July 31, 2016

Weeks 18 and 19

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.


After a three-day vacation to Lonavala at the end of seventeen weeks, the course resumed. We had the following exercises during these two weeks:
  • Write a four-page dialogue-scene from a movie being developed by one of the writers at the course. The ten writers presented the scenes in class.
  • Write a five-page dialogue-scene from a show being developed by two writers at the course. These scenes were also presented for feedback.
  • Each student was assigned two of the twenty-two rules of screenwriting by Pixar and were asked to prepare five-minute presentations for each. Exercises like these enable the student the habit of self-study and provide them with the opportunity to showcase their learning of key concepts.
  • The students were asked to select five best scene-transitions from a movie they respectively chose and were asked to present those transitions on class. They were also shown examples from other films, based on the chapter on Transitions by Robert McKee in his book 'Story'.
The students read the screenplays of 'Sling Blade' and 'The Lunchbox'. The students met Ritesh Batra, the writer and director of 'The Lunchbox' at an interactive session on developing film-scripts in Koolar Cafe, Matunga.

We have started lectures on directing and the students were asked to come up with the shot division of a long dramatic scene between two characters. In the lecture that followed, we discussed how to develop a logical approach for such an exercise during which we discussed scenes from 'Udaan', 'Notorious', 'Vertigo' and 'About Elly'.

The screening of movies to understand structure concluded with 'Pulp Fiction', 'Memento', '21 Grams' and 'Primer'. More movies to understand the evolution of cinema were screened: 'Bonnie and Clyde', 'Easy Rider', 'A Woman Under the Influence', 'Kes', 'Sunset Blvd.' and 'Soy Cuba'. We also watched 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' at Matterden and attended Shubha Mudgal's concert on monsoons ragas at Nehru Center.

Three-quarters of the course is over and we are quickly approaching the business end where all the students will invest all their learning into writing their respective first drafts.

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