Every year, SineBuano holds workshops for the select classes in Cebu’s universities to spread awareness and promote student activities in Cebu’s moviemaking scene.
This 1st quarter of 2012, SineBuano creative director Diem Judilla hosts a half-day morning workshop in screenwriting for short film for the sophomore masscom students, for the Comm 197 class in Multimedia.
“I’m going to do a lot of seminars/workshops this year for short film and full-length screenwriting, starting especially with the Next Picture Festival Workshops and classes in my alma mater USC through its Cinema program. So when UP Masscom professor Mr. Gregg Lloren invited me to facilitate a morning workshop on screenwriting for short film, I figure I better start warming up now.
The Comm 197 class of Sir Gregg focus on producing creative digital multimedia content online. The students of this class will ultimately create their own website and learn the in’s and out’s of making it trendy and popular on the Internet. Well when it comes to digital media, video can be the way to go.
And thus learning how to easily make entertaining short films, audiovisual productions of 10 minutes or less, would be a good help for the students towards the right direction.
The morning workshop is the first of three sets set by Sir Gregg and his students. After my discussion on screenwriting for short film, it was followed on film production by award-winning, veteran production designer Ron Heri Tan who is also the Festival Director of the Sinulog Short Film Festival.
In the afternoon, Mikio Makino and RJ Aquino of DreamLine Productions hosted a seminar in post-production for the Comm 197 students.
Here are some memorable excerpts during my screenwriting session’s Q & A open forum, where the students ask me regarding certain challenges in writing stories, developing characters and the creative process, in general. I am writing the questions from memory and paraphrasing my answers as best I can recall.”
STUDENT QUESTION#1 “How do you deal/handle characters that are too complex, or become too complex during development, for a short film?”
Diem’s Answer: “Well, a character is only complex as you, the writer/creator, would allow it. This is what you can do, develop your character well. Build him or her from the ground up physically, mentally, spiritually, socially. Give your protagonists, antagonists their needs, desires, hopes, dreams, sins, weaknesses, flaws, contradictions, quirks and secrets in order to flesh them out.
Fill up sheet after sheet of all the details you care to give to these characters until you can give no more. Once you’re done, you’re spent, take a little break THEN trim it down.
The real writing is in the re-writing. It’s best to let your creativity flow out on the paper and once that stops, review what you wrote down for your character’s development and TRIM THIS DOWN.
Boil your character down to his/her “bones”– the bare essentials– to what are relevant or vital to the character’s story for the short film, and to what is achievable or doable for you (or, someone) to produce.
Trim down your characters to the aspects or qualities that’s important to the story and to what you want your character to be remembered for, by your audience.
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STUDENT QUESTION #2 “How do you find inspiration, for a project you don’t really like but you have to do it, especially when you have a deadline to meet?”
Diem’s Answer: “Okay, if this is a collaboration project where you are working with a fellow writer or working for a client who has commissioned you for this writing project, you first attempt to convince your collaborator to make the project more interesting for you, to make it into a work that you can feel excited about.
In a collaboration, it’s all about achieving common ground for creative cooperation through a civil, polite, professional way.
If your collaborator does not yield or give way to your concerns and creative requests, do the work anyway. Think of it as a serious exercise, which is not always a pleasant experience at first, but it can help you build up muscles, a thicker skin and serve to teach you your limits. Do the work your collaborator wants, and if you still have some mileage in you, go the extra mile and do the work you want to prove your point. It’ll help you build up your career in the long run.
But if it comes to a point that no you can’t do it, the work is not you. You’re forcing yourself too much, then I suggest you practice your right of choice. Choose not to continue and state your reason as honest as you can be, without casting blame or burning bridges. You choose not to do it because this work isn’t you. All right, then move on.
We’ve been told to seize every opportunity, and make the most of it but for when we do experience failure, we get to learn the valuable lesson of being selective with opportunities, to choose only those that we can be excited about and commit to completing no matter what.
When projects get assigned, and we don’t find such assignments to be inspiring, do the work anyway. Just make the best of what you can. Oftentimes, need and action generate inspiration.
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STUDENT QUESTION #3 “How do you deal with Writer’s block?”
Diem’s Answer: First, I don’t worry about it. Whenever I do encounter a time or moment that my creative juices are not flowing, that I feel dry, and tired, that I am not writing… I just don’t worry about it, and so should you. Don’t make a boulder, out of a pebble. Rather than waste your time worrying over your writer’s block, do something else, do something fun, productive… like travel, learn a new hobby, draw, cook, clean, exercise, eat good food, or like me I watch television because I don’t think, I get entertained and I don’t worry about my writer’s block.
You can also work through it; overcome it by just writing through, no matter how small/insignificant your writing may seem to you. But if there’s nothing, there’s nothing, just don’t worry about. Fill yourself up by getting exposed to other creative pursuits/products like music, art, the Internet. Read books and articles, news and information. Just relax. Go to bed, dream. Do everything else, except worry about your writer’s block.
You can do what I do, that I keep a small notebook that I strive, at least once a day write something that caught my interest: it could be a stray thought or observation, or some information on how to write better, or a news item, anything that seized my imagination at that moment, I write it down, note in down with my own pen in hand because it just feels organic that way.
And if I ever do have my writer’s block, I have this spare source of creativity, this little notebook of ideas and idiocies, to look into and jumpstart my brain and creative juices start flowing out again.