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Cinema Language: The Art of Storytelling

Jul 11, 2020 - Aug 22, 2020
Cinema Language: The Art of Storytelling

Time Sat Jul 11 2020 at 12:00 pm to Sat Aug 22 2020 at 03:30 pm


USD 198

Cinema Language The Art of Storytelling Cinema Language: The Art of Storytelling
Award wining filmmaker and acclaimed graduate film professor Tom Provost teaches a Master Class on the Art of Visual Storytelling.

About this Event

Amazing, effective movies don't happen by accident. They're crafted. And while you might instinctively get some things right, you'll build a much better story, shoot a much stronger image, and get a much more powerful and consistent result, when you properly understand all the tools available to you to affect your audience.

No Budget Film School presents Cinema Language, an invaluable and comprehensive master class for screenwriters and directors, presented over seven Saturday afternoons, online via Zoom (and then available on demand)--over 24 hours of instruction!

Cinema Language is an intensive and highly entertaining exploration of the narrative art of cinema. The kind of instruction usually found only in expensive film schools, (presented by a professor who teaches at an expensive film school), Cinema Language is a practical exploration of how to get the most out of your story, independent of budget.

After taking this course, you will:

  • Craft a much better movie.
  • Approach your next script/project with the confidence of even the most seasoned professional.
  • Elevate your script and/or film with a clear understanding of the cinematic gifts at your fingertips.

Cinema Language is taught by acclaimed filmmaker and Pepperdine University Graduate Screenwriting professor , writer/director of the award-winning Lionsgate feature The Presence, as well as the upcoming features Mr. Clark and Exile (see bio below).

Cinema Language is divided into 5 sections, taught over 7 sessions. The sessions will be held Saturday afternoons beginning at 12pm PDT (3pm EDT). Each session will be available online during the following week in case you can’t take it live.


Sat, July 11 • 12pm - 3:30pm - Mastering Visual Storytelling, Part 1

Sat, July 18 • 12pm - 3:30pm - Mastering Visual Storytelling, Part 2

Sat, July 25 • 12pm - 3:30pm - Introducing Your Character

Sat, August 1 • 12pm - 3:30pm - Disclosure of Information, Part 1

Sat, August 8 • 12pm - 3:30pm - Disclosure of Information, Part 2

Sat, August 15 • 12pm - 3:30pm - From Script To Screen

Sat, August 22 • 12pm - 3:30pm - Rewriting Do’s and Don'ts

"Mastering Visual Storytelling”

How often have you seen a friend's indie feature and thought, 'Wow...that was...not good.' And you’re being polite. It’s every filmmaker's nightmare, killing yourself to make a passion project that doesn’t work. Yet people make bad or mediocre features, on any budget, all the time. Even filmmakers who think they know what they’re doing.

"Mastering Visual Storytelling" explores how our best filmmakers expertly use the grammar of cinema to create the most effective and moving stories. Professor Provost will give practical, hands-on specifics regarding the language of cinema: framing, editing, lighting, color, sound, POV, music, sound effects, etc--all will be covered. With over 100 clips and stills, the section will illustrate and illuminate how to use the grammar of film to the best effect possible. Whatever your area of expertise on set or off, "Mastering Visual Storytelling" will expand your knowledge of the craft of filmmaking and elevate your next feature to another level. You will learn not only basics but how to turn classical film grammar on its head to great effect.

After completing this section, you will:

  • Have a firm grasp on both the basic and advanced tenets of how great movie storytelling works.
  • Understand how to tell your story visually.
  • Approach your storytelling with an ability to affect the audience's reactions and feelings through your filmmaking technique.
  • Understand how to incorporate visual storytelling into your script.

Suggested Homework Assignment:

Watch Notorious (1946 dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

"Introducing Your Character”

One of the most difficult things to do in any kind of story is quickly and efficiently set up a character...and in a manner that pays off further into the narrative. "Introducing Your Character" is an in-depth, intensive and entertaining look at how filmmakers effectively reveal characters to the audience, whether in a straightforward or purposely misleading fashion.

In this section we will watch and discuss a variety of clips from over ten hit movies such as The Dark Knight, Erin Brockovich, and The Devil Wears Prada, as well as John Dahl's retro thriller Red Rock West, to explore numerous ways you can provide fast, compelling and incisive information to your audience, even in a single line or shot. In the words of Professor Provost, "This is a kick-ass session."

After completing this section, you will:

  • Introduce your characters with a practical and fast approach.
  • Be able to compare and contrast your characters to set up the most effective dramatic tension.
  • Understand how to eliminate boring exposition from your plots and films, and instead convey information to your audience in a dramatic and satisfying way.

Suggested Homework Assignment:

Watch Red Rock West (1993, dir. John Dahl)

"Disclosure of Information”

Disclosure of Information is the essence of what we do. It's the single most important aspect of storytelling and affects every single position on a film, in production and post. Every single choice you make reveals information to the audience. How to do it, when to do it, why to do it, as well as what the effect will be on your audience--all are determined by the manner in which you disclose each and every piece of information in a script.

While the entire Cinema Language set of courses is in essence an exploration of how to disclose information, this section looks in-depth at the myriad choices a filmmaker has--right and wrong--and how to master those choices to create the most effective experience possible for the audience. Clips from various films such as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Carrie will be used, as well as intensive explorations of two Hitchcock classics, North by Northwest and Psycho.

After completing this section, you will:

  • Understand how to tell the your story in the best manner, whatever genre: thriller, comedy, drama, sci-fi, etc.
  • Have the practical, hands-on ability to make specific and correct choices about your stories.
  • Emerge with the confidence and understanding of some of our best filmmakers when approaching whatever job you might have on a film.

Suggested Homework Assignment:

Watch North By Northwest and Psycho (1959/1960, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

"From Script to Screen”

"From Script To Screen" is an extremely frank and revealing discussion about the realities every filmmaker faces whatever the budget, offering filmmakers a rare insider's look at just how a movie comes to fruition. Writer/Director Provost discusses the process of traveling from script to final edited product of his feature The Presence, which stars Oscar Winner Mira Sorvino, Golden Globe Nominee Justin Kirk and Shane West. The independently produced feature was acquired by Lionsgate after a successful festival run. This is a candid, insightful dissection of the filmmaking process, examining a feature film that was chosen as the opening or closing night film at a variety of festivals, winning various Best Film, Best Director and Best Cinematographer awards as well. Students will read the first act of the screenplay as homework and then watch the complete film.

Provost will cover extensively how he and his creative team worked to bring what was on paper to life, given the typical compromises and considerations of budget, time, personnel issues, weather, and planning. Particular focus will be placed on what "went wrong" on the set, as well as what changed from the script and why. The discussion will also include the "writing" that went on in the editing room as the film took shape and became something apart from the shooting script. Specific clips and production stills will be used to illustrate the various decisions made on the set and after.

Students will have an open forum with the filmmaker regarding their thoughts and questions on the movie and the filmmaking process.

After completing this section, you will:

  • Have practical, hands on knowledge of many "do's and don't" when approaching your own feature.
  • Know many mistakes to avoid on your own features, in every step of the production.
  • Have the freedom through practical knowledge to make a better film that will cost you less money.

Suggested Homework Assignment


Read the first 30 pages of The Presence

Screen The Presence

"Rewriting Do's & Don'ts"

You’ve finished your first draft… or third.. or seventh. (Graham Moore wrote over 30 drafts of his screenplay The Imitation Game, for which he won the Oscar and the WGA Awards.) Now it’s time to elevate your script with a killer rewrite. Collating his experience from years of script doctoring and consulting, Provost will take you through his steps to rewriting and honing your screenplay, whether it be a major rewrite or just a tweak.

Topics include: how to handle exposition, mastering the world of your script, ramping up conflict and tension and making your screenplay as clean and readable as possible. After completing this session, you’ll be able to do another pass on your script that will maximize its impact and increase the chances of it being sold.

Interested in other classes offered by No Budget Film School? Sign up on our mailing list and be the first to know when a new class is scheduled:


After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin’s Plan II Honors program, with an emphases in both English Literature and Film, Tom moved to Los Angeles where he has worked steadily writing, directing, editing and acting. He co-wrote the film Under Suspicion starring Academy Award winners Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman. The screenplay was nominated for an Edgar Award. His feature directorial debut was The Presence. The genre-twisting ghost story stars Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino, Shane West and Golden Globe Nominee Justin Kirk. The movie won numerous awards on the festival circuit including Best Picture and Best Director. Lionsgate released it in 2011. A graduate screenwriting professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California-Riverside, Provost works steadily as a script doctor and consultant. He’s also been nominated for an Emmy for his editing work in reality television. He has been teaching Cinema Language in Los Angeles and around the country for the last decade, and has lectured on other filmmaking topics for the past 20 years. You can find some of his writing at both and

Youtube Video


"If you're in the Los Angeles area, I highly recommend attending this series of classes. Brought to you by two excellent filmmakers and instructors, Mark Stolaroff and Tom Provost, you really can't go wrong." - Huffington Post

"The information you presented was just incredible. It will have a profound effect on how I approach my own stories." - Alice Garcia

"Every producer should take your classes before taking on a film. These classes are beneficial not just for writers or directors but for anyone who works with or has a love for movies." - Andy Henderson

"This was an excellent class. It is very rare that you can talk to a filmmaker so openly about every aspect of production and really delve into the film. Especially one who has so much knowledge of film as Tom does." - Alden Anderson

"Your class on form and construction of image is of the utmost importance and, as a director, to say it affected my own work in a profound way would be an understatement." - Bill Garrett

"Our ability to successfully produce a feature film can be traced directly back to what we learned in No Budget Film School and Cinema Language. They provided valuable insight into making a low-budget film, and, more importantly, inspired us to do it. Great investment of time and money!" - Ron and Wayne Jackson, Producers of 5 Hour Friends

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Tickets for Cinema Language: The Art of Storytelling can be booked here.

Ticket Information Ticket Price
General Admission USD 198
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About The Host: The premiere resource for no-budget filmmaking. Classes scheduled regularly in Los Angeles and elsewhere around the country.
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Date & Time

Sat Jul 11 2020 at 12:00 pm to Sat Aug 22 2020 at 03:30 pm




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