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In Memory of ‘Script Frenzy’: Some Free Resources for Writing for Media

MLC newlogo In Memory of Script Frenzy: Some Free Resources for Writing for MediaEvery April I’ve looked forward to Script Frenzy, and so it’s with some shock and dismay that I’m belatedly learning that this wonderful event was put to rest last summer. Only last year I ran a piece about it, emphasizing why librarians and media educators should be interested. That’s just of one several CTP posts about scripts and scriptwriting, including this memorable talk with Frank Baker. In fact, if you want to explore various strategies and resources related to bringing scriptwriting into schools, you’ll probably want to start with the special section devoted to the topic on Mr. Baker’s Media Literacy Clearinghouse. Or, of course, you can start with the more limited resources I’ve gathered below since, after all, they begin immediately after this sentence.

Software, Storyboards, and Scriptwriting Templates

Rod Serling dictating script 1959 In Memory of Script Frenzy: Some Free Resources for Writing for Media

The great Rod Serling dictating a script, 1959.

If you want to create your own template for a script, you can use Microsoft Word. Work with hard tabs and pre-formatted items (e.g., all caps for speaker ID’s) by creating a .dot file rather than a .doc or .docx file. There are plenty of online resources if you want to learn more about this, including Microsoft’s own resources: http://office.microsoft.com

Most scriptwriting software tends to be geared to professionals and can be quite expensive. Web sites and magazines that specialize in screenwriting, or those that publish movie and TV scripts, often feature ads, articles, and reviews about such software products. There is also a free, open-source alternative: Celtx. Many professionals use the downloadable tools at this Web site to write moving-image scripts but also comic book scripts, stage plays, and radio dramas. Functional across a variety of computer platforms, Celtx can also help with storyboarding and a range of other pre-production and production processes should your students decide to produce their scripts.

For professional storyboarding samples (and other pre-visualization resources) across a variety of media, including short films, TV, and video advertisements, please visit http://www.storyboards-east.com/storybrd.htm.

Audio and Podcasting

As far as audio scripts are concerned, thanks to podcasting really taking off in schools in recent years, there are now many, many resources available for educators. Personally, I’ve found the general information and links at the mobile-oriented education site LearninginHand.com to be very useful. Among other things, you’ll find Tony Vincent’s excellent, comprehensive, and free PDF booklet entitled “Podcasting for Teachers and Students.”

Student Powered 225x300 In Memory of Script Frenzy: Some Free Resources for Writing for MediaA leading national expert in K–12 podcasting and audio more generally is Chris Shamburg (a hugely popular guest blogger for CTP), whose Student-Powered Podcasting: Teaching for 21st-Century Literacy (ISTE, 2010) is a rich resource that includes tutorials on different software packages. One of these is Audacity, which you’ve probably heard of–but if you haven’t, it’s an easy-to-use tool for recording, editing, and manipulating sounds, which is available as a free download here. However, if you don’t feel like purchasing a book, Dr. Shamburg’s blog, geared toward grades 9–12, is a constant source of both curricular and technological ideas. A great example is this post on the importance of sound effects to even very simple audio scripts, complete with links to free sources for sound effects and music.

Scripts for Classroom Use

Many scripts of classic films can be found published in book form, but please note that these are often really just transcripts. That means that someone has viewed a movie and written its content in script form after the fact. For reading scripts and comparing them to the finished film or TV episode, these are perfect as there will be a very close correspondence.

simplyscripts 215 In Memory of Script Frenzy: Some Free Resources for Writing for MediaHowever, to illustrate the writing process and to present scripts more authentically, you are better off using a draft of a script or a “shooting script.” Sometimes these can be found on DVDs as an extra, or on a film’s official Web site. One robust resource that I highly recommend is the Simply Scripts Web site, which has both free downloads and links hosted by movie studios where PDFs of scripts are available.

Film and TV scripts, however, are just two types of scripts, and it’s important for students to have access to professional models across media. Scribd.com (pronounced “skribbed”) is kind of like a massive online library combined with a publishing company that provides free material—new texts are always being uploaded from the community for other visitors to use. Among the millions of documents available on this safe, easy-to-use, and open site are countless scripts in a variety of formats. Just search on items such as “PSA Script,” “Two-Column Script,” or “Comic Script” and you’ll get results that include many professional models suitable for classroom use.

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