Friday, March 4, 2011

I do love me a good workshop

Fade In:

On Richard, engrossed in a screenwriting manual. You know the type, written by some well known script guru, most likely from the US. But something's wrong... the book grows heavier as if made of lead. He can barely keep it at eye level. A strange sound intrudes... it grows louder. Rhythmic, persistent... nasal. The book drops from his hands, his head lolls back... the snoring continues.

Okay, maybe an exaggeration but I really struggle with most screenwriting books. I usually find them dry and uninspiring. I've never managed to get through all of McKee's Story (or the audio book), nor Aronson's Scriptwriting Updated, never read Syd Field. I do love, however, books about writers and writing such as William Goldman's Adventures in the Screen Trade and Which Lie Did I Tell?; Stephen King's On Writing; and Joe Eszterhas' Hollywood Animal. Then there are the Peter Biskind books for a broader view of Hollywood and Sundance etc.

What I much rather prefer are workshops and seminars. I guess I just learn better in an interactive environment where ideas can be tested and discussed immediately with the author and a group of like-minded souls. Give me a whiteboard and I'm happy! So it's great to be a part of workshop month in March:

First up, this weekend Karel Segers (of The Story Department fame) is holding a two day workshop on the Hero's Journey. Christopher Vogler popularised and updated Joseph Campbell's work on the use of myth in screenwriting in his book The Writer's Journey (which I have actually read and whoever has my copy could they please return it!). I struggled to use this model in an earlier iteration of one of my scripts so I'm looking forward to having another go round with Mentors, Threshold Guardians and the like. I think the problem was it didn't feel organic and the left side of my brain (analytical) was engaged instead of the right (creative). Perhaps Karel can shed further light on this.

Then in mid-March there is a 5 day hands-on treatment workshop conducted by Paul Chitlik of Rewrite fame (another rare one I have read and liked). The goal is to end up with a Hollywood calibre 25-35 page treatment of a feature film idea. Plenty of pre-workshop work and very tight in workshop writing deadlines. Should prove quite the challenge!

I will report my findings from these workshops as I am sure there will be no snoring involved!

Richard scribbles away happily on a white board as animated debate explodes all around him in airconditioned splendour...

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