I thought I'd sweep up two workshops I did last year. The first was on Pitch Decks and the second was on directing actors.
Life's a Pitch
This course was run by Evan Schmitt, a development executive, working through Roadmap Writers. The latter offers programmes that support writers in their career. Its run by the enigmatic Joey Tuccio.
The course ran weekly for 4 weeks with a 2 hour session each week. We had homework to do which built up into creating a pitch deck. This document provides a more visual representation of your story than a text only document. It can include images from other films, photographs and even GIFs.
Evan explained how in the past this document, sometimes called a look book or mood board, was purely an internal document. A pitch deck is less like a treatment and more like a bible - another internal document used to guide the staff on a show into the look and feel. This can contain backstory, character synopses and episode breakdowns.
A pitch deck is a great response to the fact that even script readers usually hate reading! The lines between these documents have become blurred but the pitch deck is something become more prevelant. Whatever you share, the goal is to inspire a response. Decks can be 10-50 pages long.
What does a pitch deck do:
- Tell your story.
- Include the main characters
- It must contain lost of images.
- Match the tone of the story
- Visually inspiring
I completed a 30 page pitch deck for my story, The Odds Couple by the end and talked it through with the group. Most were from the US. I enjoyed the course and would recommend it.
This was a free course run by Red Rope Theatre in Bristol. The session was led by David Tucker, a director for stage but now mostly television. He gave great advice and led us into a workshop with two actors, all via Zoom.
David explained that a script is conceptual and there are 2 stages:
The job of a director is to
- Provide the right conditions for the actors
- Be an audience of one
To do this you need to understand how actors work and make them feel comfortable. A bad director will have a fixed image in his mind on how a scene should work and how the scene should be played out. They'll also say nothing after each performance. A good director will understand that an actor needs to know:
- Who their character is
- The world it occupies
- Their back story
- What do they want
- What are the obstacles
A scene has a 3 Act structure: a beginnning, middle and an end.
In film and TV, there is little time for rehearsal. But a line run should be done with the director and script supervisor. Dialogue may need to be changed. Keep the meaning.
90% of a director's job is guile.
You need to block the scene even if you know it already. Give your actors rough positions but expect to move them about. Do this collaboratively and playfully. Ask if it was comfortable? Shoot shots in one direction then another to assist lighting. Use marks on the floor.
You can't say 'Be more angry.' The trick is to ask the other actor to behave differently to elicit the desired reaction in the first actor. Use verbs and be clear. Be playful e.g. give an actor a secret.
We then competed a mini workshop with the two actors, directing them using a scene from a soap. I really enjoyed the session with al the strangeness of being on zoom.