Programmes & Courses

Lisa Clarkson, recent MA Screenwriting graduate at Screen Academy Scotland, Edinburgh Napier was selected to take part in Marten Rabarts’ masterclass as part of Bellrock – Creative Scotland Screenwriting Workshops 2016. She writes of the transformative experience of Martens’ masterclass within the superb context of  the Hospitalfield house and grounds.

Sunday morning’s first train to Aberdeen carried me across the water. I was sat next to a gang of spicy Fifer Ladz, who had clearly walked straight from pub to train. I sat lugging in, ‘I’ll drap you’,noted. Looooong words ae, mucky words, all at a volume way to high for this time of day. So Scottish. Cringe. So full of energy and life and love. Too Scottish? Scottish = sexy? No. Who knows. We passed three locals on the long walk to Hospitalfield from the station. Arbroath wasn’t a sleepy town; today it was asleep. The sound and fury of three writers pacing up the country roads debating the aforementioned ‘Industry’, and the odd horse and cart passing (joking) was all that could be heard.

But then I saw it, and I shut up. The red brick castle before me. Love at the first sight.

Welcomed warmly. Ascend the grandest staircase I ever did see with my own eyes, and into a drawing room. A drawing room. Creaking floors and a log fire crackling in your ear. I imagined this room full of artists long gone before me. Some are draped over the chaise longue, a couple perhaps poised beside the harpsichord. How they would have looked out across rolling fields, scenes of pastoral bliss and into the seas – wondering wistfully, together – what the fuck is going here? What’s it all about? Life? Dear friends? Shall we attempt to work out? Fellow man, even fellow woman. Let us write, draw, talk together. Let us carve our selves into this world using words and paint. Marten Rabarts’ masterclass was intense; a fruitful examination of Gus Van Sant’s 2003 Elephant. Elephant, an uncomfortably stark piece of Americana in extremis, left me feeling a curious mix of attraction and resistance – simultaneously seduced by the poetic beauty of the form and repulsed by the story. As I watched and listened to Mr Rabarts and the established writers in this grand drawing room, I began to think (naively) that if I can read a film as complex as this one, perhaps I could write one?! Filled with the same youth of Elephant, yet speaking like the lads on my train? I could see myself in that tiny porcelain bath, steeping, thinking, pondering. In a room of one’s own, as some lady once said. Perhaps I can do this ‘writer’ thing….?

Really. The place really was that beautiful. I was smitten (three weeks later I still am).