Thursday, 9 February 2017

The first step


Venturing into a new art medium can be intimidating. We aren’t sure how many of our skills (if any) are transferable or if our talent in one area might set us up for failure in another.

Where then do we turn for guidance when making these sizeable shifts?

Being primarily self-taught, my process for starting into a new discipline is simple.

I get a ‘how to’ book and allot myself time to work through it as if I were taking a course. I do the exercises outlined, I research the references and circle back through the book several times over before moving on with my education.

When I transitioned from actor to screenwriter, and then again from screenwriter to director, my first step was to buy a book and study it rigorously.

For example, M&J cannot speak highly enough of Blake Snyder’s, 'Save the Cat', as an introductory text to screenwriting. If you are on your first trek through feature-film-land, we highly suggest acquiring this book. Reading it feels akin to stumbling upon a ‘you are here’ map in the middle of a hiking trail… cue, ‘sigh of relief’.

I am presently working on my first graphic novel. A ‘how to’ book is at my side. It won’t cover everything I need to learn but it’s a start. I’ll read through it once for interest and an overall sense of the task at hand. Next, I will follow its directions, step-by-step. Then, I will read it a third time to be sure I have not missed anything before moving on.

The late, great, Glenn Frey of The Eagles once remarked about songwriting, “... so that’s how you do it? Elbow grease. Time. Thought. Persistence.”

It takes ‘elbow grease’ to stretch into new forums. Investing in an introductory book to guide our initial efforts is only the first step but I’ve found it to be a rather effective one.

- J

*J, I have highly benefited from some of the books you've brought to the table within this partnership. Thank you.  - M

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Maira Gall