Week 9 – 10 (by Julie Zheng)

In November we had a short session pitching to the directors of the Drama Center London, and I had learnt some tips of how to pitch your own scripts.

1. Picture and movement is what Directors see, so use the sentence like “Picture it, two people jumping up from the bed at exactly the same time, turning their head towards each other with huge horror and confusion, their eyebrow raised, eyes wide open, and the tension is there, woman thought the man is gonna kill him, out of self-defense, or “imagined” self-defense, she stabbed him using a knife she’s been hiding next to her pillow for a long time.” (*Use a lot of verbs and the objects, description of the face and parts to help Directors build the image that you wish to convey) And also could use the storytelling board, or other diagrams of structures, etc to better help Directors to have an image of your story.

2. Goal of the film. Everyone’s ambitious, it’s really a matter of enough teasing, if you mention “this film I have the goal of bringing it into the 2 minutes short film festival, Virgin Media short film festival”, they will remember you, and if they come back home and check those festival, and they will have the idea “I want to go to that festival as well”, and he will come back and contact you to team up.

3. Genre is SO important for professional people, because only when given enough genre studies, we know what the expectation of the audience is, hence we will be able to tilt all our techniques towards that part. Different shooting techniques will fit in different genre, color and tones will differ from genre and genre, so please be aware of your own genre for the story, and understand what’s expected from the Director who’s got experience working in such a genre

4. Directing Style, maybe for beginners this is a really scary topic as people think there must be supplied with enough skills to have style, not necessarily. Everyone’s living with one’s own style, like it or not, there’s always a way of “describing” your OWN way of doing this, it’s probably you are not REALIZING it, but it’s so important to work with people who understand their own style. Good example from Rory, he understands what kind of Theatre he love, complicite, he used a lot of adjective to share with me what’s his style, and I immediately get the point that ‘s his way of doing this, and in return I shared with him that I understand and I found my story fit in that style, and it will turn out to be obvious that this is the style gets us together working.

5. Role Models to bring closer the vision, usually people, in every profession, there’s someone who’s already achieving a lot and influencing our generation of creators, name them and show your enthusiasm and what have you learnt from those great minds, this will help people to understand your vision. Today I did a really good example of bringing the Butterfly Effect, Inception and Saw, because these are my favorite films in a way I believe people who understand these films will be able to understand my vision, as the genre, effect and story telling structures are quite similar. So I used this way to shorten our distance of vision. Bring these BEFORE you actually start to tell your story, will be tremendously helpful, please let’s use the halo effect in psychology.

6. No Experience? You can have no experience, it’s ok, but never mention you have NO experience, squeeze and leverage your past experience. You can even say, I have tons of experiences in theatre and I believe this will help in the film directing because…, to just cover your lack of experience in film instead of “exposing” yourself too much and dilute your own confidence. I feel I am able to work with people who are confident about their strengths and not shy to say that he loves to try in film. But I do not accept people who said: I have absolutely no film experience, maybe it’s risky to pick me. This is shaking my previously well-built confidence in them, which is not good. As a writer, if I am just starting, I do not want to mention I have NO film experience, I will say I have what experience and what can be leveraged in film, and I will even say I studied a lot of scripts and understand how those great works are made, and I intend to do the same work with that standard everytime I can.

7. Raise curiosity. Ask questions like “Have you experienced re-occurring dream?” How did you feel about it? Isn’t it mysterious? Is it? Wow, I know this is the idea you will love if you have experienced. “Wow you like surrealistic topics, that’s great cos I am really developing my direction in the surrealistic world and intend to bring my audience into that world, are you with me? So, the story is about…” So, ask a lot of interactive questions, and be a really really good listener about their answers, getting the vocabularies from their answers, and re-organize them to creat the feeling that’s actually they are TALKING about YOUR ideas. And they will understand your ideas much clearer because you’ve activated their central brain by supplying them with questions

8. Help towards completion. When story is almost finished, ask them to guess the ending, ask like “What do you think the woman will do?” “You can imagine how sad he feels, right?” “You see? This is coming back again? That dream!”, to allow the listener to complete the story themselves to put an end. And have those expectation answered, and sometimes their “continued” story-telling may surprisingly give you a different twist or ending, and usually that’s a good thing for writer

9. Ask for feedback directly, honesty is better than anything. How do you think about the idea? I believe you must have thought about similar 2 minutes ideas, do you think my thoughts give you a strong hunch feeling that you wish to see this through together with me? What more can I tell to complete your mental picture? Could you ask me some questions to help complete the mental picture together?

10. Seek for suitability check. If given a rating from 0 to 5, how much you would rate this idea? How would you rate my fitability with your style and vision? And scrutinize their facial expressions, you could almost tell how much they would love to work with you. Ask directly so that they could be upfront and face their heart, I feel it’s so important to seize the first chance as much as you can. Make the first impression really well, be beautiful and professional, enthusiastic about the others and your own idea, do NOT be TOO proud of yourself.

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