I had a rare honour of sharing a few hours one evening with Women on Screen. This month's salon event was hosted by Tassie Cameron.
Among many things, what sincerely sparks my interest is her ability to write witty, humorous and emotional characters with fully developed lives. Characters that draw you into a storyline that never seems to "get old."
Graduating from University with a BA in English Literature (like myself) she pursued her MA at NYU. After completing school, she entered the film industry and explored many post-production roles. Not really enjoying being on set or coordinating post work, she landed a job working for HBO and found her calling.
She said with a reflective smile, "in my twenties, I was making rent, and enjoying life." But, at HBO she felt different somehow. The change happened when she was introduced to the writing process: highly creative and in her field.
She had some great honest wisdom to pass down to the eager ladies (and one gent?) sitting in an intimate room on King Street West. Here are her writing tips:
- don't be too personal
- write with act breaks
- never leave a character too long on screen
- dig deep, be real
- feel your writing ("if I don't cry in a sad scenes then something is wrong")
- speak out loud when you are writing
- try an improv class
- go to CFC (Canadian FIlm Centre)
- be a part of the film community
- volunteer on short films
- cut out children, night scenes, and car chases to preserve the budget
- practice your pitch a MILLION times
- speak with authenticity and passion
- use coloured pens when you are recording different feedback on your script to keep your head sane
- don't worry so much about outlines
With some extremely insightful and some more humorous tips and tricks, I feel very blessed to have been sitting in a room with an intelligent, hard working, and dedicated Canadian writer.