Film & TV

Group Workshop: From Here to Alli by Corey Wright

Aaron Sorkin

Lesson time 18:14 min

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.

Aaron Sorkin
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Corey? Yes. You're up. Already? "From Here to Alli," is that how it's pronounced? Ah-ee. Ah-ee? Yes. So that's not at all how it's pronounced. At all. So I couldn't have missed any more than I did. "From Here to Alli." Let's read the first couple of pages of it. And then I have some questions I want to ask. I think it's fantastic. I think it's terrific. As you know, I was hoping that you'd tank, but just out of spite, you know? I hear you. But let's read the first couple pages. Go ahead, it's all yours. "Interior nail salon, day. Maddie Lynn Hollingsworth, a middle-aged Caucasian woman who hasn't worked a day in her married life is sitting in a chair in a spa. She's wearing yoga pants with a matching top and sporting a ring that could fund a small business. Chance, a male nail worker is firmly filling away at her toes. Maddie Lynn is on the phone sipping a kale juice. No, Olivia, I'm telling you. It's the absolute best. It was the most gentle colonic I've ever had. It was like he wasn't even there. It was like I wasn't even there. Wait, hold on. She taps Chance on the shoulder. Hola. Um, you're digging into my pinkie toe-y, mucho hurt. Mucho, OK? I'm Asian, and I speak English. Sound good. You just keep it up. Keep at it down there. Big tip-o. Big tip. Yeah. Chance rolls his eyes. Olivia, sweetie? What are you doing over there? Well, it sounds like you're trying to push a car out of your vagina. A what? Honey, a master cleanse on Monday is never something to explore, especially with the way you drink. You're all done. Thank you. Muy [? zapatos. ?] Olivia, honey, I got to go. She slurps down the rest of the kale juice and hobbles out of her chair. She goes up to pay. Over her shoulder on the television screen-- --could be the biggest embezzlement and Ponzi scheme to hit America in the last 100 years. All employees are being indicted and will be brought in for questioning. Meanwhile, Cromwell says it's not his fault. So who's right? More details coming up. But first, Janice with the weather. Such a shame. Thanks, Tom. Well, today's going to be another hot one here in Los Angeles with temperatures ranging in the high 90s. So if you're thinking about hitting the pool-- Meanwhile-- Your card no working. Your machine no working. Swipe it again, please. She does. The machine beeps and seals her fate. Nope. The salon cashier, Hannah, an older Asian lady in a muumuu, holds out her card. Maddie Lynn snatches it back and starts to dig in her purse. This is obviously a mistake. And I can't believe that as a loyal customer who pretty much keeps you in business, you can't figure this out. I'm sorry. Well, me too. Here, try this one. She hands her another card. It works....

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.


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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: 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: Contest closes this Sunday, Nov 24 at 10pm PT. Can't wait to see your submissions!

M. M.

Good critique of opening for The Merc. Show us, don’t tell us what this “other” moneymaker place looks like. Liked the cmments about naming v.s. just descriptive character notes, after the read — for actors.

Ryan S.

The L to R thing is ridiculous. Chinese people pronounce the "L" sound quite easily. Working at Tesla, I found Chinese speakers pronounce the L in Tesla perfectly fine, but would add "ur" at the end of it, as in "Teslur." I understand that "Maddierynn" is racist and Corey is trying to show that, but he is trying through a redundant, stupid perception that isn't even true. You can show her racist tendencies through other ways that don't perpetuate false stereotypes. And for those of you who always make this argument "It's comedy, it's subjective." Comedy is always "subjective" when it comes to making fun of Asians. Black, white, latino, can all get in on the fun making fun of Asians. If there is retaliation, then Asians are sensitive and can't take a joke. Just like black people can't take a break from crack and purple drank.


Enjoyed hearing these young writer's script and ideas. They are brilliant and inventive. Wondered about one thing. Their scripts are laced with camera directions such as jump cut, etc. Without drawing a comment from Sorkin to them, wondered if this is now accepted/expected in spec screenplays. Every training and book I've read in the past advises writers not to "direct on paper" when crafting master scene screenplays. Thoughts?

Nina T.

I enjoyed the critique from Sorkin with each of the scripts from each writer. I also was inspired by Corey and Aaron’s stories of beginnings. And what stood out to me was when Mr. Sorkin said, Good feelings when you write is important. I can relate to that - I love to write and it always feels good when I write, always. I’ve watched thousands of films over the years - and it started when I was a child after hearing that my father and the late actor Leslie Nielsen were cousins. But it wasn’t until a Dream I had many years ago and during the writing of my first book that I was inspired and compelled to write my first screenplay of which I am currently working on. This is why I am so thankful to have MasterClass to help me hone my craft.

Judith M.

For some reason that script read in my head more like comedy than drama, and I could see it's potential as a possible sitcom. I have to say that the R-L mispronunciation joke, only works for me in a comedic situation, but that may be because of the difference between Brits and Americans. Otherwise it feels a bit too laboured, and would be better replaced by something that actually made me want to watch the show. I want to be drawn into their world. Sadly after 10 pages I couldn't relate to any of the characters, yet what Corey described as his core theme sounded like something that I'd enjoy. It left me with the feeling that he'd opened too early in the story or could cut some of the dialogue that wasn't essential to the plot.

Maros M.

I enjoyed hearing Corey's story and the way he clinked to writing and kept on and on, despite the missing opportunities. I take this also as an example of persistence and determination which is crucial and always good to hear and remind one self as H.C.Bresson said keep on, on, on...

A fellow student

Gary Thomas, WA Corey Wright has written the pilot to an hour show. It is the story of a few families who are intertwined by vocation and personnel. In the reading of the manuscript there is a joke that Corey has written that he sustains long enough to show his confidence in, and thereby seems to a be a seasoned writer. Aaron identifies enough in Corey's work that he , Sorkin, shares his beginnings. how that in spite of beginning as an actor, discovers his joy to write.


Sorry to disagree with Mr. Sorkin but as others have pointed out, the Lynn- Rinn joke IS racist, and it’s super, super tired. As an Asian American who is always aware of the scant screen time Asians have gotten, I can attest that a high percentage of that time has been taken up by the R v. L thing and mispronunciations in general. Let’s move on people, do your research and create something fresh.


Not sure HOW to make the action in the script match the time it will take on the screen. For example, if there is a fight scene, do you describe every punch and jab and the reaction of the fighters to each punch and jab or do you write a paragraph saying two characters are fighting then leave half the page blank because you believe it will take 30 seconds of screen time show it?