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Scriptwriting workshop: the essential ingredients for telling a story

Atelier d'écriture 1Sylvia Guirao is an experienced scriptwriter. Throughout FIFO 2015, festival attendees have benefited from her knowledge whilst passionately running the scriptwriting workshop.

 ‘Have you ever written anything before?’ asks Sydélia Guirao to kick-start her scriptwriting lesson in one of the To’ata rooms. ‘Yes, sometimes short stories or novels, I attempted theatre but it’s not for me,’ responds one of the pupils from the end of the table in the lesson. About ten or so people have come to listen to advice from a film world professional.  ‘And what interests you… ?’ persues the facilitator, a vivacious, petite woman. ‘The words!’ replies the pupil before her interlocutor has finished her sentence. Other participants are more taken by legends or prose. And then, there are also those who do not write at all but who would like to get down to it. ‘And who are you?’ starts a somewhat excentric woman addressing Sydélia Guirao. Smiles all round. ‘A good question!’ responds the professional who reels off her impressive curriculum vitae. The presentations over with, now she can get to the heart of the topic.

The economic reality of writing

‘What is a story?’ Silence in the classroom. ‘A beginning and an end?’ one of the pupils suggests with hesitation. ‘A story, is made to create emotion and it must be universal,’ explains Sylvia Guirao before continuing: ‘You must write to express a message, you must not write gratuitously. This message may simply be to create humour or to be more engaged and to express rebellion.’  The passionate and energetic facilitator gains the attention of all of her pupils, she benefits from this to provide them with some advice. ‘You have to know what your target is’ explains the scriptwriter who, after twelve years of experience, is in a position to make a few observations. ‘Today, what matters is not so much about having talent but about being the most read and being quick. Writing is your business, you must know how to sell yourself. The economic reality and marketing must not be neglected in this domain,’ warns Sylvia Guirao who seems to disappoint several pupils  who are still a little naive. ‘At least not so much now that we know!’ laughts 27-year-old Maeva, who is delighted by this workshop. ‘It is great to have professionals who come to share their experience and their knowledge,’ confides the young woman who is eager to learn.

The ingredients for making a story

‘Now let’s look at the ingredients for writing a story’ persues Sydélia, who has come from New Caledonia to animate this workshop. Characters, objectives, issues, actions… Sydélia Guirao notes all the elements for making a good story on the whiteboard in the room. ‘Is everyone following me OK? Can I wipe it off and carry on?’ A widespread ‘yes’ resounds in the classroom. The pupils seem captivated. The teacher again benefits from this for some audience participation around the table. ‘What shall we talk about? Go on, go ahead.’ A tortoise without a shell who dreams of dancing…’ responds one of the pupils, a teacher in the visual arts. The story evolves as it goes around the table: the tortoise searches for a special beach and gets caught up in the sea where it is challenged by a shark. ‘You see every time, it has an objective but to reach it there are obstacles to surmount,’ the facilitator continues whilst drawing a circle on the board to which she adds pearls. ‘These pearls, are the stages of your film.’  Checking the time, Sylvia Guiaro abandons what she had planned to do next in the workshop. The lesson ends with a discussion with the workshop participants, each persuing questions or advice. ‘It was exciting,’ concludes 52-year-old Sylvie, a regular at workshops.