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).

Aaron Sorkin
Teaches Screenwriting
Aaron Sorkin teaches you the craft of film and television screenwriting in 35 exclusive video lessons.
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"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.


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

This was a real Nuts-and-Bolts Masterclass: not too prescriptive or formulaic, and not too abstract. It's provided me with the tools to move forward and use my own voice with confidence.

It was helpful to get into practical aspects of the profession and I was able to develop many scenes inspired by Aaron Sorkin. He is a true Maestro of Art and surpassed all the degrees in drama.

Amazing! I love Aaron. The way he speaks is so genuine and what he's teaching is both aspirational and practical. I can definitely relate to being someone who's better at the written word than the spoken one. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to write for the screen.

I am not a screenwriter nor will I ever be one but I'm a big fan of Sorkin's work. Just to get a glimpse into his process is worth it to me.


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!


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.

svetlana Y.

That script is never going to sell. And not because of an intellectually challenged character. She probably needs to write it to get it out of her system and move on. I just hope she doesn't spend years trying to pitch it. Maybe i'm too harsh but i wouldn't watch it. While i empathize with Jeannie's personal emotions and problems, and the theme she raised is super important, as a story it's just not enough. There wasn't enough to fall in love with the character and watch her struggles. There isn't enough in the plot, especially for a whole tv series. This is more journaling than screenwriting. And even before she told her backstory, just from the way she was reading the lines i could tell she wrote about herself exactly as it is. She is way too caught up in this emotionally to see the story objectively. I think you can absolutely draw from your experiences but only if you can turn them into fictional stories. Especially for writers who are just starting out - better get the story as far away from your real life as possible, set it in outer space, make it a detective story. What Del Toro did in the Pan's Labyrinth. He was drawing from his emotions but what a beautiful layered story full of metaphors he created. Reciting your life with minor changes is a diary and it's not going to work. Maybe she needs to do 10 years of real screenwriting and then come back to this story. Then she can make it work.

Sophie C.

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


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

Eric G.

Powerful seeing Aaron in action...if this is him, his success is incredibly unavoidable. Work with him? Wow...I'd like to absorb half that marvelous power and intelligence. He works logically illogically. I love it. Rules, what rules? Rules are for beginners to find a core structure and build their own rules afterward. I also love the 'Jewish jokes," and love working with Hebrews in my film work...just finished two very big projects with two separate Hebrew director/producer/screenwriters and loved working with them...demanding in incredibly professional ways, honest, hardworking, and wonderfully talented. My last film with Israeli director/writer is premiering at this years CANNES Film Festival for the Palm d'Or as Best Short Film. It is brilliantly written, and superbly shot....looking forward to seeing it at the premiere.

Tara Jade B.

This was a really nice episode, very open and honest. And it was really nice to hear Aaron´s feedback, giving Jeanie the encouragement to fight through even though it won't be an easy sell. Also, it was great to hear "Rainman" anecdote!

Philip C.

I took the cornfield scene to be a thought that had crossed Riley's mind, but that she hadn't actually acted upon it. I assume we'd see that revealed in the coming pages. I didn't care for Riley at all during the reading. She came across as simply annoying. I think it might be better if Jeannie wrote it as a memoir and someone else wrote the screenplay. That way there's some objectivity as Aaron suggested. I do think Jeannie will succeed in her mission - it's a great cause and her determination is inspiring.

Carla C.

The lessons are nice, but I can't seem to add attachment, even after converting it from docx to pdf, so... I can't share.