January 12, 2011

McKenna, David Silver_nugget
Script Analysis

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This class was so disappointing. For the entire semester, McKenna did nothing but outline and explain Vogler's 12-act structure for writing. Though this structure is interesting for as long as it takes to read the book we had to buy, McKenna stretched this out over months of class time by talking about the most random things, or by recounting the opening to Rocky in a rich, totally unnecessarily theatrical way, or by just cursing a lot. Sure, he is enthusiastic, but I literally learned almost nothing from his lectures. He kept repeating that though this method of writing wasn't the only effective way to write a screenplay, we should value it as a tool that we could play around with later. True as that may be, it certainly didn't take a semester to understand it.
Fortunately, the TAs were much better, and discussion sections were filled with a variety of different exercises that, unlike the lectures, genuinely helped me improve my analysis of scripts. Thankfully, McKenna would occasionally allow one of the TAs to give a short guest lecture on a topic unrelated to the 12-act structure. The assignments were all pretty interesting, too, since they mostly consisted of reading a script and then addressing a specific scene or character.

Workload:

4 short-ish assignments
Attendance counts
final Director's Prep (40ish pages)