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The Heroine’s Journey Through Screenwriting

Starts October 1

5 sessions: Tuesdays, October 1-29, 6:30-9:30pm

This workshop will juxtapose the “hero’s journey” (linear, “rising action” plot narrative and tidy story resolution and integration) with the “heroine’s journey,” which may better reflect your own creative process and lived experience: a more fractured and fraught kind of storytelling, which reflects the lived experience of degrees of peripherality or marginality from the dominant masculine story line. The heroine’s journey is not linear but rather dialectical or a spiral, and the story is often irreconcilable in the face of conflicting challenges. It doesn’t seek to integrate our protagonist into some social order, but instead to express her/their experience of living through contradictions – of patriarchy, of racism, of heteronormativity. Such an experience, to feel authentic or true, can only deliver a provisional response – never a “grand finale.”

Through an analysis of the hero’s vs. heroine’s journeys in films and in film theory, this workshop helps writers working at various stages of a feature screenplay to consider using the heroine’s journey as a model, and to learn ways to articulate and defend why this choice makes sense for a particular protagonist and story. The working assumption is that different screenplays and characters demand different story structures; a deeper understanding and appreciation of the heroine’s journey can make any writer better, and indeed may be a more accurate model for most people’s experience. 

The course is open to anyone with basic screenwriting knowledge/experience at any stage of completion of a screenplay. There will be short in-class writing exercises, plus some others suggested to work on at home/continued work on an existing script. Students at the page-writing stage (or at the earlier pitch/story idea stage) will also have the opportunity to share scenes with the group, using elements of the heroine’s journey to frame their plot and stimulate the journey. The course will be flexible to include as much active time for workshopping as students may want, with the understanding that if most aren’t at the workshopping stage, or there are fewer students, then there will be more viewing and analysis of clips or full films on which group discussion and writing exercises shall focus.

Tuition: $270 regular/$205 member/$155 low-income

Ruth Reitan is a filmmaker, educator, and festival runner in Minnesota and Florida. She holds an MFA in Motion Pictures from the University of Miami’s Cinema and Interactive Media Department, where she also taught screenwriting, gender and Hollywood cinema, and the history of world cinema. Her first career was as a social movement scholar-activist, and taught for several years in International Studies and researched radical leftist movements around the world. Her feature screenplays and short films, many of which are based on historical events from a women’s/ feminist perspective, have been accepted into some 30 festivals and competitions around the world and have won several awards.

Class Registration Guidelines & Cancellation Policy

  • Space is assigned on a first-come basis. Registrations must include payment in full. Registrations are accepted after registration deadlines if space is available.
  • If minimum enrollment has not been reached by 7 days prior to the start date of a class, FilmNorth may cancel it, in which case registrants will immediately be notified and receive a full refund within 2 business days. A check will be issued for registrations that were paid in cash. In lieu of a refund, students have the option of applying their tuition to another class scheduled in the same calendar year.
  • For those wishing to cancel a registration prior to the class registration deadline, 100% of the tuition will be refunded minus a $25 administrative fee. For registration cancellations received after the registration deadline but prior to the first class session, 50% of the tuition will be refunded minus a $25 administrative fee. As of 5:00 pm the day prior to a class start date, no refunds or credits/exchanges will be given (Friday at 5:00 pm for Sunday classes). 
  • Tuition is not prorated for missed class sessions.




October 1, 2019 @ 6:30 pm
October 29, 2019 @ 9:30 pm
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Ruth Reitan
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5 sessions: Tuesdays, October 1-29, 6:30-9:30pm