Opportunities for young screenwriters from Nordic countries are important for fostering new talent. Northern script is an event aimed to help aspiring storytellers from Nordic countries to network. It offers workshops for young writers in the following countries;
- Faroe Islands
- Åland Islands
In this blog, we’ll go over the workshop facilitated in Iceland on the 14th of May 2022. We’ll go over what was discussed, give some examples, tips and tricks, and finally some pointers from the facilitator, Kolbrún Anna Björnsdóttir.
We were seated in a lecture room in ‘Kvikmyndaskóli Íslands’. There weren’t many of us but as we say in Iceland ‘Fáment en góðment’, which translates to ‘few people but good people’. Kolbrún began by explaining what Northern script is about – a nordic screenwriting contest, opportunities for young screenwriters in the Nordic countries, and so forth – then dove straight into her PowerPoint, telling us how one can put all stories into 6 categories (more on that later) and discussing the ‘science’ of scriptwriting. The workshop was beginner-friendly and Kolbrún created an atmosphere that made you feel comfortable asking questions, and there were a lot of questions. She talked about formatting and helped us fit our favorite films into the 6 categories in order to better understand what she was talking about (again, more on that later). Overall, it was a beginner-friendly workshop that offered good advice and insight for participants taking their first steps in screenwriting.
EXAMPLES FROM THE WORKSHOP
To get into more detail, Kolbrún went over the core elements that make up a story. First, she mentioned the 6 stories of man, she explained that most – if not all – stories humans have ever created can be sorted into 1 of these 6 archetypes;
- Rags to riches – a steady rise from bad to good fortune
- Riches to rags – a fall from good to bad, a tragedy
- Icarus – a rise then a fall in fortune
- Oedipus – a fall, a rise then a fall again
- Cinderella – rise, fall, rise
- Man in a hole – fall, rise
Looks like originality is out the window… Well not exactly, Kolbrún reassured us that everyone has their own unique experience and point of view to bring to a story, so if you were to ask ’’what makes my story original?’’ Kolbrún would answer;
Kolbrún also introduced us to the 8-point story arc to help us simplify and see stories more clearly. These 8 points are as follows:
Here you introduce your character and the world they live in.
Something is introduced that threatens or changes the world of the character. This could be a want or need they have or an external force.
- The quest:
Now your character has been thrust into unfamiliar circumstances
Something unexpected happens along the way
- Critical choice:
Your character is forced to make a hard choice, it’s very popular that this choice be between their want and their need.
- The climax:
The most intense part of the story; the breakthrough, the boss fight, the end of the race.
The character recognizes that the world – and probably they themselves – have changed.
The protagonist has finished their journey and the story has ended.
This blueprint can be helpful for beginners and fun for everyone to see if you can find these points in your favorite stories.
The participants were fewer than expected but everyone seemed very happy with the workshop. We spoke to Guðrún, who when asked if she had heard about Northern Script before the workshop replied; that the name was familiar but she had never really known what it was. Kormákur (a friend of one of the youth committee members) said they first heard about it on an Instagram story advertising the workshop. Many expressed their satisfaction, like Tinna who said: ‘The workshop was both fun and informative!’.These participants also seemed eager to take part in the scriptwriting competition and so should you!
TIPS AND TRICKS
As a beginner, it may be intimidating to write a script for a competition, but do not fret! Kolbrún gave us some handy info to get us started on creating our story. Firstly, we need to keep in mind the length of the script, as this is a short film (10 mins max) you have to be aware of the important plot progression in your story, each page, and each minute has to be important and used to its full potential. The story has to contain all of the same elements as a full-length film but in a fraction of the time, so take your full-length story and tell only a small chunk of it. It can also be helpful to tell a more visual story as dialogue takes up a lot of space. Remember SHOW DON´T TELL!
It is also helpful to write about one’s own experiences, no need to get too literal but remember why we relate to the stories we love, it could be a similar experience, shared emotion, or a fantasy. Writing what you know is much easier than writing what you don´t.
Last but not least Kolbrún found it important for us to know that we can never write for everyone. What she means by that is we can’t make everyone happy, write for a specific group of people, for instance, someone going through a heartbreak, people who have never experienced it may not relate to or like your story but someone out there will!
Q & A WITH KOLBRÚN
After the session, we caught up with Kolbrún to ask her some questions.
Why should people participate in Northern Script?
The Northern script offers a great opportunity, on one hand with free workshops and subsequent ones for the winners. By attending the workshops you get the opportunity to network and to meet professionals in the industry
What is important to keep in mind when participating in a script competition?
Start early, rewrite, and make sure that your last draft is airtight (Review the grammar)
Do you have any tips?
Write about something that matters to you and you know well
The blog is written by the Icelandic members of the Northern Script Youth Committee, Elizabeth Karen & David Örn Ingimarsson
Landscape photos by Jeffrey Fredrick Guarino
Workshop photos by Elizabeth Karen