Sugith Varughese is an actor, teacher and winning screenwriter and a working member of the Canadian film/ tv industry. He first cut his teeth working on Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock (!!!) which he claims was never intended as a children’s show. This sounds weird but I guess makes sense since I remember it being aired evenings during TV primetime on CBC, in a time when the station still produced shows in-house.  Sugith’s also had a number of fun and interesting parts over the decades, having made a slow of appearances on mid-90s classics like the Robocop tv show (boss!), Earth: Final Conflict (Rodddenberry whaaat!) Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (Can this guy can  get any cooler?). He also had a recurring role as Faisal on Little Mosque On The Prairie, and has made appearances on Degrassi: The Next Generation as Dr. Moragoda.


Sugith Varughese (left) as Faisal on Little Mosque On The Prairie

His writing credits also include the IMAX documentary “Lost Worlds: Life in the balance” narrated by Harrison Ford, episodes of the kids show “Blobheads”, and the play “Entitlement” which showed at Summerworks in 2013 and was named one of the Top Shows of the year.  He currently holds the position of Governor with ACTRA Fratneral Benefit Society, representing the Writers Guild of Canada.

I had the true pleasure of hearing him talk at the 2014 ACTRA Winter conference where he gave us a crash course in Screenwriting 101.  You can read his quips and thoughts on popular films at his blog, Building The Iceberg. 


Key point

Actors, writers, directors all have the same job. That is, STORYTELLING.  Writing is storytelling before the camera rolls, directing is storytelling behind the camera, acting is storytelling in front of the camera, (and editing is storytelling after the camera stops).

The Four Essential Elements of Story Template, extrapolated via Aristotle’s Poetics

NB: Changes to template change entire story.

 1. Character

Motivated by

 2. Action

 3.  Actual Goal

 4. Adversary with worthy qualities


Specific and Unique Story Elements

At this point, Sugith played us his short film Tongue Tied, which he says he wrote based on the silly idea of two men professing their love for one another.

Some of my favourite lines, for field use, of course.

“Has anyone ever told you that you have freckled eyes?

I bet you say that to everyone.

No, just the ones I want to kiss.”

“I went cold turkey vegan one time for five months but I stopped because I liked honey too much.”

Lesson: The two headed character nature must

Story Template in Tongue Tied

 Can also do this analysis for EACH character, depending on how you plan on writing the story.  Or as actors, you can do the same analysis for your character to flesh out their story for yourself.



Screenwriting basics

Series TV vs. Movie/Short Film

The series requires a FRANCHISE.  Something that the viewer will recognize when watching any episode.

goal: to come up with a specific franchise, eg. Law & Order or NYPD Blue, both cop shows, but audience knows difference immediately

 The Series’ Franchise

Franchising entails:






  1. Beginning=setup  – 1/4
  2. Middle=complication – 1/2
  3. End=resolution – 1/4




Pitch Process

(Under WGC rules)


 Phase 1 – Template

 Phase 2 – Outline  (Contractual)

 Phase 3 – Script



Ok, just kidding, you also need  imagination, passion, perseverance, professionalism and follow through, generally things that nobody can teach you but yourself.

For more information specfically on Sugith’s screenwriting techniques, you can read blog posts from the time he held a position as a Screenwriter In Residence at the Toronto Public Library.  Keep your ear to the ground for Sugith’s next appearance!

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