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Writer/Producer Julie Ann Sipos on Storytelling

Picture the scene in Bridget Jones’s Diary, when Mark and Daniel square off in the street outside her apartment. One of Bridget’s guy friends throws open the doors to a nearby restaurant to tell everyone inside, “Fight… a real fight!”

“The most critical element of any story since the dawn of time is conflict,” states writer/producer Julie Ann Sipos.

She is a widely produced and published screenwriter, author, editor, blogger, digital content creator and part-time professor of cinema and television.

“Being very nice people, we screenwriters - regardless of skill level - like to avoid this at all costs. Unfortunately, lack of some measure of conflict in every moment of every scene - even a passionate love scene, or the uplifting resolution of the feel good story of the year - is the hallmark of the novice writer. (Imagine Rhett kissing Scarlett against the backdrop of Atlanta failing to ignite; or the big on-stage finish of Little Miss Sunshine without the threat of arrest).”

Sipos presently teaches at California State University Northridge. “I teach a technique called the ‘Wa-Do-Gee’ that I in turn learned from venerable screenwriting professor Hal Ackerman. Short for ‘What does the character want and what is he doing to get it,’ the Wa-Do-Gee must be met with direct opposition by another character or event at every significant point along your hero's journey.”

“This metaphorical dance propels every story ever told toward a satisfying resolution. Obviously, in an action piece the conflict builds in a series of ever-louder explosions the hero narrowly escapes; while in a deftly-written character piece, the fireworks are gut wrenchingly subtle.

“Master this age-old storytelling technique, though, and you will master any genre technology may throw your way, now or in the future.”


Posted by: Bob Gillen on Apr 29, 2013 at 9:47:08 am

Choice Skinner on His Short Film

Director and writer Choice Skinner talked to us about his award winning short film, about story, and writing for web series. Skinner’s short film A Second Thought recently screened at the SoHoFilmFest.

Skinner shot the two-minute film on an iPhone during a two-hour ride on a city bus last year. Using the iPhone “…definitely opens some doors and makes it possible to be able to take an idea from conception and bring it to fruition.”

Skinner’s story centers on a young man’s romantic chance encounter with a beautiful woman who shows interest in him during a bus ride. The problem - just moments earlier he received some terrible news. Test results reveal that he is HIV positive.

Skinner says, “I decided to shoot it on an iPhone because I knew I would be stealing shots and shooting it on a bus without permits. I also didn't have the money or the resources to do what I normally would have done, which is hire a crew and shoot on the Red Epic or Canon 5D.” 

Choice Skinner on His Short Film Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Apr 24, 2013 at 9:44:28 pm

Producer AnnmarEe Bell on “Teenage Kicks”

Annmaree Bell, producer and founder at Azure Productions in the Sydney, Australia area, is presently developing the feature film Teenage Kicks. Bell says, “The film came from a short film we made called Drowning.” In the short, teen Mik has suddenly lost his older brother. The one solid thing in his life is his best friend Dan. But Dan has a new girlfriend…

Bell says, “Craig Boreham, writer and director on the short film, spent some time with the characters, and the feature-length Teenage Kicks was born.”

We questioned Bell on what makes a story producible.

“Firstly I look for characters that I want to spend time with. As a producer you spend anywhere from three to 20 years with these characters. You need to want to go on the journey with them. Then I look for the story: are we taking these characters on a compelling story?”


Posted by: Bob Gillen on Apr 15, 2013 at 12:12:09 pm

Susan McGrath on Line Producing

Toronto-based line producer Susan McGrath talked to us about her work line producing for series television. For the last decade, she has produced, line produced, story produced and production managed series and documentaries airing on A&E, CBC, Court TV, CTV, Discovery, Global, HGTV, History, OMNI, Oxygen, SLICE, SunTV, TVO, Vision, and W. 

Recent Projects
“The last two series I’ve line produced have been wild and challenging in very different ways. The series I just finished (Never Ever Do This At Home) involved slowly destroying a house over 14 episodes. It involved pyro-technics, a first for me. We were dealing with a 150-year old house, very unpredictable.

Susan McGrath on Line Producing Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Apr 7, 2013 at 10:50:32 am

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