdi opera.




Storyboards


Storyboard School Play 2.jpg Storyboard School Play 3.jpg

Storyboard School Play 4.jpg Storyboard School Play 5.jpg


These storyboards were created with FrameForge 3D Studio demo version which you can download immediately and begin learning all about camera lenses and storyboarding. This is a wonderful program that everyone should try!! Highly recommended by your instructor.

Act II
Act II - Village Festival

The curtain rises and we see Esmirelda, Alfraido, and Rodriego at a festival with all the town folk in alpine costumes. The audience applauds and the orchestra begins to play clog dance music and the town folk dance a extremely brief dance in wooden shoes. It ends with an alpine yodel.

When the short dance is over, Alfraido goes to the front of the stage and announces, "Ah ha! Now we must drink a toast to the queen."

The town folk agree heartily, "A toast to the Queen."

Alfraido, Esmeralda and Richard echo this, "To the Queen!" as they grab glasses from Alfraido's page who is about 6 years old. The ugly little page turns his head to the audience and grins an evil grin for no apparent reason.

When they finish drinking, Esmeralda begins to shout with great enthusiasm, "Oh, this is great stuff." Quickly, she becomes even more animated and wild, "I love this stuff." Finally, she runs to the front of the stage and announces most strenuously, "I want more!"

Esmeralda immediately dies while still standing up, being held up to two of the town's people. She has a horribly twisted expression on her face and her eyes are rolled up to the sky and with her goblet still held on high.

The orchestra plays a funeral dirge while the towns people provide the heavenly chorus.

When this is finished, the audience applauds at the beautiful music and Esmeralda takes a bow then goes back to pretending to be dead.

When the clapping stops, all of a sudden, Rodriego lets out a sound of inner surprise, "Oh". All the towns people immediately look at Rodriego. (Their heads all turn as one with a squeaking sound.) The towns people sing "Is he dying? Is he dying? Is he dying?"

Again, with even more surprise, Rodriego exclaims very loudly, "Oh!" The towns people again sing "Is he dying? Is he dying? Is he dying?" slightly higher pitch.

Finally, Rodriego jerks to attention and smiles weirdly, saying, "Ohhhhhh. I think I am in love!"

The orchestra plays overly romantic music while the town folk sing the cords.

Alfraido slowly turns to the audience and says, "Ops!"

The orchesta begins a frantic toon and both the town folk and the audience cheer as the curtain drops. Audience continues to cheer. The curtain rises and everyone takes a bow while the orchestra plays another operatic tune as best it can.

The credits of the motion picture are shows over a view of the theater with the actors still bowing and the audience (their parents) still wildly applauding and cheering.

Finally, we see a close up view of Rodriego lovingly kissing the hand of someone who is obviously wearing Alfraido's shirt. Rodriego looks directly at the camera and says warmly with a tear in his eyes, "I always like a happy ending." The curtain closes and the orchestra plays another Verdi tune while the final credits roll.

The End
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Background Information

The High School Drama Department
The purpose of a high school drama department is to put on plays. This will not change. A drama department cannot easily switch from making plays to making motion pictures. Therefore, your motion picture must contain a play. But your movie must not be a documentary; it must be a motion picture.
A break from the past
In the past, all high school dramas were filmed like documentaries or as a TV studio production. We need to go beyond this. We must create a real motion picture and not a documentary or a TV studio production. It must be filmed motion picture style. (See "Disk #2 - "24 Unedited Scenes" from the Star Movie Shop to see examples of how scenes are broken down into a series of shots and then filmed in Hollywood.)
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Special Instructions

Any subject within reason
You can create any story you wish that can be filmed at a local high school. Naturally, you are limited to a story that parents will approve of.
In front of a live audience
To make the acting easier for the students and the instructor, you should consider creating a story which can be filmed in front of a live audience. That is, you get all your wide angle shot from the live performance and you get the close up shots and all of the audio from filming later in a controlled environment. By having a live performance, it forces the actors to memorize their lines and to explore their roles. By doing all the close up shots later, the actors can prefect their performances.
To help you understand what is possible, we have a sample story on this page for you to look at.


Homework




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Juliet without Romeo

This is a six-minute motion picture script for high school drama departments to film using the same stage set, lights, costumes and props as Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.


Juliet without Romeo (pdf) was written by Robert Purser. This script is public domain and can be used by high schools for creating a short motion picture to supplement their stage production of Romeo and Juliet. (10 August 2007) 15 points.


Instructor's notes:
This script is slightly moronic, lewd, and crude therefore kids will enjoy it.




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Submit your story

Write a story
Send me your story. Once we have discussed your story, it will be posted here and you can begin Lesson 2.

Contact Your Instructor