Mastering Genre: The Thriller Screenplay

This course will be offered again in the Fall session.

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Mastering Genre Storytelling for Screenwriters & Filmmakers

That shiver… That tingle up your spine… The unbearable tension as the unthinkable closes in on you. The thriller has long been one of the most reliably profitable and successful movie genres of all time and has launched or elevated the careers of countless revered directors.

Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days, Christopher Nolan’s Memento, the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple, Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs

From Psycho to Se7en… from Silence of the Lambs to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo… when a thriller captures the public imagination, the result can be box-office gold and career-making (or redefining) success for all involved.

Micro-budget-friendly, not always needing “name actors” to find success, often requiring few special effects or demanding locations, the thriller can be an aspiring screenwriter or filmmaker’s best friend.

But what drives the popularity of thrillers? What makes thriller screenplays work? And how do you create the next breakthrough thriller hit?

This one-evening course — part of a new genre series of one-evening masterclasses presented by award-winning playwright and screenwriter Todd McGinnis — provides an overview of genre and helps you understand the conventions and tropes of specific genre storytelling.

Whether you stick to the conventions or bend them, your ability to write a thriller  screenplay that sells requires a deep understanding of the style and structure of the genre as a foundation to make your script exceptional.

What you’ll learn:

  • Explain and demystify what “genre” is and what exactly makes a story “genre?”
  • Defining the thriller genre and its many related blended and sub-genres
  • Structural and story conventions of thriller genre scripts
  • Style and thematic conventions of thriller genre scripts
  • How and where to bend and play with these conventions in the script
  • How understanding “genre” can enable you to improve not just your storytelling but your chances for success

In this fun, high-energy seminar, Todd McGinnis will also show you how to identify the audience you want and how to write and create for that audience.

Whether your passion is to create an award-winning short film, the next viral web series or feature screen gem, this one-evening masterclass will help provide a road map for your script.

About the Instructor

todd mcginnis

Todd McGinnis is an award-winning professional playwright, actor and screenwriter. He has worked as a script/story consultant and penned several screenplays as a writer-for-hire, including most recently The Never Man and Dirty Diamonds. His plays and monologues have been performed throughout North America, the UK and Australia, and he has worked for more than 20 years in most aspects of stage and screen production, learning the art and craft of storytelling from every possible angle. In 2016 Blur which he co-scripted for Director George D’Amato, premiered at Cinequest, took a Best Film award at Manhattan Film Festival, and screened at Raindance UK and Worldwide Berlin. His short film Shelly directed by Eric Johnson (The Knick, Fifty Shades Darker) took Audience Favorite at Toronto’s 48 Hour Film Competition. His online home is www.playingafterdark.com


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