Training & Development

Once Upon a Time: How to Tell a Story

Once Upon a Time: How to Tell a Story

Start date:
June 18, 2017
Ability Level:

The desire to tell stories is innately human, but even though we all tell stories, there are tricks and techniques that can help us do it better, and give us a deeper appreciation for the art of storytelling in books and movies.
During this workshop, participants are introduced to the Pixar storytelling formula, and engage in interactive exercises to help them generate ideas, write characters, and create interesting plots and narratives.
Using concrete examples and working in groups, at the end of the workshop all participants will have found their own voices and be able to write and develop their stories.
Some of the work written during the workshop may be nominated to be developed and produced during DFI’s Camera Kids workshop, which will take place in August.

Age group: 8 to 12 years old
Location: Maktaba
Dates: 18 to 22 June
Daily sessions of 90 minutes for 5 days.
Time: 2:00 to 3:30 PM
Price: QAR 500.00
Mentor: Fahad Al-Kuwari and Aya Al Blouchi

Applicants should submit an email to before 18 June 2017.

Daily Agenda:
Day 1:
Icebreaker game: The Wind Blows
The Wind Blows is a non-competitive social game – similar to musical chairs – that allows participants to play together and get to know each other

Short film screening followed by discussion
‘Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct’, by Pete List Edwina the dinosaur is well loved by the people of her town due to her acts of kindness. However, a boy named Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie tries to convince everyone that dinosaurs are supposed to be extinct. Eventually, Edwina appeases Reginald with a fresh batch of cookies.

Session: Introduction to Plot and the Three-Act Structure
Participants are introduced to the elements that make up a story, e.g. plot, settings, and characters. They get an overview of the three act-structure, the controlling idea and story progression. Participants learn to identify the controlling ideas behind their favourite films, and to generate coherent narrative ideas.

Day 2:
Game: Straw Towers
Participants compete in groups to see who can build the tallest tower with plastic straws and a roll of tape. Teams learn to use resources efficiently, and are introduced to the importance of planning ahead.

Short film screening followed by discussion
‘Riceballs’, by Shingo Usami
After losing his mother, Josh and his father Kenji have a difficult time communicating. When Kenji swaps Josh's OzEmite sandwiches for traditional Japanese rice balls, Josh is initially resistant, but this change could be the key to re-establishing the bond between father and son.

Session: Building Characters
In this introduction to developing characters, participants engage in exercises that will help them to understand character traits, inner and outer conflict, and character arcs. They analyse the character traits and conflicts of some well-known fictional characters, and start creating their own characters.

Day 3:
Game: Lowering the Bamboo Sticks
Participants compete in groups to lower a bamboo stick to the ground, as a team and in silence. Each participant is allowed to use only one finger, so the groups must use teamwork to work in unison.

Short film screening followed by discussion
‘The Mustache’, by Anni Oja
Two vain men are impressed by their own moustaches, but they soon learn the ages-old lesson that being too proud never ends well.

Session: Developing a Logline and Synopsis
During this session, participants start developing their own stories, and apply what they have learned in previous sessions. They are introduced to the basics of pitching a story and the technical structure of a logline and synopsis, and start writing their own texts for the ideas they have developed.

Day 4:
Game: Flip the Blanket
Teams stand on a small blanket, which they must flip over without stepping off it. This challenge helps participants improve their communication and problem-solving skills.

Short film screening followed by discussion
‘Kashta’, by A. J. Al Thani
A father takes his two sons on a day trip in the desert for to go hunting.

Session: Writing a Treatment
In this session, participants transform their short synopses into one-page treatments. They learn the purpose of writing a treatment, and come to understand its importance within the writing process.

Day 5:
Presentation of Treatments, Reading Session and Exchanging Feedback

Special thanks to: