Friday, 7 July 2017

SWIFT 2017 - Day 4

With thanks to Deirdre Mc Clay - co-director SWIFT 2017 - who wrote this piece.

Gee, that cuneiform writing is tough going – particularly with a pen. I took a photo, as I wasn’t going to waste my hard work. Here’s some examples from last night’s homework.
We started the SWIFT day, as usual, with the daily log. This time it was written and read by Angela. She had written it in the style of a speech and incorporated many of Jenny’s features from yesterday, including, a striking opening. Thank you, Angela, for an informative and highly hilarious account of day 3. We realised just in time and gave her a few shout-out words of encouragement. Then, Alison produced some prizes – she’s prone to bouts of issuing random prizes. Jonathan got one for excellent cuneiform translation, Rebecca got another for a promise that she really would finally stop apologising before reading out her writing - and finally, after four years of puppy-dog eyes, she gave one to me for sheer sticking power.

Next up was a demo by Jonathan. He works in Further Education and is developing classes on film and TV production. His demo was an introduction to scriptwriting for mainstream film. He introduced us to new terms, and worked from a book called Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. We heard about: save the cat, loglines, and beat sheets. His exercises focused a lot around loglines which are a one sentence synopsis of a film – really useful for brevity and key points. He showed us lots of film clips to illustrate his points and also, text examples of loglines from well-known films. We had fun guessing the films. Next, he gave us some features of successful loglines - such as irony, compelling visual description, mindful of audience. Then, Jonathan handed out a worksheet with ideas and sentences to finish that would help us write our own logline. We had to think of a film concept and write a logline. We then shared some examples and discussed. Finally, on loglines, he gave more advice that would help to improve our drafts. And then, he showed us another example.

Moving on to the beat sheet, he explained that this was a plan for a typical mainstream film from beginning to end. We went through it and discussed with examples – interesting to views films in this way. He then focused down on three aspects: an opening image, a secondary storyline, a final image. We only had time for the first one, but he asked us to take our logline idea and start to set up a first scene. As usual, we all had a go, and then we shared some of our work. We finished up, as we’ve done all week, with a discussion of the lesson and written feedback involving positive comment and some questions. Thank you Jonathan for a really interesting and entertaining learning experience on script writing.

After the break, everyone met up in their writing groups (set up on Day 2), for small group time. Each person had previously been asked to bring work to the group that they had been drafting during days 1-4. Groups met under rules they had drafted on Day 2, and read work to each other. One to two members (or more) were encouraged to volunteer to read their work at an author’s chair session tomorrow. Groups dispersed across the campus to work, but two groups stayed in the main room. There was a great buzz of energy in there as they read and commented on each other’s work.

After lunch, we had a final session with a returning SWIFT fellow from 2014, Donna. She led a discussion based session on taking writing outside the classroom in various ways. Donna is a secondary school teacher, and she described various initiatives that she and her colleagues have tried in order to foster writing for pleasure in the school. She was refreshingly honest about the joys and challenges. She gave us lots of ideas and resources – thank you Donna.

So, it’s hard to believe that this was the second last day of SWIFT 2017. Gina volunteered to write the daily log, after the weight of silence made everyone wonder if we were ever going to finish up for the day. Alison just stopped short of threatening to chain herself to the door (that did work on day 3 in the Russell Library). Learning point: nobody likes summer holiday homework. But, the daily log is so worth it the next day.

Tomorrow is author’s chair day and more lovely demos.  


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