5 Ways to Survive a Trexit Winter

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It’s been a tough old year. As we face up to the double jeopardy of Trump and Brexit (Can we be punished twice for the same crime?) it’s hard to know how to comfort each other, to step up and do what’s right when we feel demoralised and silenced. How can we use the winter months to recover?

  1. Zone out the Noise.  Reading my social media feeds, I feel like a horse grazing in a field of rubble, stubbing my nose on shards of opinion, starved of real information or cheer. While it’s important to question untruths, we use a lot of energy consuming and reposting the same news or venting our (understandable) anger. Yes we have to grieve but then we have to get on – with the work. Take time out to recover, take stock, reflect. So we can hear our own voices again.
  2. Trust yourself.  After Brexit I felt I had got something very wrong, safe in my online bubble, sharing my values with my friends, unaware or dismissive that others felt differently. After the result I felt my voice didn’t matter, had no effect. Now I know it does but that I need to do more.
  3. Get Active. Donate, Promote, Engage. It’s relatively easy to sign an online petition, but more rewarding to volunteer time or support. Help Refugees are looking for help right now. We’re all busy but doing something yourself breaks the cycle of helplessness. Positive action is worth a thousand words.  And yet –

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  4. Keep writing. We need voices to articulate what is happening. To challenge the bluster of the far right. To expose simplistic arguments and reach people with stories that move and engage them. To give us comfort and hope, to reaffirm our true values.
  5. Support each other. Organise. Vote. Plan for a future without Trump, connected to Europe and the wider world, where prosperity for all, not fear, is what drives us. Set up an action group  like House of Cards writer @BeauWillimon if you don’t like what’s on offer. Protest in all ways, and don’t forget your greatest weapon- your heart and mind – your words and actions matter.

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Take heart. You’re not alone.  And don’t forget. There’s always chocolate…

 

WAITING…

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Forgive my silence. You see I’ve been working hard – and waiting – for news, an event, inspiration. How best to use this period? When it’s not quite Christmas but the world is running down and emails lie unanswered ’til New Year?

Here’s a small guide to winter living (with added Kate Bush vitamins…)

  • Rest, Recover, Repair. Like athletes at the end of the season, training doesn’t stop – it just takes another turn.  When your body gets sick on your one weekend off it’s telling you something – STAY ON THE BENCH! Eating right and resting up are an investment in your future well-being. Get well, listen to your body and take care of yourself.images-311
  • Try New Things. Yes, it’s cold outside and you don’t want to miss Strictly/The X Factor/ that online shopping delivery, but as the world of work winds down, you finally have a window in which to have some fun or at least set up some entertaining stuff for the holidays. Treat yourself!images-312
  •  Sleep. Yes we are all sleeping (or wanting to sleep) more now it’s dark and cold. Don’t fight it. This feeling we always have to be alert and at the top of our game, is a myth. Sometimes it’s good to just be quiet for a while and take comfort in family and friends.images-305
  • Don’t Dismiss the Silence. That script that refuses to find a shape on the page just needs a little more time to emerge. Don’t force it. Trust your mind to do the work – or let it play. Like a dog off the leash it will run further without you holding on tight trying to control it.
  • Believe in your capacity not just to survive the winter but to develop new shoots come Spring. Take time to relax and acknowledge what you already have. So don’t wait until Christmas to open your gifts…
  • Enjoy them now…images-316

 

 

Emma x

 

 

 

 

 

Work it like Wimbledon

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The Wimbledon men’s final always makes me cry. I’m sure I’m not the only one.  I am always inspired by the velocity of these athletes, their strength and application and by their powerful will to win. A career in film is a bit like being a tennis pro – years of hitting a ball against a wall for maybe one or two shots at success. So it pays to work like a Wimbledon Champion:

O – LOVE the work you do. Honour each day of training – practice your art whenever you can and relish the chance to write/direct/act on a regular basis. Honing your skills is never wasted and builds consistency – it keeps you match fit.

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15 – FIFTEEN reasons to give up are always knocking on your door. So choose to forget you lost the last game and play each moment fresh as it unfolds. My mum used to say ‘Quitters don’t win, and winners don’t quit.’  She was right, dammit.

30 – THIRTY other people want your job! and that’s just today. But so what? Use the competition to spur yourself on to your own best performance. Respect them, like them, but never forget your own determination to succeed.

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40 – FORTY years is a long time in show business, but Federer is a veteran at 32. Oh to be as gloriously at the top of my game, combining years of experience with such grace and energy! His temperament is superb whether in victory or defeat. Pacing yourself is vital. So is self-belief and knowledge.

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DEUCE – Is like starting again, another chance to get it right. I love the purity of this concept. Every point is fresh, unique, can play out in a totally different way. Yet you’re always just two points away from joy or disaster.

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ADVANTAGE – Is what you must act on – now is your chance to show them what you’re made of. You have visualised this moment a hundred times and now it’s here. All you have to do is – not f**ck it up…

GAME, SET AND CHAMPIONSHIP – Shoot for nothing less – because if you win – and reach your creative goal – then all that training, self-belief and fight pay off and you’re Golden.

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Crossing the Border – My Arizona Film Scout

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Where to begin?  After two amazing weeks of travelling Arizona as research for my feature film, ‘Anchor Baby’, I’m home.  What did I discover about the world of my story?

Accompanied by my friend Doris,  we flew into Phoenix, then drove down to Tucson, then south to Nogales on the border, in search of the reality behind the events I had written in my feature length drama.

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Every day in Arizona, I fell in love with the landscape. Everyone had said it but I just wasn’t prepared. It’s beautiful.

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I must have taken a thousand photos.  None of them will make it into my movie but all are sketches for the world I want to describe.

I did a photo shoot in the mountains around Phoenix with a ten year old Mexican girl.  In my story the girl crosses the desert to find her Mum and so we took some shots to suggest that journey.

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It was just me, a camera, the girl and her Mom and my friend Mary, a local teacher who had helped me set it up. But this girl became Elena, the girl in my story.

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 My script is about undocumented migrants on the US/Mexican border and many of the people I interviewed could not go on the record.  Immigration is a hot topic in the States right now – but beneath the political posturing and TV sound bites showing polarised factions, the reality is hugely complex and moving.

All the people I met spoke from personal experience of living on the border and all expressed feelings I could relate to, from the recently deported migrant to the rancher whose land they had crossed – supposedly enemies but both bound by the same reality – that a once more relaxed border is now a war zone, controlled by the cartels and policed with difficulty.

Jim, whose ranch is on  the Mexican border, has thousands of migrants smuggled across his land every year, alongside numerous drug runs.

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Slippers left behind by crossing migrants

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The soles are lined with carpet to avoid leaving tracks

What united the Arizonians I spoke to was a feeling they were misunderstood by the rest of the country and abandoned by central government.  As one local immigration judge put it to an East Coast liberal , who questioned ‘Operation Streamline’, the new fast track legal process for detention and deportation – ‘Where are you from? If you don’t have a border, you don’t have a problem.’  The sheer scale of the problem and the dominance of the cartels in drug and people smuggling make for tough decision making, torn loyalties and fear along the border.

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The most inspiring place we visited was the soup kitchen run by the charity Kino Border Initiative  for recent deportees on the Mexican side of border town Nogales, a common crossing point.

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People are often deported from the States in the middle of the night with no money and far from their original homes in Mexico or Central America.  KINO gives them a hot meal, clothing, a phone call to their relatives, basic medical care, and someone to talk to.  This tiny makeshift building is full of positive energy and served almost 50,000 migrants last year.

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KINO and a few other humanitarian groups along the border provide some of the only aid available to migrants.  Although admirably non-partisan, they were clearly disappointed by the huge increase in deportations under the Obama administration.

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The most moving encounter I had was with a recently deported Mexican woman.

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Fourteen years ago, she had crossed the desert to come to America. It had taken her a week, carrying her three year old.   She had worked in the US for fourteen years and raised three children there. One day she was stopped while riding her bicycle, her papers were checked, she was found to be undocumented and deported. Her three children are with a friend in Arizona  while she is trapped on the Mexican side with no way back.  Her only option now is to return to Mexico and then try and bring her US raised children back to the impoverished town she came from.

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There are no easy answers but nothing about this deportation seemed right.

It has been a privilege to meet the people of Arizona whose stories I am trying to tell. I only hope I can do them justice as I move forward into the script, writing and rewriting my story to reflect the responsibility and affection I feel towards everyone I have met along the way.

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Thank you to everyone we met on this trip. You took us into your homes and showed us great generosity.  We will let you know how the movie develops!

To help migrants by supporting the work of the Kino Border Initiative click here .

You can read more about my trip and my US indy feature ‘Anchor Baby’ in the forthcoming March issue of Digital Filmmaker Magazine.

Additional photography by Doris Zajer and Jack Dalleywater, many thanks.

Get in touch here or find me at @emlin32 and info@emmalindley.net   Happy Travels, and may the story you’re looking for find you.

The Deal with Development

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Almost a year to the day since I began writing my feature script, I have found a great producer who likes the project and has agreed to help me develop it further.

And my recce trip to Arizona is happening in the New Year – the reward for a year spent writing and rewriting the script.

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This is of course not the end but the beginning of the next phase  – getting the story ready to film.  There’s still a long way to go.  But I am excited!

I started the year wishing for a development deal for my script.  I realise now I already made a development deal back in January 2013 – with myself to write this story.

Only you can write your script. But it’s hard to do it alone and get it right.  I owe a huge debt to all the creative and talented friends who have read my story and taken the time to give me feedback and ideas to get it to this point.  Thank you!

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To all of you out there writing – and rewriting – your scripts – hang in there, ask for help when you need it – and well done!

Here’s to a successful and fulfilling 2014 for all of us… I look forward to hearing your stories and updating you with mine.

Best of luck!

Emma 

True Stories

Live storytelling is an art.  It’s also terrifying – until you try it…!

The email from my friend Stephanie read ‘Fancy a weekend in Norfolk?’  I was tempted.

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Someone had dropped out of a Spark storytelling evening and her friend needed someone who could tell a short tale.  I had told a story once before – to seven people in a pub – so thought I could handle it.  I cautiously said yes.  Huge excitement from Stephanie and thanks from Jonothan, the organiser.  ‘What’s the format?’ I asked.  Sixty people at a sit-down dinner in a huge barn, with a platform to perform on.  ‘Don’t worry, you’ll have a mike.  ‘Bloody hell’, I thought.  And then – ‘I can’t back out now.’

I had thought I’d wing it, just tell an anecdote, but I was one of seven performers at this rather formal sounding event.  I’d better prepare something more structured.  But should I write it in full and then memorise it?  Or make speaker’s notes to prompt me if I got stuck?  I have lectured before but that was on a topic I knew about.  This felt different.  I had to be Entertaining. And I didn’t have long to prepare.

Ironically, the theme was ‘Time.’   I could think of moments about measuring time – a New Year’s Eve party, the fact my mother always bought me watches for my birthday which I never wore – but none of these tales had an ending or a big event– so to my mind they were not stories, just memories. I  started to lay down the rules for a good yarn.  It was harder than it looked.   I decided to tell a story about growing up in a hippie house-share.  But the night before the event I still hadn’t written anything down…

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It was dark and drizzly as my friend greeted me at the station in Norfolk.  We drove through the strikingly flat landscape, the big sky full of lowering clouds.

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The venue was ‘Back to the Garden’, a warm, open-bricked space, an organic restaurant in a converted barn – big but not cavernous.

Gigi checks out the venue

Gigi checks out the venue

The lighting was going to be low – another plus!  We were going to have radio mikes set up by a professional sound guy– which meant no awkward feedback as I mishandled the microphone.  It was starting to feel less like un-funny stand-up.  I even had a vision of myself as Amanda Palmer, giving a Ted talk into my headset, striding around stage spreading the word (A girl can dream).

Back in the car and another speaker, the lovely Gigi from San Francisco, was pulling out her story notes to re-read. I asked Stephanie if she was reading her piece – she’d written it in full and memorised it.  I pulled out my phone and started making quick notes – they were meant to be bullet points but somehow they rambled into phrases and images – not anything I could read out loud but a sketching out of the story shape.  I’d better get it right I thought.  These girls were good.

Gigi and the gig

Gigi and the gig

Changed and back at the venue, our host Jonothan  welcomed the audience as they drifted in.  I eyed the crowd –  they seemed relaxed, couples dining and a couple of groups.  We met the other storytellers around our table who were all charming.  I was starting to enjoy myself.

ElsingHallStories 110-1We went through the running order which was designed around breaks in a three course meal.  Stephanie was opening.  Followed by Starters.  Then Simon, and his dog Stanley were up.  Then me.  I was following a dog.  A beautiful blond labrador – you can’t top that.  I took a swig of wine.

Stephanie was brilliant.  Dark and dramatic though her story was – the death of a close relative in a car crash – she told it expertly, hooking the audience in with the first line, and connecting emotionally with them at all the right moments.  It was a moving tale and made a real impact. We were off.

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Stephanie

Simon’s tale was equally moving. How he had saved and been saved by a wounded Labrador, Stanley, while travelling in Africa. He spoke with sensitivity and grace while his dog Stanley won hearts by wandering around oblivious to the story being told around her.

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Simon

I was listening but nervous, aware I was up next. Then suddenly I felt the blessed calm descend as I converted all that adrenalin into performance mode.  This was it.

I bounced up to the sound man and in seconds my mike was on.

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Me

I stepped onto the tiny stage and my inner Amanda Palmer took over.  I made a joke about following a dog.  I went for laughs  – my story was not as dramatic as the others but it had good characters so I sketched them out, feeling the audience response to each revelation.  I tried to join the dots – to connect the moments to weave a narrative, to move the audience on to the next beat and to explain how I felt without slowing things down.  I was writing it as I went along.  And yet it was not imagining from scratch because this story, like all of the stories that night, was true.  It was my childhood write large.  It was my story and no one else’s and so I knew it and could tell it.

The story climax was dark, a down beat – so I had built in a new grace note, of how my mother met my stepfather, her fate decided by the toss of a coin. What had I learned from living in this house with all these characters? That it had made me who I am today – a writer and director who creates extended families based on the one I lived with all those years ago.  And so I ended. And raced off the stage and people seemed to like it and it was done.

The rest of the stories flew by.  Jonothan’s story hung on a vision of an archer by a Norman Church, an image so compelling it  led him to move to Norfolk.

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Jonothan

Nigel showed how even an old car speedometer had a tale to tell, while Glynn shared the stories of folk he’d helped trace their family line.

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Glynn

Gigi told witty tales of the great San Francisco earthquake and how it brought people together.

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Gigi

Although we hadn’t rehearsed the connections  as the evening played out they became clear.  I realised that everyone in that audience had a fantastic story they could tell.  That storytelling is structure.  It’s timing and taking the audience with you.  It’s knowing your context – who’s come before you – and who’s coming on next. It’s knowing your place in time.

If you can tell a story, you can write your own script, real or imaginary, in life and art, and long may that continue. Many of the storytellers had changed their lives as a result of that one moment they’d described.  I read recently that we tell stories to make sense  – of our world, our own lives, the lives of others.  I’d like to think that’s true. We can’t change our past, but we can re-imagine it, writing it as we go so that it makes sense to us and making connections with other people to find common stories we can share.

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To find out more about about Spark storytelling events in London and beyond contact  Spark London or follow them on twitter at @SparkLDN

To read real-life tales from Stephanie Young visit her blog.

Gigi Hanna can be found at londonstorycircle

As always, you can talk to me in the comments below or find me at http://www.emmalindley.net or @emlin32 on twitter.

All is Lost – The Mysterious Hero

I’ve just cut the first ten pages of my script, the ones that set up my main character.  It feels like I’ve just cut her head off.  First you set up the character, their world and their problem or goal… Or do you?

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All we know about Robert Redford in the brilliant movie All is Lost is that he is Our Man. He has no past. At least not one we are party to.  No reason to be castaway at sea, risking everything to stay alive. Why should we care if we don’t know who he is and what he stands for? But we do know. His actions tell us who he is, that and his reaction to what happens to him. The purest kind of storytelling plays out in forward motion, or as actors say, in the moment.  Not in the remembered past, or the imagined future but right here, right now.

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My favourite moment in ‘All is Lost’ is when Redford finds a card in with a navigating set still in its gift box. He flips the card over and we believe we’re going to find out who gave him the gift, his wife perhaps or a lost loved one and with it the reason he is out there alone.  For a moment he considers – and then decides not to open the card.  As we create our own meaning from that small gesture, we are with him in his universe in a way no amount of spelled out backstory or clever set up could ever make us feel.

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When establishing characters, we follow and teach what works in so many movies because it orients us and makes us feel safe.  That is not to say the writer must not rigorously research and get to know their characters, you have to live with them, to know what they want and fear, whom they love and how they speak, move and behave. But in the end you have to let them go again.  They should be unknowable for you and the audience the first time we see them on film.

One of my favourite movie openings of all time is Travis lost in the desert in Paris, Texas.

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We spend hours following his journey with very little idea of what he’s doing and why until the very end when he reveals the event that drove him into the wilderness.

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We love a wounded hero but do we always need to know who did the damage?

In Shane you never know why he is so reluctant to draw his gun. You just know it must have been a terrible thing.

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To start with a character fresh and unknown and plunge them into a world they don’t know and against elements they have no control over mirrors our deepest fears and dreams.  We have no handbook or script telling us how to live our lives or how we got here.  Nor do they.  And so together we work it out.

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Who are your favourite characters and how do they first appear? Leave a message below or contact me @emlin32 on twitter.

Want to Write? Work with Actors!

Anne-FletcherThis week I’ve been directing actors in rehearsals at Ealing Studios.  Actors take your words and bring them to rich, complex life.  So what can you learn by having actors rehearse your script in progress?

1)   If they don’t get it, no one will. Actors are your first audience.  Their questions are about clarity:  ‘Why does she do that? How experienced is he at his job? How long have they known each other?’  Your script may be deliberately ambiguous on these points.  It may just be plain unclear.  Listen to what they ask you and adjust accordingly.

2)   They make choices, so should you.  A lot of the conversation during rehearsal is about emphasis and interpretation. ‘Would he punch her or punch the door instead?’ ‘When does she decide it’s over between them?’ ‘Is he really crazy or just afraid he’s going crazy because of the way he’s been treated?’  Some of these are actors’ choices but they can help you fill out the characters and make them real so your work becomes as precise and nuanced as their playing.

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3)   Timing is everything.  When and how information is released is crucial in all scripts, especially when it affects the characters’ behaviour.  An actor might ask, ‘Have I always known this or have I just discovered it?’ When rewriting, you can use actors’ feedback to focus this release of information, especially where it provokes an emotional response in the character.

4)   Turn Around.  Identifying the turning point in a scene is acting class 101.  Yet many early scripts feature scenes that have no real turning point. Without this the scene feels ‘undramatic’ and actors will have problems playing it. It doesn’t have to be a big moment but something has to happen to move the story forwards or force the character to take action.  Use rehearsals to find these moments and to identify and cut scenes which are treading water or repetition.

5)   Count the Beats.  Actors love to find smaller moments or ‘beats’ within a scene to play that change the direction of the scene – for example  showing the ebb and flow in the balance of power between two characters before a decisive move is made. You can create these in your scenes and then refine them with the actors.  Good actors will give you new ‘beats’ you didn’t know were there.

6)   Give them characters they can build on.  Actors love characters they can get their teeth into, with a strong emotional arc with highs and lows,  discovering things about their world, making life-changing decisions. If you lay this groundwork, actors will breathe emotional life into your characters, which can inspire you in turn to write them even greater moments.

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7)   Love what they give you and accept it.  Making a film is a truly collaborative affair. Trust actors to explore your work in rehearsal and help you change it for the better.  Actors, like the director and the producer, are ultimately servants of the piece, your piece of writing and so let them serve you and it to the best of their abilities.

Three Ways to Work with Actors on your Draft Script.

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1)   The Script Reading.

This is the easiest – and cheapest – way to get input on your draft script.  Find a comfy living room or big kitchen, provide food and drink.  Actors will often do a reading as a favour, as a way to stretch their acting muscles and meet new people, or to get involved with a project on the ground floor. It can become a nice way for folk to network and get something back. But don’t promise roles to actors who read for you unless you can deliver. This is hard to guarantee if you don’t know who’s going to pick it up yet.  Send the script out  a week in advance, to give actors time to re-read, make notes and think about the roles.

Keep the listeners to a select few whose opinions you trust.  It’s a great way to really hear the script without having all the problems smoothed away by clever rehearsal. This kind of private reading is very different from the public rehearsed reading of a polished script where the goal is to raise the profile of the project and/or financing, although this may also provide useful feedback at a later stage for you and the production team.

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2)   The Script Workshop.

This could be a day, a weekend or longer  and may need a decent size rehearsal space.  This demands a bigger time commitment from actors, so you could offer a fee.   Another incentive is that helping you develop your script may result in them becoming attached to the project.  Advertise for actors on websites like Casting Call Pro or try The Actors Centre.  Scenes are played out in full, not just read, giving actors more freedom to interpret and test the material and for you to explore new storylines.   You can video rehearsals for reference later – but ask permission first and agree that the video will not be posted online  (unless agreed as part of a Kickstarter campaign).  If you don’t want to direct the actors, then find a friendly director to do it for you so you can observe.  Try Shooting People.org to find independent film-makers looking to collaborate.  Make sure it’s someone you like and trust and that they understand the key themes, character arcs and genre of your story.  Ask yourself what they’re bringing to the process in terms of approach and discuss what they hope to get out of it.  Sit in on the workshop or, if your prefer, watch the video later to see what questions they and the actors are asking of the material.  You can even transcribe the scenes developed in the workshops for future use, with written consent from the actors involved.  Some writer-directors like to create whole scripts this way.

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3)   Rehearsing a Script in Pre-Production.  

The rehearsal of your script with the cast as they prepare to shoot can be the best way to test, refine and polish your work to create the shooting script.  The story can still go through big transformations  as real locations are factored in to visually expand the story.  The director brings their vision to bear taking the visual storytelling to the next level.  As a writer let the script go to the director and actors now. Be aware that as actors get really close to the shooting date they may become wary of big script changes as they worry about learning new lines or changing what’s already working in performance.  You may yourself feel that the script is now locked and should not be altered too much in rehearsal!  Yet film-making is full of such last minute changes.  Everyone is trying to make the film the best it can be, so a little goodwill and understanding can go a long way.

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Rehearsing your script with actors can be the most fun you can have as a writer and certainly one of the most rewarding ways to develop your story if you let them in and listen to their feedback wholeheartedly.

How have you worked with actors to improve your writing? Leave your comments here or contact me via Twitter @Emlin32.  Happy rehearsing!

Runaway Bride – Finding the truth behind your story

1528299-a-child-is-walking-all-alone-in-the-desertWhat are you running away from in your script?

We all create diversions to escape ourselves.  How far would you go to avoid the pain you have to inhabit to complete your story?

This is where I am at as I approach the third act of my feature script again. It’s where the shit hits the fan emotionally for the characters – and for you.  Where you work out why you’re writing this thing that’s taking all your waking hours.

The first thirty pages are a sprint, an idyll, the lure that gets you thinking, ‘I know this baby, I can crack this story, I even know how it ends.’

The second act is harder, but the winding roads of plot and character revelation make it bearable, even though it stretches into infinity.

But the last act, the ending, the pay off for you and the audience is where you have to face the truth of what you are writing.  And so we do anything not to go there.  In our own lives as well as in the story.

Many pleasures can distract you from grief.  But if grief drives your screenplay, then it is grief you must enter to find redemption.  A story is a confession, an admission of weakness, a seeking of grace.  The most common narrative structure is the redemption story because we all need and deserve forgiveness.

So in facing our demons and, with them, the truth in our work, we raise ourselves above them and the distractions we employ, to find our own happy ending.

Share your own thoughts here or find me on Twitter @emlin32 . Good luck and may honesty be your best friend as a writer.

Love, Second Time Around

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After the puppy love excitement of the first draft, the pleasures of the second draft are many.  Although each writer faces different challenges at this stage, the great thing is you already have a story you can play with.

So here are the good things about rewriting at this stage:

1)   It’s still fun. Whether you’re working alone or to a producer, the material still feels fresh, your energy for the project is high and you (hopefully) haven’t lost sight of the wood for the trees yet.  It’s all still to play for.

2)   There’s new stuff to be found. While some scenes may need trimming, other characters or storylines will need expanding so opening the way for new scenes and fresh discoveries about how characters behave and feel.

3)   Research can help you now.  While the first draft is often a lone flight of the imagination, now you can step back and take your time to flesh out the realities of the world that you’ve created.  Read around your subject, call up experts and ask their advice, you need more fuel for the fire so look outside for inspiration as you define your hero’s journey.

4)   Don’t lose heart.  The first set of notes may be extensive but that’s to be expected. Use your reader(s) to move forward.  Mine their brains for where to go next with the script and listen to their criticisms and questions with care.  Alongside this…

5)   Follow your instinct.  If you know you missed a trick on that first draft, put it right now.  If there are characters you can go deeper with, then follow them to find out how the story unfolds.  Keep your plot organic not contrived.  But –

6)   Keep your structure in mind. Creating a step outline of your first draft and updating it before/as you rewrite the  next draft will help you see the shape you’re creating and work out where those new scenes fit in the overall pattern of the story.  It also helps you follow the thread of each character’s journey so you can see where they’re heading.

7)   Give yourself a deadline.  If you don’t have an outside deadline from a company, create your own.  Line up new readers – or ask your old faithfuls to expect the new draft by a certain date – or find a competition or scheme to enter so the work doesn’t stretch on into infinity.

Believe in your story and enjoy the fact you can still work on it to get things right.  You only get one shot, so make sure your aim is true…

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How do you create your second draft? Any thoughts welcome! You can leave a comment below or tweet me @emlin32 on Twitter.

Happy rewriting!