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First Things First

Tonight was 2018’s first First Tuesday workshop from TheFilmSchool, featuring Brian McDonald speaking about story and clone characters. Brian is the author of Invisible Ink: A Practical Guide to Building Stories that Resonate (now at the top of my reading list), among many other things.

The main topic of clone characters was demonstrated using clips from some classic films that made great use of the device:

  • The Wizard of Oz
  • A Christmas Carol (the Patrick Stewart version)
  • Marty (1955) written by Patty Chayefsky
  • Tootsie

Here are a few other tidbits from my notes:

  • Story is the telling or retelling of a series of events leading to a conclusion.
  • Why we tell stories – survival. That’s why we need conflict.
  • Theme – or as Brian refers to it, armature – should take the form of a sentence and be provable (or disprovable).
  • As writer or director, always know who wins the scene.
  • Contrast is how we see everything.

One thing I appreciated about Brian’s workshop was his openness about his dyslexia, and how it actually was a positive force for him in some ways. As an Aspie, I could relate, and I think it’s important for voices like Brian to speak about their neurodiversity. It’s very empowering and it helps people find meaning in places they might not expect.

Brian, if you read this, it was a pleasure meeting and learning from you, and I look forward to more opportunities in the future. Check out TheFilmSchool.com for upcoming chances to learn from a master.

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