Lab details

A two-week session in which filmmakers and a veteran from the animation industry, Mike Cachuela (LAIKA< PIXAR, DW and many more ), will lecture on the topics of Mythology & Storytelling while also putting together a “writing room” – a creative environment aimed at supporting the development of story concepts as the basis for new animated projects – in which participants can immediately apply new inspirations and storytelling tools to their projects.

During the first week, the participants will focus on lectures about Mythology and Storytelling, brainstorming and improving ideas for characters, story structures and acting on their own projects while practicing storytelling techniques. The second week will elaborate on these ideas through visual storytelling methods, mechanics and tools used in storyboarding.

NOTE: LAB means that participants bring their own materials (projects) to work on


There is increasing demand for new original stories to be produced as series, feature films and as cross-media projects.

The lab aims to create a focused environment and the necessary conditions for the development of skills, and to boost the development of participants’ projects under the guidance of an experienced professional.


To support the development of high-quality story ideas and concepts in the initial development stage and thereby increase the ability of young filmmakers, creatives or brands to succeed with their projects in a highly competitive environment.




For a day or so, after giving each others backgrounds and personal goals for the Story-Lab, we will do a “break the ice” exercise. Starting with Mr. Egghead, a generic character specifically designed to serve as a blank slate, the assignment is to come up with a very short story and take it to storyboards. For those who don’t draw – written story beats on index cards will also do. The attendees will be given basic parameters to help them work within the time constraints of the workshop but the rest is up to them. By taking a short and informative journey through storytelling basics, attendees learn by actually DOING IT.

After an introduction to classic story structure and Joseph Campbell’s study of universal mythologies, attendees will be shown an illustrated depiction of the hero’s journey. Following will be a crash course in storyboarding. Some of the topics covered will be, STAGING and what it means, the wants and needs of your CHARACTER and his EMOTIONAL JOURNEY along with how these wants drive the story. Again, these topics can be represented with written beats and not just drawings.

As we progress, attendees will be expected to talk about their ideas with the rest of the group and they will learn the value of discussing incomplete ideas to aid in fleshing the ideas out. As a confidence builder, attendees will be encouraged to make mistakes! If there is one message they carry away from the lab it would be that it is OK to make mistakes as long as you are learning, experiencing their value, adjusting and heading toward a worthwhile goal. Indeed it’s an integral part of the creative process. So let’s have fun while we are learning from each other.

On the following page is a basic schedule-breakdown of the TWO WEEK seminar. Approximately six hours a day. Some of that time will be “working time” where the attendees have a chance to apply what they have learned to their projects.


  • Basic story exercise, “Mr. Egghead.” Attendees will produce a number of quick storyboards or written beats. 1st day will be to brainstorm ideas. 2nd day will
  • be to edit and finesse a short story-line. Approx. 2 days
    Discussion of classic story structure and how we learn from mythology.
  • Examples of how I work developing feature films and shorts. Approx. 1 day Discussion of attendees ideas and/or narrowing them down if they have brought more than one. Writing log-lines and talking about tone and genre.
  • Approx. 1 day
    Discussion of Blake Snyder’s 15 beat outline and how it could apply to each persons project. Approx. 1 daySECOND WEEK
  • Discussion of each attendee’s beat outline. There will be a pitch at the end of the day or beginning of the next. This is not a high pressure presentation but
  • –  rather a review of work in progress to help hone ideas. Approx. 1 to 2 daysDiscussion of creating illustrated or written beat boards for the outline of eachstory. Re-investigation of tone and genre and starting to discuss themes.
  • Drawing and writing beats Approx. 1 to 2 daysPreparation for final presentations. Again, not high pressure, more an opportunity to gain valuable experience gauging response for a work in progress and then incorporating feedback. Plus just good practice. If it’s possible to bring fresh eyes into the group at this time that would also be a benefit. Approx. 1.5 days



In order to be eligible for the lab, you need to submit your project idea as a synopsis of no more than 500 words max. along with your registration.


Blog #8: a quick look behind the scenes of ANOMALIA 2016 STORY LAB

Blog #5: ANOMALIA as a safety bubble

Blog #2: John Nevarez sharing his perspective on our story work in progress

Blog #9: účast českých tvůrců ve STORY LABu

Interested in the lab?

Don’t miss your chance. Registration deadline by April 30th!

  • Duration
    10.-21.7. 2017 (10 days).
  • Mentor
    Mike Cachuela
  • Skill level
    all levels
  • Price
    670 EUR / 17 970 CZK

    Price includes VAT. In case of EUR/CZK exchange rate should change, the fee in EUR is derived from CZK currency.
More Info


Mike Cachuela

Mike Cachuela’s multi-cultural San Diego childhood meant Sunday suppers could be Grandpa’s Filipino Chicken Adobo or Aunt Gloria’s sublime tamales.  His father’s Air Force career transplanted him from Vacaville, California to Montgomery, Alabama, Honolulu and Tokyo before landing at CalArts in 1988.  At CalArts Mike studied story under Joe Ranft and animation with Chris Buck.

In 1991 Mike joined the story team on Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest.  A newly-created Skellington Studios and Nightmare Before Christmas came next followed by a small nascent group called PIXAR in Point Richmond for Toy Story.  James and Giant Peach, The Incredibles and Ratatouille followed.  Portland’s Vinton Studios brought him to Oregon where he became part of the creative team for the new stop-motion feature film studio LAIKA. He was a Development Director for nearly a decade.

The experience of working on many ground-breaking film projects has led to work and lectures around the world including China, Taiwan, Denmark and Brazil.  In addition to his own short films, two of which sold to Spike and Mike’s Festival of Animation, Mike has sold story options to Lucas Films and LAIKA.

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