THE LAB SERIES FAQs

Miranda July - Writer/Director/Actor: Me and You and Everyone We Know

"It can be so scary to really look at what you are making - the desire is to shut your eyes and hope for the best. Joan is a warrior against this impulse, and powerful enough that you definitely want to be on her side.  With this incredibly thoughtful, playful, generous ally, the process -- the clear-eyed looking -- is so engaging that the old fear quickly dissolves."

1. I'm not a director, can I still take The Lab Series?​ 

Yes. The Labs are designed for all film and theatre creatives and execs who are ready to take their work to a new level. Writers take the lab to workshop scripts. Producers take it to become more proficient in script development, and to improve their working relationships with writers, directors, and actors. Cinematographers take it to find the emotional angle of their work. Editors take it to deepen their approach to storytelling. Actors take it to strenghthen their craft and find new autenticity in their performances.  Many professionals in one area often want to stretch creatively or make a switch from one form to another. The Labs are perfect for those considering a move. I encourage a mix in the Labs because it brings us closer to the experience we have on set.

 

2. What's the experience level in The Lab Series?

All levels are welcome to apply for the Lab.  Some directors in the lab will have made many films, and others will be preparing for their very first short. The Technique™ enocurages you to go deeper, investigate new forms of storytelling and take risks in embodying them.  This way, each participant learns and is challenged in her or his own way.

 

3. How many Labs are there?

The Technique™ itself has 34 different levels. Each one pertains to a different level of the mise en scene.  These are the available offerings for 2017: Action, Journey, Plot, Feeling, Blocking, Oedipus, and Episodic!

 

4. Do I have to take the Labs in order?

No.  Each Lab is designed as a stand alone "pod".  The material in each lab covers a different aspect of The Technique™.  The labs work together, but the order can be random.  

 

5. What is The Technique™?

The Technique™ is a 21st century craft that breaks ground by reuniting action, feeling and story to structure meaningful films and episodics, unleash authentic performances and develop individual directorial voices.  It is a "non conflict" based approach, providing tools to create dramatic tension without reverting to the outdated notions of antagonists/protagonists, oppositional wants, conflict,  winning or losing, hopeful endings, likable characters, the Hero's Journey and the like.  The Technique™ provides tools to tell stories in terms of relationship, feeling and meaning.  The Technique™  is based on the primacy of storytelling as a context for meaning, acting as a conduit for real feeling and directing as the expression of the Self.  It's philosophy is embodied in  34 Chapters,  each of which connect to a different aspect of the mise en scene, from Acting to Visual Style. Each Chapter has it's own set of creative, mental, physical and written exercises that allow the artist to think through and embody this new approach. The Technique™ is a singular artistic vocabulary that crosses platforms, providing one usable, gettable language to write and structure story, create performances, visual style and direction.  In this way, the whole collaborative film or episodic team is empowered to work coherently, and still maintain each artist's individual creative expression.  The Technique™ was developed in 1998 by Joan Scheckel.  It is the most influential craft to be developed since The Method.

 

6. Do I have to act in the Lab?

Yes. It is the single best thing you will ever do to deepen your connection to directing, writing, or shooting a film. You will not have to get up and "perform" scenes. The acting is in the form of structured exercises and improvs. We all learn by doing, otherwise our knowledge is simply intellectual, a theory. Theory will not help you work more confidently and creatively with human beings.

 

7. I have a health or physical issue right now,  or maybe, I just can't stand the thought of having to participate. Aaaaahhhrg!  I feel self conscious and I don't want to participate this time. But I really want to study!  Should I come or not?

You know your body and your mind best!  If you are pregnant, on medication, have injuries or health issues and need to take care of your body by all means do!  Be sure to email us to make us aware prior to the Lab so Joan knows that you would like to solely observe this time.

 

8. Do I need a full script?

No. Folks often come to the lab with just a seed of an idea, and use The Technique™ to jump-start writing. You can use a scene from a script you're working on or any film script (produced or not) that interests you.

 

9.  At what stage should my project be? What if my material isn't finished?

The sooner the better.  Folks come at all different stages. Some directors do the lab before pre-production. It's a very nice ramp into the film. Others take The Lab in between projects. When a new idea is germinating it's a great time to explore in a safe environment. Many directors and writers say to me "But it should be further along! It's not ready!" Absolutely. That's why it's a workshop. We don't have enough forums to explore our ideas in a highly creative, supportive context. The 3 Day Labs fill that gap.

 

10. What's the schedule like?

The Labs typically meet over a single weekend- 1 Friday night and Saturday and Sunday days. See our Calendar for details.

 

11. What if I can't make the whole weekend? 

No worries.  You can make up whatever days you miss when ever I give that same Chapter, in any city you like, within one calendar year.  The same is true if you sign up and your schedule changes and you need to make up the whole thing.

 

12. What do we need to prepare?  How much homework is there?

There is no beforehand preparation. There is no homework.

 

13. I definitely want to take it, but my budget is tight this month. Will you do a payment plan?

Absoutely.  We are happy to sort out payment plans.  Just dont bail, ok?  We're a small operation and we want to keep payment plans available to people. So we have to look out for each other and each hold up our end of the bargain.  If you're good with that, a payment plan is a great option.

 

14. I hear it's intense.  I'm scared.

I understand.  Anything new and challenging is terrifying! And yes it is rigorous.  But so is making work, so it's better to jump in and start dealing with it. Fear is what I call an occupational hazard for artists.  It's not going to go away for the rest of your creative life. So, might as well get on with it.  Really,  the  dread beforehand is the worst : )  Just show up. You won't know til you try and it's also surprisingly fun! 

 

15. What is the difference between stage and film acting?

From my perspective there isn't any during the preparation. There are different technical aspects to be aware of in each medium, but the key elements of preparation are the same. A good performance is good because it's free, and because it's true. How do we gain the confidence and the skill to recognize and encourage such performances? This is our investigation.

 

16.  Ok, I'm ready. How do I sign up?

Fantastic! We can't wait to see you!  Call us at (323) 803-5039 or Email us.