Three leading screenwriters offered their knowledge and experience to the students of the David Lynch MA in Film during a one month intensive screenwriting course in October. The class was led by writer/director Dorothy Rompalske, who has worked as a story analyst for Universal Pictures. Professor Rompalske was joined by acclaimed script consultant Dara Marks and Saving Grace/Law & Order writer Roger Wolfson, who each taught 3-5 day seminars.
Dara Marks, PhD, author of Inside Story, taught her unique method of story analysis, which earned her top ratings by Creative Screenwriting Magazine as the best script consultant in the business and has made her a highly sought after keynote speaker.
“Story has an architecture to it,” said Dara, “but in really powerful films there is a whole interior structure as well.” She calls this interior structure the transformational arc. “There’s an inner call for the hero to be more of who he is, because of the conflicts he faces in the outer physical world.”
Dara feels that explorations of consciousness can add a whole new dimension to stories. “As we plummet the depths of our own consciousness and creativity, we come up with beautiful expressions which inspire that experience and those values in other people. We imbue our world with that.”
Furthermore, she believes that deeply transformational stories can offer an antidote to the many shallow stories in the film industry today. “Stories now are like junk food. If you have an occasional Big Mac, who cares. But if that’s all you eat, what is that doing to the health of the organism.”
A second workshop was conducted by Roger Wolfson, writer and story editor for Saving Grace, The Closer, Law and Order and more. He is also a lawyer who worked as a U.S. Senate staffer for many years and wrote speeches for John Kerry’s presidential campaign.
“Roger changed everything for me,” said Jennifer Kachler, a student in the David Lynch MA in Film. “He made me look deep inside of who I am as a human, and who I am as a filmmaker, and what I am truly passionate about. And now I have this brilliant idea for a screenplay, and it’s flowing.”
“I saw each student really transform in those three days,” she continued. “Everyone became more confident in who they are and what they wanted to accomplish. It was such an incredible experience. I will never forget those three days of being in class with him.”
The lead teacher of the month-long course was Dorothy Rompalske. Dorothy is the author of a number of feature screenplays including Pilgrimage, currently in development, which she is slated to direct. Her credits include the drama Good Fortune (producer/director/writer); the feature documentary Cinema Combat: Hollywood Goes to War (writer) for the AMC cable network; Reflections on Media Ethics (writer); and also as writer, the episode Quitting Cold for the NYC–based television series Here is New York (winner of an Emmy for screenwriting).
“My experience here has been fabulous,” said Dorothy. “I’ve found the students to be amazingly creative and smart, and their stories are wonderful. Also, the faculty, the administrators care so much about the students. And that is how it should be.”
“We were really fortunate,” said Gurdy Leete, program director of the David Lynch MA in Film, “to get a trio of such outstanding writers and teachers for our screenwriting class. The David Lynch MA in Film has been a magnet drawing top talent here to share their expertise with our students. In the coming months, we will have workshops taught by award-winning Hollywood acting coach Anthony Meindl, by Los Angeles based sound editor Lawrence Everson, and by a number of others. We are so grateful for the time and attention given to our students by these world-class writers and filmmakers.”
See more information on the David Lynch MFA in Film.