Archive for November, 2011

MA Screenwriting update

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

I went to Bournemouth this month for the final residency of the MA Screenwriting course. It went very well and I had a great time.  I would say that the high points of the week for me were the Writer, Director, Actor masterclass with Jan Sargent. Working with the directors and the actors on a scene from our scripts was really educational and the actors were just amazing.

I really enjoyed the workshop we did on subtext and units of action. This was all very new to me and I must admit to feeling utterly confused to begin with. As skilled subtext ferrets Rosie Cullen (our course leader) and fellow student Marcus Condron got to work exploring the hidden subtext within our scripts I found myself wondering if I was actually looking at the same page! It was a revelation that so much could be hiding just below the surface of the words. We learned to use units of action with phrases like “I resent” and “I deny” to actions and dialogue that contained nothing like those words, but that would be the basis for an actor portraying the role. Fascinating. And really changed how I look at my own writing, with the bottom line that if I don’t want the director and the actors to read it that way I need to make myself much clearer. And apart from that let the actors run with it – it’s amazing what hidden treasures they’ll find to bring to the performance.

The other workshop was the Openings workshop where we worked on the all-important first five pages of our scripts that are so essential, not only for grabbing interest, but also setting up the tone of the script and the audience expectations for the movie as a whole. It was a great session with Craig Batty as the tutor and the utterly stellar group were all so interesting and the feedback so useful and organic that of course we ran over time and got locked in the building. It felt a little bit like playing Doom as we wandered round the corridors in the dark looking for the exit. Luckily no zombies!

Visiting guest lecturers included Iain Farmer, who gave a really inspiring talk on Industry Practice, and author Helen Jacey, who talked about writing female characters.  It was a fascinating discussion expanding on her book “The Woman in the Story” which many of the female students read and discussed in the first year.

Overall  it was a really good week, but there were bound to be tears before the end when the realisation dawned that this was our last residential together.  Mostly my tears of course – nothing new there!!  Hopefully we will all be able to stay in touch via Facebook. A lot of new partnerships have been formed that I’m sure will see some great productions in the not-so-distant future.

So now comes the writing up. We have five months now to produce our final script projects. Mine is a psychological thriller called “Lobster Pot”.

Onwards and scriptwards!

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