Notes From AIB’s First Draft Programme + Why You Must Apply

Posted: November 28, 2017 by moifightclub in Call For Entries, writing
Tags: , ,

You want to be a screenwriter, but you don’t know where to start.

Bombay is expensive. Is it worth going?

And on top of that, you don’t even know anyone. Even if you are in bombay, you don’t know whom to call for writing work.

These are just some of the basic questions that we all have grappled with at some point or other. There are no straight answers. Everyone finds a way.

But one thing is for sure now – it was never this easy if you have heard about AIB’s First Draft Programme. I wish there was something like this when we were starting out. It looked too good to be true – there is no fee, they take care of all the tuition expenses, and they even take care of your stay in Bombay. I have always felt that Bombay kids have an advantage. Not for anything else, but just for the rent. It’s fucking expensive! Whatever you earn, it goes in rent.

So when they started last year, it made me quite curious. Let’s see how it pans out. Been part of few script labs, i have experienced that nobody gets you till the last mile. Writing, feedback, learning, polishing – all that is good. BUT ARE YOU GETTING HIRED FOR WRITING?

Last i checked, out of the 10 writers that AIB selected, 7 of them are already writing commissioned work (film/web) for AIB which is in various stages of production. This is great. This is what all writers want.

So this year, we got one of the selected participant, Pulkit Arora to write about the whole experience.

Read. And Apply. Or Apply first, then come back and read. Last date for registration is Dec 5th, 2017. Click here for more details.

Falling In Love With Cinema / How I Learnt To Stop Worrying And Love The Screen

Last month, I went to my first film festival. As I swiftly discovered, festivals are exercises in cinema gluttony, with people catching as many as five films a day and ruing the absence of a sixth. But I felt oddly at home in queue for my next course.

18 months ago, this wasn’t the case. I’d maybe watch a film if the ticket price was less than Rs 2o0 and the run-time was under 100 minutes – that’d be about a film a month.

Most people around me at the festival had fallen in love with the movies when they were children. Stories told to you on a 50-ft screen as you chewed popcorn and slurped coke – what’s not to like? The leap from loving cinema to making cinema is substantial, but natural.

But as a vocal detractor of sitting still for more than 4 minutes, I had missed that honeymoon. I don’t think I even made it to the altar.

No one in my family had worked in art since a distant alcoholic uncle in the 80s ran production on a film with Asrani in the romantic lead. The casting choice was only slightly worse than the film itself; to this day at the dinner table, the conclusion is folks in arts are lazy drunks who didn’t score well in Science section.

On pure whim on an especially boring weekend, I stumbled onto a course called AIB First Draft, with no information on what writing for films entails. A whole Saturday off, and only a few tasks in the application – why not?

That application was a revelation. Playing around with characters can be pure fun, as if someone had given you a playground with a sandbox as big as human experience itself. The tasks took a lot longer than just that Saturday, but I did not resent it for a moment.

Upon what I continue to maintain was a miraculous selection, I sort of packed my bags and showed up expecting decent shelter and knowledge. I was fortunate to receive both.

While the course focused on writing stories for film, it throws you into a whirlwind romance with the medium of film itself.

Every day of every week was spent reading screenplays, watching cinema & writing. A lot of writing. I used my imagination more in six months than I had in every semester in college combined, especially with nine other people to imagine with.

But the biggest value of the First Draft framework was the predictability it brings – by Monday, we’d know the scheduled writing/reading/watching ratios of each day until Friday. Freed from the usual constraints of rent payments and deadlines, the only task was to learn.

But once the course spat me out of its comforts and straight into writing a high-stakes project, I found myself dwelling more and more in this sudden appreciation for an art form. I used to be a utility-and-function guy who scoffed at anyone “not contributing to making our world better” in the ways that I defined it; now I spent my days figuring out conflicts and emotional graphs for imaginary people. I was on my own little second act, figuring out how to reconcile this new job with my values.

But now that there was infatuation, I sailed into indulgence, consuming a film a day and a screenplay every week. Every film pored over, every screenplay marked with notes. All the “do what you love” posts that I cringed at all these years ended up coming true.

Somewhere in this process, I found something that I had lacked my entire life – an understanding of the value of creating cinema, and creating art itself. We throng to theaters to feel something our lives do not provide us, and that catharsis is more important than any of our institutions teach it to be. “Story is equipment for living” is how Kenneth Burke put it, and I have stumbled upon the honor to manufacture equipment. (That analogy has worked spectacularly with the family.)

A year in, cinema and I are doing quite well together. I think about it in the day and spend time with it in my evenings. I think in frames and scenes, I see people as characters. I have a feeling this may be more than just a fling.

Pulkit Arora

(Pulkit used to run a non-profit in Delhi before First Draft. He had no experience in fiction writing before he applied for the course. He is currently writing a feature film for AIB with a course-mate from the programme)

We also asked Pulkit to give us details about stay/course/schedule. More here –

– Our accommodation was spread over three houses in Versova. One of those houses was the venue for all the lectures and screenings. We would converge there for all the group work and then split up into our own houses for writing individually.

– The curriculum was a mish-mash of several screenwriting books, guest lectures as well as Satyanshu’s personal lessons. Everything was up for discussion – we would discuss exceptions as much as the rules.

– Every Monday, we would get a schedule that lays out the week for us. It would include watching films, plays and music, reading screenplays and writing our own draft. It made life super simple, because I now knew what I’m doing five days in advance.

– As for food, AIB paid for a cook that would make three meals for all of us. We would pay for the ingredients, but that was about it)

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