Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Group Workshop: Untitled by JJ Braider

Aaron Sorkin

Lesson time 14:21 min

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.

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

Topics include: Table read • Script feedback


You have each come in with a scene from a screenplay that you're working on. So we're going to read through the scene. The author is going to cast it for us. It's going to be the wrong cast-- we're not actors here, this is going to be like me playing the lead in Pretty Woman. But we'll just read it through out loud, so we get a sense of it. And then we'll talk about it. And J.J. Braider, we're going to start with you. You know what? I'm just going to read out loud the full script, a logline, OK? Do you mind? No, please. This is untitled by J.J. Braider. The full script logline is upon hearing, I'm sorry, upon learning that his absence from the battlefield has cost his beloved sister her life. Elijo? Yeah. Elijo, the most lethal soldier in a Mexican cartel is consumed with a rage for vengeance that knows no bounds. And this is adapted from Homer's The Illiad. Exterior, farmhouse, high desert, dawn. First light picks out the edges of a ramshackle farmstead-- satellite dish, cracked adobe, and ATVs in the yard. We're in-- Jalisco. Jalisco, Mexico. In an aged t-shirt, and carrying a steaming travel mug of coffee, a stout, middle-aged farmer emerges, slips on boots that he had left outside the door the previous night. His son and daughter, both in their 20s, follow him out of the house. The farmer climbs into one of the ATVs, its engines roar rips the silence. He leaves his children to start their days. Go to exterior fields. We're moving, moments later. The ATV's headlights cut through the receding darkness. We hear a corrido playing in the farmer's headphones as he drives out into his land. Am I pronouncing that right? Corrido, right. What is a corrido? It's a Mexican folk ballad. Still contemporary songs. We hear a corrido playing on the farmer's headphones, as he drives out into his land. He stops here and there to check a sprinkler head, or a readout on his laptop-- modern farming. At another point, he rips a rifle from its housing on the back of the four-wheeler, to try to pick off a jack rabbit. It vanishes before he can align his shot. Continuing, his headlights pick out a muddy puddle blocking the dirt path among the rows of agave plants. He stops and dismounts to investigate the flooding. He looks perplexed. He pulls a two-way radio from his belt, and removes the headphones, still playing. We've got flooding out on the north end, east agave fields. You see any irrigation issues on your end? He wades out into the water. No readings or problems in the remotes. How much flooding are we talking? He wades farther. The growing light of day reveals a vast overflow into his fields. Shit. It's a vast, muddy swath of this farm, sopping up the cacti. We'll come and check you out. The farmer takes in the terrible destruction. Exterior, flooded a...

About the Instructor

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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Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin teaches you the craft of film and television screenwriting.

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