What Is a Workshop?
Isabel Holtreman, the fabulous Marketing Director of Save the Cat! Productions, has asked me to tell you a little something about our workshops.
She informs me that she’s received a lot of questions about what we actually do at these weekend get-togethers.
Okay, here goes:
The workshop is a two-day, high-intensity event where I get into a room with up to 12 writers and we actually figure out the pitch, logline, and structure of everyone’s screenplay!
We start by letting each person pitch whatever they’re working on, up to three ideas. We as a group pick the one we like most. Then we work like hell and pound that idea into a logline that just sings! Because, as you know, the logline IS the movie.
We then begin to talk structure. By the end of Day One of the workshop, everyone has a great logline and the five essential plot points of their script: Opening Image, Break into Two, Midpoint, Break into Three, and Final Image!
But we’re not done yet.
Day Two we take it up a step, filling in the rest of the BS2, all 15 points, including Fun and Games, All Is Lost, Bad Guys Close In, and the all important Theme Stated — which tells you what you’re writing about! Kinda important!
By the end of Day Two, we have not only figured out your story, but you have helped everyone else in the class figure out theirs. It is so intense and so much fun and such a bonding experience that many groups go on to keep meeting and keep working on their scripts to completion and beyond.
We’ve had a few options and sales come out of this process — and many salvaged movie ideas that went on to be great pitches! But we want more!
Mostly it’s a great experience and a fantastic learning tool, and some enthusiasts go on to what we’re now describing as the “Master Class,” where we take those 15 beats and keep going, laying out all 40 cards on The Board, including dissecting the conflict and emotional shift in key scenes.
Innocent bystanders have walked into these sessions and become convinced the laws of physics were repealed. Once in Cornwall, England, my publisher Michael Wiese made the mistake of wandering into the classroom and was certain that several of the participants were levitating. We may not perform actual magic… it just feels like we are.
But my favorite part is when participants come in to the workshop convinced they want to write one idea and get shot down by the class, only to pitch out a little, lesser notion they were toying with that all of us suddenly realize is The One! What a rush!
But such is the interaction of many creative minds attacking the puzzle all at once, all with a different insight and experience.
So, that’s what we do. And I get excited just thinking about it. I have a workshop the next twoÂ weekends here in LA. And I will be doing one in New York in February.
Hope I see all of you in one of these workshops in your town — they are the most fun, and the best way to make stories that resonate and a lot of new friends, too!
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Be prepared to be put through the wringer, that’s for sure! (I did it last year.) And you need to come in with some flexibility.
But it is certainly worth the experience.