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The art of empathizing with characters. Miro Šifra demonstrated how characters come to life and evolve into real people

The art of empathizing with characters. Miro Šifra demonstrated how characters come to life and evolve into real people

CME Content Academy students had the privilege of meeting one of the most influential screenwriters in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Miro Šifra, who lectured at CME CA on screenwriting for the second time.

His presence was significant for them for several reasons. Firstly, Šifra is the creative mind behind scripts for successful series like "Rédl" and "Zrádci," as well as the film "We Have Never Been Modern," which was nominated for twelve Czech Lions, including one for the best screenplay. 

 Secondly, he collaborates with the Voyo platform, currently working on the Studna series, inspired by the real-life family tragedy of the Jelínek family. This enables him not only to share insights from his own screenwriting practice with students but also to offer advice on writing for Voyo. 

 As the students were nearing their elevator pitch, Šifra showcased his presentation from the Series Mania festival. At this event, alongside director Tereza Nvotová and producer Tomáš Hrubý, he presented their project "Naši lidé," which received recognition as the best planned project. 

 Šifra illustrated how to succinctly summarise the essence of a project and convey its potential value to producers, all within a six-minute timeframe. 

"It's crucial to remember that during the upcoming pitch, it's primarily about selling yourself and then your project," advised Šifra to the students. 

 Šifra is renowned for his structural discipline. He successfully organizes his work and adopts a highly analytical approach to writing. He demonstrated to students how to manage the three-act or alternatively, the five-act structure. 

 He recommends analysing favourite series and revealing their structure. This involves taking notes while watching, noting when and what comes up. This can pay off when evaluating one's own script. 

 "I believe that when working on a screenplay, especially in the early stages, there are several errors that can demoralize people. I try to tell students how to avoid these mistakes and ensure that one's career can potentially last for many years," shared Šifra. 

 The screenwriter also revealed techniques to students on how to embody a character. They did an exercise where one played the role of a therapist and one a client. The client, the author, was tasked with empathizing with their character and responding to the therapist's auestions as the character would. This approach can help to achieve a deeper understanding of one's character. 

"In my opinion, there is a handful of fresh ideas in the Czech Republic to follow for individuals of my age and younger generations. It's marvellous to witness ten individuals who are eager to narrating stories that resonate with their generation. These presentations surprised me. I saw a conceptual approach in them. These are themes that hold promise for success," concluded Šifra. 

- Matěj Škop