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Aaron Sorkin teaches you the craft of film and television screenwriting in 35 exclusive video lessons.
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Every great story has intentions and obstacles. Learn how to build the "drive shaft" that will set your script in motion.
Aaron Sorkin wrote his first movie on cocktail napkins. Those napkins turned into A Few Good Men, starring Jack Nicholson. Now, the Academy Award-winning writer of The West Wing and The Social Network is teaching screenwriting. In this class, you’ll learn his rules of storytelling, dialogue, character development, and what makes a script actually sell. By the end, you’ll write screenplays that capture your audience’s attention.
Watch, listen, and learn as Aaron teaches the essentials of writing for television and film.
A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.
Learn on your own terms, at your own pace on mobile, desktop, or Apple TV.
Meet Aaron. He's an Oscar winner, a TV hitmaker, and the writer of some of the smartest dramas ever to hit the screen. And now, he's your instructor.
Every great story is born from intentions and obstacles. Learn how to build the "drive shaft" that will set your script in motion.
How do you know if your idea is good enough to turn into a script? Aaron walks you through the steps every writer should take to test an idea—and decide whether it will work best in TV or film.
Aaron shares some of the decisions he made to develop some of his most unforgettable characters—like The Social Network's Mark Zuckerberg and The West Wing's Toby and Leo.
Your characters don't have to be like you—or even likeable. Drawing on examples from A Few Good Men and Steve Jobs, Aaron explains why he always empathizes with his characters even if he disagrees with them.
Good research is the key to a great script. Bad research is a waste of time. How can you tell the difference? Aaron shares lessons from Malice and The Social Network to help you gather the information you really need.
You have pages of research—now what? Avoid clunky exposition and learn how to seamlessly weave research into your story.
Aaron knows that the audience isn't just watching his work. They're participating in it, too. Learn how to write stories that will keep them engaged and entertained.
The rules of great drama aren't new. Here, Aaron explains how most of them were laid out more than 2,000 years ago by Aristotle in his Poetics, and how to use those lessons to become a diagnostician for your own story ideas.
Page numbers don't sound exciting, but they're a great tool for tracking the act-structure and pacing of your story.
Even Aaron gets writer's block. Learn how he gets unstuck and what writing tools he uses to make sure he's ready when inspiration strikes.
While workshopping J.J.'s script, Aaron shares his tips on writing action scenes that move as fast on the page as they will on the screen.
The offbeat characters in Jeanie's script are a hit with Aaron, who warns about the dangers of getting feedback from close-minded studio execs. (Warning: explicit content).
Discussing Roland's script, Aaron reveals a simple trick that writers can use to justify improbable events in their stories.
Evelyn's TV pilot kicks off a conversation about opening scenes and the importance of showing your audience something they've never seen before.
After workshopping Corey's script and learning about his background, Aaron discusses the importance of having confidence as a writer, and shares his own origin story, starting with his days as a struggling New York actor.
A great story is more than just a collection of great scenes. Learn how to give your script momentum from one beat to the next.
Your script only has one opening scene. Make it memorable by introducing your theme, grabbing the audience, and setting up your characters' intentions and obstacles.
In a study of a scene from Steve Jobs, Aaron explains how high stakes, strong intentions & obstacles, and competing tactics make for an exciting scene to write.
Aaron analyzes a classic scene from The West Wing: the scathing confrontation between President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and Governor Robert Ritchie (James Brolin).
If you want to write Aaron Sorkin-worthy dialogue, learn from the master himself on how to make music with your words and put them to the test by performing your own scenes out loud.
Aaron does a deep dive into the musical nuances of dialogue in the Bartlet–Ritchie scene.
Rewrites aren't a sign of a bad script; they're a sign of a good writer. Hear how Aaron reworks and strengthens his screenplays during the rewriting process.
Rewrites aren't a sign of a bad script; they're a sign of a good writer. Hear how Aaron reworks and strengthens his screenplays with help from trusted advisors.
Aaron creates a virtual writers’ room to “break” part of the Season 5 premiere—an episode he's never seen.
Aaron discusses what is needed in the teaser of the show and how to reverse engineer a plot.
Aaron and the students continue to work together to break episode 501 of The West Wing.
How can research drive the plot forward? Aaron and the students discuss the limitations of the 25th Amendment as a plot point.
Take Aaron's advice: When you have great characters, use them. Learn how to keep your protagonists active.
Who's got a bad idea? Aaron and the students run through various plot ideas as the writers' room continues.
As Aaron says, "You don't have to assault the audience with plot." The writers discuss the value of pacing—plus the limits of reality within fiction.
Aaron and the students wrap up the virtual writers' room and discuss lessons learned.
You've got a screenplay—now it's time to pitch. Learn what questions Hollywood's decision makers will ask you during a pitch and how to effectively answer them.
Aaron turns the tables on his writers and pitches them his idea for a brand-new TV series called Mission to Mars.
In the final lesson, Aaron offers his parting wisdom and leaves you with one more assignment that will last the rest of your life.
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