Frederick Michael Strype

Margot C. Bogert Distinguished Service Chair

BA, Fairfield University. MFA, Columbia University School of the Arts. Postgraduate study: American Film Institute, New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Screenwriter, producer, director. Recent awards, grants, festivals: Grand Prize, Nantucket Film Festival, Tony Cox Award in Screenwriting; Nantucket Screenwriters Colony; World Jewish Film Festival, Askelon, Israel; Tehran International Film Festival; Berlin Film Festival Shorts; Uppsala Sweden Film Festival; USA Film Festival; Washington (DC) Jewish Film Festival; Los Angeles International Children’s Film Festival; Temecula Valley International Film Festival “Best of the Fest”; Portugal Film Festival Press Award; Fade In Magazine Award/Best Short Screenplay; Angelus Film Festival Triumph Award; Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Award; Heartland Film Festival Crystal Heart Award; New Line Cinema Filmmaker Development Award; Hamptons International Film Festival; Schomburg Cultural Grants. Raindance Pictures: projects developed for Columbia/Tristar/Sony, Lifetime, MTM Productions, Family Channel, FX, Alliance/ Atlantis, Capella Films, Turman-Foster Productions, James Manos Productions, FX, Avenue Pictures. SLC, 2003–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Filmmaking and Moving Image Arts

Advanced Projects in Writing for the Screen

Advanced , Seminar—Year

The candidate’s writer’s statement, list of courses taken, and experience, as well as the five-page screenwriting sample, must be emailed in advance of any interview to fstrype@sarahlawrence.edu, at which point an interview will be scheduled between instructor and student.

This class is for the serious, advanced screenwriter. Consideration requires a writer’s statement about the project(s) you wish to pursue, a list of courses taken and screenwriting experience, as well as a five-page screenwriting sample. The fall semester will be devoted to conceptualizing/reconceptualizing, developing/redeveloping, and structuring/restructuring your project, naturally depending upon your starting point. By semester’s end, you will be expected to have your project ready to type (there being a distinction in this course between writing and typing—writing is all the work done before typing up the first-draft pages). You will also be expected in the fall to complete a short screenplay of five-to-15 pages that either is representative of the longer piece that you aim to complete in the spring or can be the aim of your fall semester: i.e., to have a production-ready draft of a short-form film piece to be initiated at the end of the fall semester or early in the spring semester in another production class. The spring will be devoted to completing a first draft and polishing the project developed in the fall. For those choosing to focus exclusively on a short-form piece during the fall, the spring will be dedicated to the development and writing of another short-form piece or the initiation of a long-form project from the ground up. The seminar, workshop, and conference structure will be devoted to this overall process.

Faculty

BulletProof Screenwriting

Open , Seminar—Fall

Pursuing the fundamentals of developing and writing narrative fiction, motion-picture screenplays, the course starts with a focus on the atomic element of a screenplay: the scene. We’ll explore the nature of writing screen stories for film, television (and its many iterations these days), and the Web. The approach views screenwriting as having less of a connection to literature and playwriting and more of a connection to the oral tradition of storytelling. We will dissect the nature and construct of the screenplay to reveal that the document—the script—is actually the manifestation of the process of “telling your film” (or movie, or Web series, or TV show, et al). In BulletProof Screenwriting, the emerging screenwriter will be encouraged to think of and approach the work as a director; because until someone else appears to take the reins (if it is not the screenwriter), the writer is the director, albeit (for now) on the page. Indeed, the course will explore filmmaking from a director’s point of view, yet in the hands of a screenwriter. With the class structured as a combination of seminar and workshop-style exchanges, students will read selected texts and produced screenplays, write detailed script analyses, view films and clips, and, naturally, write short narrative fiction screenplays. While students will be writing scenes and scripts starting in the first class, they will also be introduced to the concept of “talking their stories,” as well, in order to explore character and plot while gaining a solid foundation in screen storytelling, visual writing, and screenplay evolution. We will migrate from initial ideas through research techniques, character development, story generation, outlining, the rough draft, and rewrites. Students will be immersed in the fundamentals of character, story, universe and setting, dramatic action, tension, conflict, sequence structure, acts, and style. In-class analysis of peer work within the context of a safe and productive environment will help students have a critical eye and develop skills to apply to the troubleshooting of one’s own work. Overall, the student builds a screenwriter’s toolkit to use as various projects emerge in the future. The aim of the class is for students to complete a series of short-form screenplays and a final written project. In conference, students may research and develop a long-form screenplay or teleplay, develop a TV series concept and “bible,” initiate and develop a Web-series concept, craft a series of short screenplays for production courses or independent production, rewrite a previously written script, adapt original material from another form, and so forth. Research and screen storytelling skills developed through the course may be applied to other writing forms.

Faculty

Screenwriting: Telling the Truth Through Fiction

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

The landscape for the screenwriter has dramatically changed during the past several years, with new opportunities to write producible short films, YouTube® sketches, and Web series seen by millions of viewers, as well as long-form “films” or “movies” initially conceived for, and destined for, the “silver screen”—a screen that is seemingly changing in color, size, and setting on a daily basis. The disarray of the current film industry has created confusion and opportunity. Nevertheless, the baseline expectation in the contemporary narrative “film form” still remains: It is the expression of a character or characters progressing through a structured journey or series thereof. Elemental to this process is having your audience believe your characters, believe the universe that they inhabit, and find “truth” in the screen story that you’ve created. In life and in film, we laugh, we cry, we cringe, we shield our eyes, and we stare in wonder when we see and feel the truth. It’s ironic that in our quest to create dramatic fiction, we must actually “tell the truth.” There is a writer’s saying, “A writer must lie her way to the truth.” The audience engages with material when they realize: I’ve been there. I know that feeling. I know that person. I am that person. This course supports the process of finding and expressing truth in fiction. Designed for the emerging contemporary screenwriter, the course includes opportunities for those creating a new idea, adapting original material into the screenplay form, rewriting a screenplay or Web to series, or finishing a screenplay-in-progress destined for whatever screen or screens s/he aims to assail. A review of screenwriting fundamentals during the first few weeks, as well as a discussion of the state of each project, will be followed by an intense screenwriting workshop experience. Published screenplays, several useful texts, and clips of films and Web series will form a body of examples to help concretize aspects of the art and craft.

Faculty

Graduate Courses

Writing 2017-2018

Fiction Craft: Writing for the Screen—The Bullet-Proof Screenplay

Craft—Fall

Screenwriting is not so much a writing discipline as it is one allied with the tenants of the oral tradition of storytelling. In the best scripts, you are telling us your film. —Screenwriter/Director, Paul Schrader, Telluride, CO, 1989

In screenwriting, you show. You don’t tell. —Classic screenwriting adage (attributed to just about every screenwriting guru)

I wrote a beautiful script, and ‘they’ shot it—shot it full of holes—and made a terrible film. —Classic screenwriter lament (attributed to just about every screenwriter unhappy with his/her produced work)

In this graduate craft class, we will explore writing for the screen, be it silver, flat, computer-based, for iPad or smart-phone, et al. The aim is to understand how to create a “bullet-proof screenplay” in which a writer “tells” a film through prose that effectively “shows” what we see and what we hear moment-to-moment, articulating the action (“the doing”) of the characters and thereby revealing the emotional moments of recognition in the characters’ journey. Structured as a combination of seminar craft class along with some workshop-style exchanges, writers will journey through the nature and construct of the screenplay form. The fundamentals of character, story, world building, universe and setting, formatting, visual writing, dramatic action, tension, conflict, sequence structure, acts, and screenplay style will be explored. Analysis of published screenplays and peer work within the context of a productive environment will help writers hone a critical eye and develop skills to apply to troubleshooting one’s own work. Overall, the writer builds a screenwriter’s tool kit for use as future opportunities may emerge in writing for the screen. Skills learned in this craft class can be effectively applied to other threads of writing.  
Faculty

Previous Courses

Screenwriting: The Art and Craft of Film-Telling

Open , Seminar—Fall

How does one write a screenplay? It’s perhaps far different than one might think. In fact, the term “writing” is a misnomer, as the reality is that screenwriting is actually the process of “telling” your film story, articulating the action (“the doing”) of the characters, and thereby revealing the emotional moments of recognition in the characters’ journey. Pursuing the fundamentals of developing and writing narrative fiction motion-picture screenplays, the course starts with a focus on the short-form screenplay. We’ll explore the nature of writing screen stories for film, the Web, and television. The approach views screenwriting as having less a connection to literature and playwriting and more a connection to the oral tradition of storytelling. We will dissect the nature and construct of the screenplay to reveal that the document—the script—is actually the process of “telling your film” (or movie, or Web series, or TV show, et al). In Film-Telling, the emerging screenwriter will be encouraged to think and approach the work as a director; because until someone else emerges to take the reins (if it is not the screenwriter), the writer is the director, if only on the page. With the class structured as a combination of seminar and workshop-style exchanges, students will read selected texts and produced screenplays, write detailed script analyses, view films and clips, and. naturally, write short narrative fiction screenplays. While students will be writing scripts starting in the first class, they will also be introduced to the concept of “talking their stories,” as well, in order to explore character and plot while gaining a solid foundation in screen storytelling, visual writing, and screenplay evolution. We will migrate from initial idea through research techniques, character development, story generation, outlining, the rough draft, and rewrites to a series of finished, short-form screenplays. The fundamentals of character, story, universe and setting, dramatic action, tension, conflict, sequence structure, acts, and style will be explored, with students completing a series of short scripts and a final written project. In-class analysis of peer work within the context of a safe environment will help students have a critical eye and develop skills to apply to the troubleshooting of one’s own work. Overall, the student builds a screenwriter’s toolkit for use as various projects emerge in the future. In conference, students can research and develop a long-form screenplay or teleplay, develop a TV series concept and “bible,” initiate and develop a Web series concept, craft a series of short screenplays for production courses or independent production, rewrite a previously written script, adapt original material from another form, and so forth. Research and screen storytelling skills developed through the course can be applied to other writing forms.

Faculty

Filmmaking Structural Analysis

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course explores narrative storytelling forms in contemporary screenwriting, including cinema, television, streaming, the Web, and the short form. Geared toward the perspective of the aspiring/emerging screenwriter, filmmaker, and/or media artist, the seminar includes screenings of films and media and the concurrent reading of source materials and/or their respective screenplays. Cinema language, dramatic theory, and cinematic story structures will be explored, including sequencing, episodic, three-act, four-act, seven-act, teleplay, and the so-called character-driven forms. Selected texts will also be read, and weekly structural analyses will be written. Students will also explore screenwriting exercises throughout the course and investigate the connection between oral storytelling and the nature of narration through the screenplay. Conference projects often focus on the development of a long-form screenplay/teleplay/Web series, analytical research paper, or other film/media-related endeavors. A foundation course for narrative screenwriting, filmmaking, and media projects, as well as dramatic analysis, this course develops skills that can be applied to other forms of dramatic writing and storytelling.

Faculty

Screenwriting: The Art and Craft of Film-Telling

Open , Seminar—Spring

How does one write a screenplay? It’s perhaps far different than one might think. In fact, the term “writing” is a misnomer, as the reality is that screenwriting is actually the process of “telling” your film story, articulating the action (“the doing”) of the characters, and thereby revealing the emotional moments of recognition in the characters’ journey. Pursuing the fundamentals of developing and writing narrative fiction motion-picture screenplays, the course starts with a focus on the short-form screenplay. We’ll explore the nature of writing screen stories for film, the Web, and television. The approach views screenwriting as having less a connection to literature and playwriting and more a connection to the oral tradition of storytelling. We will dissect the nature and construct of the screenplay to reveal that the document—the script—is actually the process of “telling your film” (or movie, or Web series, or TV show, et al). In Film-Telling, the emerging screenwriter will be encouraged to think and approach the work as a director; because until someone else emerges to take the reins (if it is not the screenwriter), the writer is the director, if only on the page. With the class structured as a combination of seminar and workshop-style exchanges, students will read selected texts and produced screenplays, write detailed script analyses, view films and clips, and. naturally, write short narrative fiction screenplays. While students will be writing scripts starting in the first class, they will also be introduced to the concept of “talking their stories,” as well, in order to explore character and plot while gaining a solid foundation in screen storytelling, visual writing, and screenplay evolution. We will migrate from initial idea through research techniques, character development, story generation, outlining, the rough draft, and rewrites to a series of finished, short-form screenplays. The fundamentals of character, story, universe and setting, dramatic action, tension, conflict, sequence structure, acts, and style will be explored, with students completing a series of short scripts and a final written project. In-class analysis of peer work within the context of a safe environment will help students have a critical eye and develop skills to apply to the troubleshooting of one’s own work. Overall, the student builds a screenwriter’s toolkit for use as various projects emerge in the future. In conference, students can research and develop a long-form screenplay or teleplay, develop a TV series concept and “bible,” initiate and develop a Web series concept, craft a series of short screenplays for production courses or independent production, rewrite a previously written script, adapt original material from another form, and so forth. Research and screen storytelling skills developed through the course can be applied to other writing forms.

Faculty

Writing the Film: Scripts For Screen-Based Media

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

This course is for the emerging screenwriter seeking to write for creative, screen-based media projects. Students may be initiating a new screenplay/project, adapting original material into the screenplay form, creating a Web series or television project, rewriting a screenplay, or finishing a screenplay-in-progress. A review of screenwriting fundamentals during the first few weeks, as well as a discussion of the state of each project, will be followed by an intense screenwriting workshop experience. Students are expected to enter the course with an existent screenplay, a strong idea, an outline or narrative roadmap of their project, and the capability of “talking out” the concept and journey. The expectation is for students to finish a first-draft project. Published screenplays, several useful texts, and clips of films and media will form a body of examples to help concretize aspects of the art and craft.

Faculty

Writing For The Screen – The Bullet-Proof Screenplay (Fiction Craft)

Craft—Fall

Screenwriting is not so much a writing discipline as it is one allied with the tenants of the oral tradition of storytelling. In the best scripts, you are telling us your film.—Screenwriter/Director Paul Schrader, Telluride, CO, 1989

In screenwriting, you show, you don’t tell.—classic screenwriting adage (attributed to just about every screenwriting guru)

I wrote a beautiful script, and ‘they’ shot it—shot it full of holes—and made a terrible film.—classic screenwriter lament (attributed to just about every screenwriter unhappy with his/her produced work)

In this graduate craft class, we will explore writing for the screen, be it silver, flat, computer-based, for iPad or smart-phone, et al. The aim is to understand how to create a “bullet-proof screenplay” where a writer “tells” a film through prose that effectively “shows” what we see and what we hear moment-to-moment, articulating the action (“the doing”) of the characters and thereby revealing the emotional moments of recognition in the characters’ journey. Structured as a combination of seminar craft class along with some workshop-style exchanges, writers will journey through the nature and construct of the screenplay form. The fundamentals of character, story, world-building, universe and setting, formatting, visual writing, dramatic action, tension, conflict, sequence structure, acts, and screenplay style will all be explored. Analysis of published screenplays and peer work within the context of a productive environment will help writers hone a critical eye and develop skills to apply to troubleshooting one’s own work. Overall, the writer builds a screenwriter’s tool kit for use as future opportunities may emerge in writing for the screen. Skills learned in this craft class can be effectively applied to other threads of writing.

Faculty

First-Year Studies: Filmwright: The Voice of the Contemporary Filmmaker in Cine•Media

Open , FYS

“To me, the great hope is that now, with these little video recorders…some people who normally wouldn’t make movies are going to be making them. And suddenly, some little [girl] in Ohio is going to be the new Mozart and make a beautiful film with her [parent’s] camcorder and for once the ‘professionalism’ of movies will be destroyed forever and it will really become an art form.” —Francis Ford Coppola, 1980s

More than three decades ago, filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola presaged the advent of the democratization of filmmaking and of media ubiquities such as YouTube Vimeo, and other delivery platforms. With the artistically utopian dream of the means of production and distribution in the hands of the masses, does this result in better art? For better entertainment? Is the alleged Internet-driven attention deficit of the masses creating a fleeting, disengaged audience? Are the tenets of narrative storytelling on screen passé? If every voice can now be that of a filmmaker, what then is the nature and role of the “filmmaker’s voice”? With more people making movies on their own terms (and even on their own phones), can we expect an increase in the depth and quality of truly “moving pictures”…or not? We are all natural storytellers, dramatizing events in our lives to communicate their significance in our day-to-day existence. Playwright, screenwriter, and filmmaker David Mamet tells us that drama is how we make sense of our lives, of who we are and who we hope to be. As storytelling seems to be imprinted in our DNA, this underpins the seemingly universal interest in storytelling in “cinema.” But to what “cinema” are we now referring? The cinema in the movie palaces of old? The cinema on your 60-inch flat-screen in your den? The cinema on your iPhone or smart device that you might watch after you’ve tweeted your most recent tweet? Yes, yes, and yes. While some seem to wish to categorize “film” and “media” as different forms of expression, in this class we explore the concept of Cine•Media. Indeed, most all of the media with which we engage has some root connection to the conventions and tenants of cinema as it emerged some 120 years ago. With the creation of, and engagement with, Cine•Media literally in the palm of your hand, it’s crucial that we explore the question: What is a creative “voice” in filmmaking (TV, Web work, games, Cine•Media)? How is it expressed? What is the creative process of migrating from an initial idea to a finished piece, be it 3 seconds or 3 hours, 30 minutes or 30 weeks? Enter “the filmwright.” Merriam Webster tells us that a filmwright is one who writes the script for a motion picture. While this is akin to a playwright, who naturally writes plays, indeed the filmwright must be so much more. While a play is to be interpreted, the screenplay is actually meant to be the most advanced iteration of the film to date, albeit at this “paper stage.” To make the film exist on paper, one must understand filmmaking and all that goes into that process. Through readings of source materials, research, and viewings of feature films, Web series, short films, Web links, and media clips, as well as pursuing analytic and creative writing, exploring idea development, the writing of screenplays, class discussions, and exchanges with visiting filmmakers/media makers, the course investigates the nature of Cine•Media and the filmwright’s creative process. While not a production course, per se, in the fall we will learn to think like filmmakers and create “films on paper” in the outline and then in the Bullet Proof screenplay form. In the spring, there will be the opportunity to team in groups and produce short collaborative scene work on video. In the course of study, we will also examine topics that include representation in Cine•Media, ethics, and the responsibility of the filmmaker, as well as the spectator’s media literacy and acuity in processing and interpreting material on whatever screen with which one might engage. Finally, throughout the process, we will explore the journey of finding the filmwright's creative voice and the filmwright's expression in film, on the Web, on TV…i.e., in Cine•Media.

Faculty

Writing For The Screen -- The Bullet-Proof Screenplay

Craft—Fall

“Screenwriting is not so much a writing discipline as it is one allied with the tenants of the oral tradition of storytelling. In the best scripts, you are literally telling us your film, moment to moment.”
-- Screenwriter/Director, Paul Schrader, Telluride, CO 1989.

“In one rule in screenwriting is show, don’t tell.”
-- Classic Screenwriting Adage (attributed to just about every screenwriting guru).

“I wrote an awesome script, but ‘they’ shot it full of holes and made a terrible film.”
-- Classic Screenwriter Lament (attributed to just about every screenwriter unhappy with their produced work)

In this graduate craft class, we will explore writing for the screen, be it silver, flat, computer or
smart-phone. The aim is to understand how to write a “bullet-proof screenplay” where a writer “tells” a film through prose that effectively “shows” what we see and what we hear, moment-to-moment, articulating the action (“the doing”) of the characters, and thereby revealing the emotional moments of recognition in the characters’ journey. Writers will investigate the nature and construct of the screenplay form, studying the fundamentals of character, story, universe and setting, formatting, visual writing, dramatic action, tension, conflict, sequence structure, acts, and style. Screen character development and story outlining will be a focus. Analysis of published screenplays and peer work within the context of a productive environment will help writers hone a critical eye and develop skills to apply to troubleshooting one’s own work as well as the work of others. Overall, the writer builds a screenwriter’s tool kit for use as future opportunities may emerge in writing for the screen. Skills learned in this class can be effectively applied to other threads of creative writing.

Faculty

Writing for the Screen

Craft—Fall

Screenwriting is not so much a writing discipline as it is one allied with the tenets of the oral tradition of storytelling. In the best scripts, you are telling us your film. — Paul Schrader, screenwriter/director, Telluride, Colorado, 1989

In screenwriting, you show; you don’t tell. —classic screenwriting adage attributed to just about every screenwriting guru

I wrote a beautiful script, but ‘they’ shot it full of holes and made a terrible film. — classic screenwriter lament attributed to just about every screenwriter unhappy with their produced work

In this graduate craft class, we will explore writing for the screen, be it silver, flat, computer, or smart-phone. The aim is to understand how to write a bullet-proof screenplay where a writer “tells” a film through prose that effectively “shows” what we see and what we hear, moment-to-moment, articulating the action (the doing) of the characters and thereby revealing the emotional moments of recognition in the characters’ journey. Structured as a combination of seminar and workshop-style exchanges, writers will journey through the nature and construct of the screenplay form. The fundamentals of character, story, universe and setting, formatting, visual writing, dramatic action, tension, conflict, sequence structure, acts, and style will be explored. Analysis of published screenplays and peer work within the context of a productive environment will help writers hone a critical eye and develop skills to apply to troubleshooting one’s own work. Overall, the writer builds a screenwriter’s toolkit for use as future opportunities may emerge in writing for the screen. Skills learned in this class can be effectively applied to other threads of writing.  

Faculty

What do you love about Sarah Lawrence students?
I’m always amazed at how much I learn from my students and how they help me see art in a new way. Students at Sarah Lawrence are uniquely wired; they like to push limits and question everything. In their intrepid exploration, they wind up doing things that should not work, but do.

It happens all the time in class: A student breaks a rule that the screenwriting/filmmaking "gurus" say is hard and fast, but instead of ruining the work, it enhances it. For example, it is usually considered death for a script to start with a talky scene that takes place in one location and goes on and on. One of my students wrote such a scene, which was 12 pages long. It shouldn’t have worked, but it was so well constructed, so perfectly paced, and the characterizations so strong and true that we became completely lost in the film. In these situations I have to say to myself, "I’ve been telling students that tactic doesn’t work, but in this case it does. How is that possible?" And we get to reevaluate the established rules and principles and really examine the creative process.

What do you love about teaching at Sarah Lawrence?
The seminar/conference model affords me the opportunity to talk very specifically with students about their work—I get to actually see the connection of the creator with the created. I’m sure it can be intimidating for students to have someone that far inside their creativity, but obviously it works, and it becomes liberating for students because we develop a strong sense of mutual trust. Navigating the seas of my students’ creativity also triggers thoughts in my brain about my own work. We form a symbiotic relationship, where my students and I learn from one another.