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Telling stories to fuel the digital world

<p>The explosion in digital entertainment is only increasing the demand for great stories, so what better way to teach the art of storytelling than to take it online?</p>

New Humber course addresses various platforms

rafael brusilow/for metro toronto

Veteran screenwriter Elke Town teaches a new course at Humber College Institute Of Technology &?Advanced Learning called Storytelling For A Digital World.

The explosion in digital entertainment is only increasing the demand for great stories, so what better way to teach the art of storytelling than to take it online?

A new course being offered by the Humber College Institute Of Technology & Advanced Learning plans to do exactly that, by giving budding screenwriters a chance to cut their creative chops in a variety of platforms while learning from home.

Instructed by Elke Town, a veteran screenwriter who has developed film and TV material for organizations such as Telefilm Canada, the course (titled Storytelling For A Digital World) runs for 15 weeks and helps students develop full screenplays from scratch or fine-tune their own nearly-completed scripts. Students learn the details of screenwriting, such as how to develop characters and strengthen plot elements in a script, while having their work edited by a professional story editor.

“(Students) learn the fundamentals of how to tell a good story in a format that is visual,” Town said.

Demand for the course stems from the fact that despite enjoying more distribution methods than ever before, the soul of visual storytelling still sees its genesis in the creative spark of the screenplay.

“People relate to projects based on the strength of the screenplay. If a script isn’t any good or you can’t get people interested in the screenplay, the project is going nowhere,” Town said.

Basil Guinane, an associate dean at Humber, agrees that good writing is critical to the success of any story, and content producers know it.

“There is increasing demand for quality material, and the story is at the heart of it,” Guinane said.

Today, non-traditional forms of content distribution such as video games, streaming video and have expanded the entertainment market considerably even as TV shows and movies have stayed popular.

“It’s such a multi-platform environment — you’ve got webisodes, you’ve got online gaming, you’ve got your traditional movies and TV. We’re doing scriptwriting for all manner of screen and you really do have to tell stories for the digital age,” Guinane said.

Humber’s online screenwriting course has enrolment tightly capped at 20 students to ensure students benefit from the greatest amount of individual instruction and attention to their work, which is something Guinane is adamant about.

“You want to watch how many people you bring into a course like this, especially with something like screenwriting, because you need the instructor to be able to give the kind of attention necessary to students,” Guinane said.

Town hopes that besides polished screenplays and scripts, her students will realize the importance of a good tale.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a game or a television show or for the big screen — it still has to be driven by a good story,” Town said.

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