Published: September 8, 2020
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By: Ora Damelin, Columbia College Chicago
Category: Professional Development
Hashtags: #Creativewriting #draft #Film #Screenwriting #Treatment #Writing
For Screenwriting II, I was required to develop, outline, and complete an original feature screenplay while critiquing the work of my classmates. My experiences during this time, both during and outside of class, helped me to develop my own creative process as a writer, while also sharpening my instincts as a storyteller.
I was inspired to write a story set in my community, the American Orthodox Jewish community, that depicted women as real human beings with wants and needs. I'm tired of films that depict my religious world as dull and dreary; I don't want to be dishonest and glaze over real issues within my community, but I wanted to tell a story that felt joyful and funny.
Thus, I decided to write about the rise and fall of the world's first and last all women's Orthodox Jewish Rock Band.
To ensure that my script felt authentic, I choose to use Hebrew and Yiddish terminology that is widely used within my community, but isn't in the modern vernacular. To ensure that readers of all backgrounds could understand the treatment, I've included an index with all terms that be be unfamiliar to those from outside of the Orthodox world.
I've found that writing a detailed treatment is a integral part of my creative process. Once I've done the research and created a basic plot outline, a detailed treatment helps me to find the areas where the story is lacking, pinpoint major problems and plot holes, and get a handle on the tone of my project before I start the formal script. This also gives me the freedom to focus on dialogue and pacing when I write the proper screenplay.
While workshopping the script in class, my professor pointed out that my protagonist, Shifra, lacked a clear goal, and the story did not have a low point or well-defined stakes. When I worked on the proper script, I restructured the second act to create larger stakes and fleshed out the story's low point.
Another friend encouraged me to take my time with the characters, to spend time with the band and to incorporate humor. I had a tight script, but sometimes, a story works better if you loosen up. I took his advice to heart and wrote in new scenes where the band squabbled and bonded for a second draft.
"Kol Eisha," is my first feature screenplay. I've included an early draft of my detailed treatment, and the first five pages of the latest draft of the full screenplay. If you are interested in reading the completed screenplay, please contact me directly.