Mallywini Films School: Scriptwriting and London Screenwriters’ Festival 2012

6 Apr

As I am preparing the script for the short film challenge I set myself- I’d like to write a bit about scriptwriting.

Call me slow, but I have only recently realised how much effort goes into a good script and that screen/scriptwriting requires a continuously developed and mastered craft. The only thing that can excuse my ignorance, was the fact that even though I made number of short films based on my own ideas (put down in a form of a script of course), I have never called myself a script/screen-writer. My writing was done at a spur of a moment, out of a sudden inspiration or out of a need to come up with a story. The work was never really developed, advanced or polished. I simply didn’t know how to do it nor I really felt the need for it. Each script was the best I was able to do at that time. What the scripts lacked, I developed while directing and then made the best of everything in editing.

London Screenwriters Festival 2012

This changed after I went to London Screenwriters’ Festival (LSF) last year where I took part in number of sessions on screenwriting. I saw hundreds of writers at different stages of their career and their understanding of writing. I learned a lot and the best thing was that at the end I felt like I was part of something, something big, something exciting. It was a good feeling. Most importantly, the sessions gave me the tools for analysing scripts and developing them.

Here are two speakers I remembered most and short summaries of what I learned from them ( if the pictures look familiar, they probably are – they were stolen from the LSF official website but all in the good cause- I hope that Chris Jones won’t chase me down for that):

Kate Leys at LSF 2012

KATE LEYS (www.kateleys.co.uk), a feature script editor, was the first speaker I listened to. I was lucky to snick into her session despite the fact that the room was full and a couple before me was turned away.

Kate was a very humble and entertaining speaker. I have like 9 pages of notes from her session, but here are the most important ideas:

1. What makes a good protagonist is the struggle she/he deals with BEFORE the story begins.

2. Act 1 takes place when that struggle reaches its peak and the character needs to do something about it.  Act 2, in Kate’s own words, “delivers crap to the center character”

3. Another quote about writing dialogue: “Sometimes it’s the right line, just the wrong person saying it”

4. “It’s not what characters do, that makes a good story, it’s what they WANT.(…) Think what’s missing in their live, what’s on stake?

5. Key questions to ask yourself:

Whose story is it? ________What does this person want? _______Why can’t they have it?_________ What do they need to realise it? _________ What stopping them from learning it?

Pilar Alessandra at LSF 2012

PILAR ALESSANDRA (www.onthepage.tv) was another memorable speaker. But Pilar is more than a speaker, she is a teacher. A very good one. Being a teacher myself, I can tell a great teacher when I see one.

Her session was about dialogue and how to make it more dynamic. Here are few tips from Pilar:

1. Each character has a different agenda/objective. Each line of the dialogue should come out of the need of this character.

2. Each character has different strategy in achieving what she/he needs. The dialogue should consider such strategies, e.g. flattering, avoiding the subject, complaining, wise cracking, silence (!)

3. Then there are techniques or as Pilar calls it “Actions”. This include moaning, whimpering, shouting etc.

4. Finally, as very useful note for beginning screenwriters about Exposition:

“Your character already knows things, no way to communicate them out loud.”

Needless to say, I am planning to attend the 2013 edition of LSF. If you are going to be there too, please say ‘hello’, a canteen full of 300 networking writers can be an intimidating place to enter at first, as I experienced at first hand.

LSF 2012

The last session of the festival. I’m at the front to the left.

One Response to “Mallywini Films School: Scriptwriting and London Screenwriters’ Festival 2012”

  1. screenwriter.tk May 5, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    Thank you very much for this great article! This is one of the best screenwriting articles I read in a while.

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