Thursday 21 June 2012, 19:56
We went to the EastEnders & E20 Scriptwriting workshop at the BBC Radio 1 & 1Xtra Hackney Academy to bring you tips and expert advice on how to achieve your dreams.
The workshop was run by EastEnders & E20 Writer and Actress Emer Kenny (Zsa Zsa), EastEnders Story Producer Deborah Sathe and E20 Assistant Producer Rajiv Nathwani.
... Joined by Himesh Patel (Tamwar), Tameka Empson (Kim) and Ricky Norwood (Fatboy) who acted out scripts that our talented workshoppers had written in the session (pics below). And gave advice to people like you who want to get your foot on the ladder.
Shall we begin?
Play Executive Producer and think about the characters you'd keep. Then the characters you'd kill. Why do you love some characters and not others? HOW would you kill the characters off? Think about the ways that would most satisfy an audience and keep them watching. Everything you do must be compelling.
You can learn a lot about characterisation by looking at the different character types in EastEnders...
The Tart With A Heart
Bad on the outside, good on the inside. At first contact, this lady is crude, unapologetic, brash... We half fancy her and are half repulsed by her behaviour. But she can always be counted on to do the right thing and deep down she's vulnerable. With this girl, what you see is NOT necessarily what you get - that's what makes her so interesting. Think: Kat or Stacey
The mother figure. EastEnders is a matriarchal show. This is one of the pivotal characters. She's powerful, drama emanates from her. She can be a port in a storm, but she has the power to generate her own storms too. Think: Dot, Cora, Zainab, Pat, Peggy.
This is a character who STRUGGLES. Who we will to win - just for once. It's also the most difficult character to write/play. To make us root for them rather than feel frustrated by their inability to rise out of their situation. Think: Ronnie, Little Mo.
The Bad Boy
The loveable rogue... who isn't as loveable as he thinks he is. His flaws are often linked to his self-confidence/arrogance. He's rarely classically good looking... and does some very bad things... but is somehow strangely attractive... or is that just us? Think Max, Dirty Den, Sean Slater
The Macho Male
Macho males are egotistical brutes who are simple and direct. A macho male is always hard - he's born hard and will die hard. It's all he knows. Don't let him cry... at least not more than once a year! See Phil, Grant...
The Wheeler dealer, the charmer. Big chat, big ideas, bit heart, big optimism. He always believes that things will come good tomorrow... He's the moral code of the show. The heart. Think: Alfie, Fatboy.
Who's missing? What type of character would you create? Is there a type that you've never seen? They must be flawed, but good at heart. Create conflict - are they at odds with their environment? This makes them interesting. Do you want to see them on screen - if you don't, no one else will either. Got an idea? Create it! Write it!
This is one of the toughest industries to get into. Be prepared to WORK HARD. Learn your craft. Practice. The opportunities only come when YOU look for them.
But how do you take that first step?
Get Out There
Deborah, Ricky and Himesh all started out in Community Theatre. They recommend anything which enables you to meet other people who are doing what you want to do. Himesh watches actors he admires, and reads about the craft. While Ricky reckons, "You learn loads from books but the best way I learned was working with actors. Improvising... Get together with other talented people. Create something to get noticed." Get a job that's closest to the thing you love - even if it's an usher in a theatre, so you get to see the plays, the actors up close.
Tameka: "Keep yourself disciplined. If might look easy. But there's a lot of work that goes into it. You have to work."
In order to get noticed, you need PROOF that you're worth noticing. If you're a writer, you need ideas, scripts. If you're an actor, hone your craft, work, get better, get better again. Talk to other actors, talk to other writers, make mistakes, learn from your mistakes. But no excuses. Like Tameka says: "Just do it. Sit down. Write it. Say, I'm going to write for 2 hours and see what happens."
Don't Give Up
The one thing that you can be certain of, is that it's not going to be easy. "The two years before I got Easties were the worst in my career," says Ricky. "You have to go through struggles."
Actors! Learn Your Lines!
Emer's number 1 tip is: "Learn your lines! Then walk away... Come back. Learn them again. Then learn them again..." The best actors are the ones who know their lines so well that they don't have to think about them. That's the moment when you stop reciting words and start living them. Ricky adds that it's important not to rely too much on the script so that all you can do is try to remember your lines and stage direction. "When I get a script I think what my purpose is. What's the reason for this scene? What's Fatboy trying to achieve? Oh, he's going to rescue Lucy. OK. NOW I learn my lines."
This is what you want to do right? Enjoy it! As an illustration, see some pics of Himesh, Ricky and Tameka taking the scripts written by our talented workshoppers with the tips above, and err... running with it...
There are a million different ways into the industry. But here are some suggestions:
Most major broadcasters have trainee schemes. Apply.
Community theatre - find one near you and join. Write for them, perform for them, learn from them.
Study: Find writers or actors that you like and study what they do.
We asked a few workshoppers what the most important thing they learned today was...
Ashley J, 27: "Persistence. Know your abilities. Be open to learning. And enjoy the journey."
Kobina, 19: "You need to have the right ingredients to make a character. And you need to keep yourself occupied. Keep working to make yourself better as an actor."
Isla, 14: "The thing I learned? Just be yourself."
Tanya, 27: "I thought it was good advice to find work anywhere in the industry - like being an usher in the theatre. I've been acting since I was 16 - casting after casting. Instead of a job in retail, get a job in theatre..."
Join the discussion...
Wednesday 20 June 2012, 15:08
Friday 22 June 2012, 00:00