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Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Workshop (Part 4)

Last night was pretty much as close to a turn-around as I could've hoped for.

Though there ended up being more questions this time around, a portion of that was because I decided that I would just put myself out there and ask the questions I wanted to ask.

Why pay $200 to sit in the class and feel grumpy?

I tried to keep it brief, but yeah, I know there was at least one person that was grumbling about it. (Yes, I heard them...)

What can I say? Maybe I'm the villain this time around. Mr. Chubb said his piece, asked if we had any questions... and I did.

So I asked.

Anyways, last night we covered Dialogue and touched on Comedy.

Among the night's feast of tips and insights:

He highly recommended that all writers, dramatic or otherwise, take some time to take an Acting class or two. That all dialogue should be spoken out loud, preferably by someone who isn't you, before being fully committed to the page.

Also, when listening to your characters, a writer should question whether you've gotten the truth out of the character or just the facade. Is what they're saying to you what they're really feeling? Or just a smokescreen?

He encouraged us to always dig deeper, trying to see what's really beneath the thoughts and feelings our characters are expressing.

The idea being that once you really know where those lines are coming from, why they're being said -- or being said THAT way -- that's when you get to start playing with layers, when you can start to feed in subtext; make the scene not really about what's going on in front of them at all.

There was a ton of other stuff covered, he recommended some good books to read about screenwriting -- but encouraged us not to get caught in the trap of reading about screenplays; that we should be writing them.

Next week is the final session, and it's pretty much going to be a pitch-fest. A bunch of us threw our names in a hat with the idea that some of us will be standing up there next week trying to sell our concepts in 3 minutes or less. It's going to be interesting since I've had a little bit of pitching experience as of late.

Hopefully it goes well -- I'm definitely down with learning more about the fine art of pitching... 'cause well, I've got a lot to learn.



John McFetridge said...

You've probably seen it, but this David Mamet memo is worth reading.

Laci said...

I read your Chuck spec - and I thought that it was very good! Thanks for sharing... mine will be a little more dark, which I hope works out.


Brandon Laraby said...

Thanks Laci!

Yeah, with the 3rd season being more dark in tone, it'll probably fit in better.

Who's your favourite character on the show?

Laci said...

I like Casey. But his character has changed so much... I am actually in the middle of re-tooling my outline since his 'job' has changed. And, I need to get it done quickly because Chuck might be canceled, again! So, I don't know if I should just take what I have done and move on or power on through hoping that it doesn't get canceled.

Plus- I thought that your script really nailed the voice of the characters, especially Morgan. It's too bad you can't use it - because I really enjoyed it.

Dan said...

Hey Brandon,

This might be out of the blue, but I've followed your blog for a little while now and it's been really informative and fun to read.

I noticed you had some questions for Brandice at NSI on the FB open session today. Just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that if you have any questions about the program that weren't answered or just didn't occur to you to ask at the time, I'd be happy to help. I went through their TTV program last year and it was great. Helped me land my first job in TV, though as a reader, not a writer. So basically we're in the same boat (I'm trying to do the writing thing too).

Anyway, it's a bit random, but wanted to put it out there.


Brandon Laraby said...

Hey Dan!

Thanks for popping on by, I'm glad to know I've got a few readers out there ;)

And you know what? I might just take you up on your offer.

I guess the first question I have would be: What did you learn from the program?

Did you feel like it really helped you bring your concept to the next level?

Cheers and much appreciated!

Brandon Laraby said...

Hey Laci,

Yeah, I dunno - I think this is going to be the end for Chuck... but that's just my humble opinion.

To me it feels like things are starting to wrap up. But who knows, right?

The whole Casey angle seemed to come out of nowhere... and it's an interesting change but I wonder how long it'll last 'cause Casey's a huge part of the show Also, Chuck totally needs someone to bounce off of... literally or figuratively... to help balance him out.

Fingers crossed tho'!

Brandon Laraby said...

Hey John,

Yeah, that's a great memo - it's been making the rounds for a while now. And while I don't agree with everything in it, there's lots of wicked advice for newbie writers or otherwise.

At the very least more tools to add to the toolbox, eh? :P


Dan said...

Hmmm...what did I learn...

I guess the most important thing I learned was when to take advice and when to disregard it.

I went in 'green' - it was my first TV script ever, and I was just so thrilled to be there that I think I would have re-written the entire thing if they'd asked me too. And in the end, that's kinda what happened.

Now in a sense, that's the point. They set you up with a professional writer who helps you make it more 'marketable'. But I went too far, and the end result was something I wasn't particularly happy with. I sacrificed the initial 'spark' of the show while trying to make it more appealing to producers. It's a very fine line I think, and I crossed it. Big time.

So no, in the end I wasn't really happy with what I produced, but that wasn't the fault of the program. I just got carried away and didn't trust myself enough (creatively).

I think the best advice I can give you (if you get in) is to trust your instincts, listen to everything they say, but don't think that just because it's being said by someone in the program (or even a writer) that it has to be so. It's your show, and in the end I believe you've gotta like it.

But the contacts I made were awesome and I met some really cool and talented people there. It's a trip, to be sure.

Plus, a week at the Grand is nothing to sneeze at.

Good luck and hit me up if you need anything else!