Six Days of Practice

A workshop with Franz Rodenkirchen and Françoise von Roy on working with scripts and their writers


Those of us who work with scripts on a regular basis may be familiar with the challenge of having to find satisfying ways of engaging with the writing, of how to approach scripts without judging the material and how to gain sufficient confidence to make informed decisions.

This workshop is designed to help all those people within the film industry who want or need to work with scripts, particularly regarding content and development potential, e.g. script consultants, producers, film fund decision makers, commissioning editors, sales agents and distributors.

The workshop has been designed to be as close to everyday practice as possible. It builds on the experience of working with hundreds of filmmakers on many scripts and projects from all over the globe and pays particular attention to approaches and understanding for scripts that work outside the well-known classic formula.
The workshop format was created in 2008 and has been constantly adapted through experience. Every new edition helps to fine tune the format and make it as useful as possible for the participants. Currently there have been 14 editions with altogether over 100 international participants.


The set-up

“Six days of Practice” is meant to be exactly that: six intense days of working with scripts and their writers, using scripts in active development as examples and working material.

The workshop is divided into two parts (2 x 3 days), with some days/weeks in between, where participants will have time to digest the material from the first part of the workshop and re-work their original assignment taking the newly acquired skills into account.

The working language is English. Each edition of the workshop can accommodate

8 participants, who will be working on 4 active projects, in teams of two. Participants should be aware that there will be preparation and written work before the first part and between each of the following parts. The written work includes script analyses and a film analysis, further preparation includes reading scripts. For a more detailed list of required preparation and written assignments, see the detailed description of workshop.

  • Brief summary

    Part 1: Days 1 - 3

    The first three days of the workshop are devoted to exploring different narrative techniques and approaches to visual storytelling, using practical examples as well as the film watched in advance of the workshop. The four assigned projects will be discussed in detail, as well as feedback given on the script analyses prepared. An introduction into giving critical feedback and working with writers rounds off the first weekend.

    Part 2: Days 4 - 6

    During the second part, working with writers and giving critical feedback is elaborated upon and strategies for the meetings with the writers will be discussed in detail for each project on the first day. The next two days are dedicated to practical experience, as the participants meet and consult the writers of their assigned projects in a 75 minute consulting session. Following each meeting, the consulting participants will speak of their experience of the meeting, fellow participants will be asked to feedback and the tutor will give detailed feedback on the whole meeting. The workshop closes with a recap and feedback from the participants.

  • Detailed description

    Approach

    Most important is an approach based on equality and openness. Scripts will not be judged according to being good/bad/right or wrong, but first and foremost explored to understand the writer’s intentions. All narrative tools should support those intentions, not supersede them.

    Part 1

    Preparation

    Four projects will be assigned to the participants - one project per two participants. The participants are required to read all four scripts in advance of the workshop and to have written an analysis of their assigned script. In addition to this, participants are given access to a film and asked to write a two page analysis of the film. Both script and film analysis need to be submitted to the tutor by the deadline set before the workshop. Participants are also asked to have prepared a list of three films that have left lasting impressions on them.

    Day 1

    After getting to know each other, the first day of the workshop is dedicated exploring different techniques and approaches to visual narratives (like identificatory and reflective modes of character engagement; the role of the audience in the development process; dramatic, observational and contemplative scriptwriting, etc). A diverse range of contemporary films will be addressed to put things into a practical context. The film analysed as part of the prep work will be discussed and used as a detailed example to illuminate some approaches and aspects of scriptwriting.

    Days 2 & 3

    After this more theory-driven opening day, the two following days will be completely devoted to the discussion of the 4 scripts taking part in the workshop. Each script will be discussed in the group for half a day, first focussing on our impulsive reactions as audience and then trying to understand the intentions of the writer(s). We will define and analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the script and explore options to develop and improve the existing draft. The analyses of the participants will be addressed and will receive feedback by the tutor. The findings of each session are to be incorporated in the participants’ revised analysis of their assigned project.

    Working with writers and filmmakers and how to give critical feedback is introduced on the final day of the first part and will be elaborated upon in the second part (see below - day 4).

    Homework

    Each participant writes a revision of their initial analysis, this can include their strategy for the meeting with the writer.

    Part 2

    Day 4

    The first day of the second part of the workshop is dedicated to exploring ways of communicating with writers/filmmakers and giving critical feedback. The strategies discussed work from the assumption that the consultant has a true intention to help and support the work of the writer/filmmaker. All psychological techniques, human skills etc that will be addressed are not to be used to manipulate each other, but to further productive communication. Building trust is an important aspect of this process, as is the choice of language and the willingness to engage with another person. In addition, the revised analyses of the participants will be discussed, as well as the intentions and goals of each team of consultants for the actual meeting with the writer.

    Days 5 & 6

    The two final days of part 2 are given completely to practical experience. Each team of consultants will have a 75 minute consulting meeting with the writer of the project they have been assigned to.
    The other participants and the tutor will observe this meeting without interfering in any way.
    Each meeting plus discussion will take half a day.

    After each consulting meeting, the writers/filmmakers will briefly give their feedback on how they perceived the meeting. After the writer has left, the two consulting participants will assess their own performance, followed by the rest of the group with their impressions of the meeting, and finally the tutor will talk the group through the meeting in detail, focusing on evaluation of the interpersonal communication, the ability to convey the intended content/goals of the meeting, etc.

    The workshop closes with a recap and feedback from the participants.

    Overview of preparation work and written assignments

    • Writing a script analysis of up to 5 pages, on his or her assigned project, submitted to the tutor before the workshop.
    • In addition to his or her own project, each participant needs to prepare for the workshop by closely reading the other 3 projects/scripts.
    • In preparation for the first part participants will watch an assigned film and write a film analysis of approx. 2 pages also to be handed in before the workshop starts.
    • During the first day of introductions tutor and participants will introduce themselves and talk briefly about 3 films that have left lasting impressions on them.
    • After part 1, participants will revise the script analysis for their assigned project, in preparation for their meeting with the writer during the second part.
  • Fees & conditions

    The fee for the workshop is €1.000 (excluding VAT) payable in advance, upon confirmation of attendance. As the workshop takes place in Germany, 19% VAT is added to the fee, which can be recovered by EU companies (if they are liable for VAT) from their national tax authorities. The total sum of €1.190 will be invoiced with the confirmation of the acceptance of application.

    Regular attendance of both parts of the workshop is a given. Schedules will be mailed in advance of the workshop, but most days will begin at 9.30am and end around 5.30 pm, participants who will be traveling to Berlin for the workshop should arrange their travel to be here on time.
    There is a lot of material to be covered and we will need every minute!

    Participants must complete all assignments and preparation on time and submit to tutors in advance of the workshop, for an overview of the assignments please check the detailed workshop description.

  • Location & Practicalities

    The workshop will take place in Franz Rodenkirchen’s office at Lychener Str. 23, 10437 Berlin.

    It’s located in the district of Prenzlauer Berg and easily reachable by public transportation. For those of you traveling to Berlin and looking for a place to stay, there are several decently priced hotels and hostels in the neighbourhood, but also many apartments available for short term rent, for example over airbnb.