Screenplay Workshop

I succeeded in getting a free weekend from work (an undertaking in itself) to attend a workshop about screenplaying a comic book story. It was held by Marco Madoglio, a noteworthy Italian writer.

All the photos below are taken and published with permission.

Rather than explain everything that happened during those eight hours, I’m posting a quick review.

The Workshop
Marco Madoglio explaining Argentinian comics.
Marco Madoglio explaining Argentinian comics.

First of all we learned about differences in comic books from various countries. As most creations of art, comic books also reflect the culture and the time in which they were born: Italian comics, for example, were born right after the World War: they were seen as a way to escape the grim reality of the time, so we have Tex (a Far West themed comic), Diabolik (a Lupin-like thief), Dylan Dog (a mystery/horror investigation comic) and many more. In the same way, every country has its own keyword for comic books.

The Story

Therefore, Madoglio went on explaining how actual screenplaying works: starting with a concept and developing it into a story (and how many possible kind of stories!) . You can follow or not the traditional 3-acts scheme.

My notes on synopsis.
My notes on synopsis.

Most of the time went into analyzing the traditional story scheme, since you can reduce into it almost every story:

  • starting situation
  • balance rupture
  • the hero leaves his/her comfort zone
  • journey, experience
  • battle
  • conclusion

Of course, this is rather an oversemplification, but things work because they’re easy. Try and subvert the traditional scheme!

A sheet about traditional storytelling.
A sheet about traditional storytelling.

Hence we went on quickly overviewing the different kind of character: hero/antihero, damsel in distress, the Bad Guy and his minions… again, most of them can be classified with very simple labels, as different as they may seem.

Then we talked about “shooting”: how to call every framing shot (long shot, medium shot, close up…) to have a common technical language. In the end, we went over different dialogue writing tips.

Notes on shooting story and dialogue.
Notes on shooting and dialogue.
The test!

Finally, we had a couple of hours to write our own screenplay: a 2-4 pages story complete with dialogues and storyboard. Of course, two hours are far from enough! We just decided on a short story and started sketching it. Storytelling is a hard job! You have to think about shots, how to transit from one to another, how to visualize the whole story so it is readable and easy to understand even without dialogue. Maybe I will post my work in progress someday!