July 12, 2016

Weeks 16 and 17: Plotting (Part 2)

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.


Four months are over at First Draft. As I write these words, the students are on a three-day holiday to Lonavala. I have advised them to stay away from their writing. I hope they do take this break and enjoy, because the last nine weeks are going to be very hectic, like the rest of the course.

We had four scene-writing exercises during the last two weeks:
  • The students were asked to write a four-page interrogation scene from a hypothetical crime drama movie. After their scenes were discussed, the opening scene from 'Maqbool' was read.
  • As part of "atmosphere exercise" the students were asked to write three one-page scenes, without any dialogue, one each from a romance-drama, a comedy, and an action-thriller. The idea was to make them use scene descriptions to serve different genres.
  • The students wrote the first four pages of a fantasy-drama web-show being developed by one of them at the course.
  • They wrote the first four pages of a dramedy web-show being developed by another student at the course. Both these exercises were followed by detailed discussions.
We also had a discussion on Billy Wilder's Ten Screenwriting Rules. Each student was asked to make a five-minute presentation on one of the rules. The students were also made to read eight chapters from the text-book 'The Tools of Screenwriting' by Howard and Mabley.

We had a lecture-discussion on film editing where the documentary film 'Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing' was screened. 

The screening of movies that have interesting structures continued. In the last two weeks, they watched 'Ijaazat', 'Magnolia', 'Mystery Train', 'Chungking Express', 'Blind Chance', 'Rashomon', 'Amores Perros', and 'Irreversible'. Apart from these, they watched 'Finding Dory' on the big screen and 'The Third Man' at Matterden.

The students read the screenplay of 'Her'. They also read the screenplay of 'Shahid' and watched 'Aligarh' and eventually we had a very inspiring guest lecture by Hansal Mehta, director of the above-mentioned two movies.

We also had a six-hour workshop with writer-director Atul Mongia where he talked about writing in general, apart from conducting acting-exercises that were a new experience for the students. The students also visited the Disney office and had a long interaction with Disney CEO Siddharth Roy Kapur where we talked about how the studios in the industry today are looking at new writers. It was a wonderfully reassuring session for the students.

The students also watched two plays - 'Ismat Aapa Ke Naam' that starred Naseeruddin Shah and 'Stories in a Song' at Prithvi Theater. Apart from this they also visited the shoot of AIB's upcoming sketch.

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