Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Hera Jones and the Megalodon: Earning the Girl Scout Cadette Screenwriter Badge

The Girl Scout Cadette Screenwriter badge has so far been the easiest Girl Scout badge for a girl to earn independently. It's a terrific creative writing experience, and one that I felt very little need to add extra enrichment activities to. Syd enjoys writing, and so she read the badge activities herself and followed along, doing the necessary research along the way to come up with a pretty authentic-looking screenplay.

I should have suspected what was to come when, during Step #1: Decide What Makes a Good Script Good, Syd chose to watch the Jurassic Park movies for the activity "Watch one movie or three shows in your favorite genre." To be fair, though, our whole family loves dinosaur movies, AND loves killer giant animal movies (we've also all seen all of the Jaws movies together, even the super terrible ones), so it's pretty typical for us to watch one or another of the Jurassic Park or Jurassic World movies for funsies.

Dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets are generally not optional. We're classy like that.

After that one step completed all together, Syd insisted on working on the rest of her screenplay alone. I wasn't allowed to read any of it until it was finished. Much as I love making sure all those participles don't dangle and those plurals form themselves correctly (oh, the frustration of that tricky "y"!), I love it even more when I get such a pure, unadulterated look inside my child's big, big, BIG imagination.

Let's all look together at excerpts from Hera Jones and the Megalodon, shall we?

Just for fun, we begin with a little bit of sexism and some good ole divorce humor...


And then there's a little bit about the assistant, whom Hera Jones HATES, although that could possibly be because the assistant is competent and Hera Jones is the kind of woman who breaks science like it's a brittle, 65 million year-old T. Rex skull.

That last aside, you guys? THAT'S what you call foreshadowing.

What, by the way, IS Hera's job? At this point I still have no idea, other than that it may involve "fossil research" and, as we're about to learn, it includes tools and a boat.

Okay, now we're going to learn why Hera hates the assistant, Miss Kraken--she's super weird and kind of crazy and really mean.

Miss Kraken, though, right?!? Great name!

Okay, still don't know what Hera Jones' job is and where it's located, but this boat ride is pretty long, and now they're apparently, I'm told (that dratted tricky "y"!), sailing through a storm.

In case you're wondering: yes, this level of snark IS modeled in our family on a daily basis. Also, things are about to get exciting.

I skipped a page that consisted solely of Hera and a professor sniping at each other, but I guess that I shouldn't have, because here he is again!

Okay, they're researching and island! And here they are! Yay! And Hera rescued Professor Plimple but she still seems to low-key hate him.

So they're walking around in a cave now. We'll just assume they can see. 

We're going to have to figure out some kind of filming technique to represent the passing of time. Actually, it looks like we're about to have to up the special effects budget by a LOT.

Well, the good news is we'll be able to stop paying the actor playing Professor Plimple...

Also, I haven't played D&D with Syd before, but I'm clearly going to have to introduce her to the Chaotic Neutral alignment, because Hera... hmmm.

Ah, here are where Hera's fossil research skills are going to come into play!

Action scene!

I love Hera's assessment about what it takes to succeed in the fossil research business. I do know a few paleontologists, though, and I must say that yeah, showing up riding a megalodon probably would be a sure-fire way to get noticed.

And... back to work!

You'd think Hera would want to get a little rest before going off on her next adventure, but she did promise the Head Researcher that she would do a good job, you know.

Syd has also never seen Knight Rider, but we're a little bit in Knight Rider territory here, what with all of her adventures taking place conveniently in or near bodies of salt water. 

Whatever. Everyone loves a big-budget fight scene, regardless of how much sense it makes.

So I'm a little confused about what's going on here--I think she's just riding the megalodon around the open ocean?--but I highly approve of the addition of the US Navy to the proceedings:

Okay, you guys, I'm going to warn you: to earn the Screenwriter badge, a Cadette has to write a 12-page screenplay. And we are about to reach the end of page 12...

And now we're on page 13. How many tweens do YOU know who will willingly write more than the required number of pages? Prepare yourself, Friends.

And thus end the adventures of Hera Jones and the Megalodon.

I think that was a Girl Scout badge well earned, don't you? Syd learned how to compare/contrast films within a single genre, she researched and then utilized the writing conventions of a screenplay (which is great practice, by the way, for writing anything with structured requirements, from a business letter to an answer for an essay question to a public speech), and she wrote a complete piece of creative writing, juggling multiple characters with different personalities, incorporating plot and a story arc, and using necessary details to convey scene changes and action. She visibly grew in confidence during this process, and she and I are both quite pleased with her accomplishment.

Often, the Cadette Screenwriting badge is paired with the Cadette Digital Movie Maker badge; Syd hasn't shown much interest in this, but don't you think that Hera Jones and the Megalodon would make an awesome animated short film?!?

I do!!!

I'm going to encourage Syd to consider that, but regardless of her choice, we'll definitely be doing a couple of visual art extensions of this project. I love this tutorial for creating a movie poster, and I'll be using it for Syd's art lesson one week. For another art lesson, we'll discuss and look at storyboards and Syd can storyboard a couple of her scenes.

We didn't use many additional resources for this badge, but here are three that I found helpful:

I definitely recommend looking at some real screenplays to give your writer a visual example of what she's meant to be doing.

And now, onto the Cadette Marketing and Robotics badges and the Think Like a Programmer Journey!

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