Screenwriter John August inspires ISP's next great writers

Screenwriter and ISP dad John August came to the Secondary School on Friday, February 24 to talk to our Grade 7 students. Having worked on movies including "Big Fish", "Charlie's Angels", and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", he explained the process of adapting books to the big screen and working with directors. Students following the English as an Additional Language (EAL) course attended the talk and Gustavo and Seoyoung share their experience.

In Friday's lesson we saw John August. He taught us a lot of things about how to write a nice script. John August is a really good script writer, who has written almost 11 or 12 scripts. The most famous ones are "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Big Fish". All the English classes went to the presentation, except for my friend Seiken's class because they were watching a really important movie. Almost all the Grade 7 students were in the gym. The teachers also came to watch and they helped us during the exercise part.

John August comes to ISP

John August's presentation was about how to write scripts and then how to make movies with them. In this presentation we learned a lot of details about scripts such as:

  • It always need to be written in font size 12;
  • You always need to include some details about the scenes, such as if it is day or night, if it is inside or outside, if it is the voiceover talking or the characters, and many things just like that;
  • You will probably need to get the idea from a book and write the script or (the harder way) find an idea for a movie by yourself;
  • You will always need to write the script in the first person plural.

We also learned about short stories. He taught us that short stories will sometimes have one character and one journey and will be always short (around 1000 words). It is normally an emotional story and will always get directly to the point.

We also learned about adapting a script into a movie. To adapt a movie you need to write a screenplay of 120 pages/200 scenes. He told us that each page is one minute long and that scenes are shot at different times. It takes about three years to write a script (such as for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory") and 11 of John August's screenplays have been made into movies (20–30 have not).

John August comes to ISP

We learned about John August's journey to become a writer. He said that to become a writer you need to practice – just like sports – and that when he was in Grade 7 (like us), he started to write a lot. However, he was really nervous about sharing his work with the rest of the school, so to solve this he started working with the school's newspaper and joined a lot of writing clubs. With all this practice he started sharing his writing, and later started making scripts from books for kids.

As far as I am concerned the best part of this presentation was the part where he told us about his journey because it was really interesting and inspirational.

Gustavo, Grade 7

For the second part of the session, the students split into small groups to try their hand at adapting a very familiar story, "Alice in Wonderland". The students were given cards that suggested crucial changes to the story, and the students were tasked with how to incorporate that change and think about it impacted the rest of the story.

I liked re-creating the story "Alice and Wonderland". The students of Grade 7 were divided into several groups and each group received a card with several conditions. The students thought about what would happen if they added the given condition to the original story.

For my group, our task was just to change one thing in the story. We changed the amount of the potion that Alice drunk, which changed the size of her body. If the amount of the potion was more than the original, what would happen? We thought Alice would become even smaller and that she would be stepped on, so she would probably die! I learned that a story can be changed just by changing a small part of the story, and that was very valuable.

Seoyoung, Grade 7

John August comes to ISP

John August was also kind enough to share his expertise with our Parent Teacher Association (PTA) the following week, and take part in a small creative writing workshop with students. We look forward to welcoming John back soon for a workshop with our film students and we would like to say a big thank you to him for giving his time to share his fascinating work and insights with our community!

John August comes to ISP

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