Screenwriting by Beth Serlin, Loyola Marymount professor at the Budapest Film Academy

Masterclass with Beth Serlin American screenwriting professor

 In cooperation of Loyola Marymount University, Budapest Film Academy and Eotvos Lorand University we offer a high level, intensive screenwriting course. Beth Serlin, screenwriting professor from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, gives seven film analysis lectures at the Múzeum körút campus of ELTE.

The tuition fee for the seven lectures:

  • For those, who are not enrolled at the BFA screenwriting course: 770 EUR
  • For those, who are currenty attending the BFA screenwriting course: 539 EUR

We recommend this unique and master series of lectures to both beginner and advanced students.

Registration: admission@budapestfilmacademy.com

 Deadline: March 3rd, 2020

 You can find Beth Serlin’s CV here. 

Scene and Sequence:

How to Reveal Character through Structure

March 9th, 2020


The aim of this seminar is to explore the precise craft of writing scenes for film, and building those scenes into longer sequences.  By studying the microcosm of a scene, writers can have a better grasp of screenwriting’s core fundamentals and deepen their understanding of how character drives all action.

The seminar will focus on the following topics:

  • What is a Scene?
  • The Basic Dramatic Predicament
  • Character Fundamentals
  • The Unity of Opposites
  • Character Triangles – the Scene
  • How Character Creates a Scene
  • Scene Form – status quo, conflict, rising action, culmination, resolution and twist
  • What is a Sequence?
  • Sequence Form

These additional topics will focus on :

  • Character Want vs. Character Need
  • Character Triangles – the Feature
  • The Nature of Antagonism
  • Theme

The seminar will be a mixture of lecture, screening, discussion and some in-class exercises.  Time allowing we will move into macro topics in preparation for full feature film analysis.


  • Watch Lethal Weapon
  • Read Glossary/Character/ Structure Folder
  • Read Lethal Weapon folder
  • Write Triangle Notes
  • Identify: break into Act 2/break into Act 3


Feature Film Analysis:

Structure and How it’s Built by Character


March: 11, 14, 16, 21, 23, 30

This seminar will focus on the analysis of 6 feature films from the screenwriter’s point of view.  Each analysis will be an in-depth study of the story’s dramaturgical elements and will deepen the student’s understanding of these principles and techniques so they can use them in the development of their own creative work.

The learning objectives of this seminar include:

  • Acquire an understanding of film dramaturgy, character development, conflict, tension and theme
  • Build a ‘toolbox’ of screenwriting techniques such as: planting and pay-off, polarity, sequencing, advertising, revelation and recognition
  • Understanding feature structure fundamentals: Act Breaks, Point of Attack, Reversals, Sequencing
  • Study a variety of story patterns and compare different narrative structures
  • Study diverse protagonists to compare how their stories evolve

Each session will begin with a discussion of an assigned film’s character world.  We will break down the film by protagonist, antagonist and pivotal characters, including their individual wants and needs.  This will lead to identifying the film’s theme.

It is imperative that each student screen the film independently before class so they can attempt the character breakdown (triangles) on their own before our discussion.

After our initial character discussion, we will do a complete analysis of the film’s structure, sequence-by-sequence, and discuss different story-telling techniques and tools such as:

  • Different types of Tension: Mystery, Suspense, Dramatic Irony
  • Exposition
  • Character Introduction
  • Flashback, Narration, Fractured Narrative

Suggested reading Screenwriting: The Sequence Approach by Paul Joseph Gulino


March 11 – 16:00-19:00

  • Course Overview
  • Discuss and Analyze: Lethal Weapon
  • Assignment: Watch Silence of the Lambs – Triangle Notes
  • Identify: Point of Attack/Break into Act 2/Break into Act 3/Act 3 Twist

March 14 – 9:00-14:00

  • Discuss and Analyze: Silence of the Lambs
  • Assignment: Watch Just Sex and Nothing Else – Triangle Notes
  • Identify: Break into Act 2/First Culmination/Break into Act 3

March 16 – 9:00-14:00

  • Discuss and Analyze: Just Sex an Nothing Else
  • Assignment: Watch Good Will Hunting – Triangle Notes
  • Identify: Extra triangle, Break into Act 2/ Break into Act 3

March 21 – 9:00-14:00

  • Discuss and Analyze: Good Will Hunting
  • Assignment: Watch Room – Read Folder /Triangle Notes
  • Identify: Act 2 goal/1st Culmination-Reversal/ Act 3 goal
  • Why this structure for these characters?

March 23 – 9:00-14:00

  • Discuss and Analyze: Room
  • Assignment: Watch To Die For – Read Folder/ Triangle Notes
  • Identify: Act 2 goal/Act 3 goal/ Act 3 twist
  • Why this structure for this character?

March 30 – 9:00-14:00

  • Discuss and Analyze: To Die For
  • Wrap up