From David Mamet's MasterClass

Life of a Dramatist

The life of a dramatist is fraught with uncertainty, but dedication and passion towards your craft can lead you beyond consciousness.

Topics include: Uncertainty • Dedication • Beginning Your Career

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The life of a dramatist is fraught with uncertainty, but dedication and passion towards your craft can lead you beyond consciousness.

Topics include: Uncertainty • Dedication • Beginning Your Career

David Mamet

Teaches Dramatic Writing

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It's like, again, as Polonius says to Ophelia, "Love? His affections do not that way tend." And so I wanted to say something to all you guys listening about that is that a lot of people are drawn into movie making and drawn into the theater because of one thing they want to do. It might be being a director of photography, it might be being an actor. It might be being an AD. It might be-- and you might find there's something else that you want to be. And maybe you're not so good at that, but you're very good at something else. And that's where all of the writers used to come from and still did in my day. They came from guys who got in as an actor. Shakespeare was an actor. And they said wait a second, let me try this other thing. And we know this works when we put on the office party. So we put on the office party and Sally says, we're going to have an office party here, we're going to put on a skit about the mailroom. And one person says, ooh, good, good, I got a great idea for costumes. And one person says, ooh can I write it. And the other guy says, oh, I'm going to play Bertha. This is such a cliche of American life, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney saying, we'll put it on in the garage. But that's all the theater is, it's a bunch of people saying, we'll put it on the garage, my uncle's got a top hat, ooh, ooh, can I sing a song. You're not going to find that in school, you're not going to find that in any school. But you're going to find that in the garage. Got a job at Ford designing automobiles, well, what's that person going to get a job doing? They say, good, you're going to work on the taillight, so you're going work on the taillight for 10 years. And maybe you work on the back bumper and blah, blah, blah. It's very seldom that you're going to actually get a job designing a whole car. On the other hand, there were these things in Los Angeles, mainly in Los Angeles-- may still be called chop shops which are not the chop shops of today where they took stolen cars --but where kids would get together and they'd create a new car, out of nothing. Where do they create the hot rod buggies, they create it. And the people from Detroit started coming to these chop shops and say, wow, that's what we should be doing. So these kids were making the cars right there that Detroit was beating a path to their door and saying, we want to make that. We want to make that car. So it's the same in the theater, rather than going to all of these schools and blahbity, blahbity, blah, make your own car. Put on your own play in the garage and maybe the world will beat a path to your door. And if it doesn't, you head for it anyway. It's a schizophrenia profession, being a dramatist. Because you have to be several people, and yourself, and the audience, and you have to like doing it even when you're miserable. I was shooting a movie for HBO, the Phil Spector story with Helen ...

Write great drama

David Mamet sat in on a poker game full of thieves and left with the inspiration for American Buffalo. Now, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of Glengarry Glen Ross takes you through his process for turning life’s strangest moments into dramatic art. In his writing class, he’ll teach you the rules of drama, the nuances of dialogue, and the skills to develop your own voice and create your masterpiece.

Reviews

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

Great insights into the drama rules and state of mind. I learnt more here than in traditionnal writing workshops I attended so far. David's art of story telling and inspiring examples make the masterclass very valuable.

I feel I have learned a little bit about life, perseverance and art in general rather than just Screenwriting. Even though online, David is probably one of the greatest teachers I have had. Thank you.

He seems to say, "Keep it simple and just do your job." I think a good show can entertain AND cause audiences to think. Everything is reflective.

Hard to say. It was a very moving and inspiring set of lectures. I need to go back and review everything because it is so much to absorb on the first round.

Comments

Shayne O.

For a book writer probably a little different from other lessons. But so interesting to hear about writing from another angle in another world. Handy for when my book goes to movie...insert winkie face.

Dex D.

"There's no one who's going to be your mentor in show business." SO TRUE. You've got to rely on yourself and no one else.

Joshua A.

I guess this is the point when I think 'is this really what I want?/is this really what I should be doing with myself?' I just don't know after all this. Being a writer seemed like a good idea. But now I don't know. Sometimes I even think I hate writing, but then other times I put it down to lack of motivation.

Mia S.

"The best thing you can say to someone who wants to go into show business, who know what it is? 'Don't do it.' Because if they listen, they don't belong in show business. I think most people drop out of show business, in my experience, because they can't stand the uncertainty. It's a life of self-direction, and you have to learn how to do it on your own. No one's going to be your mentor in show business, though a lot of people claim to. Show business is just like raising children, in that, you get everything wrong. There's nothing you get right. You're strict when you should be lenient, lenient when you should be strict, hanging over them when you should leave them alone, you're absent when they need you. Nonetheless, they grow up. Everybody's got to figure it out for him or herself. I'm not any less confused than you are. I'm not any less uncertain about my work or my worth than you are. I just got in the habit of doing it, and you can too. The conscious mind has to do what it did before; that's what the conscious mind does. The mind is basically a lump of mud. We have these electrical impulses which can be likened to a drop of water - you put the first drop of water on top of the lump of mud, it's going to run down someway or other. But the second drop's going to run down where the first drop ran down and the rivulet is going to keep getting deeper and deeper. These electric impulses form our consciousness. To what extent this is the mind or the brain I don't know, but it's an interesting way of thinking about it. How do you use the conscious mind to subvert the workings of the conscious mind? Meditation. There's varieties of religious experience, and there's dedication. So if you dedicate yourself, no different than the ballerina, quarterback - dedicate yourself to the discipline of your craft. Eventually you will be rewarded with something which is not from your conscious mind."

Mia S.

"'Love? His affections do not that way tend.' A lot of people are drawn into movie making and drawn into the theater because of one thing they want to do. You might find there's something else that you want to be, and maybe you're not so good at that, but you're very good at something else. That's where all of the writers used to come from, they came from guys who got in as an actor. They said, 'Wait a second, let me try this other thing.' It's very seldom that you're going to actually get a job designing a whole car. On the other hand, there were these things in Los Angeles, chop shops - where people would get together and they'd create a new car, out of nothing. Make your own car, put on your own play in the garage and maybe the world will beat a path to your door. And if it doesn't, you had fun anyway. It's a schizophrenic profession, being a dramatist. Because you have to be several people, and yourself, and the audience, and you have to like doing it even when you're miserable. When it's good it's great, and even when it's terrible, it's not so bad."

Anthony P.

"Dedicate yourself to your craft and eventually you will be rewarded with something thats not from your conscious mind" - wow yes, that is true.

Eric S.

"I'm not any less sure of my worth than you are, and....if I can do, you can do it too." Rare to find someone of DM's stature who has the self confidence to admit his insecurities. That comes from living. I will take from this - the delicate subject of the artist that is neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, the surety of humility and the treachery of hubris.

Elizabeth C.

He's a conduit. Simple. Bless him bringing us stories we can journey with. On stage and off stage :-)

Michael T.

All his lessons have been nothing short of brilliant, and this one the best of the lot so far. Making the esoteric accessible, or as accessible as it can be. Thank you, David.

Charlie P.

Neurologists now tell us that we don't remember an actual event. We remember the last time we remembered it. Therefore it changes some each time. So what Mr. M is saying is true: the brain itself is a dramatist. And with our conscious help it's constructing the theater of our past.