Film & TV

Group Workshop: E is for Edie by Jeanie Bergen

Aaron Sorkin

Lesson time 29:12 min

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).

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Preview

"E is for Edie," written by our own Jeannie Bergen. This is a half hour pilot. All right. Out of curiosity, because I don't know what you kids are doing these days. OK, I don't know what's down with the kids these days. I try to keep my finger on the pulse of the kids, but what's this internet thing, you guys? Internet? Is that what it's called? OK. Your 60 minute pilot. Is it 60 minutes or 42 minutes? Do you know what I'm asking? It's 60. OK. Your 30 minute pilot, is it 30 minutes or 22 minutes? 30. Streaming or cable network. OK. I'm Sorry. Your show again. Go ahead. All right. Exterior Wisconsin backroad, day. A wood paneled station wagon swerves wildly down the road blasting Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You," Super 1994. Rylie Barnes, 9, drives, not well, considering she can barely see over the steering wheel. She's plucky, selfish, determined, blonde, with a chipped front tooth. Edie Barnes, 10, intellectually disabled, stubborn, sits in the passenger seat smiling. She taps her foot to the music. Her shoes are Velcro, the easiest kind. Barney, a small, stuffed, purple dinosaur sits in the back. Rylie veers off the road, screeching to a halt. She gets out, unbuckles Edie's seat belt, tightens the Velcro on her shoe, and leads her into the corn. Interior station wagon later, Rylie peels away, happy. Interior cornfield, day. Edie stands in the middle of the cornfield alone. Interior station wagon, day. Rylie looks in the rear view mirror. Barney is still in the backseat, a smile plastered on his dumb little face. Rylie sighs. Guilty. Interior cornfield day. Edie sits in the corn, scared. A rustling. Rylie stands above her, blocking the sun. Here. Rylie hands Barney to Edie. Edie smiles. Then Rylie runs. Over the cornfield with the station wagon speeding away, and Edie alone, helpless, the title card, "E is for Edie." OK. And let's hang on there for just one second. I just want to make sure that I'm right in this cold open that when you say, "and leads her into the corn." OK, Rylie veers off the road, screeching to a halt. She gets out, unbuckles Edie's seat belt, tightens the Velcro on her shoe, and leads her into the corn. That's the very first mention of corn, right? OK. Got it. That's kind of a surprise. I would just, in the description, a wood paneled station wagon swerves wildly down the road with cornfields on either side. Is flanked by cornfields, or something. On each side the corn is as high as an elephant's eye. A reference to the musical "Oklahoma" by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, 1944. Boom. OK. It's very good. That was the only note on the cold open. Great. Go ahead. Exterior the Grove, Los Angeles, night. Barbershop quartet sings-- Here co...


Your script starts here.

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.



Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I thought is was awesome, inspiring and informational. I definitely have more faith in my ability to take on the monstrous task of writing after this!

Aaron Sorkin is one of my all-time favorite writers, and I will forever be grateful to Masterclass for the opportunity to hear him talk about writing!

I really enjoyed my first Masterclass. I took it last year and have gone back to it a couple times already. In fact, I was just logging in to browse it again. I will be taking more classes for sure!

Sorkin has unburdened us - I used to spend weeks creating Character bios - now I know better.


Comments

Jennifer R.

At the 23:52 mark, Aaron Sorkin says, "This is some pretty challenging stuff for serious television." I don't disagree, but I felt that in that moment, he wanted to say that this seemed like some pretty challenging stuff for the author. I know that old adage, "Write what you know," yet at the same time, I think there are times when we're perhaps too close to a story to write about it effectively on our own. At several points in the discussion, the author appears very nearly on the verge of tears, explaining the impossible dilemma of reaching adulthood, and trying to make one's way in the world with an intellectually disabled sibling who one loves, yet who is also - frankly - a burden. It's her own story - she says as much - yet even if she hadn't, you'd likely have guessed; I could sense her guilt, and can only imagine her struggle. I do think it's a good story-line - it's original, it's topical, and it's a situation many can identify with. Yet I think the author would need to work closely with a co-writer, and be open to suggestions which might strengthen the viewing experience, yet deviate from "the truth" of how things really happened. Given the personal angle, this author may have more to grapple with than another screenwriter; then again, perhaps that will be what breathes life into the story. Wishing her the best of luck with the process.

Jess J.

Hi everyone! Message from the MC Community team -- make sure you join Aaron Sorkin's Class Community! There you can discuss writing techniques and other class material, network with other students, trade tips and reviews, and stay up to date on class contests & activities. Link here: https://community.masterclass.com/c/film-tv/as-workbook Also, FYI! We recently launched a contest to win 2 tix to Sorkin's latest screenplay adaptation on Broadway, To Kill A Mockingbird. Learn more and enter here: https://community.masterclass.com/t/contest-win-tix-to-aaron-sorkin-s-latest-broadway-show-to-kill-a-mockingbird/35249 Contest closes this Sunday, Nov 24 at 10pm PT. Can't wait to see your submissions!

Jaime H.

I can definitely see E is for Eddie as a series. It reminded me of Sarah (Laura Linney) and Michael (Michael Fitzgerald) in Love Actually, a relationship that shows us unconditional love, but also the challenges that come with it in terms of looking after someone who can't look after themselves. The idea also reminds me of the movie "The Peanut Butter Falcon." I agree that it has more potential to work if it uses a comedic approach. Loved the lesson, by the way.

A fellow student

I love hearing this. Hits home as a writer trying to write semi auto bio stuff.

Essie S.

wow I really love this "E is for EDIE", please tell me this is being future developed!

Ken K.

Found this lesson very inspiring. I like how Aaron gives pro tips and advices, but always saying that those might work for one writer or another, but they are not strict rules to be followed. And I'm happy to learn Jeanie has made it through!

Nat

This lesson is wild because it's very relevant to a screenplay I'm writing about four male roommates who all have mental disorders. One is schizophrenic, another is bipolar, another has DID, and the last is clinically depressed. I realize that it's a stretch to pitch because mental illness is a very delicate subject. However, I see movies like Beautiful Mind and Split that also depict mental illnesses that got sold and plenty of people enjoy those movies. To write something like that for television though is a different story. I wanted to add a comedic element to it to lighten the mood, but I also want to be honest and show the realistic, crappy parts of having a mental disorder. In addition, the entire first season is dedicated to the main character figuring out the mystery of his mother's sudden death. As I looked deeper into this, I realized I made that the main plotline because (similarly to sexual orientation), a mental disorder is only an element of a person. It does not define them entirely and that's what I wanted to portray through the season. It's a coming of age show about the main character dealing with his recent diagnosis of bipolar disorder and a coming to terms show with the acceptance of his mother's unpredictable death.

Annje C.

Meh. I'd rather have these lessons near the end of the class and have more lessons on how to actually write a screenplay before picking one apart. That's why I'm skipping these and will come back to them after I finish the rest of the lessons.

Sophie C.

This has been my favourite part of the lessons so far! So cool to see him in action - learning heaps

Veronica

I have tried to download the PDF attachment for this lesson, but I keep getting an error message. Anyone else having this issue?