Script and Screen, York Residency - Lizzie Oxby (February 2015)
A fantastic start to 2015. I’m very pleased to be on the Rise scheme, it has come at a perfect time for the development of my film script. As soon as I arrived at the residency in York, organised by Northern Film & Media, I immediately felt I was going to be well looked after in a supportive environment. It was great to meet the other filmmakers. We all bonded very quickly.
The first of two stimulating days was with film script editor Kate Leys, who spoke about the fundamental elements of storytelling for the screen. She focused primarily on telling a story through a central character, and provided many helpful tips and guidance on how to get to the heart of a story.
Her rigorous approach to distilling a story will lead me to reduce my first draft script into 1-2 pages, written as a story, rather than becoming too involved in the complexities of the plot. Very helpful advice, as you soon discover that you can’t cheat a story when you say it out loud. You hear where there might be a problem with the story. Saying it out loud is the key.
Having a condensed version of the story will also help with the next stage of the development process when it comes to meeting and pitching the project to producers, and later financiers. Kate also gave some solid coaching advice on how to be prepared for those meetings.
Day two with writer/director Josh Appignanesi dovetailed nicely with Kate’s storytelling day, this time with the focus on visual storytelling. Josh opened up with a magnificent scene from Fellini’s 8 ½. The scene he chose exemplified pure visual storytelling with no dialogue. My own film The Seawatchers, which I was showing later in the day, tells a story without words, so this is an approach I’m particularly drawn too.
We then focused on cinematic grammar for storytelling and looked at floor plans for camera coverage. The films I’ve made are usually shot with miniature sets - with the actors shot against greenscreen to be composited later in post. I’m more accustomed to positioning the sets and actors to camera, rather than positioning the camera to a set. So devising floor plans will certainly prove helpful for production, as well as a planning tool.
We ended the day by critiquing everyone’s short films. It was great to see the range of tones and diversity of the films. I came away feeling very stimulated and feel I’ve made some very encouraging and supportive filmmaking friends. I return enthused with the prospect of progressing with my film.