Selasa, 15 September 2009

Charles Harris' treatment workshop

On Saturday, I went to a EuroScript treatment workshop with Charles Harris. I was a little nervous since no-one else I knew seemed to be going, which surprised me. Anyway, I dragged myself out of bed at 6am and made my way down to London.

I got there with a good 45 minutes to space - plenty of time to find London uni and the building I needed to be in. Well, plenty of time if the google map I printed off was any good at all! After a good 20 minutes of wandering round, I finally worked out that the directions were all screwed up. When it said "turn left", it meant "turn right". So I finally found my way to the building.

I met a cool guy who I forget the name of at the moment. He was there to help Charles out - set up the room, sort out the blinds when the sun came streaming in, get drinks etc. As payment, he was allowed to take the workshop free - very clever.

There were only 14 of us in total and Charles was great. Somehow, the guy manages to write full time and teach these courses, all while holding down a job as a martial arts instructor! Now there's a guy with good time management!

We did a lot of exercises and we kept moving round to sit next to someone new. This was annoying at first but I soon realised the point - every time you sat next to someone new, you had to introduce yourself and tell them your idea. As a result, you really began to see the flaws in your story. For example, when you find yourself saying " then they run away and shit...." five times over and getting the same "so what?" expression, you see the problem!

Anyway, I heard some great stories and everyone was really passionate about them. We had one film about a woman in the slums of India, whose daughter is stolen by a rich landowner. Another about a man's desperate attempt to get his friends to notice him. And my personal favourite - alien cats at war!!! That made my violent vampire revenge story seem tame!

We didn't just discuss how to write treatments. We also explored the three-act structure and the inner flaw of a character. Charles also provided a simple yet affective cliche-buster - very useful.

Over lunch, I spoke with Charles about 'The Terminator' and the great way we get exposition cloaked in action. "Ah yes," Charles said, smiling. "I use that as an example of one of my 23 ways to hide exposition."

Yes, 23! I was only aware of about 4!!! 23

I tried to bait him into telling me what they were, but it was no good. I'll just have to work them out for myself!

Anyway, I highly recommend Charles' workshops - they're invaluable and I now know loads about treatment writing. Before I dreaded them, but now I know how they work, I'm quite looking forward to writing my next one. I would share what I've learnt with you all, but I'm certain Charles would kick me ass - I did mention he's a martial arts instructor right?

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