6-Week Advanced Screenwriting Workshop with Maryam Najafi, Starts Day, June Date, 2023
Class Starts Day, June Date, 2023
Class will meet weekly via Zoom (Day, Time, Time Zone).
Any questions about this class? Use the Chat Button (lower left) to talk with us.What is this workshop & who is it for?
This 6-session advanced screenwriting workshop is intended for and offers a unique opportunity to screenwriters with a finished draft of a feature screenplay (maximum of 130 pages in standard screenplay format).
Whether you have just finished your first draft or are working on a rewrite that is “not quite there”, this workshop will help you take your screenplay further. It is specifically designed to lead screenwriters of all levels to the next stage in their writing journey.
This workshop is led by Maryam Najafi, a screenwriter, filmmaker and occasional producer, born in Iran, raised in Canada and bred around the world. Her work has been released and widely featured at international film festivals including BFI (British Film Institute) , MoMa (New York), Rotterdam (IFFR), Busan(BIFF), and many more, garnering both critical and popular acclaim. With a B.A in film studies, an MFA in screenwriting/directing and more than 15 years of hands-on international experience, Maryam offers a refreshing and multifaceted approach to screenplay analysis in a group setting.
Why was it created?
There is an overwhelming amount of information, books and classes out there on the art and craft of screenwriting. However, most of them tackle the “how” of screenwriting with an eye on structure; while many do it well, they can only get you so far. In the best case scenario, you have a draft that does not make your stomach churn, but you still cannot bring yourself to send it out, and in the worst case scenario, you have a draft in need of some deep work. A lot of people land somewhere in the middle, still unsure of how to proceed.
It is also no secret that film-making is a highly collaborative endeavor and a number of people need to come together to bring any film project to life regardless of how big or small it is. It does not matter if you are a writer/director, a novice screenwriter, a screenwriter with other works written or produced, or if you are writing a screenplay to hone your craft and have a writing sample. You are envisioning something and you need to get or keep other people on board in one way or another. Your screenplay is the main and sometimes the only vehicle for sharing that vision with others.
No matter what genre or structure you choose for your work, and even if you choose to forego definitions and forge your own path, there are certain elements and qualities that your work must possess in order for it to be viable and presentable. You can take comfort in the fact that no one gets it all right in the first draft and for many, the process of rewriting continues well into the editing stage.
However, it is crucial for you to be able to step back from your work and analyze it objectively, which is no easy task. It is even more difficult to find a way to give yourself any constructive feedback because your inner critic may be too strong or you may be too close to your work.
So how can you get the help you need? What are you supposed to after you finish a screenplay or do a rewrite? How do you know where your strengths and weaknesses are? How can you tell if your script is ready to be seen by others?
Your choices for getting help are somewhat limited at this stage and things are exponentially harder if you do not have agents, managers, producers or other collaborators attached. How can you get your script ready to send out to other professionals and potential collaborators in the industry?
You can ask trusted friends and dear ones to give you their unbiased opinion, but no matter how insightful their comments may be, they may not be familiar enough with the screenplay format to push your work far enough. Even if you already have friends in the industry who can offer you their opinion, your draft may not be ready for them yet.
Alternatively, you can spend exorbitant amounts of money on script doctors and reading services. If you are lucky you will get a customized response with unrealistic assumptions and if you are less lucky you will end up with a template response, none of which are very actionable or specific to your needs. To make matters worse, you’d only get one person’s perspective on your work at a time which is hardly enough to have a meaningful impact.
Wouldn’t it be great to have your very own focus group and use the insights to take your work to new heights? Wouldn’t it be much more helpful if instead, you could get case-specific, honest and constructive feedback on different aspects of your screenplay in its current state? Our answer was a resounding YES and that is why this workshop was created.
One of the greatest advantages of this dynamic workshop is that you do not have to take any one person’s opinion as the final verdict on your work. Instead, you can take in what has resonated and what has not landed for a number of people (4 or more) in a similar situation, from diverse backgrounds, with different skills and expertise, form your own opinion and decide how to move forward based on that. To top it off, you get to offer your analysis on their work and in doing so, more often than not, you will discover new possibilities and horizons in your own work. What is better than that?
How does it work?
By analyzing a limited number of screenplays (maximum of 5) in a safe, friendly and professional environment with fellow screenwriters on a similar path, guided by an instructor who has been on both sides of the table as a screenwriter, director and producer, you’ll have a unique opportunity to get unbiased feedback, constructive criticism and guidance as well as real, actionable and practical suggestions about your work in progress to take it to the next level.
Spread over a number 90-minute sessions, this workshop in designed to provide the attention and care your work deserves. The first session will include an overview of the workshop, personal and project introductions by the instructor and participants, an overview of the participating projects by the instructor, as well as discussions of reasons and inspirations behind writing each script and their vision for the project by the screenwriters. This session will end with a draw to pick the order in which the scripts will be analyzed over the course of the workshop.
The following sessions will each be dedicated to one of the participating screenplays. Different elements and aspects of each script will be analyzed and discussed in depth. These topics will be case-specific and will include many elements from plot and character development to pacing, dialogue, dramatic beats, clarity, formatting and everything in between! The instructor will also provide suggested film viewings and reading recommendations for each project.
The group meets via Zoom for 90 minute sessions.
4 or more 90-minute sessions depending on the number of participating projects.
- Reading all participating screenplays prior to the start date is mandatory for all attendees. Making notes to use in discussions is highly encouraged.
- Writer/directors and writing teams are welcome (different rates apply for groups)
ONLINE COURSE STRUCTURE:
This class meets weekly via Zoom.
Instructor: Maryam Najafi
Class Starts Day, June Date, 2023
Course is fully ONLINE and will meet weekly via Zoom
Born in Tehran and raised around the world, Maryam Najafi is an award-winning Iranian-Canadian writer/filmmaker. She holds a BA in Film Studies from the University of British Columbia and an MFA in Motion Pictures and Television from the prestigious Academy of Art University (AAU) in San Francisco. She has worked as a writer, director, editor and producer in Canada, U.S, Italy, Spain and the Middle East.
In 2010, Maryam co-produced THE NEIGHBOUR (Dir: Naghmeh Shirkhan), which has been featured in various international film festivals and has won several awards.
Her debut feature film as writer/director, KAYAN (2012), shot in Canada, went on to win the prestigious New Currents Award at the 17th Busan International Film Festival and had its European premiere at the 2013 Rotterdam International Film Festival. It has been showcased at many different film festivals, winning more prizes and garnering great critical and popular acclaim. It is now available on digital streaming platforms.
Since 2013, Maryam has been writing and developing different projects while also working on and being involved with notable films such as 2016’s WINDOW HORSES (dir: Ann Marie Fleming), a feature length animation starring Sandra Oh and Ellen Page among others that premiered at the 2016 Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France to great reviews and was the official selection at many more festivals including Toronto, Dubai, Busan. Maryam has also been Amir Naderi’s assistant from concept to release on his latest film MONTE starring Andrea Sartorreti and Claudia Potenza. MONTE premiered at the 2016 Venice International Film Festival and has been featured at numerous festivals since. It was theatrically released in Italy in fall 2016 and continues to stream online. Maryam has worked with Naderi on two of his scripts MESCAL and THE THIRD ACT, currently in development in L.A.
In 2017, Maryam co-wrote and co-produced TEHRAN: CITY OF LOVE with Ali Jaberansari which was the recipient of the HBF Development Fund and the HBF/NFF Plus Fund and premiered at the 2018 London BFI Film Festival. It has been showcased and praised at numerous international film festivals since, winning awards and accolades. It was picked up for distribution by the prestigious French company Reel Suspects and is available on a number of platforms. It has also been theatrically released in the UK and released on DVD in select countries.
Her second feature SHAHED a dark comedy set in Tehran’s biggest cemetery was in pre-production in 2019/2020 when it was shut down because of the pandemic, and unfortunately there was no way to keep it alive and Maryam had to move on.
Currently, Maryam is based in Portugal, developing her new second feature film PARADISE PLUS, a dark comedy set in a beachside resort in Turkey while co-writing two other scripts, LES REVES with award-winning Canadian author Naz Hozar and THE SURROGATE with Ali Jaberansari. She also collaborates with veteran filmmaker Amir Naderi on 2 feature films currently in development in the U.S.