News      |      Events

Insights into writing TV and film scripts

The AFTRS Expert series of lectures has begun again for this year.

In the first session, AFTRS Head of Screen Business Peter Herbert talked about five new trends influencing film and television this year.

“The Netflix Effect is more like the tide than a wave,” said Peter, explaining that Netflix seemed dominant when it was first introduced, but now the tide is going out and audiences are returning to television and other on demand services again. It is important for broadcasters to have some kind of on-demand video service so that they can catch those viewers again when the Netflix tide goes out.

One of his other points was that “content is not always king”. He urged broadcasters to make programmes where “culture is king”, because audiences are crying out to see more of their own culture reflected on their screens now, more than ever, after COVID deprived them of cultural contact for so long.

In the second session, well known scriptwriter, script editor and director Pia Aquilla, who now teaches at AFTRS, discussed what works well in a screen play. Using the film Belfast as her example, Pia analysed the plot and characters to learn more about successful ways to make drama.

Characters usually have to struggle to survive in a powerful drama and there is usually some form of inner or outer turmoil for the main character.

The drama’s plot needs a greater message behind it than just the story.

When developing a plot, first think of the message you want to convey in the drama, then develop the story around it. “Put metaphors and allegories into the story to highlight your meaning as the plot progresses,” she told participants.

One metaphor used in the film Belfast was children fighting with sticks as swords and garbage bin lids as shields, a metaphor for the looming conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, one of the major themes in the film.

The AFTRS Experts series continues in June and July from the ABU Media Academy. Register here.

The Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) is Australia’s elite media university.