LFS Directing Summer School with Udayan Prasad

Applications Open

LFS Directing Summer School with Udayan Prasad

Sun, 2 Aug 2015 to Sat, 22 Aug 2015

Duration: 3 weeks
Times: 9am-6pm (occasional 8pm finish)
Capacity: Max. 12 participants
Fee: £4,500  Fee is payable in two installments.  

Based on an exercise originally devised by FAMU (the Czech National Film School) this 3-week summer workshop with director Udayan Prasad explores the fundamentals of filmmaking from script to screen.

Using an apparently straightforward event as its starting point – a girl drops a handkerchief and a boy picks it up – the workshop exposes, through a systematic and rigorous process of scrutiny, the complexities inherent in this, and indeed any scenario.

It goes on to examine the variations and possibilities which must be considered before the event can be translated first into a script, and then - via all the stages of prep, shoot and post production - onto the screen.

The primary areas covered are:

  • Script writing
  • Visual language
  • Choosing locations
  • Mise en scene
  • Performance/working with actors
  • Shooting
  • Editing and post production

This is a highly practical programme aimed at anyone who is serious about a career in film; from those about to apply to a major film school, to anyone wishing to improve their understanding of the craft before embarking on their own short films. At the end of the course each participant will receive a certificate of attendance, plus a DVD of their scenes which may be used for showreel purposes or as part of an application portfolio.

In 2014's programme we had filmmakers from the UK, South Africa, France, Ukraine, Malaysia, Italy and Brazil.

Udayan Prasad's fifth and most recent feature film was THE YELLOW HANDKERCHIEF starring William Hurt, Maria Bello, Kristen Stewart and Eddie Redmayne. His US debut, the film received its premier at the Sundance Film Festival, before being released to critical acclaim in the United States in 2010. For television Udayan most recently directed the BBC crime thriller series SILENT WITNESS (2010). In 2013 he directed two episodes of THE TUNNEL for Sky Atlantic and Canal Plus - the Anglo French adaptation of the Danish/Swedish serial THE BRIDGE.

View a selection of photographs from the 2013 Summer School.

View a selection of photographs from the 2012 Summer School.

Course Outline

Let us imagine that we have to film the following scenario:

A girl drops a handkerchief and a boy picks it up.

What is the story?

Do the boy and girl know each other? What is the nature of their relationship? What do they want?

Why did the girl drop the handkerchief? Was it accidental? Deliberate?

When did the boy see the handkerchief? As she dropped it? Or after she had dropped it? Does he return it? Keep it? Discard it?

What does the handkerchief signify?

Did the boy and the girl expect to see each other, or did they come upon each other by chance?

Whose story do we want to tell? The girl’s? The boy’s? A third party?

The point, of course, is that:

Everything begins and ends with the story.

Week 1:  

Each participant will begin by shooting an exercise, impromptu, set in a single location in Covent Garden. The films will be edited and reviewed with a professional screenwriter, followed by a masterclass on script.

While taking part in acting workshops led by Udayan, each participant will then write a short script based on the ‘Dropped Handkerchief’ scenario. The scripts will be subject to rigorous constraints in locations, number of set-ups and camera movement.

The group will recce and prepare for their first shoots with a director of photography and production manager.

Week 2:  

In week 2 the participants will split into three groups of four to shoot their scenes. In order to understand what an actor requires from a director, participants will fulfill the roles of both actor and director, reversing roles with their fellow participants.

After a rushes review each group will be provided with an editor and a private editing suite, taking it in turns to prepare their first cuts.

The twelve films will be reviewed as a group with a screenwriter, supervising editor and director of photography. Every decision made at each step of the production will be carefully scrutinised. Each participant will then revise their ‘Dropped Handkerchief’ script in the light of this experience.

At appropriate moments throughout the schedule, the group will also receive a series of illustrated seminars and master classes by professional filmmakers:

  • Working with Actors by Udayan Prasad
  • Light, space, colour, framing and movement by a Director of Photography.
  • Choice and manipulation of space by a Production Designer.
  • The use of Sound and Music by a Sound Designer.
  • The art and function of editing by an Editor.

Week 3:  

Week 3 is where everything gets drawn together. Each participant will re-shoot their handkerchief scene, this time with professional actors and sound recordists. Participants will be expected to apply all of the lessons learnt from the first two weeks to produce a piece of work which reflects their learning at LFS.

There will be a final review of all the films, led by Udayan and the team of professionals who have been advising the participants throughout the course.

Critical acclaim for THE YELLOW HANDKERCHIEF

The Yellow Handkerchief pic

“Four terrific performances make the transition to a U.S. setting go smoothly for British director Udayan Prasad. There's a painful honesty in all the performances that gets across the hurt everyone endures in life and the helplessness one feels when the remedy is never clear, even when it's close at hand.”  The Hollywood Reporter

“A quartet of gifted actors who are captivating under Prasad's perceptive direction.”  Los Angeles Times

“Beautifully acted by a cast including William Hurt and a pre-stardom Kristen Stewart — as well as gorgeously photographed — THE YELLOW HANDKERCHIEF is a captivating film…brimming with humor and honest emotion...and the pitch-perfect direction of Udayan Prasad.”  The New York Post

“No movie nominated for an Oscar this year boasts acting as fine as THE YELLOW HANDKERCHIEF.”  The New York Press

“You don't need an original story for a movie. You need original characters and living dialogue. THE YELLOW HANDKERCHIEF, written by Erin Dignam, directed by Udayan Prasad, has those, and evocative performances.”  Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times

Feedback from 2013 participants

2013 participants

"It was much more than learning how to direct or work with actors; it was learning how to make a story understandable, how to work with your cinematographer and with post production, and how to answer all the questions asked before, during and after the shoot- all of this to help make your story. I left knowing a lot more than anticipated, but it was all beyond helpful!"  - Mia, Canada

"This workshop has made me think, dream, change a lot from the very first day. This workshop must be valuable to my future career." - Sung, Korea

"An intensive and comprehensive class on the craft of storytelling, made enjoyable and insightful by experienced filmmakers and tutors." - Kristen, Singapore

"I had a great time and met some great and talented people. Udayan is an excellent teacher who makes you think about every little detail in your fimmaking, so that you will be able to make much better films in the future." - Mette, Denmark

"Udayan actively encouraged me to make mistakes. The benefit of this is? I now won't mess up when it matters. An extremely fun and rewarding course, but not for the fainthearted as its VERY hard work!" - Adam, UK

"It was a fantastic experience! My only disappointment was that it ended; I was having such a great time. It was wonderful to work with such significant professionals from the field. Udayan is an amazing tutor: he manages to give you truthful feedback without ever harming your enthusiasm and only pushing you to discover the best within you. I believe these 3 weeks have given me the knowledge and confidence to start working on a film of my own." - Idil, Turkey

Feedback from 2012 participants

2012 participants

"I'm impressed by how much Udayan shared with the participants. His advice was always spot-on, his stories were relevant, his guests also contributed greatly to the workshop. Overall a great experience." Andres, Colombia

"This programme was gold to me. Jam-packed with brilliant masterclasses, on-shoot advice and real life examples one could imagine in all departments of filmmaking." Sébastien, France

"My highlight was learning how to direct actors in ways that produce truthful performances and provide the actors with confidence that you understand and appreciate their craft. I have no doubt that this workshop has improved my direction and I’m confident that the experience will translate into making better films." Lloyd, UK

“In three weeks, I have been given the basic tools and the confidence to embark on my own projects. Although I have yet everything to learn, I feel I have a pretty clear idea of the kind of questions that need to be asked every step of the way.” Benjamin, Switzerland

"The three weeks I spent in London, working and learning from Udayan, were incredible. Udayan constantly challenged and questioned me in every way. I owe Udayan a great deal; not only for helping me improve and grow as a storyteller, but also for helping me to broaden my understanding of the world." Ryan, United States

"An incredible learning experience that engaged every part of me. Mentally, physically and creatively, every day was a new challenge and a new experience." - Mondo, UK 

Tutor profile: Udayan Prasad, Director

Born in India, Udayan Prasad came to Britain at the age of nine. After attending art school in Leeds and the National Film and Television School, he made a number of documentaries, including A CORNER OF A FOREIGN FIELD (1985), about Pakistanis in Britain and INVISIBLE INK (1987), about the literature produced by writers from the Indian sub-continent on the British in Britain. During the early nineties he directed a number of high-prestige dramas for BBC TV, working with Britain's top writers.

His creative partnership with Simon Gray was particularly fruitful resulting in: THEY NEVER SLEPT (1990), a merciless parody of the British secret service during World War II starring Edward Fox; FEMME FATALE (1992), with Simon Callow and Donald Pleasence; RUNNING LATE (1992), starring Peter Bowles in a picaresque black comedy which won a Golden Gate Award for Best TV Feature at the San Francisco International Film Festival. He won a second Golden Gate Award for 102 BOULEVARD HAUSSMANN (1991), starring Alan Bates and scripted by Alan Bennett. 102 Boulevard Haussmann was also nominated for a BAFTA for best single TV drama.

In 1998 he again collaborated with Alan Bennett, directing TALKING HEADS – PLAYING SANDWICHES which resulted in a second BAFTA nomination for best single TV drama. His first theatrical feature was the critically acclaimed, BROTHERS IN TROUBLE (1995), a tragi-comic story set in the Sixties of an illegal immigrant struggling to survive in a grim northern English town. Brothers In Trouble won the Golden Alexander Award for best first feature at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival. His second theatrical feature, MY SON THE FANATIC, was selected for Directors' Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 and won the best feature award at the Potsdam Film Festival. The film was distributed in Europe and the United States to great critical acclaim. GABRIEL & ME, his third feature, starring Billy Connolly and Iain Glen, was followed in 2001 by a documentary, ACCORDING TO BERYL. About Dr Samuel Johnson’s relationship with Mrs Thrale, the film featured Dame Beryl Bainbridge and was centred around her novel According To Queenie.

In 2005 he made his fourth feature, OPA!, starring Matthew Modine and Richard Griffiths, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival the same year. His fifth feature is THE YELLOW HANDKERCHIEF (2008), starring William Hurt, Maria Bello, Kristen Stewart and Eddie Redmayne. Produced by Arthur Cohn and shot in Louisiana, the film was his US debut, and had its premier in January 2008 at the Sundance Film Festival. The Yellow Handkerchief was released, to critical acclaim, in 2010 in the United States by Samuel Goldwyn Films.

In 2013 Udayan directed two episodes of THE TUNNEL for Sky Atlantic and Canal Plus - the Anglo French adaptation of the Danish/Swedish serial THE BRIDGE. The production company was Kudos Film & Television.

When not actively involved in production, Udayan is a frequent visiting lecturer on directing and screenwriting programmes at several film schools including The National Film & Television School in Beaconsfield, UK; The London Film School; The Wajda School in Warsaw and the National Film, Television and Theatre School in Łódź́́, Poland. He is also an advisor and mentor on various international directing and screenwriting workshops.