The Director's Chair Issue #73 – Jan. 25, 2007 (Breaking Free of Structure Paradigms)
THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR
Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors
January 25, 2007 Scene 8 – Take 1
Published once a month.
Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
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2. The Art and Craft of the Director Audio Seminar
3. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
4. Subscriber Links of Interest
5. Filmmaking Workshops
6. Feature Article – Breaking Free of Structure Paradigms
7. What Are Your Goals for 2007?
8. Websites, Events and Festivals You Should Know About
9. Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
10. Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
11. Copyright Information
Welcome to Issue #73 of The Director’s Chair (January 25/07)
1) FILMMAKERS IN OVER 90 COUNTRIES READ THIS EZINE – I would
like to say hello to all my subscribers from around the
world: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Bahamas,
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NOTE: If your country is not represented here, please let me
know and I will add it to this ever growing list.
2) FEATURE ARTICLE – This month’s Feature Article is called
“Your First Draft: Breaking Free of Structure Paradigms” by
Michael Adams. Michael is a writer and script consultant who
talks about how to break free of script structure on your
first draft so you can let your creativity flow. This is
sound advice for both aspiring screenwriters and
professionals alike. (see below to read article…)
3) FILMMAKING WORKSHOPS AND PRODUCT PROMOTION – From time
to time I will contact you by email to inform you of certain
filmmaking workshops or film products that I feel are
beneficial to filmmakers like yourself. Of course, you are
under no obligation to purchase anything. I only offer this
information as a service to subscribers of this free ezine.
4) VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – If you would like to contribute
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Peter D. Marshall
2. The Art and Craft of the Director Audio Seminar
Since you are a subscriber to “The Director’s Chair,” you
are one of the first to know about the release of my new
audio/email program, “The Art and Craft of the Director
Audio Seminar” – a comprehensive, 10-day program of
discovering what it takes to be a successful, working film
and television director.
I am very proud of this audio course and I guarantee that
anyone who listens to the entire 10 days will discover many
of the tools a working film director needs to survive today.
I talk a lot about PASSION and TRUTH in this 10 day course
because these are two of the essential ingredients to having
a successful directing career. Filmmaking is a universal
language, and no matter where we live in the world, we all
have our own stories to tell.
So if you have a story that has UNIVERSAL THEMES, and you
have the PASSION to tell this story, you CAN make a movie,
in your own language, and audiences around the world WILL
All the information about the 10 Day “The Art and Craft of
the Director Audio Seminar,” including the content list,
audio files, support materials, free bonuses and how to
order, is available now. Just click on the link below.
3. SUBSCRIBER SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION
Each month, I give two subscribers an opportunity to promote
themselves, their company or their productions in this
section. If you are interested, send an email to
Please limit your promotion to less than 200 words. I also
reserve the right to edit the promotion for length, spelling
1) Flmmomentum.com (A.J. Wedding) – We are a production
company that excels at low budget independent production,
from short films to commercials and feature films. We
specialize at bringing your project in on time and on
budget, using your contacts in the industry as well as our
wealth of HD production equipment. Check out our website to
see some of our work! We do not look for funding, but once
you have it, we can get your project done ON BUDGET! Feel
free to email us at mailto:email@example.com
2) Dare2Audition.com (Helen Edwards) – Dare2Audition is an
Australian Acting & Audition Site, supporting freelance
artists with regular audition notices and industry
information. We are rapidly building a database of actors
that any casting agent would be happy to use for their
castings. Dare2Audition supplies more current auditions than
any other Australian Site and members receive all the
support they require to enter this industry and stay in this
4. SUBSCRIBER LINKS OF INTEREST
“Subscriber Links of Interest” is where you can further
promote yourself, your company or your productions by having
your information displayed on a special links page at:
If you are a subscriber to this ezine and you want me to put
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Again, I also reserve the right to edit the promotion for
length and formatting.
5. FILMMAKING WORKSHOPS – Peter D. Marshall
I have worked in the Film and Television Industry for over
33 years – as a Film Director, Television Producer, First
Assistant Director and Series Creative Consultant. I’ve been
asked many times to share my Film and TV production
knowledge with others. As a result, I developed several
workshops that I have successfully presented over the past
To find out more about these workshops, just click on the
link below. If you are interested in any of these four
workshops for yourself or your organization, please contact
me to discuss how we can bring these workshops to you.
6. FEATURE ARTICLE – Breaking Free of Structure Paradigms
“Your First Draft: Breaking Free of Structure Paradigms”
By Michael Adams
I met a friend a while back whom I hadn’t seen for some
time. We caught up and regaled each other with our
respective screenwriting adventures. I guess mine sounded a
bit better because he ended up asking me to take a look at
his latest effort and giving him my thoughts on a rewrite. I
said, “Sure send it over”. He asked me what paradigm I
wrote with. I said, “Whatever works”. ‘Oh” he said, “I use
the Vogler Paradigm” disappointed in my lack of commitment
to what he considered were the 10 commandments of
Now, I’ve read Christopher Vogler’s book, THE WRITER’S
JOURNEY, and I think it’s a terrific piece of work. So is
Syd Field’s SCREENPLAY and Robert Mckee’s STORY, but I don’t
recall any of those books, or any of the other insightful
books on screenwriting available and worth their price in
salt, gold or rap video bling, ever promising me that if I
followed their formula to the letter I would become a
successfully produced screenwriter.
I’ve also read uncountable numbers of interviews with
successful screenwriters who unvaryingly admit that if they
do commit to a certain story structure or paradigm, it isn’t
until the most important creative task, the first draft, is
done. After the first draft is complete, if a particular
style or story structure is formally considered, it is the
needs of the story that dictates what structure is chosen.
The creative process is MORE IMPORTANT than any structure,
formula or paradigm. You wouldn’t create a story within a
certain structure anymore than you would choreograph a dance
in a phone booth.
Can’t put it any simpler than that.
The Jan/Feb 2007 issue of SCRIPT magazine has, among other
excellent articles, a wonderful piece by Michael Arndt,
screenwriter of LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. When asked what
advice he would give to aspiring screenwriters, Arndt’s
reply was one of the most realistic and eloquent I’ve heard.
He related a series of studies that were done to
differentiate between good professionals and great ones.
These studies applied to all types of professionals,
including writers. The results boiled down to this key
difference between good and great – 10,000 hours.
10,000 hours of dedicated study, practical application and
executing your craft; the equivalent of 4 hours a day, 5
days a week for 10 years. That sounds about right. It took
me about eight years and ten screenplays before I really
started liking anything I wrote. And I think if we take a
look at the so-called ‘overnight successes’, a substantial
history of learning and doing would be revealed.
So now what? How does that relate to breaking free of
structure paradigms? Do we just toss out all the books and
structure theory? Do we stop writing screenplays and study
for the next ten years?
Not on your life. If anything, write more and study harder.
Stay hungry for the knowledge that helps you improve your
Vogler, Field, McKee and many other excellent mentors
including Michael Hague, William Froug and Pilar Alessandra
have done their 10,000 hours, and then some. Why wouldn’t
we want to benefit from their knowledge and experience?
The question that follows then is not, “WHAT structure
paradigm should I write my screenplay with?” but “WHEN
should I apply structure theory to my screenplay?”
The simple answer is – after your first draft.
The more complex answer is, all the time, but, as a
conscious effort – after your first draft.
Okay, so how does that work?
Let’s agree on a couple of things; first, we never stop
learning, and second, directed or focused learning is more
effective than a laissez-faire approach. If we incorporate
dedicated effort to learning story structure, not just one
but all of the paradigms, studying the work of great and
successful screenwriters, analyzing scripts and taking note
of script to screen transitions, we will find that as we
write our own stuff, we have to think less about formal
structure and we’ll be able to concentrate solely on the
The Buddhist concept ‘satori’ or sudden enlightenment has a
practical application – to act without thinking. One can
achieve satori by practicing the basic tenants of something
over and over to the point where, when required to act,
rather than thinking then acting, one acts without thinking.
So then, as we write, we’re aware of story theory without
having to stop and think about it. This is pure creativity.
When you write your first draft, forget about structure.
Forgetting about structure and theory liberates your
creativity. You want your first draft to be all about that
one resonant emotional chord that inspired you to write the
story in the first place. Write from your heart and soul.
Take your character on a journey that moves you. You can’t
do that if you’re stopping to think, “Oh, I’ve got to have a
plot point on this page!”
Your first draft is the place where you get to break all the
rules. If it helps you, don’t bother writing it in script
format. Write in any format you like as long as the format
allows you the utmost freedom to create. Eventually, you’ll
become so adept at writing in script format anyway; it will
become the format that unleashes your creativity most
After your first draft, do a rewrite dedicated to story and
structure analysis. You may find that you don’t want to
change a thing, you’ve broken all the rules and you still
have a compelling, resonant, fulfilling story. Fantastic;
move on to looking at your characters. But if you see holes
in your story, if the emotional journey of your lead
character isn’t resonating a strongly as it could, if the
impact of your story could benefit from changing or adding
plot points or using a different time structure, do that
By adjusting your story in the first rewrite, until it truly
resonates with you, you’ve laid the foundation to work on
all the other elements in your story. You wouldn’t want to
do a rewrite pass on the relationships between your
characters without having the architecture of your lead
character’s emotional journey laid out.
So after all this, how do we ultimately break free of
structural paradigms? We embrace them.
We learn so that we can forget. We forget – so that we can
do. This is breaking free – this is creativity.
Michael Adams is a screen writer and script consultant who
lives in Vancouver, Canada. He has been writing for 12 years
and has written or co-written 19 feature length screenplays.
He has also been consulting for 8 years. Michael’s clients
range from producers looking for new material or a complete
rewrite on an existing project, to new writers looking for
help with their first script.
Producers and directors who are looking for new scripts or
help with an existing project can reach Michael by email at
7. WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2007?
Last month I thought it would be a good idea if we shared
our professional goals for the year 2007. I received several
responses from subscribers and I have them listed below.
We have an opportunity with this ezine to share our
thoughts, questions, concerns and our hopes. Reading what
others are doing, or what they dream to do, gives us all
hope and inspiration.
1) FROM – Rob Mitchell
I just wanted to say thanks for all your efforts in each
issue of the Director’s Chair. I always look forward to
reading them. And, a special thanks for the plug in this
As for goals this year…. I’ve been back in Toronto for a
year now, and the competition is far greater than when I
left 15 years ago. Seems like there are film schools on
every corner churning out directors, editors and shooters.
Applying for positions on-line has taken the personal
approach out of getting jobs, so I initiate a lot of my own
projects. My main focus is… a) Lining up funding for a wine
show that I have developed as a result of my shoot in
California. b) Finishing a film script that I started a year
ago …and keep shooting and shooting!
Thanks again and hope you have a terrific year.
2) FROM – Jason Prugar
My filmmaking goals for 2007 are:
1) To make at least 6 short films
2) Be accepted to 3 film festivals
3) Attend the festivals to which I am accepted
4) Begin writing my feature length screenplay
5) Start preproduction on either my James Bond or Star Wars fan film
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3) FROM – Brandon Knight
I’m Brandon Knight, a studying writer/director.
I have many – some of which are in-progress hopes, others
I’m on a set schedule for. Here they are:
1. Shoot & edit three short films: A) A winter documentary
(working on this right now), composed of gathered winter
images with music added in editing. 5-10 mins. B) A summer
documentary, same as winter – of gathered summer images with
cool music added in editing. 5-10 mins. C) My first actor
project. I have three to chose from – two simply 1-actor,
1-set films, the final one for 3-4 actors & a few more
locations. I’m fairly sure I’ll pick one of the first two,
the two obstacles being finding a young actor & learning
more about interior lighting. 10-15 mins, hopeful project.
2. Wrap up the first draft of one of my feature length
scripts. It’s a drama about a destitute waitress trying to
find hope in a horrible day. (Now-Spring?’07)
3. Work on & complete the second draft of another feature
length script. This one I started when I was 17, & it
centers on a group of teenagers through the 24 frenetic,
fateful hours they face before high school graduation (I
call it a darker, retold version of “Dazed & Confused”).
4. Work on & complete the second draft of my final feature
length script. This one, another drama, focuses on a drug
addict’s attempt at redemption, and is told in 3 Acts.
Well, those are my goals. Thanks so much for creating ‘The
Director’s Chair’, it’s helping aspiring filmmakers like me
to gain knowledge through experienced minds in the simplest
8. WEBSITES, EVENTS AND FESTIVALS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
1) The RKA Cinema Society specializes in helping filmmakers
and actors in a variety of areas.
If you are going into production we can help you by posting
casting notices and crew calls. If you would like to post a
free notice just reply back to this email with the
breakdown. We’ll immediately send it out to our large group
of members. http://www.rkacinemasociety.com
Ronald K. Armstrong
2) The KEOKUK INDEPENDENT Film Festival
Keokuk, Iowa September 6-9, 2007
Call for Entries is now open. We invite you to submit your
short film or music video to:
Call for entries WILL BE ACCEPTED FROM:
January 1ST, 2007 TO June 30TH, 2007
H.E. (Hank) Hustus II
3) Sundance Channel’s Behind-the-Scenes Series
Every day of the Sundance Festival (Jan. 19-28th), Sundance
will be airing Festival Dailies, a half hour recap of the
day’s events, anything from celebrities on ski slopes, to
interviews with filmmakers, to red carpet premiere parties.
To promote this series, Sundance is making two clips from
each episode available every day. We will have them up on
iKlipz, for streaming, as well as on an asset page for
4) “Film School in a Box”
I’m Dave Kebo, a filmmaker based out of Los Angeles. My
partner and I have recently created a “How To” editing
product which teaches storytelling and the aesthetics of
editing through the use of Final Cut Pro 5’s Multiclip
Our intention in creating “Film School in a Box” was to help
filmmakers and editors become more skilled storytellers and
I truly believe that what we’ve created could help inspire
an entirely new wave of filmmakers to reach a new level.
Our product is unique, both in method and philosophy.
Essentially, we provide all the tools necessary to give
filmmakers and editors the ability to cut their own versions
of a feature film in real time. I invite you to come check
out our site, read some reviews and watch our video demos
9. BACK ISSUES OF “THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR”
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11. COPYRIGHT INFORMATION
Copyright (c) 2000-2006
Peter D. Marshall
All Rights Reserved
Copyright (c) 2000-2009 Peter D. Marshall / All Rights Reserved