Once again I have to take the task to teach script by Pepa LLausas
Once again I’ m going to tackle the task of teaching scriptwriting. It is incredible how teaching scriptwriting can teach you about the subject. I love cinema, no matter from which point of view, and one the most fascinating things about it is the fact that you never finish learning about it.
That feeling makes sense when you have to face a group of students hungry for information and full of criticism and questions. No matter how many time you have done it, it’s certain someone will ask you a question that you’ve never been asked before. I think that if I lose this capacity to listen, to surprise myself with them, the sense of my work will disappear.
Even though most of their questions are innocent, I have to admit that they often come up with some questions I do not have an answer for….until the next day. Sometimes because it is simply impossible to have seen every film in the world, sometimes because the questions are really deep and have a very particular point of view.
When you accept the challenge to keep on looking for answers, teaching becomes then a learning. And students are always ready to find new questions for you.
I always bear in mind the figure of Syd Field, who started to develop his famous paradigm in a fabulous manual to help his students to understand the structure of scripts. If you are not ready to constantly wonder about what you know, you are not ready to teach.
This challenge is the same for any teacher in the world, but it is particularly deep in the land of the cinema because its nature is so much tangled with technical and creative aspects, and over all, so much emotional. We all have our own opinion about cinema and what is good or not, or what cinema should be. Talking about it in the pub with friends is not the same than training professionals. Students are cinema lovers, first. They are deeply in love with some characters, or actors, or directors and the first difficulty is to teach that “this is not personal”. Everything looks obvious in cinema but, in fact, nothing is . The different between seeing cinema and making it looks obvious until you start helping people to become professionals That’s when you realise the difference is not so obvious. Most of us love seeing films but not everybody would enjoy making them.
The first blow arrives when you have to take students’ beloved character or their favourite film, and put it on the autopsies table.You are going to cut it into pieces, expose its innards and unveil even the smallest detail about their fantasies and they do not always feel happy about it.
The second blow arrives when they start to realise how much there is behind the script and its technical development and how much hard work and knowledge is required to become a successful good screenwriter.
This line between personal and professional can be very difficult to understand. Because, in fact, it all come full circle. As you get experience, you start to go away from your personal approach towards a colder point of view only to come back later and finish at the same point you started. However your personal approach has been shaped by the long way you have walked. Because definitely, making films is also a personal question. Looks easy but it is such an experience to get to understand it.
Script is a very personal question. Cinema is one of those things which allow us to check that we are both social animals and separate individuals. We are all part of a community but as the same time we are all individuals. We make only one product, only one message, only one script that will be seen by millions of people and each spectator will perceive it as a personal experience and will approach the film in a different w, but in fact, each one of us want to be excited by the film and if that does not happen, we feel disappointed.
Working with emotion means strolling a path inside your own emotions and this is both the really difficult part of the script and the most interesting too.
Teaching means to accompany others in this path, understanding you are just a companion like Sam and Frodo. You cannot do the path for them; you cannot teach them what they have to feel. You only can show them how to use the compass, holding the light in the top and stay with them, hoping they find their own way to develop their own answers.
Teaching about script is an invaluable opportunity to listen to what the audience actually feels about cinema and what his real reading is about the things that you, sitting down in the other side, take the risk to forget looking always in the same direction. They are fresh blood; they are terrific critics, cruel, wild, and honest. They have got ideas that you never will have and ideas that you had once, a long time ago. But, over all, they have illusions. If you do not have illusions, please, do not study scriptwriting. It is one of these things that you are not going to be able to do only because your father wants you to do it. Fortunately there are not too many parents who want their children become screenwriters, this odd and unknown vice.
For me, teaching is the best way to learn, to remember that I am never going to know enough about this profession, about human dreams and nightmares and about what is the best way to do my work for other people to dream.
She has been teaching Screenwriting for years as well as Creative Writing, Creativity and Editing. She has been an instructor in Concepts & Ideas For Animation for students of the Master of Art in Image Synthesis and Computer Animation, in Visual Narratives or Therapeutic Application of Fairy Tales.
While working on her own projects for cinema & animation, she now teaches online for Kreativefont School and collaborates with Phil Parker at NYAC as screenplay consultant.
You can follow her on twitter @Masqueprincesa