Have Cat! Will Travel.
Great news from Master Cat! Jose Silerio:
Just came back from Malaysia and what a trip it was! We’ve always known that Save the Cat! has legions of fans around the world — but to interact with them in their home countries and seeing how they use the principles of STC! is always a great excuse to jump the Cat! lair and take the show on the road.
We were invited by Media Prima Berhad, a media conglomerate, which has ownership stakes, among other things, in several TV and radio stations and newspapers around Asia. So, when they first said they’re in the business of content creation, we said, “We bet you are.” But the real kicker was when they said their film and TV divisions follow STC! with much fervor. Once we heard that, we knew we couldn’t say “no” to our newest BFFs.
Malaysia was an eye-opener for me. Having grown up in a neighboring Asian country, I was pleasantly surprised how diverse it’s culture and people are. To steal a line from the book, it was the “same but different.” Same in the sense that I recognized the same smiling and warm faces I was accustomed to as a child, but different because it was a new place and had its own language that was… simply put, foreign to me.
So when I walked into the office of Mr. Ahmad Izham Omar, CEO of Media Prima’s TV Networks and Primeworks Studio, nothing could have been more pleasantly familiar to my ears when one of the first things he told me was, “Let me tell you a story.”
Just like that, I knew I was among peers.
In 2007, Mr. Omar was visiting Los Angeles — the Grove to be specific — and wanted to buy a book on screenwriting. So, he entered Barnes & Noble and the first book he came upon had a very intriguing cover and name. Yup, you guessed it: Save the Cat! Taking a closer look, he was even more drawn to the book when he read it’s “The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need.” And that was all he needed to buy the book.
I can hear Blake right now, “Told you! It’s all about the poster.” Gotcha!
The rest, as the cliché goes, is history.
Today, all writers and producers under Mr. Omar don’t talk story unless they have a Blake Snyder Beat Sheet (BS2) in place. Mr. Omar’s yellowing pages of the three STC! books have been passed along to his staff — and returned (just a general rule of life to follow: if you want to keep your job, you always return your boss’s favorite book if he lends it to you) — as a guide for building their stories. And when they say story, they’re not just talking about film. In fact, much of the content they create is not for film. They’re talking about TV shows, documentaries, reality shows, and even promo spots and trailers.
This is really what STC! is all about. Regardless of the final product being created, it’s always about the story. What‘s the story you’re telling? And it
doesn’t matter where you’re from or what language you speak. When it comes to story, we all speak the same language. The story must be clear, simple, and primal. It must be emotionally compelling and resonate with as far-reaching an audience as it can get.
The staff of Media Prima knows this very well. They get it. We talked documentaries; we talked about how even shows such as The Amazing Race and American Idol all have A and B stories; we talked about trailer promos and, as Blake pointed out, how 30-second commercials have the beats. Because in the end, we’re looking for transformation, not just in our stories, but in our audiences as well.
I’d like to especially thank Ms. Angeline Chong Cheen Chia for the wonderful reception I received and making this trip happen. And, of course, to all the executives and staff of Media Prima who attended the workshop and made it a truly wonderful event.
I hope you stay in touch. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of Malaysia’s unique style of storytelling on the world stage very soon.
Next stop: London!
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