For most of the year, the posts on this blog have been from guests.
And where I signed for them myself, they were mostly more academic, analytical pieces.
Unlike other bloggers, I rarely use a personal voice.
Insecurity is a big hurdle, I must admit. My fellow bloggers are just amazing in their use of of language. They’re articulate and witty, casual but sharp. I am not a native English speaker and until fifteen years ago, it wasn’t even my second language.
I know, I know… Excuses.
Four years ago I forced myself into the discipline of writing more or less regularly about screenwriting. From now on, I’ll publish something more personal every now and then.
Okay, now I’ve broken the ice, I don’t know where to start.
one. hundred. drafts.
I have nearly one hundred articles in draft stage behind the scenes of this blog. That may sound like a lot, it is only as much as fellow blogger Scott Myers publishes in two weeks. Some of these drafts are just rough ideas I would like to think about, research, test and publish. Others are waiting for a final polish or a good reason to publish them – some day.
Let me tell you what I do for a living, just in case you haven’t already checked out the far corners of this web site. I mainly consult to screenwriters and producers and I also teach on the craft of storytelling and screenwriting. And no, I have not sold a single script myself. Neither have the people who will assess your screenplay and pass on it. But like them, I have been on the business side of our industry, so that’s where I get some of my experience from.
structure is everything
My forte is structure. You cannot build an interesting character without a structured journey of actions and events, so I’ll be your guy to help you with that.
I’m familiar with pretty much every story structure model in the industry but rather than subscribing to any in particular, I prefer to borrow the strengths rather than the weaknesses and apply what is most suitable for each screenplay.
One exception: I’m convinced that successful movies always have the key stages of the Hero’s Journey. I’m not saying you need to master the 500+ steps but a mythical layer is at the basis of every successful story. That’s why I disagree with Screen Australia’s Martha Coleman when she defines drama as “stories about things that happen to us”. I’d rather see stories about things we hope or fear could happen to us.
we’re in the same boat
Much like writing, this is a tough job, trust me. Every day I deal with people with more power and less education than myself. Sounds familiar? Well, we better get used to it. Yet this job is still the most rewarding I can think of right now. Working with filmmakers to get the best out of their work and help them connect with as broad an audience as possible is a unique challenge.
So here’s one caveat: I no longer subscribe to small arthouse thinking. If you really have something to say, you want to share this with as many as possible, right? Too many filmmakers who believe they’re telling ‘a story that must be told’ are preaching to the converted, often at the expense of the tax payer. Speaking of ethics… Plus, the days of successful true blood art films have gone.
talk to you every day
Gotta go back to reading your script. If/when I’m inspired to share any thoughts on that, you may find it here. And unlike The Unknown Screenwriter (Buddy, what have you done? And where have you gone?), my tweets are not all lazy automated searches. Every week I handpick from 1,000+ articles and headlines and link to what I found the most interesting.
Every now and then, I also throw in a personal comment as I tend to find it easier to get more personal in 140 characters. Don’t ask… :) I might even respond to your questions there.
Meanwhile, feel free to encourage me to write more often by posting a comment below.
– Karel Segers
Karel Segers is a producer and script consultant who started in movies as a rights buyer for Europe’s largest pay TV group Canal+. Back then it was handy to speak 5 languages. Less so today in Australia.
Karel teaches, consults and lectures on screenwriting and the principles of storytelling to his 6-year old son Baxter and anyone who listens.
He is also the boss of this blog.
Karel Segers wrote his first produced screenplay at age 17. Today he is a story analyst with experience in acquisition, development and production. He has trained students worldwide, and worked with half a dozen Academy Award nominees. Karel speaks more European languages than you have fingers on your left hand, which he is still trying to find a use for in his hometown of Sydney, Australia. The languages, not the fingers.
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18 thoughts on “I want to talk to you.”
WRITE MORE OFTEN!
Yes – do, and thanks for the insights into what you do for a living. I’ve ear marked a few points that were highlighted to follow up and will always be pleased to have stumbled across your website.
Thanks for the insight. Broke thru writer’s block last January. Flipped unfinished novel to screenplay. Working steadily and hard. Hope 2 have reading in December. U and other Twitter buds very helpful. Thanks for all.
Keep up the good work Karel.
You know, I just love your wordsmithing…..cheers
I’m much more likely to read the personal style stuff!! Keep ’em coming…
You write more and so will I. In fact, I’ll start right now! :-)
I enjoy your blog often. The articles are interesting and useful, and often amusing. I agree with Gillian – let’s hear a little more from you. It’s not your language we’re after, but your insights and experiences. Keep up the good work.
Hey Karel, I noticed that Story Department is listed on the Amazon Studios website list of resources. I’m curious to know how you feel about that.
Thanks guys! I guess I’ll be back here on Saturdays, then. :)
Toast: You too! Write more often! You always make me smile.
Tracey: Thank you.
Jackie: That’s what we’re here for! I’d love to hear more stories like yours.
Anthony: Will do, man.
Jack: Sorry I missed you after the lecture on the Gold Coast… Thanks for showing up!
Margaret: The question for you is… Is blogging considered procrastination from screenwriting? :)
Gillian: Rest assured there’ll be more personal stuff. And thank you for being a loyal Twitter follower! I WILL also soon announce the anniversary goodies.
Martin: Thank you. Good to see you around.
Matthew: With John August and Scott Myers I’m in excellent company. I’m honored and humbled about that. I wonder what their criteria were to pick these six.
Love your work, Special K. And hopefully soon, you will, once again, love mine. Will be in touch! Phyllis
I always enjoy the weekly Best of The Web lists as well as the numerous articles/blogs you manage to find time to publish (BTW where do you find the time?). I can only admire anyone who has the time to share their knowledge to the community of writer in OZ.
Would love to see some critical discourse on the current crop of locally made mainstream movies & TV.
“500+ hero’s journey steps.” You’re referring to Kal Bashir’s 510+ stage hero’s journey at http://www.clickok.co.uk/index4.html – which is excellent. Get your head around it, link to the site and watch the videos ( http://www.youtube.com/user/clickokDOTcoDOTuk ). Truly excellent.
You have linked to the site(s) already, Dave. Thanks for that.
Kal’s model seems very analytical. Do you know of any blockbuster films that have been WRITTEN expressly with all 510+ steps in mind?
Although I do a lot of analysis myself, the findings of this must be practical for screenwriters. The last thing I want to do is to stifle their creativity.
Karel, it’s not that all 510 steps must be used. It’s a range of options. Quoting from the FAQs page on his website, “In the Ordinary World, there is Repression, Protection, Fear of Exit etc.” “When you take into account a range…then the sum increases quite quickly.”
See, I don’t think he’s overly analytical, I think he’s saying something like…a story is made up of so many fruit baskets and each basket has these fruits in it.
I don’t know of a movie that was “WRITTEN expressly with all 510+ steps in mind?” but his videos indicate that a lot of them contain the steps.
Karel–I’ve only just discovered your blog! It’s already been extremely helpful to me–I’m a singer/actor and I also write, but have never written a screenplay. I’m starting now with a short film, and you’re a huge resource for me! (It doesn’t help much that I think BIG…my story is set in 1691 Ireland and will be mostly in Irish Gaelic. I’m hoping to film next summer in western Ireland, and am working on getting Cillian Murphy atatched. Thanking my lucky stars I found a brilliant–Aussie–director, too!)
Write more blogs! (And I promise to do the same. :) )
P.S. I used to live in Belgium–loved it! We lived in Le Roeulx, near Mons. I miss the GB. And our local patisserie. And being overseas, in general. :)
P.S. 2 Can’t believe you used to work with Canal+ ! That’s friggin’ awesome!
Hahaha… I had to read your comment three times before I realized what GB meant. That’s how long I’ve been gone. Do they still have Grand Bazar in Belgium??
Yep, great times at Canal+, with the odd meeting at the White Palace on the Seine in Paris.
Always thought you were the one to lead this revolution. You know the one I’m talking about. Good times.