Advanced Scene Writing: Break the Rules with Style OnDemand Webinar

Advanced Scene Writing: Break the Rules with Style OnDemand Webinar

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No one comes out of a movie talking about what great structure they've just seen. No, what audiences love and remember most about a movie are its scenes. Marlon Brando riding in a cab in On the Waterfront giving his "I could'a been a contender" speech. Meg Ryan's fake orgasm in Katz's Deli in When Harry Met Sally. Or in Super Bad, Jonah Hill professing "I love you" to his friend Michael Cera by touching his nose with a "Boop."

Jack Nicholson says he won't do a movie unless it has at least five amazing moments. This means the scenes in your script have to be as good as its structure. Structure alone does not lead to a great screenplay. If you were to make a list of screenwriters and filmmakers known for their memorable scenes -- Tarantino, P.T. Anderson, Mamet, Woody Allen, Robert Altman, Wes Anderson -- you will find that they violate many of so-called rules of screenwriting: too long, too talky, contain monologues, mix humor with drama or rely on repetition.

Most of these rules are well-intentioned. Their purpose is to make sure that you don't violate key principles that can hurt your story. However, if you know the underlying tenets that these rules are intended to protect, you can break them with style. You can follow principles, not rules.

Jim Mercurio's strength, a former student said, is that he can analyze scenes at the molecular level. He also uses his background as a filmmaker to reveal nitty-gritty scene writing craft to help you create more emotional and memorable scenes as well as establish your unique voice. If you are ready to take a leap in your screenwriting, join Jim for this novel topic in screenwriting craft.


  • How to "break the rules" like Woody Allen, Quentin Tarantino and David Mamet do with their long, talky and rhetoric-filled scenes
  • Discover the essence of surprise and organics reversals
  • The importance of climax and how to illuminate it.
  • How to write visually and make dialogue a last resort to tell your story.
  • How to see scenes through the eyes of actors, cinematographers and directors.
  • How to polish your script so it's ready for A-List actors and directors.
  • New principles like "smashability", extended beats and writing to concept.
  • Advanced topics like metaphor, monologues and the key to subtext.


  • Writers who want to create polished screenplays that are ready to be packaged, i.e., that will attract actors, producers and directors.
  • Storytellers of all short-form narratives: commercials, songs, skits, sketches and shorts.
  • Screenwriters, actors, directors, producers and novelists.
  • Those who need an understanding of story in their work: editors, composers and songwriters.
  • Writers who are ready to take the leap from good to great.

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