Frequently asked questions

  1. Are there any prerequisites for this class?
  2. Class is "web enhanced" - what does this mean?
  3. Do I need to be able to act or draw?
  4. Who is this class designed for?
  5. What teachers/methods have inspired this course?
  6. Do I need screenplay formatting software?
  7. What will we actually be doing in class?
  8. What kind/amount of homework might I expect?
  9. Will all of my work be read aloud?
  10. Can I work on my own screenplay during the class?
  11. I'm shy; I'm not too sure about the acting part.
  12. Why the focus on scenes rather than structure?
  13. Where and when does class meet and how often?
  14. How many people are in the class?
  15. Who is the instructor?
  16. What does it cost?
  17. Is there college credit for this class?
  18. How is the class graded?
  19. How do I sign up for the class?
  20. How do I become one of the professional actors in the class?
  21. What is the source of the cool fractal brain art in your logo?
  22. I don't see my question here. Whom do I contact?

Are there any prerequisites for this class?

Only two. First, you must demonstrate a certain proficiency with screenplay form and format, (it helps to have written a script, or taken the beginning screenplay writing class first - or be very, very familiar with the form.) And you must have web access.

Class is "web enhanced" - what does this mean?

It means you'll need internet access because assignments, reading materials, and required questionnaires will be posted on the web and you will be turning in your assignments electronically. If you're not sure about this you can email info@writesideofbrain.com or you can call Gabrielle Stephens gstephens@unex.ucla.edu, (310) 206-2612 at the Writer's Dept, UCLA Extension.

Do I need to be able to act or draw?

No, no talent or experience is required in either acting or drawing.

Who is this class designed for?

It's designed for a wide range of writing experience, from advanced beginner thru pro. Actors, animators, graphic designers, and creative types of many stripes will particularly enjoy this class, although no other skills are needed. Screenwriters who would like to explore a fresh approach, or would like more "tools" for their writing kit will also enjoy the class.

What teachers/methods have inspired this course?

Your instructor has studied personally with Betty Edwards, Julia Cameron, Natalie Goldberg, Tim Gallwey and Dennis Krausnick, and lessons have been inspired by the hands-on, experiential work of these classes and workshops, as well as the writings of many gifted artists, psychologists, and brain scientists.

Do I need official screenwriting software?

Scenes will be short enough that Word and style sheets will work, though if you're serious about writing, eventually you'll want a professional piece of software. Both Final Draft and MovieMagic screenwriter will work for class, as well as the free software, Celtx.

What will we actually be doing in class?

Each class will begin with a check-in and brief discussion, presentation of new ideas, possibly some writing, drawing, improv, or other hands on experience (no previous experience necessary), and then the bulk of the class will be the reading aloud of the work. It's an active, fun, and very safe classroom environment, and attendance is vital to your grade and to receive full benefit of the material.

How much time will be needed outside of class?

The weekly assignments include a short daily writing exercise, a weekly scene, usually of around 3 pages, some reading, and filling out a weekly wrap questionnaire. Students have reported spending various amounts of time on these assignments, usually three hours at least.

Will all of my work be read aloud?

You are not guaranteed to have all of your work read aloud, but you can count on hearing it aloud between five and eight times during the quarter. An attempt will be made to read most of the work aloud each week.

Can I work on my own screenplay during the class?

Mainly we will be generating new scenes not related to any script that you are currently working on. However, toward the end of the class there will be the opportunity to bring in a two-person scene from a current project and work on it in the context of the class. Also the final class will involve planning to apply lessons learned to your next larger work.

I'm shy; I'm not too sure about the acting part.

Many writers are shy. The theatre games that we will play in class will be easy group-oriented games and you will NOT have to be "Whose Line is it Anyway?" caliber to participate. It is designed to be a safe, comfortable class for most people. Also, as a screenwriter you will want to develop your ability to speak about your work to others as this is necessary for pitch and story meetings.

Why the focus on scenes rather than structure?

This class is designed as a complement to the more structurally oriented, "outline first" classes. While structure is extremely important, it is neither the best first approach for all writers, nor is it the whole story. If outlining first is required or preferred, this work will help you generate the most exciting scenes possible from your outline. Also, some writers find that the work in this class inspires them to try a script from the inside out, starting with character and moment and generating outward to story.

Where and when does class meet and how often?

The ten week class meets once a week in a classroom in Westwood for ten three hour class sessions.

How many people are in the class?

Class size is kept small; you can expect between eleven and twenty students and four professional actors, each of whom receive the class at half price, who will be reading from the scenes written in class.

Who is the instructor?

Bonnie MacBird is a former studio exec, screenwriter, producer, actor and artist. To find out more, click here.

What does it cost?

The UCLA Extension class is $425.

Is there college credit for this class?

UCLA Extension will award three units for this class. This can be applied towards the screenwriting certificate.

How is the class graded?

You may take the class pass/fail, which is the instructor's preference or you may take the class for a grade. The grading criteria will be clearly presented in the syllabus when you sign up. It is mainly organized around class participation, attendance, completion of assignments, and quality of effort. A very small portion is subjective. Attendance in class is mandatory, as it's a highly experiential class. If you miss more than two classes, it's an automatic fail, sorry. But show up and do the assignments; it's an easy pass. There is no really large assignment or test, only a lot of small things designed to open up your process and get you in the habit of writing daily.

How do I sign up for the class?

Go online to the UCLA Extension website (link below) and search "MacBird". Click on the class and register online. Or you may call (310) 825-9971 or (818) 784-7006 and register over the phone.

How do I become one of the professional actors in the class?

Two professional actors will be chosen for each class. Professional film credits are a requirement. If you are interested, email writesideofbrain@gmail.com.

What is the source of the cool fractal brain art in your logo?

Re: The fractal brain art in the Screenwriting on the Write Side of the Brain logo. I borrowed this image with permission from its creator Sven Geier, a senior postdoctoral student at Cal Tech. He generated wit with UltraFractal 2.05. He calls it something psychedelic, but it just seemed like a great image of the creative brain to me.

Svenís website is http://www.sgeier.net/fractals/indexe.php.

I don't see my question here. Whom do I contact?

If you have any more questions about the class that you don't find answered here, please email them to writesideofbrain@gmail.com. Or call the UCLA Extension Writer's Program (310) 206-1542.

 

 
 
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Copyright 2006 Bonnie MacBird