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Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Workshop (The Final Chapter)

And so last night was my final night at the Writer's Foundation Certificate workshop.

This time the premise was pretty simple:

A full night of pitching our stories.

Those of us who'd been brave enough to sign our names up the week before were drawn out of an envelope one by one to pitch our concepts to the room and receive feedback on how to make them better.

Ultimately our goal was to keep our pitches to 3 mins or less... a couple did, I wasn't one of them.

One of the good things about pitching to a room of strangers in this sort of environment is that you don't have to pitch exactly what you would normally pitch -- you can tweak things; try new approaches, different possible story takes or arcs or whatever.

It's a chance to try something new and see if it'll fly -- so that's what I ended up doing.

Most of the new things were just story beats I was considering and a couple small character changes. It went okay, some of it fell flat but the good news is that the one major story beat I didn't change got a fantastic reaction (laughter! Oh, precious laughter!).

That's definitely good to know. Put a little check mark there.

Of course, because I'd changed a few things from my original pitch on the fly, some of the points at the end of my pitch didn't quite add up -- yeah, I hadn't thought that part through.

And that's where I got tripped up pretty bad, trying to verbally engineer apple/orange hybrids on the fly.


So, yeah, I'll have to keep that in mind for future reference. Possibly write it out in full then add sub categories or something depending on how I want to change things up.

Mr. Chubb told us that we should always have at least 1 extra pitch ready to go and that the best writers often have 3 or more that they can jump into at the drop of the hat.

I'm not entirely sure my mind is that compartmentalized just yet, but yeah, it's good to have goals.

As things wound down and we prepped to leave I was handed a questionnaire asking me what I thought about my experience there... and honestly, I wasn't sure what to put down.

Truth is, Mr. Chubb's an excellent speaker and he knows his shit cold. He can break it down for you any which way you want and you'll understand it. I love that and I wish I'd had teachers in school that were like him.

But in the end this was a film course for people who want to write film.

I did learn a lot of neat information from it, but there were also a few things I wanted to cover that we didn't really get to, or sort of glossed over -- a rather timely one on the nature of writing Comedy being one notable example. It's a bit frustrating but understandable due to the format.

Overall I wouldn't say it was a waste of time or anything, it's a great foundation course -- especially if you're looking to get started as a film writer and have $200 kicking around.

But, speaking personally, I didn't find that it offered much that directly related to me as an aspiring TV writer.

That said, I've now gone and dropped almost double that amount of cash to attend the Toronto Screenwriter's Conference that's coming up next weekend. Hopefully I'll be able to glean some story or craft insight from the professional TV folk in attendance.

Right now my plan for that is a simple one: Show up early, stay late, pay attention.

We'll see how that plays out.


PS: Incidentally, I never got a 'certificate' after the completion of the program. Maybe it gets mailed to me or something... I dunno.

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