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The stuff that dreams are made of

                                THE TRIBAL WORKSHOP


The five-day 'tribal experience'

"After rejecting the facts of my life for many years, and trying to manufacture creativity from a place that looked outwards rather than inwards where the real juice and knowledge happens to be, I discovered the "tribal workshop" (ORIGINS) and was finally able to link themes I'd discovered in therapy and life experiences. The Tribal Workshop is the best investment you will ever make to support, inform and illuminate your journey as a writer, or in any creative endeavours. What a gift to be able to  find out what  your story telling  (in any medium)  should really be about."

- Christine Westwood, photo-journalist/filmmaker


"A filmmaker can never be distant from his roots."

 Walter Salles 

To be is, literally, to be part of a tribe.  It is any human grouping of an ethnic, racial, caste, class, clan or community nature with which the member identifies and which identifies with him/her. 

It is not a fashion, fad or whim. You may want to identify yourself with a tribe but unless it accepts you and initiates you, you can never really be a member of it.

ORIGINS (a "tribal workshop") is a process. Conducted by way of a series of storytelling experiences, it encourages of sense of creative belonging, responsibility and an appreciation of each individual’s essential integrity. It presents participants with opportunities to invest their talent, courage, ingenuity and energy into something bigger than themselves.

A tribe is NOT a family; that is too narrow a definition to be useful.  A clan is closer to the mark. 

Gangs, to the extent that they are class or ethnically or racially based or organised, qualify as tribal sub-groupings.

Sports teams are also examples of tribes.

So are the various branches of the armed services, and other professions.

Tribe exists strongly through a sense of place/location: where you were born, where you were raised; what school you went to, etc. 

If you are the child of a single mother, you will have a tribal affiliation with all those in that situation.

A boy raised in a family of women, a girl raised in a family of men, equally allows for a certain tribal identification among those individuals, as would sexual orientation.

You can belong to more than one tribe or sub-tribe though one will most probably be primal and more important.  

Tribal stories are some times referred to as “myths” – however, the word “myth” should not be understood as implying falsehood or fancy.

A myth is a way a tribe communicates its understanding about the problems it faces in the world.

Many of the problems a tribe confronts are shrouded in mystery, in the unknown, in fear. Myth is what allows a tribe to deal with that mystery or fear. It enables them to gain some degree of power over the unknown, or seemingly uncontrollable.

Whatever wisdom a tribe finds or discovers is embodied in its stories.

The stories also – particularly in Aboriginal culture – provide the most profound expression of tribal law. Aboriginal tjukurrpa  (stories) dramatise the morals and personal obligations that each member of the tribe has for one another. The kinship system, the regard for land, one’s own, personal identity – all of these and more are embodied in story or myth.


All storytellers - whether they be actors, writers, filmmakers, poets or singers - create from an inner source that most workshops ignore. The magic that separates what is fresh and original from that which is stale and mediocre is something many would say cannot be taught. This assumption is not only inaccurate; it is cynical and destructive. Join me and a dynamic group of storytellers from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines in an exploration of ORIGINALITY -  Billy Marshall Stoneking

Short Story Big Screen 2009 from ACT Filmmakers Network on Vimeo.

ORIGINS - a writing & character workshop is grounded in DRAMATIC STORYTELLING. It is founded upon the healing properties of story-finding and story-telling experiences – the most profound and transformational of all human activities.  Through stories, the human family enters into respectful, mutual interactions that encourage and promote togetherness and harmony as well as a dehree of understanding, tolerance and self-awareness that would not be possible in the absence of such stories.

Working from the conext of one or more of their story worlds, participants express, explore and apply their story journeys whilst interacting with the stories and story journey's of their fellow participants.

Throughout, a respectful and constructive sharing process conducts participants to vantage points from which they make their own discoveries concerning their origins, their originality and the stories that genuinely define and challenge their identity and their fears.   


Participants in the workshop (actors,writers, writer/directors, dramaturgs & script consultants, producers, editors, filmmakers, theatre workers and others) connect with and explore the sources of their story-lives whilst working with others to create a mutual adventure of discovery that has real consequences in terms of finding their unique and original stories. In the process, they begin to come closer to hearing and embracing their own, authentic voices, and through that find of ways of connecting ever more intimately with the characters and the stories which they are serving.


                         An Overview

Illuminating the six  'characters'  that form the  basis of every personal relationship:   1) you,  2)  the person  you think  you are, 3)  the person your partner thinks you are,  4)  your  partner, 5)  the person your partner thinks they are, &  6) the person you think they are.

By recognising and calling upon one's tribal identity the screen storyteller is more likely to intersect with those stories and characters with which their identify and share an emotional connection. When the screen storyteller enters into a story that they are “tribally” connected to they are better equipped and prepared to conduct the emotional energy from inside the drama rather than as a spectator tyrannized by ignorance, formula, prejudice, and fear.

After years of working with indigenous storytellers and writers, and as a result of the interplay and debate between them and non-indigenous storytellers and writers, Billy Marshall Stoneking has devised an inspiring and revolutionary workshop that reconnects participants with their tribal origins whilst promoting insights and a character-based engagement with their own, often unappreciated and over-looked stories and story-worlds.

The workshop provides opportunities for creatives from all disciplines to make the inner journey and the outer odyssey towards telling more authentic and dramatically powerful stories for the screen.

Every participant is required to make a short film (in any style, genre) that dramatises their “tribal identity". 

ORIGINS runs over five days. (Two weekends + a Saturday or Sunday approximately four weeks later)

Number of participants: 12-18 persons



Participants to select two items (objects, images or music) from the following categories.  (no more than one object per category)

Something old

Something New

Something borrowed

Something Sacred

Something Profane

Participants to tell the stories that reveal the emotional significance of each item to the storyteller.

Preparation for Week #2:

By mutual agreement, participants form paired partnerships.

Without consultation each team member selects a scene each from two different feature films (DVD)

Scenes must be no longer than five minutes in length and no shorter than 1 minute

Selection Criteria

Scene A : a scene that presents/dramatises/elucidates or in some way conveys what you imagine or perceive to be your partner's TRIBAL IDENTITY.

Scene B : a scene that presents/dramatises/elucidates or in some way illustrates the way you SEE or UNDERSTAND your own TRIBAL IDENTITY.



Participants to arrive at the workshop with scenes cued and ready to show. Participants must be prepared to talk about the choices they have made and why.

In preparing for the presentation of scenes, participants may have to view a number of different films and scenes to find one that is most appropriate in REPRESENTING or REMINDING them of some significant aspect of their partner's character.

Consider their values, attitudes, hopes, fears, history, etc

DO NOT disclose your choices to one another - or any one else - prior to the workshop.

Research is permissible so long as you DON'T MAKE FILM BASED ENQUIRIES (e.g.: "what is your favourite film?")

Feel free to enquire personally but make your enquiries about biographical details. "What was the most memorable summer of your life and what made it memorable?" "How did you feel about your siblings?"

IMPORTANT::: Don't be afraid to make decisions based on your intuitive understanding of your partner.

Preparation for DAY FIVE

Each participant to make a short film (no more than 5 minutes) that dramatises one’s tribal identity. 

Film may be any genre, including documentary and dramatic monologue.  May be edited in camera or in Final Cut Pro (or similar).


DAY FIVE – (Approximately four weeks later) : THE MYTH OF SELF  

Films will be screened and discussed by the entire group, identifying audience as well as tribe.

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