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STORYTELLING LAB

 
Image by Mike Erskine

BORN TO TELL

WINTER 2021

ALL CLASSES SOLD OUT!!!

Spring Classes begin March 9th.

Our lives are narratives. We're writing it every minute of every day. Storytelling predates language. 40,000 years ago, people painted their stories on the walls of caves. There are many ways to tell a story. Storytelling Lab explores them all.

Decades of experience as a writer, producer and university professor have shown me storytelling is the key to understanding the world we live in—whether it’s understanding how to tell a story, interpret a story, or write one.

 

Storytelling is a natural gift and our most effective tool. If you want to win an audience or employer, sell a product or simply communicate better, storytelling is the most effective method. That's because humans are hard wired for stories! 

Covid-19 has given us an unexpected  opportunity to stop and focus on what matters.  At a time when we're all struggling to make sense of the world around us, the Storytelling Lab offers a rare and unique opportunity to connect with your inner voice. 

This wholly original six week, six person course offers a multimedia approach to storytelling that spans the disciplines. It explores a range of skills applicable to multiple fields of interest, study or simply personal growth.

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HOW IT WORKS

Using film, graphic novel, and documentary storytelling, students will learn to translate what they’re watching into a broader life experience. Each class will encompass topics such as theme, metaphor, character development, and interpersonal relationships. Each story will be examined through a broader lens to include history, culture, art, gender, race, music, etc.  Students will be challenged to form and express their ideas and opinions through a series of fun and creative assignments.


The lab will be a cohort model, consisting of only six students. The intimacy enables people to form a cohesive group where everyone can contribute, and no one hides or gets lost. The atmosphere promotes a safe environment to express thoughts and ideas. 


Having been marooned together at the dinner table, the class will have to encourage meaningful table talk. Students will receive a weekly suggested topic relating to the broader issues addressed in the film.

ATTAIN NEW SKILLS

  • Gain access to your own "voice"

  • Turn your life experiences into compelling stories

  • Improve your ability to communicate, personally and professionally

  • Analyze and deconstruct the elements of storytelling

  • Enhance and hone writing skills 

  • Build self confidence 

  • Expand and improve verbal communication

  • Learn to contextualize and express ideas

  • Find new ways of self expression  

  • Stimulate imagination and creativity

  • Understand and appreciate film in a broader context

  • Be a more interesting person

                 TESTIMONIALS

Storytelling Lab has been a revelation. Not only is it created and led by Bonnie with a sense of humour, creative freedom and a light touch, but we have all uncovered aspects of ourselves and been surprised by the results. Who knew that spending Zoom time with five strangers from across the globe would be so heart warming and life enhancing!’

Sophie Mills

UK

Storytelling Lab was amazing. Exercises to help us with our own powers of observation and 'homework' to help each of us step outside our comfort zones, all done in an intimate and completely supportive environment. Best of all was Bonnie's constant mantra "There is NO wrong way to find your own voice." ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ted Fox

Palm Springs, CA

Loved this class Storytelling Class! The layering of the class was excellent with writing, expressing, reading/journaling and, yes, the movies !  It was a good weaving of forms to consider and use.  I highly recommend it!

  

Mary Ginter, PhD

Tucson, Az.

I had really lost my spark in 2020. Storytelling Lab helped me to rediscover my creativity. The classes were unlike anything I had done before. It was such a supportive environment, I felt able to take risks and re-connect with both a new community and myself.

                       

                       Emily Kempson

                       London/NYC

I heard Lily Tomlin rave about the Storytelling Lab so I figured since I was under            house arrest during Covid, the class would be a good diversion. What I didn't anticipate was that it would literally change my life! I had no idea I had so many stories locked Inside of me. I'd say the class helped me reconnect with myself, but the reality is I connected to myself for the first time! 

           

 Alan Baker

 Minneapolis, Mn

 

 

                   I consulted with Bonnie on a script I was writing and left each session inspired,                     hopeful, refreshed and raring to get back to my computer and write.  Her ad—                     it’s all true!  She can really do all the stuff she says...

                Treva Silverman

                Emmy and WGA award winner


No one tells a story better than Bonnie! Trust me, I should know because she has written numerous scripts for me, telling each story in a unique way. What I love most is Bonnie’s passion and enthusiasm... both of which are infectious. Treat yourself, you deserve it.

Anne Carlucci

Executive Producer

I have known Bonnie for over a decade.  I first met her when she was my professor in a storytelling course that focused on interpersonal relationships between characters as a means of driving a narrative.  I learned so much from her about the unique ways to channel my creative voice as well as how to study great films, books, and other forms of media in order to inform my own work and artistic choices. One of the many wonderful qualities Bonnie possesses as a person and a creative counselor/instructor is the fact that she does not prescribe to limiting beliefs when it comes to expressing oneself and truly believes that anyone, yes, ANYONE, can be an effective and impactful storyteller if they put in the work, discipline, and passion for the art of the craft.  I highly recommend her Storytelling Lab -- which is a culmination of her many years teaching professionally as well as working in several creative industries including film and television.  During this strange and transitional time, we need powerful outlets and creative think tanks such as this!  --

 

Jessica Mollo, New York

Humanitas Prize Winner

 

 

The Storytelling Lab is unlike any of the countless classes out there. That’s because Bonnie understands storytelling in all its many facets. She has an uncanny ability to get people to reach into their unconscious and connect to parts of themselves they’d lost over the years.

Rocky Lang, Los Angeles

Writer/Director/Producer

 

 

With 40 years of film development and producing experience I know good storytelling when I see it and no one I've worked with knows it better than Bonnie Garvin...a true pro!

 

Linda Kent

Producer

Grossbart-Kent Productions

CURRICULUM

SIX WEEK SCHEDULE

Virtual Classroom:

1-hour live weekly class 

 

Discussion and analysis of storytelling: character development; theme; metaphor; symbolism; socio-political landscape; historical context; music and art. 

Homework:

Weekly writing assignments challenge students to translate what they’ve seen and heard into a deeper personal experience.  Each assignment teaches the student to expand their ideas into the broader social context. All assignments are crafted to help students develop, evolve, express and individuate their ideas. 

 

Group Discussion: 

Two-hour weekly group session via ZOOM. Students discuss and analyze their writing assignments.

Discussion Guide

Weekly questions to discuss with family and friends whether they are familiar with course material or not.

COST: $950 ($100 OFF IF REGISTERED BY 2/14/2021!)

NOTE: This course is not accredited.

SAMPLE SYLLABUS

THE SOCIAL NETWORK. The film explores the origins of Facebook. We’ll examine the impact of the platform from inception until today, as well as Free speech, sexism and the legal system.


THE HATE U GIVE.  Based on a book of the same name, it tells the story of a black teenager torn between two worlds - the inner city neighborhood where she lives and the world of white privilege where she attends school. We’ll examine Black Lives Matters, civil rights movement, family, cultural appropriation, class and race.


THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS. The only documentary in the course. As adults, three men discover they are in fact triplets. We’ll examine the differences in fiction and documentary. We’ll discuss the nature of family, secrets, mental health issues and "nature vs. nurture."


BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM. This delightful comedy explores a British Indian teenager’s desire to play professional girl’s football which conflicts with her traditional Indian family’s ideas about her future. We’ll discuss multi-culturism, loyalty, India-British history, women in sports, inclusion. 


PERSEPOLIS.  A graphic memoir hailed by the NYT as “a wholly original achievement in the form and one of the best memoirs of the last 50 years.” Told from the point of view of young girl and schoolmates coming of age in Iran among upheaval and uncertainty. Discussion will include Middle East history and culture, Iranian revolution, evolution of graphic novels.

ISLE OF DOGS. A stop motion sci-fi comedy-drama set in Japan is wholly and gorgeously conceived by Wes Anderson. A brilliant allegory for the world we find ourselves in and told from the point of view of dogs. We’ll discuss animation, metaphors and allegories, dystopian fiction and culture, discrimination and bias. 

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BENITA (BONNIE) GARVIN

CREATOR/INSTRUCTOR

Bonnie has taught hundreds, if not thousands, of students. For the last fifteen years, she’s been part of the faculty at the renowned John Wells School of Writing for Film and Television at the University of Southern California. She also coaches writers privately and hosts writing workshops.   


As an award-winning writer, Bonnie’s worked in film and television in the U.S. and Europe. She’s a produced playwright and authored numerous biographical essays published in acclaimed anthologies. In addition, she is a professional painter and studied music since she was a child. 

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SAMPLE ASSIGNMENT

SAMPLE ASSIGNMENT

 

Read “Persepolis.”  

 

Using no less than 12 frames, tell a GRAPHIC story about being in lockdown. It doesn’t matter if you can draw or not. You may use your computer, a drawing program, absolutely anything you want. You may create the characters as stick figures, use cut-outs or anything you’d like to represent each person. Include dialogue. 

 

Be creative! It’s your story!

 

Questions:

 

What feeling surfaced for you as wrote your story of lockdown? What surprised you most about the experience? 

In her story, Marjane leaves Iran but holds onto her Iranian identity. What does "identity" mean in that context and how does shape it shape her once she leaves Iran?

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