Solving The Story Problem
The Doc Fix
Learn the essential skills needed analyse and perfect stories in Factual TV and Film, whatever the format, genre or subject matter
SEMINARS : COURSES : MENTORING
Story is complex, mysterious and endlessly fascinating - but also frustrating. There are so many hard-won elements in a TV programme - a hook or unique take on the material, special access, amazing characters, cinematography, music and sound design. But even with all that effort, it can be painful to have a story that is failing.
The reason is often due to problems at a deep level of structure. Like a building with weak foundations, a programme without a solid structure is always close to collapse. Whether a fly-on-the-wall observational documentary or presenter-led history programme, if you get these right your programmes will fly.
With accuracy and speed you will be able to understand and answer problems such as:
- What the story is struggling to to say, and how to focus the theme and meaning.
- Why does the story run out of steam?
- Why do we have to remake the opening over and over again?
- How can we produce a satisfying ending?
- Why does it seem like a list and not a story?
- How can we make this story work at feature length - and what exactly is missing?
- What does it mean when the chronology of events doesn’t seem to match the story you are trying to tell?
- Why does this just feel wrong?
Whether in the edit or on paper, mastering these challenges is the key to producing a successful TV programme - in every genre.
Nigel is an award winning writer and director who has worked both in Hollywood - directing stars such as Sharon Stone, Mia Sorvino and Christina Ricci - while also creating and producing hugely successful Specialist Factual series for US TV and Emmy nominated drama-documentary.
Most recently his skills have turned him into one of the most in-demand factual story doctors and consultants, working with Oscar and BAFTA award-winning production companies. From story development to help in the edit Nigel has ‘fixed’ natural history documentaries with David Attenborough and high profile documentaries in the genres of history, science and the arts, for BBC2, BBC4, Channel 4, Netflix and multiple global broadcasters.
He has taken programmes from un-broadcastable to becoming RTS nominated, multiple award-winning, and critic’s choice in national newspapers in a matter of weeks.
“Nigel has the remarkable ability to look at a film and pinpoint exactly why it isn’t quite working. His insight is generally sought when others are at the point of despair but his intervention is never demoralising. Quite the opposite; with his deep understanding of story structure he optimistically offers simple changes that can turn a struggling film into an award-winning one”.“Having worked with Nigel in both his capacity of Series Producer and Director it’s clear that as a film maker his impressive visual style is augmented by an exemplary knowledge of story telling and the science behind it”
Exec. Producer : Meerkat Manor, Fatal Attractions, Pandas 3D IMAX
Editor ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’, ‘Monsters’
"Working with Nigel helped me become a better writer. He always has ideas, persistently studies and probes, and offers many alternative views from different angles and he consistently finds an answer to all story problems."“I will start by saying bravo once more - what you've presented us is such an artistic and storytelling achievement and we understand that it was quite an undertaking. We love the acting, direction, shooting, writing and editing. You've created something so special”.
Award-winning playwright and screenwriter ; “The Force of Change”, “As The Beast Sleeps”, “Trust”
National Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, The Donmar Theatre, The Abbey
VP Production, Animal Planet
“Nigel has real experience of story, character and dramatic structure. If you want to know why a programme isn’t working, then he’s the person to go to. He comes up with solutions which are simple to put into action but where the underlying complexities have been really thought through”.“Nigel’s innate and methodical approach to story telling really turned our film around. Understanding these sign-posts in the narrative has changed my approach to film-making for the better.”
Jeremy Bradshaw - founder Tigress Productions
Executive Producer : Meerkats: Secrets of an Animal Superstar - with David Attenborough (BBC2), How to Win the Grand National (Ch 4), Chairman of Wildscreen Award Jury
Peter Collins, former Head, Specialist Factual, STV
Executive Producer : “Lucy Worsley’s Fireworks for a Tudor Queen” BBC 4