Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Hero's Journey - Day One

Ordinary world

Saturday, early. Not renowned as a morning person I am running somewhat late. What I hate more than waking up early is paying exorbitant parking fees. So I trudge to the venue after depositing my car in a secret location free of such imposts (fingers crossed)...

... to encounter my first Threshold Guardian - a lady with a clipboard. Never under-estimate the power of a well crossed off list. Clearly intimidated, I stammer out my name to be given, gulp, a name tag. Cowed by the officious nature of these proceedings I mechanically pat the sticky label onto my shirt and enter a theatrette...

... that is full of people, some fifty in all, who have come to seek wisdom from our Mentor for the weekend, Karel Segers. Introductions are made by our Herald (Evangeline Than) who has organised the event for WAnimate in conjunction with ScreenWest. Yes, I am mainly surrounded by strange creatures I know little about - animators. I am encouraged, however, that they have come in numbers to learn the craft of story-telling. Either that or someone is going to ask me to draw which would be disastrous for all involved!

Refusal of the call

Karel starts by saying he will give us the "bee's knees" of all storytelling models - the Hero's Journey. I drop my pen, throw my note pad to the floor, mutter darkly about prescriptive methods of storytelling, shout obscenities at him and storm out of the room...

... or possibly just sit there meekly thinking, "here we go". But then I consider that he has an awfully nice powerpoint presentation, some snazzy clips from actual movies and an electronic whiteboard (yes!) so maybe I should turn off my inherent scepticism and go along for the ride...

The special world

... and experience a fantastical world where strange symbols and arcane terminology are the building blocks for this thing we call story-telling.

Day one is all about setting the scene - discovering Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, Christopher Vogler and yes, the guy who perhaps made the greatest impact from a movie perspective, George Lucas. Even Aristotle's Poetics received a mention at one stage. Most of the clips are from animated movies and given the audience I can't begrudge that. Besides, those Pixar dudes do story perhaps better than anyone else around at present.

The 3 Act structure is given a little bit of a whack behind the ears for being somewhat inadequate but then is immediately redeemed for fitting in with the Hero's Journey. Karel gives a brief overview of the 12 stages with a promise that they will be shown and discussed in depth with plenty of clips tomorrow.

It's all very breezy and done with a good sense of humour and knowledge. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday before encountering the next phase of such workshops - networking!

Allies and Enemies

Down to the iconic local pub we go to share a drink and exchange snippets of who we are and what we do. This is an environment clearly filled with both Allies and Enemies, the former being other writers, the latter being bar staff. All good heroes require a flaw to overcome and mine is impatience. I suspect the reason you 'rope off' a special area in a public bar is so hopefully you can get decent service. How naive I am!

But that aside, discussion turns to projects, thoughts of the day's events, the obligatory "what are you working on?" and the mining of other information. Disappointingly, I haven't worked out who my Shadow character is yet and I do love a good nemesis! I'm also concerned with all the talk about 'shape-shifters' and nervously expect Karel to exhibit his "McKee side" at any minute. But Evangeline whisks him away before any Adaptation style rant emerges. Relieved, I trek back to my car (no parking ticket, yes!) and head home...

Tomorrow I look forward to seizing the sword and getting me some of that good Elixir...

Stay tuned!


  1. That's "Than" to you, boyo. Well, actually it's "Than" to everybody Or it should be. Thank you for getting the spelling of the first name right :)

    P.S. Were you really expecting better service at the bar? We've been there heaps of times and never gotten special treatment. In fact it's been worse because the staff can't see us! But it is a very convenient location and they try their, um, usual.

  2. My sincere apologies, Angie! *red faced* I had spelt it right then changed it for some reason. Fixed now.

    Yes, it's hardly VIP nor cool in there but I guess the location is favourable.

  3. *chuckles* Great run-down of the first day, Richard.

    I think I was dwarfed by all the "allies" and "enemies". I never did figure out if anyone was safe. I'm a turtle in shell by habit and had already made other plans for the evening so I'm sorry I missed out on the slow service at the bar.

    I took the train into the city; a classic threshold crossing and felt a bit like Harry Potter on the train first year to Hogwarts. No parking tickets! Yay!

    I'm looking forward to reading your day two run-down. :-)