April 21, 2016

Week 5: The Pitch

AIB First Draft is a six-month writers' residency programme where a select group of aspiring writers from all over India are being trained in the craft of screenwriting. I feel thrilled to head this project and design and conduct the course. This post is a part of the series that chronicles all that happens at the course. Click here and read from bottom upwards for all posts related to this.


If our 26-week course has a Three Act Structure, the end of fifth week is definitely when the Set-Up is complete and Act I ends. I say so, because after four weeks of lectures, analyses, movie-watching, discussions, assignments etc. (as discussed in the previous posts), the fifth week was spent only in fine tuning the film/show ideas that the students had come up with. They wrote and re-wrote the ideas, helping each other, and creating their one-page pitch documents, that comprised of log-lines, plot outlines and treatments. And for that the students had a lot of time by themselves.

Of course, we started the week with watching 'The Jungle Book'. This would remain the only movie they would watch this week. No reading screenplays. No field trips or intuition exercises. Just working and reworking their pitch documents. I was amazed by the energy that engulfed them and I deeply admire how the students helped each other develop their ideas. It was as if an exam is round the corner. I too prioritized my life accordingly - trying to make sure that the students received my feedback as soon as possible, and repeatedly. All of us were together and it looked like a massive team-effort. 

Finally, we had two evenings of pitching. On the first evening, fourteen show ideas were pitched. On the next day, fifteen movie ideas. The panel comprised of the four AIB boys - Tanmay, Khamba, Rohan and Ashish, Ajay Nair from OML, my friend/manager Chaitanya from Tulsea, author/screenwriter Ramkumar Singh and my brother and co-director Devanshu. For four hours on both days, the classroom had this wonderful atmosphere where the students pitched their ideas with honesty and self-belief, the panel reacted to the ideas, providing suggestions for improvement and I observed all of them connect through nothing but stories! What an experience it was! Those two evenings were so special that I do not expect anything from 2016 any more. In the end, the panel expressed strong belief and conviction for at least sixteen ideas and spoke to the students to congratulate them for what they have achieved and to inspire them for the immediate future.

Perhaps the most important message that the students got was that they are really good, and they should now stop worrying about what will happen once the course ends. All of them should start professional writing and there is no going back now. Hopefully. 

Wasn't it an irreversible event in the lives of these students? This must be the First Plot Point. And this is how Act I of First Draft ends - with the students knowing which ideas they are going to work on for the next five months. With two days off - for the first time since 15th March, the students partied hard, slept a lot, played FIFA, watched shows and movies and relaxed. And prepared themselves for the very crucial next weeks. The Second Act is always long and tricky. The students know that - with respect to the second acts of their stories and of the course they are in. But like strong, motivated protagonists, they have it in them to go through this and emerge victorious. I wish them all the best with all my heart.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Sir,
    I was often thinking of calling you and asking you how the course is shaping up, but here I'm visiting your blog and getting to know step by step how well its really shaping up.
    Thanks for letting us know.
    All the best
    Anand

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