I spent a highly enjoyable and intense week at Rich Mix in East London (near where i was born and brought up) on The Bureau‘s Save our Scripts programme with 13 european writers developing the seed idea of my third feature onto the page, The Interpreters.
After a resounding boost to our confidence by the the SOS team (we were told that out of >200 entries from across Europe, judged anonymously by industry professionals we were the chosen 14), we were treated to a week of tips, 1 to 1s, writing exercises, conversations and talks in between pitching and re-pitching our projects to ourselves, the team and industry guests, including screenwriters, Laurence Coriat and Joe Penhall
Favourite exercise of the week: “Show & Tell – what inspired you to write screenplays?”
In preparation for the week we were asked to bring an object, image or film clip to do a group show & tell about what motivated us to write screenplays. I brought this picture of a cheeky five year old danish girl and a silver ring that i wear on my hand that i bought when i went to the Berlinale for the first time. The two objects are connected – its too long a story for this blog post – but – i’ll certainly post it in the future. It was a great exercise to get to learn about one another and connect as a group. And for me it brought alive the theme that i bring to much of my work, including The Interpreters, which is around how to survive the tensions that arise between different cultures.
Favourite SOS tips:
Is the story on the page the story you are trying to tell and are you telling it in the most dramatic way possible?
When pitching, position the audience to help them understand the type of experience they will have – include five elements:
- central theme or conflict
- the tone/ genre (and if its a comedy, make it funny)
- the timeframe of the story (and link it to the plot)
- who’s point of view is it told from
- structure (is it told linearly or non-linearly)
“After you’ve done the ‘vomit’ draft, hide the story in your next draft”
“Use the city as character”
“Don’t have a McKee conversation with execs (ie don’t say at the midpoint this happens and end of act two blahhhh)”
“Keep your sources of inspiration close, go back to them to solve problems”
“Study screenplays like homework, study their language and construction”
“Good writing is like cricket – when you hit a ball – it travels – to filmmakers, audiences, worldwide”
“what’s in your writer’s stewpot – how are you going to assemble your recipe”
“writing a film is like a puzzle – you gotta start it, continue it and finish it”
“reveal the character by putting them in different situations with different people”
At the end of a long week I was clear about the theme of my film and my main character which put me in a more comfortable position to commit to a story and plot.
We’re all now in the midst of writing a 10-15 page treatment or 30 page treatment or first draft script for Friday the 13th May ahead of 1 to 1 mentoring over skype and a final document for the 10th June 2011. Six of us will then go on to a second week in Paris to progress a script.
Related Links and resources:
- Tristan Goligher’s (SOS Programme Director) Blog
- Creative Screenwriting Podcasts
- Alternative Scriptwriting, Successfully Breaking the Rules by Ken Dancyger & Jeff Rush
- The 21st Century Screenplay, A Comprehensive Guide to Writing Tomorrow’s Films by Linda Aronson
- Smoking in Bed: Conversations with Bruce Robinson
- Drew’s Scriptorama (Scripts for download)