Gerald Martin Davenport on set of Petite Chardonnay.

How to Write a Film Screenplay with Proper Industry Standards

Story · Characters · Action · Dialog

Instructor: Gerald Martin Davenport.

What is it about?

Writing a great story is a third of the battle

You must write your screenplay in industry standards before even being considered to submit, but you must have a compelling and interesting story to tell before you even write it.

Formatting your screenplay so the story is up front

Did you run out of steam when you finished Act One and started to tackle Act Two of your promising story? Yes Act Two is tough to write — the film industry criticizes screenplays because of "the second act slump, blahs, or snooze" among other things. Act Two has to payoff the promises made in Act One, as well as, make promises that will be paid off in Act Three.

Now is the time to finish, rework, and revitalize that story you have in the desk drawer and see if it follows Industry Standard Formatting. Why not write that first screenplay you have always dreamed of doing. Our Screenwriting - Screenplay Writing Class offers you the experience and knowledge needed to achieve your personal or professional goals.

The internet is flooded with information about anything and everything; however, finding the correct and complete information, getting your questions answered, understanding and deciphering it, and wondering if it is Industry Standard or misleading is a search through the hay-stack for something you do not even know what you are looking for.

There are high priced established schools you can attend, both online and in person, but you are in classes with many other students. Our courses are One-on-One, hands-on personal-at-your-location, to give you the undivided attention to move your learning and education along at the pace that fits you.

It is highly recommended that you write your screenplay in Industry Standard Formatting whether or not you or going to be submitting or writing as a career: Your screenplay looks professional, it is easy to read (anytime the reader is annoyed your chances of them tossing it increases), and it makes you, as a writer, be taken seriously about your material. So if you have never sold a screenplay, you should learn the correct way to do it, or if you want, take your chances and roll the dice.

About the Instructor

Gerald Martin Davenport

With 24 finished screenplays — 7 of them made into movies — and over 200 more stories novel, screenplay, and script form since 1975, Gerald writes from the heart and from experience — with a little imaginative fantasy added in — his mind is a world of imagination gone wild.

Since 2009 he has been involved in 16 productions as either the editor, post-production guru, camera operator, writer, director that have been projected at the Crest Theater, Crocker Art Museum, and public access television in Sacramento, the Del Oro and Sierra Cinema Theaters in Grass Valley, the Davis Film Festival, and many other venues.

Gerald has worked on over 400 projects working as the creative director and editor since 1995; he knows what it takes to take a project from start to finish and deliver it for viewing.

Gerald's passion for learning and creating is equalled with his enjoyment for sharing and tutoring. One thing that irritates him is a weak story, or lack there of, when he watches any form of media. “If your story cannot stand on its own merit by just being read, than no amount of acting, effects, or music is going to make it any better.” He is also a believer in the phrase “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

About the Classes

Class Description

Chance favors the prepared mind

When you plan a long-distance trip to a place you have never been before, do you just hop in the car and drive hoping for the best? Writing a story / screenplay is a long trip into unknown territory with hundreds of paths, roads, and possibilities. Planning and organization are key elements in any venture, and helpful when setting out on such an adventurous journey.

Whether you are doing it for fun, a career, or making your own productions, it never hurts to do it the way the Entertainment Industry does, so plan now to learn the right way and be successful.

Script or Screenplay?

All screenplays are scripts, but not all scripts are screenplays. A screenplay is always written to be played on a screen — film or television; a script may also apply to a stage play, a video game, a radio program, or computer program. Simple Answer: A Script is about the dialog; a screenplay has descriptions and action to set up the visuals for the dialog. You are writing a screenplay; therefore you are a screenwriter, a beginner anyway, not a scriptwriter.


Course SPF01: Introductory
Six 2 hour sessions


  • Introduce writers to the conventions and structure of feature film
  • Understand the functions of each act in a feature film
  • Develop writing skills using targeted creative assignments

You will learn:

  • How to introduce and develop your protagonist and antagonist
  • How to plan a story using an outline and notecards
  • How to write memorable characters and surprising stories
  • How to choose the proper setting for your script
  • How to recognize and avoid weak and clichcliché plots

Session One: Why You Really Need an Outline and Why Act 1 Is the Most Important Act

  • What the function of an outline is
  • How an outline makes writing easier and better
  • What elements should be in an outline
  • The Surprise Factor
  • Why Act 1 is the most important act

Session Two: The 3-Act Outline

  • The detailed elements of the 3-Act Outline
  • Using notecards to assist in the outline
  • Introducing the protagonist and presenting the plot

Session Three: Introducing Characters in Act 1

  • Understanding major, minor, and peripheral characters
  • Introducing characters in active scenes
  • Making memorable characters
  • Character conflicts

Session Four: Introducing Conflict in Act 1

  • Matching plot conflicts with character conflicts
  • How plot conflicts dictate other plot elements
  • Creating stakes and suspense
  • Using misdirection to heighten impact

Session Five: Using Settings to Heighten Act 1

  • Changing the setting changes the tone, pace, and suspense
  • Choosing more interesting and appropriate settings
  • Using settings as a misdirection in information-loaded scenes

Session Six: More Plot Choices than You Want

  • Plot, Premise, Stakes, Twists, and Themes and Motifs
  • The Best Question: What if?
  • Identifying weak plots
  • Identifying weak story points
  • How to finesse standard plot conflicts into more original conflicts

Requirements and Tools

Requirements and Tools

PREREQUISITE: aptitude and ability to tell compelling, moving, educational, or entertaining stories; to plant a vision in the mind, to invoke emotion, to motivate; these are just a few things a “Storyteller” must be able to achieve — it is not for everyone, but you never know if it is inside you unless you try.

You do not need to bring anything to the class except your willingness to learn and the ability to put that knowledge to use, as well as, a notebook, laptop, or mobile device to take notes.

It is highly recommended that you use a computer or a mobile device with screenwriting software to write your completed screenplay. There are many free and paid applications, as well as, online offerings available. I use Final Draft and Writer Duet. But there are many others such as Beat and Highlander 2. MS Word can be used, but if you are an aspiring screenwriter wanting to become a professional, use what the professionals use. Not only does it look better, but you feel better.


Need to contact me?

I am a private person, but that contradicts the entertainment, filmmaker, and website designer part of me. I am here to help.

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