Professional screenwriter shares Hollywood in class

screenwriting instructor
For those of you who are bored on Wednesday nights from 6-9:15 p.m. and are tired of just watching movies, Trai Cartwright has the thing for you: a screenwriting class.

That’s right. It’s time to get an in-depth look into the life of screenwriting, which is filled with aged supermodels, rent-based bungalows and all the cheap gas station champagne you can drink before you get poisoned.

On the contrary, the ENGL 2452 “Literary genres: Screenwriting” class at Laramie County Community College promises to be good, educational fun. The best kind of fun!

"Students can expect to learn a lot about screenwriting and the industry itself, as well as to have a lot of fun. This class is always a good time," Cartwright said.

A screenplay is what makes the movie. The director physically produces it, and the actors embody it, but none of it exists without the script. Some movies are defined by their scripts. These range from old to new from "Casablanca" to "The Social Network." But in this class, it’s all about the new.

"My approach is not to treat film like an artifact but as a very modern component of pop culture. I want my students to have the most up-to-date formatting skills," Cartwright said.

That means only modern films are examined. It is more important for students to study screenwriting's past as much as its present, she said. Cartwright said the screenplays that are taught to reflect this idea range from scripts such as "Black Swan" to "How to Train Your Dragon." But no matter how fun or modernized the class may be, Cartwright said there are still some hard, true facts hopeful screenwriters must realize.

"The reality of Hollywood is not good," Cartwright said. "But it is not impossible. Students voices are just as important as anyone’s in Hollywood." And she should know. In her 20-year career, Cartwright has had four scripts optioned and has had three independent movies made, worked as an assistant director of Leonardo Dicaprio’s online ventures and made ringtones for 20th Century Fox.

Despite the reality of Hollywood being as true as you would think, there was one idea Cartwright said she hoped to work on in class with every student: confidence. "In my class, we are always supportive and encouraging," she said. "My hope is to get students excited to go home and write."

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