Once in a lifetime, a writer is expected to attend one masterclass that would change his entire game. Before now, I haven’t exactly been attending that many masterclasses. As a matter of fact, about a month ago, I attended my very first writing related class. I figured I had the talent which is pretty minuscule in the grand scheme of things. All I needed to do now was to hone my craft and present it to the world.
Chris Ihindero’s Story Story Masterclass Series II was a life changer. I did not think I was going to get in mostly because I do not write fiction. I thought it was one of those classes where you were going be judged by your writing samples rather than your enthusiasm. So, when my handle was announced as one of the participants, I squealed for joy. Finally, I was doing something right. This writing thing was not a joke anymore. Not that it was, I just needed some validation of sorts.
Chris was a protege of Amaka Igwe for about eight years before she passed on two years ago. So, he gathered a bunch of his friends and colleagues to impact a truckload of knowledge into 35 of us in three days. Did I mention that they were all from Tinsel? Apparently, it was the highest rated show at a time. I wouldn’t know. After a few episodes, I thought it was overrated. But believe me when I say I did not want the class to end. Of course, it wasn’t your regular class. Unbeknownst to me, he had this amazing sense of humor which threw the entire class into a fit of giggles one too many times. From his mannerisms to his lewd jokes, Nollywood shade, I couldn’t stop laughing. An all-round fun guy! Oh and yeah, the shade was LEGENDARY!
Story Story Masterclass was about writing compelling stories that would break the status quo particularly in film making. I kept asking myself what I was doing there as I have no remote desire whatsoever in film making. Naturally, as I always did, I felt out of place. But that didn’t deter me from grabbing everything I could and taking notes. From building a premise to the seven key steps of story structure, character web, story design, plot and dialogue. After each class, we did film analysis for four movies – The Godfather, The Dark Knight, The Figurine and The Bridge of Madison County juxtaposed with some of our regular Nollywood movies. When we were done, we were all left gobsmacked. A paradigm shift definitely took place. We would not look at movies the same way again. Which in turn means we would be more critical about what was pushed out there and what we consume. Because, as storytellers we are expected to know more than the layman. All of this information brought a lot of things into perspective.
Victor Sanchez Aghahowa was easily my favorite facilitator. Well, after Chris. I loved how down-to-earth and relative he was. He squashed all the myths we possibly have known overtime and just gave us the facts. Point-blank! Ayeni Adekunle followed closely behind. He taught us everything I probably already know about the tech space and how things are changing every minute and we need to be in the know else we will be out of jobs. ( Translation: I need to get Snapchat whether I like it or not.) Furthermore, he went on to reiterate the importance of social media expertise and how we need to understand trends, virtual reality and push out audiovisual content. It was such an exciting session. Finally, someone was speaking my language and catering to me. The badass Nkiru Njoku gave us an emotional account of her journey as a writer and a mother to her blind daughter which kind of gave us all the feels.
35 of us were selected for the masterclass. Actually, 28 guys and 7 ladies were picked, myself inclusive. Which meant the ratio was about one lady to four guys. Ideally, there should have been a lot of bonding given the number of days we spent together. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case until the last day as there was an unintentional segregation of sorts in the sitting arrangement. Of course, the guys had more chances of bonding because there were so many of them than the ladies who mostly kept to themselves. The only problem I had with the entire sessions was the lack of introduction. Till date, I do not the names of more than half of the attendees. There was no time for proper introductions which should have been done on the very first day. So, if I met someone tomorrow for instance, I probably would not recognize them. The only short time left to bond was over lunch which explains the photo above. It was such a last minute thing. I don’t think I’ve ever made friends that fast before but Thank God for social media.
My biggest takeaway from the Story Story Masterclass was creating content for the Nigerian audience. No offence guys, but when I write, I do not write for the Nigerian audience in mind. This, I realised was as a result of all of the content I have consumed overtime. Just recently, I started paying more attention to African Fiction. But before now, all of the books and movies and music I consume are foreign. This has somewhat shaped my mind set and reflected in my writing style. Some other time, I will talk about my identity crisis. In the meantime, Story Story has helped me identify my wrongs and errors which helps me work on them. To be honest, it cannot be easy. I’m gonna ( see?) need to do a thorough revamp and unlearn a lot of things. But first, I need to start writing from a perspective/point of view of a Nigerian and take it from there.
I learnt so much. My notepad is full and I had SO MUCH FUN.
Oh and yeah, I’ve become a critic. Just so you know.
Also, Story Story helped me cope with my Farafina rejection.