Robert Thirkell Workshop - Sydney

Last month we were fortunate enough to be involved in a masterclass with renowned factual Television producer Robert Thirkell. 

He has produced award winning television programs all around the world including Kitchen Nightmares, Wife Swap, The Apprentice, Undercover Boss and Jamie’s School Dinners.

Thirkell took us through his CONFLICT toolkit;
C, find the Characters
O, think Out of the box to write the script
N, find a Narrative drive, the big question of the film leading to a big answer, and small questions and small answers that contribute to this
F, make a Front of your film that highlights are characters, why they are setting off, what they are up against, and the reason
L, Love your characters and turn them into people
I, Interview for feeling, write short terse commentary for fact
C, Make your audience Care, at every moment, and promote your film so people watch
T, get a Timeline going from the start, find a good Title, and how the Truth is best

He is all about compelling storytelling and casting your story with unforgettable characters. What
makes a character interesting? What makes people interested in the story? What makes audiences
keep watching? All these things are so important when putting together an idea for a film project.
Whether it’s factual or fiction, ultimately the fundamentals of storytelling are the same. It’s all about
moving the story forward by putting your characters under pressure.
Thirkell also emphasised the importance of spending your time on budget and pre-production. By
making sure you get the right cast, crew and your preparation done then you will save in production
and post-production later on.

Lastly another little piece of advice he left us with – when it’s going wrong then it’s usually right,
when it comes to story. Always follow the story, regardless of where it takes you.
I think there’s a lot to be said with getting the fundamentals right. It’s all about story, story and story.