As I stand triumphantly on the finish line and wave goodbye to three years of screenwriting at university, I thought I would share a few gems with you. I have a habit of writing down things that are said by the people around me. My classmates and lecturers were no exception. I’ve gathered up my notebooks and flicked through every side-margin to bring you these quotes. Some are humorous, some are plain ol’ teacher sass, others are inspirational. There are at least three different professors here and numerous students. I haven’t named anyone, just in case! I hope you enjoy.
Student: I was weeping like a little girl.
Proff: Or like a young man. It’s okay for that.
Proff: Ignore ‘how to write’ books. It’s almost an intellectual fascist theory in the writing help business. Forget the three act bullshit. Write scene one. ENTER JACK and JILL. Something happens between them – conflict – they EXIT. ENTER JOHN. He was always a twat, wasn’t he? You’ve got three ways of conflict. You have drama already.
Proff: You can’t teach writing. Just get on and fucking do it.
Proff: [on writing dialogue] Get rid of “ok”, “oh” or “ah” or opening lines with “well”. Example: “That’s right, ya stupid fucker.” Not, “Oh, that’s right.”
Student: The best manoeuvres are devious.
Proff: Welcome to writing erotica. We are dealing with sex. We’re going to be embarrassed and everything will have a double meaning. We’re not even going to try and rise above it.
Proff: I feel we should be doing this [erotica writing class] in some boudoir dressed in silk. A whip.
Student: It’s all the same fairytale [religion], you just can’t decide which hat to wear.
Proff 1: Yes, dear, you’re a very approachable human.
Proff 2: As opposed to an unapproachable what?
Proff 1: Cumquat.
Student: Where is room JM115? It doesn’t even say what class we have. We could be having a bloody tea party in JM115 for all we know!
Proff: One of the beautiful aspects of 19th century Russian culture was the strong belief that the real life people were experiencing wasn’t it – there was something better. Hope. Dreams. Dreams of happiness. The hope for revolutionary change. There was an awareness that things wouldn’t fundamentally change, but one still needs to believe that things might change. […] No matter how pointless life is, that need for hope is a fundamental characteristic of being human. Even if we are aware our dreams are unobtainable, we must dream.
Student: Little? I’m 6’2″!
Proff: You’re little in mentality.
Student: Just because you look like a student wreck, doesn’t mean the rest of us have to join you.
Proff: Were you potty-trained at gunpoint?
Student: I am a total emotional marshmallow.
Proff: Accountants are like priests. It’s as if magic underpins the value of their work.
Proff: Don’t you love semiotic discussion? The sign is more important than the person, and the person who acts outside of the sign must be sacrificed to reinstate the power of the sign.
Student: New movie: Scriptonite. This shit will end your world.
Proff: If you look in her eyes [Miranda July], there’s that very cynical glint.
Student: The smell of marijuana keeps zombies away.
Proff: There are no lies and truth. There are a variety of opinions that make up society.
Proff: You cut your hair! Did you keep it?
Student: No, I donated it to science. It’s now living on a wheel running around and around.
Proff: [during discussion on textual representation] We have effectively othered the cat.
Proff: Purgatory, the nice bit of hell. Kind of the waiting room, with coffee and magazines.
Proff: Communicating via novel writing is narcissistic. Yup. Whatever.
Proff: Post-modern art gives the squiggle a soul.
Guest Proff: How do you learn about book adaptation and plot beats? Break down Harry Potter, of course!
Guest Proff: If you want to be a screenwriter in Britain, write TV. If you don’t, you will die. It won’t even be a long, slow death. You will just die of starvation.
Student: HEADLINES: lecturer suffocates on his own knowledge.
Proff: Being bombarded by media and having a wealth of access feels empowering. It’s also worrying how much we take in passively and are guided into cultural languages and ideas and mechanisms of choice. It’s hard to disappear or choose how to work – being connected is a strong pressure.
Proff: BBC journalists are told to present and talk to make something appear undeniably true. They must be authoritative, which is backed up by images and the news logo. Bright colours – it sings to you, and not only are you told their word is ‘inevitable’, you are encouraged to want what is ‘inevitable.’
Student: Studies have shown my opinion is right.
Proff: You are a walking contradiction. A military jacket and a peace shirt. I feel you’re trying to tell me something.
Proff: [looking at a student’s poster sketch] And what’s this here? A cash register?
Student: No. It’s a gun.
Student 1: I’ve not see the first and second Toy Story.
Proff: You grew up in a monastery.
Student 2: You did have a deprived childhood.
Student 1: I did not have a deprived childhood!
Student 2: You did.
Student 1: Alright, fine. I’m a flawed human being.
Proff: How many people here smoke? … No one? And you call yourselves writers? How many people smoke other substances?
One student raises his hand.
Proff: Well, at least there’s one honest man among us. Who here drinks alcohol?
Everyone raises their hand.
Proff: Oh thank fuck for that. I was getting worried.
Proff: The film this afternoon is under wraps. Only Student 1 knows what it’s about. He’ll accept no bribes.
Student 1: Well…
Student 2: What about threatening behaviour?
Proff: That’s a very nice belt.
Student: Yes, I stole it from a Persian prince.
And that’s the end of that.