Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Screenwriting at Trinity College, Melbourne

Last week I did a number of screenwriting workshops at Trinity College, at Melbourne University. It was part of the excellent Summer Film School that's been running here each summer for the last 17 years. I did some of the writing sessions last year and liked them so much I came back for more.

 It's not that I'm planning to become a screenwriter or anything, just that I like doing different kinds of craft-of-writing courses occasionally. It refreshes my writing. And since it's not far from my home, and in my old stamping ground, it's a pleasure to revisit the area.

The pic below is of Royal Parade, which becomes Sydney Rd. I used to catch the tram from this street to and from high school, which is over the road from Melbourne University. So I got a wee bit nostalgic standing under these beautiful trees.

This is Trinity and the wonderful ancient oak tree in the courtyard.

The weather was roasting, but under these shaded colonnades it was cool and peaceful.

And inside the Junior Common Room it was beautifully cool and air-conditioned and we sat in lovely squishy leather seats and couches. Here is some of the class in the afternoon break. This was writing for children's TV.

I also studied writing for short films with Chris Corbett which was excellent. He talks a lot about the architecture of a script, which I find a very interesting concept. I really like his way of analysing/structuring a script. I did a one day course with him last year on writing for TV and found it eye-opening. 

It seems to me that screen writers' process is quite different from novel writers. Every screen writer I've heard speak pretty much plots the events of the story in detail first — the last part of the script they write is the dialogue. 

For me, and for many of the novelists I know, writing the dialogue is when your characters truly come alive. I can write a really solid plot in advance and plan out characters in detail, knowing all about them and their backstory and their motivation, but as soon as the characters come to life on the page (ie speak), they'll reveal themselves as someone a little bit different and take the story in a different direction. And if I try to stick to the characters I planned, they'll be wooden or lacklustre and unconvincing. Maybe that's because in a novel you have to bring the characters to life on the page, whereas screen writers must rely on actors to bring the characters to life on the screen.

I'm not sure, but it's got me thinking.

One of the short movies we studied was this Oscar nominated Irish movie called CRUSH. If you have 15 minutes to spare, watch it — it's sweet and clever and wonderful.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely gorgeous movie, Anne. Thanks for the link.