December 04, 2016

Weeks 20, 21 and 22

AIB First Draft was a six-month writers' residency programme where a select group of aspiring writers from all over India were trained in the craft of screenwriting during March to September 2016. I feel thrilled to have headed this project and designed and conducted the course. This post is a part of the series that chronicles all that happened at the course. Click here and read from bottom upwards for all posts related to this.

The Director of Photography of films like 'Kahaani' and 'Dangal', Satyajit Pande, was at AIB First Draft one afternoon for a Guest Lecture on cinematography. He spoke about his journey into the industry, his criteria for selecting a project and the collaborative relation between a director and a cinematographer. In the second half of the class, opening shots from a variety of films from across the world were screened and we discussed their visual design with valuable insights from Setu.

During these three weeks, the students read the screenplays of 'Do the Right Thing', 'Aankhon Dekhi' and 'Before Sunrise'. They were also asked to observe the different topics that the lead characters from 'Before Sunrise' talk about and the rhythm on which the plot moves in this dialogue-heavy film. The students were also made to read a six-page write-up on Episodic Content.

The scene-writing exercises included writing scenes from three different movies being developed at the course. We also had an in-class writing exercise in which the students practiced writing log-lines.

A yet-to-be-produced screenplay was narrated to the students by the writer of that screenplay so that they get some idea of how to narrate scripts. It was followed by a feedback session in which the students advised the writer how to improve the script.

There was a day-long field activity on dialogue writing. The students were asked to create a questionnaire of five questions and go out on the streets to interview ten different people, as varied as possible. They had to record the conversation and then study patterns of speech in them. This exercise would lead to a discussion sometime later in the course.

The students also attended the two-day annual conference of the Film Writers Association. They also went to watch the screenings of documentaries 'Liquid Borders' and Mani Kaul's 'Arrival' at Prithvi House. They also watched the latest big-screen releases: 'The BFG' and 'Chauthi Koot'.

Apart from all this, we screened the following movies for them over these three weeks: '8 1/2', 'The Phantom of Liberty', 'The Battle of Algiers', '2001: A Space Odyssey', 'Day for Night', 'The Mirror',  'Anupama', 'Duel', 'Taxi Driver', 'Annie Hall', 'Eraserhead', 'This is Spinal Tap', 'The Piano', 'Underground', 'Close-Up', and 'Festen'.

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