Today was a Red Letter Day when I attended Hickman Charter School‘s Middle School Literature Conference. Authors of various styles and genres gave one-hour sessions on their writing crafts for 6th to 8th graders. And my task? Condense a six-week course on “The Art of Storytelling for Filmmaking” into 55 minutes!
It starts with knowing your audience. What’s the perfect story? I chose to tell a favorite story for this age group, “The Hodja’s Coat.” Then I shared a screenplay of the same tale. And that was the trick! They were hooked and quickly grasped this writing process. They especially liked the part where the Hodja, astride the donkey, rides into the night with the donkey braying. Donkey butt, Hodja butt, disappearing into the thick black night.
Consider Storyboarding as “Playwriting 101.” It’s time to go well beyond that step by learning about “Palette Design”(I learned from Justine Smith of Stompbox Creative). Words get replaced by assigned colors, textures, lighting and sound.
In an age where young aspiring writers are urged to “choose a career path,” the option of screenplay writing feels solid. I hope these young scribes gained useful tools that they can use right now. As one boy walked out, he told me about his many short films. “This is really going to help me write better stories for my movies. Thanks!”
A Spielberg or Lucas in the making….And my Red Letter Day!