"There is no bad here... except for the things that aren't good."

Reassurances like this are typical of filmmaker Jon Gunn, who led an engaging writing and directing workshop with humor and wit last Friday.

Gunn, as a director, editor, writer, and producer, arrived on the sixth floor of Memorial Hall in a leather jacket and instantly created an informal atmosphere. He greeted students and asked about their areas of interest, before relating anecdotes about his previous projects.

The fact that Gunn is an engaging and conversational speakerwas evident in his self-deprecating comments about his film "My Date with Drew." Shot on a camera rented from Circuit City, the 2004 documentary cost only $1,100 to make.

"If I'd known it would be playing in theaters around the country, I wouldn't have used autofocus," he said.

The workshop proper began at 2 p.m. with nine students in attendance. Gunn maintained the informality, setting up folding chairs in a semicircle and cracking jokes. For the first exercise, he pulled four students from their chairs and told them to act as though they were waiting in line at the DMV. The results were subtle but appreciable, and each student did an admirable job with very little direction. But then Gunn changed it up, giving each student's character a brief background. The results were notable, illustrating the importance of giving intention and objective to every scene.

In the second exercise, Gunn gave two students, Samuel Plattus '12 and Kate Kearns '14, a line each and had them repeat it over and over again, changing the scene slightly at certain points.

After the two had delivered their lines for a short while, Gunn took a video camera and attached it to a television screen, filming the actors from various angles to highlight different aspects of the scene.

The exercise illustrated the differences between acting on screen versus on stage. Subtle differences, he said, such as a raise of the eyes versus a raise of the entire head, could make all the difference depending on the medium.

In the final exercise, two actors performed a scene from "The Pillowman" by Martin McDonagh. Gunn ran the scene several times, shooting from different angles and telling the actors to deliver their lines in various ways.

The workshop ended with a question and answer session, in which Gunn reiterated his beliefs about film and theater, speaking to the actor's need to manage the high-pressure environment of film.

His aim, in his words, was to "talk about the differences between acting on camera and in theatre," in such areas as "the process of preparing, the actual work involved, and the challenges presented."

One student in attendance, Zac Perez '12 said he was sorry more students had not come to the workshop.

"Virtually any Bowdoin student interested in directing would have loved it," he said.

Gunn flew back to California on Saturday morning, leaving several fortunate students better educated on the nuances of theater and film.