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Posts Tagged ‘when work feels like play’

Writing is a solitary affair, as many have noted before. And, ironically, filmmaking is a highly collaborative effort, although often screenwriters are excluded from the process once the screenplay has received its final edits. This past weekend I participated in an innovative, collaborative INTENSE workshop for screenwriters that involved a talented group of actors as well. This connection proved to be a unique and fascinating education for all of us. The more we got involved, the more our work resembled play. And when your work feels like play, you know you’re on the right track.

394540090_28fc78726f_zThe workshop, called The Ring Screenwriting Intensive, was developed and taught by Michael St. John Smith of McIlroy & Associates of Vancouver, an experienced actor and screenwriter. The three day workshop covered both the basics and many unique, in depth techniques for screenwriters to learn and hone their craft. Scenes written during the workshop were then cast and read by actors also participating in training workshops. Bringing together these two groups is both innovative and extremely valuable. As I mentioned, they don’t often work together, and yet there is so much to benefit both when they can begin to see how the others think and work, not the least of which is a larger understanding and respect for the skills and discipline of each group. Working face to face with actors and having them bring your written words to life, all in the matter of a couple of days, is at once terrifying, validating, exhilarating and humbling. A writer immediately realizes that locked away in their solitary writing studio, they cannot achieve a completely realized project without a deeper understanding of what others with talent and specialized skills will bring to it once it leaves their hands. One is left with a sense of both renewed confidence and also humility.

Energy levels were very  high all weekend, and although drained by the end, I felt an almost euphoric energy both within myself and in the room as this collection of creative, talented and passionate writers worked through exercises, viewed film clips, shared ideas, sharpened their pencils and immersed themselves in storytelling. It was electrifying. Afterwards, as the workshop wound down, it was clear we were already feeling a sense of withdrawal from the intimate community of minds and personalities that we’d forged in such a short time.

Fortunately, The Ring workshop is new, and so its developers, Michael and Andrew, are very open to input regarding improvements, further developments and platforms to allow this fledgling community of writers to be sustained. Walking away at the end of the weekend, I can say I have a healthy appetite for more of the same, and a strong desire to ensure this community lives on and thrives. There is no excuse for sitting in your writing studio alone and cut off from the world when a community of writers and others can so energize and empower your work. Besides that it’s the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I strongly recommend The Ring workshop for those in the Vancouver area, but regardless go out and find like-minded individuals with whom to share your ideas and passion. There’s nothing better.

Have you had a similarly empowering experience? In the comment section below, tell me about your experiences working with other writers or actors to develop your craft, or a similar experience in a different field.

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