Thursday, June 2, 2011

What's It All About? aka Theme

Part 2 of the Professional Partnership Program with Filmbites last night and the evening was structured around THEME.

Through discussion of last week's improvised scenes; the (film school) director's suggestion of themes (such as "seize the day"); and reference to films like The Graduate and Dead Poet's Society, the group started to explore what resonates with them in their daily lives.

Many personal recollections and experiences were raised which is great fodder for a writer as it brings authenticity and emotion. It also helps me clue into the issue of relevance as I am of a different generation so my concerns and frames of reference of how the world works aren't necessarily the same. But talking thematically is a great way to bridge any real or perceived generation gap.

The actors did some warm-up exercises then we split into two groups with each writer working with 3-4 actors to do a mind-mapping exercise or what I would call brainstorming. The two strands that emerged from this were "sacrifice" and "epiphany". We swapped over and continued to explore what those themes meant and possible scenarios that could be utilised. It was also an opportunity for me to share some of my real life background, especially in regard to my "light bulb" moment (that led me to resigning from my corporate job in Sydney to come home to become a writer).

The actors were given time to come up with scenes based on either of the two themes and then present. Again, the results were very interesting - a woman waiting for her boyfriend at a restaurant on the night of their anniversary discovering she has more in common with the waitress; a sister discovering that she was adopted and deciding to leave to find her real family to the horror and anger of her brother and younger sister; and a delightfully gruesome scenario that took a literal look at sacrifice involving a pot, a baby and ingredients such as eye of newt!

Next up the writers gave one scenario each that the actors improvised leading to, from my colleague's suggestion, a very nuanced scene between male and female friends where one would like to be more. There was an honesty here that was compelling and during the debrief was considered something worth pursuing - that moment when something changes between two people and the domino effect of that change.

So it appears Romance and Epiphany might be on the mind!

But there is still that great scene from last week based on the key word "Darkness" that keeps beckoning.

Time for me to brainstorm the way I do best - I feel a rough draft coming on...


  1. Sounds like a fascinating process and program - is the idea that all intellectual property the arises from the workshops is anyone's for the taking?

  2. No, there is a deal memo I signed that states I would have to ask permission to use any ideas that were presented by the actors or other writers ie not generated by me. The goal of the program is to come up with short film scripts which they would then find funding for to shoot. If they picked one of my scripts I would get a small financial remuneration. But it's the process that is the attraction here - I am finding it most enjoyable as a fresh way to generate story.