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Old February 24th, 2005, 01:39 PM   #1
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Beyond Structure Screenwriting Workshop?

Has anyone taken the weekend seminar entitled "Beyond Structure" in either CA or NYC? They have one coming up in NYC and they offer a $100 fly-in discount, which these days pretty much covers two-thirds of the flight cost for me - and then I'd be in NYC which is always fun.

http://www.beyondstructure.com

Just looking for some feedback. I need a little something right now to get out of the current writing funk I'm in - and some good ol' fashioned learnin' in an unfamiliar atmosphere usually puts me back into high gear...
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Old February 24th, 2005, 02:04 PM   #2
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Uh ... nice website for the course ...
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Old April 6th, 2005, 10:31 PM   #3
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Well I went to it this weekend, and I must say it really was well worth the money and time.

David Freeman covered a TON of very usable techniques for creating rich and multi-layered characters. Almost everything he discussed was original to him - not things I've ever read or heard of anywhere else. All very immediately usable techniques and it's completely got me re-evaluating everything I've written up to this moment. He has some incredibly valuable advice and methods to keep yourself from creating cliches or shallow characters or formulaic worlds, while at the same time paying heed to the universal things that keep your stories both impactful and digestible. There is no focus on indie or hollywood style productions - it's all about characters and making your stories intriguing and original, which are universal to your production type.

I found nothing to complain about other than I wish it was longer. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend this workshop. It's not 'theoretical' or full of pie in the sky ideals - you'll come away with a plethora of very specific tools you can use to tackle your writing projects.
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Old April 22nd, 2005, 09:57 PM   #4
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Can you share some of the techniques, or do we just have to buy the book (class?) :)

Reminds me of Ghostbusters 2, when Bill Murray is asking the author of the book on doomsday, when will the end of the world come, or do we have to buy the book.
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Old April 23rd, 2005, 02:12 PM   #5
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Well since it's all unique material, and I don't really own the material, I shouldn't really go into specifics. But the focus of the workshop is very much character-development based, not structure, though structure is presented as a critical factor of showing the lifespan of your character during his/her journey in your story.

Basically you spend a great deal of the workshop identifying specific techniques that writers use to deepen characters. A set of traits, an inner flaw that they overcome, the historic cause for that flaw, the pretend face they put to the outside world to hide the flaw, and the things that happen to them that gradually breaks down that face and exposes the character to himself/herself so that he/she can grow and satisfy their arc.

There is lots more to it, and it's all very itemized and taught in a logical order that lets you gradually build characters systematically. What I'm finding several weeks now after the class, that it's helping me tremendously in breaking out of blocks, and triggering new story ideas. I find myself playing God to some extent - creating these beings and letting them create the story based on their personalities. In some of my works in progress the characters are writing their own stories, and I'm just sort of channeling them. Those of you who write know how much of a buzz it is when you get in the zone like that - and what these techniques are doing for me are helping me get there much more often than before.

Other techniques are covered in the workshop too, like scene deepening and identifying and avoiding common dialogue pitfalls, and more. It really is a worthwhile workshop. And what's even better is that once you take the course, you can join the Beyond Structure online writing group, which I'm finding is worth the price of the class all by itself. It's such a great community to be a part of - with people of all levels of experience all helping each other in furthering their stories and characters.

If I was reviewing the overall workshop experience, I'd give it 5 out of 5 stars. And I seldom ever give anything 5 out of 5.
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Old May 6th, 2005, 01:09 PM   #6
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I'm a screenwriter, have been for fifteen years, and I'd be very curious to know what Freeman has to say that's any different from the usual character building techniques. I can't imagine what they might be, because nothing you've mentioned so far has been new for at least the last several centuries.

And unless you signed some kind of non-disclosure agreement, I would think there's no reason why you can't share some of what you've learned.

Unless, of course, this was actually an advertisement for Freeman's course. :)
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Old May 6th, 2005, 02:02 PM   #7
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He gives some of those tips on the web site...

Quote:
When a character has a false emotion (in this case, serenity) which covers a real emotion (in this case, apathy), this gives the character depth. It's a "Character Deepening Technique."

In "Beyond Structure," you'll learn 37 great "Character Deepening Techniques," with many film clips to illustrate them and exercises to practice using them to make sure you've got them under your command.
etc....

Seems interesting... Obviously, though, that's not a tip that no one else has thought of... putting them together always helps, hearing it again always helps, so who knows...

Glad you liked the class. What is the best thing you learned?
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Old May 6th, 2005, 02:13 PM   #8
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He has the same middle name as a former President.

At least he offers a money-back guarantee. I hope he spends at least some of the time before his first-day 4 pm deadline defining what the buzzwords "fresh," "emotionally layered," and "artfully crafted" mean.
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Old May 6th, 2005, 02:15 PM   #9
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Rob, I'm one of the wranglers here and DVinfo.net, and I don't work for Freeman.

And also, you don't need a contract to be respectful of someone's intellectual property. If you take the class you will easily see what makes Freeman's instruction different than the rest. I could sit here and spit out all 20-30 pages of my notes from the class and scan the couple-hundred page guidebook that you get in the class, and then print out all the threads in the very active writer's group but then why would I do that?

I've offered plenty I think in suggesting why I think you would, if you are a writer, enjoy and take away a great deal from the class. There's no reason to be such a negative nellie. It was a great class, I enjoyed it, felt it was well worth the money and then some, and I'm sharing my positive experience with everyone here. I'm not trying to tell you that 'my class is better than your class' or something equally cynical.

Barry, considering that most of the class is centered around character building and both character and scene deepening, and getting that to drive your story without turning it into a snore-fest, I would say - well - you get the gyst. He just presents a plethora of very usable, systematic techniques. Ideas, outlining and diagramming techniques you can do something with, not just hear and hope makes its way into your writing.

And Robert, I bet you if you went you'd decide long before 4pm that you'll go all the way and won't want your money back.
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Old May 6th, 2005, 03:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Imran Zaidi
Rob, I'm one of the wranglers here and DVinfo.net, and I don't work for Freeman.

And also, you don't need a contract to be respectful of someone's intellectual property. If you take the class you will easily see what makes Freeman's instruction different than the rest. I could sit here and spit out all 20-30 pages of my notes from the class and scan the couple-hundred page guidebook that you get in the class, and then print out all the threads in the very active writer's group but then why would I do that?

I've offered plenty I think in suggesting why I think you would, if you are a writer, enjoy and take away a great deal from the class. There's no reason to be such a negative nellie.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to be negative, nellie or othewise. I've just seen so much hype for so long about screenwriting, with each new guru having his own special techniques that, honestly, I've pretty much seen it all.

These guys are ALL teaching the same thing and simply using their own language to disguise it. It's like self-help authors. It's all the same basic information. Nobody really has anything new to say.

If it HELPS you, if you find value in it, then that's a good thing. But as a professional writer, I hate to see anyone spend hard-earned money on something that can be learned simply by observation and, better yet, by DOING.

As for Freeman, I don't think he has a patent on the techniques he uses. I went to his website and he gives examples and there was nothing there that we haven't heard before.

The reason I asked for examples is because I'd TRULY like to hear something I haven't heard before. As for your post, I'm sorry, but it sounded like an ad to me.
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Old May 6th, 2005, 03:04 PM   #11
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I saw nothing on his site that I didn't already know either. I gave it a shot anyway.

And I know what you mean about self help gurus. This wasn't that.
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Old May 6th, 2005, 03:06 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Imran Zaidi
I saw nothing on his site that I didn't already know either. I gave it a shot anyway.

And I know what you mean about self help gurus. This wasn't that.
So, again. Please illuminate me. I'd REALLY like to know at least ONE thing he teaches that's new. I'm serious about this. It's not as if you're going to ruin his business....
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Old May 6th, 2005, 03:20 PM   #13
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See, the nature of the beast is that if it exists, that means it's been done before. It's been written, and it's been put together by some method or another, by some person or another.

Any type of instruction attempts to survey those different things that exist and tell you of them. Some instructors add many of their own rules that come out of their own opinion. Some instructors add nothing and simply relay what you could get all by yourself. This particular instructor has instead completed a list of all the different types of ingredients, broken them down into lists that are written so that you can apply them. Specific long lists of rooting interest techniques, specific long lists of scene deepening techniques, lists of character arcs in general and specific form, lists of traits and trait groupings, lists of the different types of 'slams' a character is hit with that makes them deal with their issues, and more. And then he goes further in each list to provide examples, and then he shows them happening with samples of common films. Then there are the unique diagramming techniques that put these tools (and several more) into a cohesive form which helps you develop your character further and brainstorm further on your story. Cohesively putting this all together in the usable manner it is, is absolutely unique to anything I've read before.

All these different aspects have all been collected, sorted, listed and presented in a way where you can pull them out and use them almost like they're tools in your industrial size Sears Craftsman toolset. It's not ambiguous, it's not pie-in-the-sky, it's not self-help, and it's definitely not like anything I've read before.

Now, I could list, say, a character rooting interest technique. If you watch a lot of films, you'll be able to pick one out that uses that technique in probably 5 seconds. That's the nature of identifying techniques - they exist somewhere. That's not the point.

Hopefully all these comments explain the nature of this technique-based class and why it's valuable.
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Old May 6th, 2005, 04:01 PM   #14
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Now you're talking. I can see some value in having someone do a lot of work that would require you months, if not years, to observe or discover yourself. Having specific ideas of what to look for could be very helpful.

But we have to be careful that when we are supplied so much information, when so much of the work is done FOR us, the necessary steps to learning are truncated in a way that may sometimes be counterproductive. It's important for us to discover things on our own, to fumble and fall and find our own ways to recover.

Which is why I'm often suspicious of "quick fixes" promised by so many writing gurus.

It sounds, however, like Freeman might actually have a meat and potatoes approach to teaching that may be helpful to some writers. I would argue, however, that nothing he says is "intellectual property" except for perhaps the unique expressions he has invented (rooting intererest, scene deepening, etc. -- hopeful writers just LOVE this kind of stuff) in order to get the ideas across.

While long lists may indeed be helpful, I still doubt that anything on those lists is exclusive to Freeman.
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Old May 6th, 2005, 04:25 PM   #15
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Rob,

Welcome to DV Info. I'd really like to see more writers around here -- particularly professional ones -- so I'm glad you joined us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Gregory-Browne
These guys are ALL teaching the same thing and simply using their own language to disguise it. It's like self-help authors. It's all the same basic information. Nobody really has anything new to say.

If it HELPS you, if you find value in it, then that's a good thing. But as a professional writer, I hate to see anyone spend hard-earned money on something that can be learned simply by observation and, better yet, by DOING.
Remember that a lot of their audience are people who haven't heard the oft-repeated facts, who don't know the basics, and would actually like to hear the same tried-and-true rehashed formulae as a starting point for their writing, along with the spin of someone they enjoy listening to.

They've been teaching calculus for close to a century and they are all repackaging that same basic information also. Some people learn it better from a book, and some learn better from teacher A and some learn better from teacher B. I had a friend in highschool who basically figured it all out just by doing it, yet he would never say of calculus "I hate to see anyone spend hard-earned money on something that can be learned simply by observation and, better yet, by DOING."

I applaud you for being a professional writer. Maybe you learned just by watching and doing. I'm guessing, then, that you are particularly gifted at it (as was my friend in calculus). Others need more help.

Personally I like to read books to help me learn (including Larry Brody's). I write some, I read some, I write more, I watch, I talk to people, I do whatever it takes. And I know that half of what I read are really facts that I could have come up with. But it helps me to hear it from someone else, and then even from a different source to reinforce it. That is what these guys do.

Interestingly, I started a highly skeptical thread recently asking about Dov Simens' classes. In his PR he was basically taking credit for the careers of Tarantino, Luhrman, Rodriguez, Chris Nolan, Guy Ritchie, etc. That makes me assume the worst of him. He is the self-help guru of screenwriting. But some people spoke up for him and said they got a lot out of it...

To each his own.

Welcome again.
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