"Best. Workshop. Ever!"
"I found this masterclass extremely useful. I like that you gave me time to develop a character I've been stuck on, you encouraged me to work with someone I didn't know and create a scene of dialogue (didn't think that would be possible), and I wrote down more in an hour than what I've written in weeks!"
"You're coming back...right?"
- Masterclass participant feedback.
The British Film Institute (BFI) is the heartbeat of UK film. As a supporter of indie, commercial, local, global, long-form, short-form, conventional, quirky, augmented and cinema-other, the BFI is a home-hub for film lovers, filmmakers and creatives in other disciplines.
Since 2009, the BFI has hosted a range of 'Future Film' initiatives, encouraging young artists aged 16-25 to make regular use of their library, bookshop and cinema spaces for the purposes of learning, connecting and creating. I was once a member of the Future Film Club; in fact, it was at the BFI where I coined the idea for Scribble Ink as a 'consultancy', so it was an honour to be invited to join this month's Future Film panel!
Chaired by Screenwriter and tutor Gabriella Apicella, I sat front and centre stage, and discussed the value of scriptwriting in film with my fellow panelists, writer and director Stephen May, who has worked with the best in the business on both sides of the Atlantic; Castle Rock, Ealing Studios, Miramax, the BBC and Matimba Kabalika is the Talent Development Manager at BFI Network.We discussed subtext, genre, favourite films (why did I say Lego Movie????) and we advised on the best ways to develop and share a script.
After a quick coffee break, it was time to say goodbye to the panel and take the afternoon on...solo. Just me, a packed theatre and a slideshow did the afternoon become. As daunting as this might sound, I must say, the time flew by and every second was pure joy! Using the 'Bring Your Character to Life' nano course' as the pedagogy, the participants and I indulged in a character development workshop. Each seat had an envelope. In those envelopes were a set of questions (the same questions in the nano course).
Participants had to answer these questions on behalf of a character they were either creating for a film script or a character they were developing from scratch during the Masterclass. Subsequently, they used their answers from the Q&A exercise to create a monologue on behalf of their character.
After 20 minutes of creative isolation, participants paired up with a writer next to them. For many, it was someone they'd never met before. They introduced their characters to each other and after a further 10 minutes of chit-chat, they created a scene of dialogue with their new creations.
At the start of the masterclass, I informed participants that in 45 minutes they will create or further develop a character, write a monologue, introduce this character to a complete stranger, listen to their character introduction and monologue, then using a catalogue of writing prompts (a very basic list of ideas for settings and scenarios), they would create a scene of dialogue for a semi-improvised script. When I said this, there was silence, disbelief and perhaps some concern for me. However, as time went by and the sound of conversation crescendoed, I could feel the confidence and creativity of the room propel to new heights. As cliche as it sounds, it was magical and was a colourful reminder of why I love delivering workshops!
The feedback was amazing and the free wine wasn't too shabby either! I look forward to delivering more masterclasses with the BFI later this year.