Posts tagged "script"

Treatment, Treatment - I need treatment!

A few days without a post as I've been digging deep into the reserves of frustration and putting the treatment together for the first story arc. The first 'act' (I'm viewing the story as a 45 min single story at present) went like a dream. Act 2 was a nightmare, but on a re-read actually worked well. Act 3 was a nightmare, and two days later its still a bloody nightmare!

In the meantime I went back to Skripto!, the script writing software that I wrote at the beginning of the year and and put together the first act as a proper script. Got to admit, works very well and comes in at 13 pages - perfect one you add the longer sequences that are just described in a quick paragraph (like Harmony's testing at the specialist) to come in at the 15min mark.

Along the way, there have been changes from the original thought process. As always, slight hints, discussions and even passing thoughts in the street all add to the overall tapestry. A good talk with David (from TVP) on Tuesday led to a switch around of when and why the master criminal is found, and the introduction of a new character that has long turn, slow-burner promise.

Onward and upwards.

Well, if I can get this damn 3rd act sorted out, anyway!

Tutor meeting report - Rick Harvey, 2016-05-25

Tutor meeting reports include general discussion topics, ways forward, targets, plans already agreed and decisions regarding how to implement agreed items in no particular order. Some items are agreed targets, others simple actions that have been passed to the tutor as intended ways forward.

  • Aim for a 15min short pilot targetted at good web distribution.
  • Will look at an initial 3 webispode arc of 3 x 15mins, allowing development of a full pilot of TV length and long term story planning but split of three separate online shows. Possible outlining of a 3 x 3 story arc, totalling about 120 - 150mins.
  • Aim to deliver a treatment to tutor by monday, 13th June, with meetings to usually take place at 13:00 on any given Monday decided upon.
  • Reflective Report - maybe look at continuation of a story line over a 150min period - till now, I have only ever looked at shorts and single-story mini-features of upto 40 minutes.
  • Look at Egri (already in possession and mostly read), but also York (to be acquired).
  • Work on balance of the story / plot / propaganda so as to not imbalance for the audience.
  • Initial plans (generally) - contact Trinity and Frewen to see if I can arrange interviews for real-world experiences.
  • Important - complete an ethics document and get to Rick to sign. Can I really hold interviews before this document is OK'd? Email Rick to confirm.
  • Product to aim for in module as a whole - Treatment and possibly script (from Rick); Full treatment with arc definitions (from Me).
  • With treatment, produce mind-maps of character development and story arcs.
Story, Plot and Propaganda

I have been working on some of the undelrying basic concepts of what is required by the script. Two of the fundemental concepts are Story and Plot, which are actually different things entirely.

Story is the underlying message that the script is trying to portray - exactly the same Love story for example, as typifed by say Casablanca, could have a totally different series of events and yet still have exactly the same underying story. It is this series of events that we normally call Plot - they can be very different, and is usually what most people 'see' in a movie, gradually watching events unfold from begining to end.

Plot is obvious. Story can be equally obvious, or extremely subtle. The idea of watching a film many times and 'seeing something new' each time may be visual, but it can also mean that you are getting closer to the underling story.

The third face

In my project, we need to introduce a third aspect however, which I am calling Propaganda, which is not as subversive as it seems. In common dictionary definition, Propoganda simply means,

"information, ideas, or rumours spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation etc." [2016-05-23]


As the project is intended to to portray the truths of Dyslexia, good and bad, in a drama production, this seems as good a word as any to describe a set of key points about the condition that need to be inserted smoothly into the script.

The first problem...

The first problem that needs to be overcome is that if we are to use the traditional hollywood three act structure, a typical run of events includes:

  • Act 1 - The description of the ordinary world, the call to adventure, a confrontation, the introduction of the mentor, and the first threshold or 'cliff-hanger' of this sequence.
  • Act 2 - The alignment of tests, allies and enemies followed by crisis, ordeal, reward and the road back or a possible end in sight to the trials.
  • Act 2 - The final act includes 'resurrection' after the second major trial at the end of Act 2, which may have seemed insurmountable, and finally the return to normality.

While there is no guarantee that it will be this structure in use, the basic sequence of events is reasonably similar in many patterns. If we were to make this story just about Dyslexia therefore, having help being given to the principle character to assist in her Dyslexia would come quite a way through the story. As we are also trying to indicate best practice however, this is unacceptable. One of the key, fundemental factors that has been discussed for many years and repeatedly being proven in real-world testing (e.g. the Decoding Dyslexia pilot project, 2015) is that early intervention is vital. For our characters therefore, we need to move the 'resurrection' phase to a very early point in the plot. In fact, in the case of the Dyslexia aspect of the storyline, the 'resurrection' and meeting the 'mentor' are essentially one in the same.

The solution to this is going be making Dyslexia the story and deliver it through a plot involving a more traditional trials to resurrection pattern. A balance needs to be struck therefore: Dyslexia is a vital part of the story, what plot can be added that keeps the attention of children but does not degrade the value of the story to extent that vital information is not carried back into the classroom.


The Revised Program

The reason for this huge rework of the blog area of the website, is that in early 2015 I chose to intermit my post-graduate course with Raindance. Some of the added pressures that appeared during the academic year were simply so great that even if they did not halt my work on the course, there is no way that I would have been able to undertake it to full effect.

During the intermit however, a number of things happened. Some of them were work related, some of them course, some of them personal. During this time, I ended up changing the focus of the course and started a full redevelopment of my Learning Contract to reflect the changes.

In the second half of 2015 however, something else happened. Something that meant that I would not only roll-back the changes to the Learning Contract and fully start again, a second time, but something that would mean that I would change the entire course of my career. Circumstance mean that this career training will not take place until after the Raindance post-grad ends, but it is important enough to result in me bending the focus of the Raindance work to support it all when it arrived.

This is not to say that the Raindance course has been degraded by it. The changes are very, and perhaps surprisingly meaningful to the film industry - it is just a shame that some further tweaks to the Learning Contract were required, going to three full re-drafts, because Raindance simply did not have the authoratitive graders to mark it all. Now however, it is all set to go and work has begun in earnest.

So what is the new theme?

In mid-late 2015, I discovered that I was Dyslexic. Yeah, I know - reading this, how could I be dyslexic, right? More on this in later blog posts. I am now also the head of ASTRAL - the Assistive Technologies Research and Learning group at the college where I teach, as well as now assisting my daughter with her own dyslexia (the whole reason behind me identifying my own). With all of this going on, it makes so much sense to extend my STEM specialism into SEN and share my research and learning across everything that I am doing.

So what could I do in film-making that would benefit this new learning chain?

The first choice was to research dyslexia in the film industry - which is as much as 30% of the industry personnel, 5 times the general population norm - and ultimately make a documentary. Why should this be the case? In my own IT speciality, we have have had as many as a 45-50% cohort. So what skills and attractions are there in certain industries that have made them a hub? What positive skills do dyslexics have (a situation that is very real) that make them prime players in these industries?

The problem here is that we are also treading into Education and Psychology territory - in a conventional University this would not be a problem, and staff would be drafted in from other departments to provide the assessment skills. In Raindance, this is not possible, and I have had my own issues with graders not appreciating, or perhaps not wanting to appreciate, an area of research even prior to the intermit. I pre-empted Tiska's thoughts on this (head of Education at Raindance) - the idea needed tweaking so that the Raindance staff could do what they are best at.

Eventually, I decided that the best approach was to not undertake my own new research, but to present the established findings of others as well as personal experiences of being dyslexic. This meant that there would no need for Raindance staff to grade the Dyslexic research, only that of the film-making process. But what to produce at the end? What would give this course of action its own unique selling point rather than it being purely about the production of a documentary on Dyslexia? Though in itself admirable and providing a great deal of scope, I wanted a better twist.

The Final Decision

So here I am. My final theme is the production of a documentary on dyslexia. Only it's not a documentary, it's a dramatic production (which is not to be confused with say, a serious drama).

Why present it as drama? Because I can make it fictional, and bring in lots of sterotypical experiences where in reality they may be shared across many people. Because I need a way to include anecdotal experiences with actual medical fact, but be consumable by school staff, parents, and children without making it serious and stuffy, and certainly without making it frightening. I have seen a lot of good dyslexic short films recently, but to my mind being a little too dark. We should be concentrating on the good side of dyslexia, not the bad.

This theme is intended to produce a film that educates dyslexics if what they are and more importantly what they can be (I am a firm believer in the Dyslexic Advantage and Positive Dyslexia for a reason, again see other blog posts). It also needs to be a film which tells the uninformed, or even better those who think that they are informed, what the reality of dyslexia is and how dyslexics can be helped in teh classroom and workplace in often very subtle ways. Dyslexics don't want an advantage - they want the opportunity to operate at the same level as everyone else, without penalisation.

Because of the mix of information that needs to be delivered to the audience, jumping from fact, to anecdote, to medical proofs, and the aim to deliver this to both adult and child alike, a very specific style is going to be required. At present, I can see this ultimately being a stylised Wes Anderson, Lemony Snicket, Tin Tin crossover - so its going to be interesting!

Module Path

The remaining course is therefore to be broken down into four modules, the last being the major Masters Project which is double length:

NP1 - May to Sept 2015

NP1 will be a research module examining actual dyslexia truths and interviewing the experiences of dyslexics both wanting to enter the industry and those within it, but also a development module. The final result of this module will be a script that can be built into a final production.

NFP - Sept 2015 to Jan 2017

NFP will be the production design module - something that is a little like returning to my roots in that despite spending more than thirty years in IT as a Chartered professional, my highest academic qualification is actually in Design. It is here that I will be examining exactly what this film needs to look and 'feel' like to the audience, as well as producing any prototype props and sets.

NP2 - Jan to May 2017

NP2 will be the pre-production phase. This phase includes a lot of work in both casting and location scouting, but also a lot of the administrative side of things usually accomplished by the Producer and their team. Here I'll be doing everything from scheduling and budgeting, to ensuring that I have insurance, licenses and permissions for everything that my crew will be doing.

MAP - May to December 2017

And now, the big one. A double length, double point module in which I bring it all together and produce the final film. But trust me, it's actually a lot more involved than that. Wish me luck!