Monday, January 3, 2011

Testimonials from the 2010 Champion Lab

The screenwriting lab was terrific and perhaps even a watershed moment in my screenwriting journey.  Jim's approach is particularly valuable to those who have completed scripts, feel they are pretty good, and want to see how to get them “over the hump.” It is a “personality” driven class, not a stiff, formal seminar.  Jim doesn’t come at you from a “superior” place; he approaches the subject as a film lover with exhaustive knowledge of and a fascination with how this stuff works.  He welcomes student discussion and debate.  He covers the standard issues of theme, plot, and character, but doesn’t smother you in untranslatable theory; you’ll break down films and scripts,  see where they work, where they don’t, and riff together on other possible solutions and approaches.   By watching examples from Harrison Ford action films, Sean Penn dramas, and Julia Roberts comedies, we see not only how great scenes are accomplished most effectively, but also how the “mundane” stuff, such as exposition, is done correctly; often the difference between a script that is actor and producer “bait” and one that points at amateurishness.   

Jim Mercurio really clarifies the “scene” as both a thing (“what is this scene about” & "can actors play it?") and a piece of a larger puzzle (“how does it relate to the larger issues of the script?) in ways that particularly help those with a completed script.

That complete script is a great thing, but every professional writer knows it is only the beginning.  I without reservation recommend Jim’s class for anyone with a script (or three) who wonders “what to do now?”  
 - Jim Kenney 

When you finally get serious about completing your own character arc as a screenwriter, contact Jim Mercurio.  Learn what it takes to make you and your script work.
  - Jeff Fry

No one takes you more in-depth than Jim.  Never again will you waste a line of scene direction or dialogue.  There is no doubt he'll take your craft to a higher level.
 - Alicia Lomas

"When I flew across the country to attend Jim's (Champion Lab) I had a high-concept screenplay I had labored with for over a year and was convinced was ready for market. Not even an inkling of doubt it was ready. After attending Jim's 3 day workshop, I realize I have at least another three months to go to take it to the level it needs to be. And I couldn't be more thrilled and motivated! Through a combination of instruction, collaboration and deep analysis of films and screenplays, Jim revealed the creative decisions professional writers made, and the craft they employed, to take their scripts to the level which attracted a-list talent. Jim has a tremendous gift for translating the what's of screenwriting into the how's, all in a way which gives you the necessary insight and inspiration to translate the learnings to your own work. This workshop experience will forever alter the way I approach screenwriting. Thank you, Jim!"
- Mark Reinisch

Jim's lab is a great experience for newbies and veterans alike. I got the most from his beat-by-beat analysis of how theme drives every aspect of a script from concept to plot to characterization to dialogue. Jim's constant reference back to theme served the Hollywood approach to film, but it also offered the potential to add more depth and resonance to every story.

In other classes, it often feels like there's little unity to the instruction given. Just like a good script, Jim's lab is deeply unified by a few simple principles that affect every level of a script. He really inspired and prepared me to jump into my rewrite.

Jim's insights into direction, editing, cinematography, production design and editing were fascinating.
- Kevin Miller

After being a Finalist in the 2009 competition, I came in Second in 2010 with a different script, Bank Robbing For Dummies.  Not only was the prize money delivered immediately (the check was actually placed in my hand at the time of the announcements), all Finalists were invited to attend a free class taught by Jim Mercurio -- a very informative and in-depth examination of writing for film.  I’d highly recommend entering the contest, and if you become a Finalist, be sure to attend the class. 
 - Robert Keith Watson

1 comment:

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