By Melissa Caddell
“How To Succeed in Hollywood (Without Losing Your Soul),” a four-day scriptwriting course based on a book b y Dr. Ted Baehr (Founder and Publisher of MOVIEGUIDE®: The Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment), is less of a scriptwriting class and more of an entire education on scriptwriting, the
movie industry and how to consider the power of storytelling as an eternal gift from God.
Be prepared to have your brain squeezed and re-shaped – in a friendly, ‘tough love’ sorta way – with this class. Much of what I thought about scriptwriting and selling a script and movie making was radically altered with the information Dr. Baehr taught us.
From a scriptwriting perspective, we learned what good narrative structure is and exactly why it works, as well as examples of when it hasn’t in movies. We’ll never look at movies the same way again, that’s for sure! In fact, we got to a point of such understanding that we could pick out where story structure went wrong even a few minutes into the movie.
In this class, you’ll spend time understanding the story premise, the basic engine that gets the story going, and why knowing yours and being able to write it is THE key to writing a good story. Don’t know what yours is? Not to worry – you’ll spend a lot of time as a class on this because it is difficult to do well, but it’s what makes a great story work well.
The small class size I recently attended allowed us to really get to know each other and the scripts we were working on (all at various stages from rough ideas to completed scripts). Every day, we’d learn something, apply it to our writing, than bring it in for a loving and high-quality critique by our classmates and Dr. Baehr. You watch your writing and each other’s scripts improve with each exercise.
Learning about the entertainment industry from Dr. Baehr’s years of research and experience was eye-opening, as well as convicting. I left the course with a deep sense of responsibility to not only provide a good story in a script, but also convinced that every good story shares elements with The Story – the story of God’s love for us and His plan of redemption. I stopped wrestling with the idea of whether or not my story was “Christian” or not, but that, because I am a Christian, I produce Christian art. Producing Christian art is not something I myself put into a script; Christian themes run through all good stories, especially the great ones. The key is understanding what good stories are, which is part of what students learn in this course.
The course is based on information in Dr. Baehr’s latest book HOW TO SUCCEED IN HOLLYWOOD (WITHOUT LOSING YOUR SOUL): A Fieldguide for Christian Screenwriters, Actors, Producers, Directors, and More. The book is an excellent resource to have and refer to throughout the class and beyond.
As much as I was convicted to think big about the stories we have to tell and to not limit how God might use them, I was also encouraged and equipped to be a part of being a light in Hollywood. We are called to change the world, and Hollywood provides access to the world on a scale like nothing else.
Dr. Baehr’s Scriptwriting and Script Analysis Course calls each of us to bring our best – the highest quality light. Bring your light. Show the world hope.
Editor’s Note: Melissa Caddell is a wife, mother of three wonderful and talented redheads, and a successful professional writer. She’s working on her first script, which she will either shred into bits or enter into the Kairos Prize competition sponsored by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation (http://kairosprize.com/kp/). The next scriptwriting class Dr. Baehr will be teaching is this summer. Please contact Lisa at (805) 383-2000 or [email protected] for more information.