Wendall Thomas Talks Scripts

Wendall Thomas is a leading Los Angeles-based developer, writer and lecturer who has written and developed projects for companies including Disney, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Universal, Showtime, PBS, A&E, NBC and Scottish Screen.  She has taught in the UCLA Graduate Film School since 1996 and has also worked in Los Angeles as a casting director, director’s assistant, script reader, story editor, development executive, entertainment reporter and script consultant.  She has consulted and mentored for Arista, the ACE Producing Program in Paris, Screen South’s Good Foundations Plus program and the New Zealand Film Commission’s Rewrite Workshops. As a lecturer, she has worked throughout Europe for the Arista Screenwriting Workshops, the Welsh and Northern Irish Film Commissions, the Folkstone Literary Festival and Screen South. She has presented lectures for the New Zealand Film Commission and NZ’s Script to Screen and was opening speaker for the Santa Fe Screenwriting Conference in 2009 and 2010. Recent student/client films include Any Day Now (Winner Audience Award Tribeca 2012), The Truth Below (MTV Films 2011), The Space Between (USA Films 2011) and the upcoming Republic of Two (2013).

 

Presented by MIFF 37ºSouth Market & Accelerator, this series of Australian seminars is exclusive to Melbourne. Tickets for these all-day seminars (at $80 each) can be booked at www.miff.com.au (MIFF passes are not valid). All sessions will be held at the Village Roadshow Theatre at the State Library (La Trobe Street, near corner of Swanston Street). For more details on each workshop, go to www.miff37degreesSouth.com

 

DIALOGUE WRITING: YOU TALKIN' TO ME? - The Importance of Dialogue and Subtext in Film Writing

Monday 06 August, 10am-5pm. Book tickets here 

Drawing on the masters of character and dialogue, from Billy Wilder to James L. Brooks and Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, through clips and practical exercises, this seminar examines a variety of tools and approaches to developing unique, memorable main and secondary character's voices, specific tools for writing speeches, monologues, fights, etc. as well as new ways of thinking about character conflicts and power dynamics within any script, through the use of dialogue and subtext alone.

 

CHARACTER:  CREATING GREAT RELATIONSHIPS ON SCREEN

Tuesday 07 August, 10am-5pm. Book tickets here 

Best Screenplay Oscar-winner The King's Speech demonstrates how powerful and memorable truly great screen relationships can be. Think of Ilsa and Rick, Butch and Sundance, Hannibal and Clarice, Harry and Sally, or more recently Rooster Cogburn and Mattie Ross in True Grit, and warring brothers Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund of The Fighter.  What is the special screenwriting alchemy that makes these relationships unforgettable? This workshop breaks down a series of memorable screen relationships scene by scene to give you practical advice on how to combine dialogue, action, back-story, conflict and emotion to create vivid, timeless relationships in your own work.

 

SCENE BY SCENE: BRIDESMAIDS - Breaking down the hit

Wednesday 08 August, 10am-5pm. Book tickets here

The seminar looks at this 2011 phenomenon scene-by-scene, examining the special alchemy of plot dynamics, characterizations, scene structure, dialogue, tone and pacing which made this a genuine $300 million global hit.  In the course of breaking the film down scene-by-scene,  we discuss dealing with multiple characters, structuring comic set pieces that build, developing satisfying comic character arcs, handling subplot romances and writing “chick flicks” that defy gender lines. 

 

STORY & STRUCTURE: THE MULTI-STORY, MULTI-PROTAGONIST NARRATIVE - Does Three Act Structure Apply?

Thursday 09 August, 10am-5pm. Book tickets here 

Oscar wins for Crash, The Hours and Little Miss Sunshine highlight a long tradition of multi-story/multi-protagonist films. Often seeming to operate as part of a cultural zeitgeist, exploring or exposing a particular cultural moment in time, the multi-story/multi-protagonist film and form moves easily from independent gem to Oscar nominee, applies across a variety of genres and approaches and, when it works, can be both powerful and irresistible.  Think classics like The Best Years of Our Lives and How to Marry a Millionaire,  through The Big Chill, Diner, Hannah and Her Sisters, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pulp Fiction, Go, Traffic, Babel,  The English Patient and Love Actually. Think Altman and P.T. Anderson, masters of this approach, in films like Nashville, Shortcuts, Gosford Park, Boogie Nights and Magnolia. This complex structure works equally well in mainstream comedies like St. Elmo’s Fire, The Breakfast Club, or Animal House, war films like Kelly’s Heroes, The Great Escape and Saving Private Ryan, mockumentaries like Spinal Tap or Waiting For Guffman and Best in Show, horror films like Scream or Blair Witch and independent films like Lantana, 21 Grams, Happiness, Personal Velocity and Friends with Money.

This seminar aims to de-mystify this approach to film writing and make it less intimidating.  What elements do all multi-story/multi-protagonist stories share, if any? What are the different demands in terms of characterization, structure and transitions?  Is the theme, in fact, the protagonist? If not, how important is it? Is three-act structure irrelevant, or still applicable in a recognizable way? What kind of stories/themes are best served by this approach?