Kate Bulpitt
Kate Bulpitt
28th October 2015

This week Ellen and Jeremy have run some excellent content workshops. Yesterday morning Ellen provided ace ideas to help kick-start the writing process, and today Jeremy gave us Post It-tastic pause for thought as to different ways to structure what we write. In pairs, we told well-known stories using just a handful of key narrative points.

Andy T and I ended up doing this for two films: Back to the Future, and Elf. After sticking a bunch of bullet point-esque Post Its to the wall, Jeremy told us the next exercise would be to re-angle those stories with one of an assortment of approaches. Andy T and I (blindly) picked Backstory, where the starting point is looong before the action you’re about to focus on takes place. Andy T had a pretty succinct response to the backstory for Back to the Future: namely Back to the Future 3! Then we started to ponder on just what the through-the-mists-of-time opening would be for Elf. We considered Christmas through the ages, the origin of the elves... and then realised there was an obvious beginning. When we shared it with the group we got a round of applause (woo!). I got overexcited about the idea, and as soon as I got back to my desk dashed off a draft of that first scene:

 
A card onscreen reads: 0001 AD
INT. HOUSE - EVENING
We’re in a home on the outskirts of Bethlehem. A portly, bearded
bloke is huffing and puffing around the house.
                            BEARDED MAN
               [to himself] This heat, it’s driving me
               crazy!
There’s a knock at the door.
EXT. FRONT DOOR - EVENING
A man of very tiny stature stands outside, holding a large jug.
                             TINY MAN
               Hello, neighbour! We thought you might
               like some nice, cool lemonade.
                            BEARDED MAN
               Oh, you betcha.
                             TINY MAN
                Got a glass?
                            BEARDED MAN
               Sure do, come on in.
INT. HOUSE - EVENING
The BEARDED MAN crashes about in the kitchen.
                            BEARDED MAN
               You staying for a glass?
                             TINY MAN
               Super duper, thanks.
They sit down in the sparse lounge.  The TINY MAN pours the
drinks.  The BEARDED MAN take a long glug, winces.
                            BEARDED MAN
               Stone the crows, how much sugar did you
               put in here?
The TINY MAN has taken a sip from his glass, considers the taste.
                               TINY MAN
                Does it taste sweet?  We actually made
                it with less sugar than usual.
                            BEARDED MAN
                [sighs] I can’t take this heat anymore.
                I want to move somewhere cold.  Like
                Norway.  Or Greenland.
                               TINY MAN
                Our ancestors are from the North Pole.
                You’d like it there.
                               BEARDED MAN
                How’d they end up here?
                            TINY MAN
                You know, came on holiday... ended up
                staying.  Oh, that reminds me - I saw
                Dave earlier.
                            BEARDED MAN
                From the Shooting Star?
                               TINY MAN
                Yup.  Says they’ve been run off their
                feet.  One couple ended up crashing in
                his manger - and the missus only gave
                birth to a baby in there!  I thought we
                could take something nice round, bit of
                a welcome.
                            BEARDED MAN
                 Lemonade?
                            TINY MAN
                I don’t know.
The TINY MAN produces a sheaf of illustrated papyrus pages.
               I had a look through the Argos
               catalogue, and there seems to be a
               three-for-two on Gold, frankincense
               and myrrh.
                            BEARDED MAN
               Fancy.  Pushing the boat out, isn’t it?
                             TINY MAN
               Well, it’s not every day something like
               that happens.  I thought maybe we could
               take gifts to the other newborns.
               Whaddya say?
                         BEARDED MAN
               You want me to come?
                             TINY MAN
               You’re the one with the horse and trap.
                         BEARDED MAN
              Well, I...
                             TINY MAN
               Come on, it’ll be fun.
He pours the BEARDED MAN more lemonade.
                            BEARDED MAN
               Ah, go on then. It’s just one night, right?

Elf meets 2001: A Space Odyssey, as it were. Ho ho.

Bravo Jeremy and Ellen - a brilliant and useful time was had by all.