top of page

David Freeman "Beyond Structure" class notes 

David Freeman

Beyond Structure Oct/25,26/03
Techs. That operate 80% outside the audiences detection- because the screenwriter understands what he is doing so well- that they don’t see.

Greatness is achieved in the rewriting where tech. Can be used
The two big problems with wantabewriters- 1. They do not read screenplays, 2. They are lazy.  You can not be lazy and compete with the A-list writers of Hollywood.
Scene Deepening#1
Emotional Pathway #1- many emotions very quickly from one character
   EX: Jerry Maguire- girl in office at opening- Who will go with me?
          She starts out sure, giddy, chummy, shock, horror, excited in elevator

Emotional Pathway #2- two characters with emotions-
   EX: As good as it gets- Melvin changes his routine for the dog- changes his seat- smiles-worried-smile-flirtation-awkward-sadness-cold-ragged ending

Emotional Patway#3- two reactions to the same event- one does not realize he is causing the other pain by his reaction-

Emotional Pathway #4- Awkward moments- American Beauty- Annette Benning hits herself after she closes the drapes
No rules: artists introduce love, insights, ect, - these are tools that help him to do that-

Create scenes that are character deepening and scene deepening-
1. One scene: two universes- A expresses what B is feeling
2. Scenes with words which are emotionally difficult to say
3. Scenes with painful moments
4. Emotional trouble between two people
5. Different people- different emotions about different situations- people- items
6. (same as above) different emotions about the same person or situation or item
7. The character finally hears the expression of love she wanted to hear
8. Contrast pain/fun within the same scene- beauty against pain- kids skipping rope in the background while a fight takes place- Ex: In Phenomenon Travalta is dieing while watching the trees sway in the breeze
9. Freeman can teach us Craft but he can not teach us Art
10. No- win situation
11. A talks to B about a difficult to face issue- marriage ends
12. Ragged ending
13. Character hides a fact: a. we know what he is hiding, b. audience does not know
14. Different agendas with the same scene
15. Emotional squeeze- a moment of a different emotion into a scene
16. A revelation changes everything (Darth tells Luke he is his Dad)
17. A painful and perhaps permanent parting

18. The hero faces impossible odds- as in Mr. Smith goes to Washington
19. The innocent is led to slaughter
20. Suspense keeps a film going, not necessarily conflict

21. Symbol of condition of change in condition
22. Any scene with a slam

2. Truthfulness of profession- get the facts right
3. Cliché character: simply one who has traits we have seen before
4. Not cliché- put in one or more characters that you did not expect
5. Ex: Unforgiven- Brave, sense of justice, guilt ridden
6. Silence of the lambs- dark, sick, brave, honest, insightful,
7. Pulp Fiction- pragmatic, ruthless, low brow
8. Action is a for of dialogue- a character could slam a door-
9. Villain: he has a reason for what he is doing- Villain can have a life, PTA, Etc.
10. draw the diamond- over whelmed, hip, superior

1. Scene deepening
2. four levels of characterization: truthfulness, Diamond, QS, Es, Flbws, Slams, Character Arcs
3. Masks
4. Rooting Interest
5. Character Deepening
6. Dialogue

Slam: An incident is a scene, which might comprise the entire scene, that forces your character to wrestle with his or her flbw
Os and Es: things which give your character further individuality
Character: a person in your story with six levels.
Mask: a person masks something- masking is a behavior- use two piece of evidence
Mask: a defense mechanism stops a person from facing the real problem- Attitude

Identify what one is striving for
Belief System/Validation System
Wrong Diagnosis of problem
Sick relationship or gave
Remember you can slam the mask
1. fear
2. limitation
3. block
4. would
5. hurt
6. insecurity
7. shame
a. flbw: fear, limitation, block, wound
Character Deepening
1. Anything from tough stuff
2. anything from up stuff
3. see beneath the social emotion
4. glimpse more profound side
5. character in conflict with himself
6. an important side he or she has been hiding
7. a difficult moral choice
8. artful revelation of the past to gain insight
9. says little, means a lot
10. learn more about the character
11. see the character in a life outside his normal life
12. self depreciating humor
13. wisdom
14. emotional suffering
15. conflicting emotions
16. two different emotions at the same time- about a person , thing, situation- about two separate people- about two separate people, things situations
17. character painful inner monologue erupts
18. painfully taking responsibility
19. character sacrifices himself to help another or others
20. humiliation
21. forced to violate own integrity for the greater good
22. artistic- or responds to someone who is artistic- responds to art- responds to beauty in
23. understate or angled spiritual awareness
24. scene by scene cover

Dialogue: Techniques
1. A/b dialogue is the enemy
2. Answer reveals character
3. Interrupting what was said
4. Answer a question with a question
5. Own track – ignores anything the other person says
6. Tangents- A makes statement, B responds only vaguely
7. left field dialogue- no relationship between A/b

8. Talking different around different people
9. Drop first word
10. Sentence Fragment- anytime more than one word dropped out from beg, middle, end
11. Delayed answer- A asks question- they talk about something else- B finally answers
12. Leave Topic- comes back to it
13. Starts again, interrupts self
14. Response Implies answer-
15. The sounds of silence- ignores question or comment, the meaningful silence, action instead of speech
16. External interruption- the phone rings
17. Best Dialogue: How can I let my audience know what my character is feeling without him saying it!
18. false target- false feelings out on the something else
19. Opposite feelings at once
20. words vs words
21. words vs body motions
22. body both positive/negative
23. words vs  tone of voice
24. words neither positive/negative
25. silence
26. changing types
27. tentative speech
28. tentative body language

1. Simple model- slams the grows
2. False goal model- My Best Friends Wedding

  • 3. Convenient goal model
bottom of page