Writing Workshops and Masterclasses

Writing Workshops

ScriptWorks – What makes a script work?

Whether you are a cinema aficionado, a writer, an actor, a producer, or a director, that is the magic question. 

The bottom line is quite simple: the movie on the screen can only ever be as good as the story it tells.

In other words, the script.

ScriptWorks is a 2 day intensive focused on the art of story telling for the screen. Referencing a number of notable films (including Witness, American Beauty, Memento, and Bladerunner) the workshop will cover all the screenwriting craft essentials: premise, theme and genre; story world, structure and character; dialogue, non verbal storytelling, and scene structure; and – last but certainly not least – tools for scripting self analysis.

We will explore the creative process – what are the hallmarks of compelling screen story ideas? How does a writer develop their story from concept to screenplay? How do loglines, one pagers, treatments and scene breakdowns work? What are the differences between writing for cinema and writing for television? What is writer’s block – and how to beat it?

Each course participant will have the opportunity to pitch a screenstory idea and receive expert feedback.

And finally, ScriptWorks will look at the state of the industry. How does a writer find the right producer? Where and how do you find development funding? How does the collaborative process work?   What are the roles of lawyers and agents? How do you protect your intellectual property?

All these essential questions and more will be answered in ScriptWorks…

Story and screen story telling

  • Story archetypes and the Hero’s Journey
  • Screen Storytelling fundamentals – the uniqueness of cinema and the points of difference from theatre, novel and prose
  • The pros and cons of adaptation
  • The “originality” question – the key elements of a strong screenstory idea
  • Premise, theme and controlling idea
  • The importance of genre
  • Creating the story world
  • Story devices: hooks, McGuffins, time locks and voiceover narration




  • McKee’s structure spectrum
  • The three structure paradigm: the inciting incident, midpoint, act turning points, crisis, climax and resolution
  • Narrative arc, dramatic momentum and the centrality of conflict
  • Scene sequences versus episodic structures
  • Mainplot/subplot hierarchies and the expression of theme
  • Modulating pace to support the narrative
  • Linear versus nonlinear structures
  • The Bladerunner structure problem




  • Character journey (aka the arc) and structure
  • Character and theme
  • Creating multi dimensional characters… and then revealing them onscreen
  • The importance of backstory
  • Writing Character Breakdowns
  • The Bladerunner character problem


Writing the Scene


  • Scene structure – asking and answering the central question
  • Scene transitions and dramatic momentum
  • The in late, out early principle: fine tuning entrance and exit points of a scene
  • Scene analysis for writers – the questions you need to ask yourself




  • Core principles of engaging dialogue
  • Dialogue and character
  • Dialogue and story
  • Dialogue and tone


Action and Non Verbal Communication


  • The importance of silence in cinema
  • Writing emotion without dialogue
  • Writing succinct, evocative action
  • The importance of setting the scene – how much description is too much?
  • Writing effective scene directions

Visual Grammar for Writers

Flashbacks and time shifts

  • Dream sequences
  • Voiceover
  • Parallel time
  • Mise en scene
  • Special FX

The Process

From concept to story, and story to script

  • The importance of the controlling idea
  • Establishing character journey and structure
  • Writing synopses and treatments
  • Developing the treatment into the first draft screenplay
    The draft development process
  • Tools for script analysis
  • Working the with story script consultants and editors.
  • Working with producers and directors

ScriptWorks will be referencing a number of films over the course of the three days. Prior to attending, participants should view the following:



American Beauty



 Charlies passion for film is contagious. I enrolled in the class with the hope of writing my own script and was not disappointed, walking away feeling confident, inspired and supported with much more than the essentials of screenwriting. His professional experience and accomplished career provide much insight and expertise not only into the industry but the human condition. I’ll never be able to look at a film the same way again! The class is a must for budding scriptwriters, directors, actors and film- lovers alike.

Carly L – Freelance Features Writer/Photographer June 2013.

Scriptzone is a scriptwriting course that delivered far beyond my exceptations. I learnt everything I needed to within the 10 sessions, yeah theres always room for more knowledge but thats in everything but as for the fundamentals of structure and the very base of how to write a script it was an amazing, a real source of information, id recommend it greatly, also as a added bonus, Charlie de Salis and Mark Piper are fun and friendly people with real world knowledge, they even helped me with a payment plan, if your interested in becoming a script writer then this is the course for you. – Shane Rankin [Acid Inks Films]

Thanks Mark and Charlie, for the great course with plenty of excellent information and fun participation.

It was inspiring to see the characters in our scripts come to life and meet with talented members of our creative community.
best of luck in your future endeavours

gratitude from
Andrew Readford

How I miss thursday nights!
Charlie de Salis really made scriptwriting come alive and brought home how vital and central to film making Script writing is. The course was well structured with a good balance of theoretical and practical work. Its content is foundational but not dumbed down. Even though I have been in Video/Film production for 10 years I was surprised by how much I learnt! If your interested in how film and television works I recommend this course, its informative and its a lot of fun.

Benjamin Dray. Cameraman .DOP

Producer, Writer and Script Developer

Charlie de Salis is an experienced screen story practitioner with writer/director credits on two broadcast documentaries (High Hopes and A Load of Rubbish), two feature documentaries (Show Me the Magic and Last of the Great Apes), three short films and writing credits on three New Zealand television plays - The Bruce Wilson Story (which he also directed), Highwater and Money for Jam. His short films A Moment Passing and Flying have been selected for more than 26 international film festivals, including Venice and Cannes. Both films were Best Short Film finalists in the New Zealand Film Awards, and A Moment Passing was nominated at Venice for the Golden Palm for best short film. His projects have received funding from the New Zealand Film Commission, Screen Australia, Screen NSW, Screen Tasmania and Screen Queensland. Over the past five years, Charlie has worked extensively as a script editor and developer, story consulting on three US/Aus co pro features – Undertow, Bad Karma and Absolute Deception - and script editing the ABC telemovie Cliffy. He is currently overseeing development on three feature film projects for Bangalow Pictures – two with Last Cab to Darwin writer Reg Crib – and as a writer is involved in developing two television series (with Roger Monk) and a feature film. Charlie lectures in screenwriting at Southern Cross University (for whom he wrote the screenwriting course), and is completing a Higher Degree Research project on adaptation of the novel for the screen at Griffith University, while also working on a biography of iconic cinematographer Don McAlpine. He has been a project and script assessor for Screen Queensland since 2009.


Class Details

  • Delivery:- Scriptworks is a 2 day Course.
  • Intended Audience:- 16+
  • Fee:- Scriptworks $295.
  • Start Date:- TBA 2017
  • Venue:- Byron Bay Film and Television School (BBFATS)
  • Address:- 18 Brigantine Street Arts and Industrial Estate Byron Bay NSW 2841 Australia
  • Phone:- +61414888884
  • Email:- markpiper@ozemail.com.au
  • Outcomes:- Script Education for Actors and Directors