E N T E R T H E D R A M A !
Stoneking’s passionate and illuminating approach to screenwriting, as evidenced by his workshops, seminars, and the scripts and film projects that have received the "Stoneking treatment", involves a thoroughly dramatic, character-based process of self-discovery the ultimate aim of which is the the transformation of the screenwriter into a MEDIUM for character and story.
To experience "drama" as a medium, is to work inside the story world, not as "the writer" - the master puppeteer that is pulling all the strings - but as one character among other characters. To work as a medium is to embark on the most vivid and imaginative odyssey of one's creative life - a deeply sacred and totally practical journey grounded in one's origins and the life stories (both conscious and unconscious) that form the essence of one's Being.
Such a quest is at once intensely personal and thoroughly communal - a collaborative, some times daunting, but always exciting exploration of one's freedom and one's servitude and what it means to be DRAMATICALLY human.
From time to time, Stoneking Seminars also presents shorter, topic-specific seminars and workshops. For details of these see below.
Writers, filmmakers and other interested parties desiring to organise, host or otherwise sponsor a tailor-made seminar or workshop with one's colleagues, collaborators, cast and crew, should ring :
0437 864 487
or write to Stoneking Seminars
I love the poet Muriel Rukeyser because she understood that "the world is made of stories, not atoms". You don't have to be a poet to understand this, but it helps. Have a look around. Stories are a force of nature. We didn't evolve from apes; we sprang into life full-blooded and desirous, embodied by story.
Story is our essence, the source and result of every vision, dream, birth, death, discovery and miracle. Our humanity and inhumanity is rooted in it, tangled in the mystery of “how come?”, and in the suspense of “what now?"
When asked where he came up with the stories he write, James Joyce glanced round the pub and gestured: “from that couple over there, and those men by the door, and that woman washing up behind the bar…”
Story is Nature’s way of becoming conscious of itself, and - as storytellers - we work with it in order to become conscious of ourselves. One writes the script to find out why one is writing it, and in the process discover that the story is writing you as much as you are writing it.
The drama of film-making can be a decidedly terrifying experience, especially when the characters want to take us places we never thought of going. Left to our own devices, we'd probably prefer not to give ourselves a fright, which is why we seek out ready-made recipes, in the hope that somebody else's pre-digested formula will stay the pain of actually having to go on our own journey of discovery.
If it’s a template you’re after, don’t bother with my workshops; like drama, the workshops and seminars present more questions than answers. If they challenge your most enduring prejudices, good. That's what they're supposed to do. More than a map, they are part of the inner journey and outer odyssey that is the human drama - part of the exploration of one's personal hinterland and the as-yet unseen, unheard, stories that are hiding there. Though their bias is cinematic storytelling for the big and small screen – both fictional and factional – the scope and ultimate application of what the workshops and seminars offer transcends any particular form.
- Billy Marshall Stoneking
"Although my time was brief with you, you're still the most influential mentor on my writing."
+ Jared Beekhuyz
"At last someone not charging bullshit prices based on the cult of personality...cool."
+ Mirek Krejci
Powerful and believable characters are essential to the life of any screenplay, and the screenwriter's relationship with character is the primary relationship in the dramatic enterprise of "finding the story". What binds the writer to character is a DRAMATIC PROBLEM - a character must have a problem that is both urgent and of such magnitude that it carries risk or threat enough to demand that the character do something about it NOW. Later, other relationships enter into the process, particularly the writer's relationship with audience, and tribe; but the fundamental relationship between the writer and the characters remains; and if it is strong and clear, the characters' relationship with the audience will be forged with a profound sense of emotional involvement and identification.
Over FOUR DAYS, a select group of participants will come face-to-face with the living emotional energy that is the basis of effective, cinematic CHARACTER-BASED DRAMATIC storytelling. To experience this energy and to be able to apply it, participants will be initiated into the secret/sacred art of MEDIUMSHIP. The energy for the storyteller as well as for the characters is transformational.
To experience "screen drama" as a medium, is to work inside the story world, not as "the writer, director, actor, etc" but as one character among other characters. It is to embark on a deeply sacred and utterly logical journey grounded in those life stories (both conscious and unconscious) that inform the essence of your Being. Such a quest is at once intensely personal and thoroughly communal - a collaborative, some times daunting, exploration of one's freedom and one's servitude, and what it means to be DRAMATICALLY human.
The DRAMA OF SCREENWRITING Workshop is neither McKee warmed up nor Syd Field in paraphrase, but a totally unique take on screen story-finding that will change the way you connect with your characters, and they connect with each other.
This workshop has started many filmmakers on the road to creating and developing award-winning and critically acclaimed short films, features and documentaries.
STORY and STORYTELLING, in whatever guise, whether as poem, play, or film, is an act of love, and yet the act of finding the story is fraught with danger, and almost always bound up in some way with one's fears, prejudices, and expectations.
When the painter, Jackson Pollack, spoke of a painting as having "a life of its own," he underscored the core insight and action of every creative artist. To create anything (as opposed to merely "copying" or employing a recipe) is to work as a MEDIUM.
Learn the secrets that come from working inside your characters.
Uncover the lies that frustrate your interactions with the characters.
Explore the emotional and psychological hinterland of those characters that are unique to your "tribal" circumstances.
Discover why every screenplay and film that WORKS is built upon the quality of the relationships that both the cast and the crew have with the characters - ALL of the characters, including those that live OUTSIDE the actual screenplay.
Participants at Secrets, Lies & Filmmaking at Bangalow (NSW) - sponsored by Screenworks - November, 2009
DONE THE WORKSHOP? BUY THE T-SHIRT!
C O M I N G S O O N !
Develop your script editing skills!
in this AFFORDABLE, ON-GOING, WORKSHOP. Conducted by
BILLY MARSHALL STONEKING
DETAILS AND ONLINE BOOKINGS
PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT a theoretical course. Writer/storytellers will develop their own original, project/story ideas and/or draft screenplays, employing their innate talents and insights. The story journey for each will also be reinforced through the writers' active participation in the critical and constructive evaluation of the scripts of their colleagues. Producers with a project they are keen to develop, or which requires a fresh look, are urged to apply and attend with the writer or writers with whom they are working.
"One of my films in ACTUAL financing! Billy helped make me a writer who can sell her work. x"
"The writing process can be a kind of cruel and twisted, self-imposed, existential therapy, but Billy's perspective makes you embrace the challenge. He has a depth of understanding of story across cinema, theatre, prose and poetry, and an intuitive knowledge of human emotion and psychology. It reminds you what you always loved about film-making and inspires you to create great work."
A stimulating and inspiring ONE- or TWO-DAY workshop (depending on numbers) assists writers, producers and others in building the courage and confidence necessary for pitching their film, television and digital media ideas and projects.
Conducted by screenwriter/filmmaker/mentor, Billy Marshall Stoneking, this learner-centered, team-based pitching experience places YOU at the center of the action in a fast-paced and thoroughly engrossing re-creation of the professional pitching environment, whether it be in Sydney or LA...
Find out, first-hand, how to deal with the pressures and expectations of selling your script and how to transform your ideas into the energy that commands attention.
Discover the secrets of building intrigue, tracking emotional energy & "turning on" your audience to YOUR screenplays and television projects...
A PITCH is NOT a presentation; it's a DRAMA - it is NOT about transferring information; it is about creating enthusiasm. The pitch is the place where business and art meet.
Workshop will cover the following topics::
WHAT SHOULD MY PITCH INCLUDE? WHO'S IT FOR? WHAT IS IT?
HOW LONG SHOULD IT BE?
HOW MUCH OF MY STORY SHOULD I GIVE AWAY?
HOW DO I DEVELOP A LOG-LINE?
WHAT FORMATS SHOULD I USE?
HOW DO I STAY FOCUSED ON THE MAIN CHARACTER’S JOURNEY?
WHAT IS A PREMISE, AND HOW DO DEVELOP ONE?
HOW DO I PREPARE AND RELAX?
A Script Development Workshop
When asked for his definition of jazz, Duke Ellington replied: “It’s what you leave out.” Unfortunately, what too many screenwriters leave out of their scripts is the energy that compels an audience's emotional involvement and identification with the characters, namely DRAMA. Without DRAMA, no one's going to be interested.SCRIPT SHRINK - is a two-day intensive story deconstruction workshop for 12-15 writers, writer/directors and/or producers or other filmmakers, who have a script - or the beginnings of one.
SCRIPT SHRINK is an invigorating odyssey that actively involves participants in an examination and exploration of dramatic grammar as it applies to specific characters and stories. Participants will gain the tools and insights required for an on-going, rigorous and illuminating analysis of their developing screenplay (either a short-film script, up to 15 pages; or the first 15 pages of a feature), focusing on the dramatic grammar as it is expressed in and through character.
As participants explore the ways in which dramatic meaning (emotional energy) is built, released or dissipated in their scripts, the dialogical nature of the screenwriting process is revealed, a dynamic drama played out in the actions and interactions of ALL of the characters, both inside and outside of the actual script. Participants will find that even in the task of working with other writers' stories, aspects of their own are revealed and illuminated.
Under the sensitive direction of an ever-watchful mentor, participants will embark on a series of dramatic journeys in which each of their scripts becomes a vehicle of discovery and learning. The ultimate destination of each of these journeys is NOT a workshop, but a finished script that "speaks" to the writer and his/her audience.
In collaboration with other storytellers, each participant will develop fresh (original) and mediumistic strategies for accessing and exploiting the dramatic possibilities that lie buried in the lives of their particular characters and the story worlds that they inhabit.
Areas of special concern include:
Note: SCRIPT SHRINK is a character-based workshop, founded on the premise that everything in a screenplay starts and ends with character. Structure, conflict and believability all suffer when your characters aren’t properly realised. The essential wisdom or logic of this workshop is founded on the understanding that the deep personality and power - or lack thereof - of every film project/collaboration is contingent upon the quality of the relationships that are are first formed at the scripting stage, and which - if thoroughly realised, will go on to initiate cast and crew into the tribal world of the characters and their story. In this sense, anyone with a screenplay/story will benefit from this workshop experience, whether they be editors, actors, designers, cinematographers, etc.
Take your screenplay to “the shrink” – YOU don’t need analysis, but your script might.
A new workshop!!! Provides the best introduction to mediumistic, SHORT-FORM DRAMA!!!
See if your TropFest script passes the Stoneking test
By popular demand, this 1-day, practical workshop provides screenwriters, directors and producers, wishing to develop their short-film ideas or scripts into effective dramatic stories, with an opportunity to work with Stoneking and other filmmaker/writers in an inspiring investigation into the .workings of their short-form drama (scripts from 3 to 40 pages).
Participants will explore the grammar of drama as it applies to short-form narrative.
TOPICS include : endings and the re-contextualisation of "the problem", the multiplication of meaning , making best use of THE BIG PRINT, subtext and context, and the role of audience and tribe.
Short films that have received the Stoneking treatment have garnered awards all over the world, including two Academy-award nominations for Best Short Drama.
Australian Federal Police
Australian Film Television & Radio School
Australian Writers' Guild
The Big Gig
Canberra Short Film Festival
Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Department of Immigration, Canberra
Griffith University, Brisbane
Information & Cultural Exchange (ICE)
The International Film School, Sydney
Media Resource Centre, Adelaide
Melbourne Underground Film Festival
New South Wales Film & Television Office
Northern Rivers Screenworks
Open Channel, Melbourne
Participate Film Academy
Queen Street Studio (Sydney)
Short Film Otago (NZ)
Singapore Tourism Board
SilverSun Pictures, Canberra
South Australian Film Corporation
South Coast Writers' Centre, Wollongong
Sydney Film School
TropFest / Roughcut
Women in Film & Television (WIFT)