If I see the face of Aaron Sorkin one more time in my Facebook feed or in a newsletter, I’m going to punch my laptop.
Okay, he is among the most interesting screenwriters alive. In fact, he wrote the one scene I study the most with students in my own screenwriting classes. In exactly three minutes, that scene shows Sorkin’s genius in its dramatic construction, exposition and subtext.
Heck, I love the guy. So let’s make it the Sorkin Weekend on The Story Department – and get it over with. (If you come back tomorrow, I’ll show you that scene.)
So Sorkin is doing this Masterclass.
And you’re dying to part with 90 dollars, because he is going to teach you how to … be Aaron Sorkin.
You won’t be alone forking out the bucks.
How many others do you think? I reckon in the order of 10,000. So once you’ve completed the class, you will write a script following the method he teaches, and you’ll be competing with those other 10,000 who have done the same.
I still think you should do it, for the same reason I told you to spend even more to see McKee.
These guys are the Rolling Stones of Screenwriting. You spend your money, not to become the next great writer, but to have some guilt-free, good quality fun.
Do it. Seriously.
The 5 hours you will be watching and listening to Sorkin, you will have a great time. He is a fascinating character, and his unique style is greatly entertaining. From that perspective, $90 is actually great value. You may even learn a thing or two, but better consider that a bonus. They are probably things you already knew but had forgotten, or things you could have learned elsewhere, for less.
The other reason why you should take the class, is you can brag about it afterwards! You will be at the centre of attention as you share Sorkin’s tricks with your screenwriting friends. And when you send your script to a producer, you can whet their appetite by claiming you learned the skill from Aaron Sorkin!
In hindsight, scrap that last thing.
How Aaron Sorkin Learned His Craft
Why am I cynical about actually learning the craft from the Masterclass?
First, because Sorkin is essentially a brilliant dialogue and scene writer. This is why he broke onto the scene with The West Wing.
Grand story arcs are not his forte. The Social Network was released with amazing timing. Yes, it offered spectacular dialogue, but ultimately delivered on the back of the global Facebook hype, and the star power of Mark Zuckerberg.
Steve Jobs came too late for the hype. It really consisted of only 3 scenes, written completely in the theatrical tradition. It cost $30m to make, and returned barely that from its cumulative worldwide box office. Given that major pictures need to return 2.5 to 3 times their budget to break even, it means it left the studio a huge loss.
And Charlie Wilson’s War was brilliant in my view, but sadly also a commercial flop.
More importantly, you know how Aaron Sorkin learned his craft?
His parents took him to theatre plays from an early age. He was immersed in the world of story, and learned it by osmosis. As a child, he fell in love with the sound of great dialogue, and he is still working to emulate this every day.
Of course all this doesn’t mean you can’t have your fun and do the Masterclass. Go ahead, and spend the $90!
If you think it’s too much money for entertainment, then watch this fabulous, free one-hour masterclass with the man:
If you really want to learn screenwriting the Sorkin way, immerse yourself.
And come back tomorrow for my favourite Sorkin scene, which I’ll play to you – for free.
Karel Segers wrote his first produced screenplay at age 17. Today he is a story analyst with experience in acquisition, development and production. He has trained students worldwide, and worked with half a dozen Academy Award nominees. Karel speaks more European languages than you have fingers on your left hand, which he is still trying to find a use for in his hometown of Sydney, Australia. The languages, not the fingers.