Back, ‘in the day’, when I was just discovering my niche as a writer who was fairly new to writing for media and studying the film industry, I happened to stumble across a course on screenwriting at the former Canadian Screen Training Center. During the course so many moons ago, my writing mentor spoke above the noisy vents so passionately about what it takes to write a good script, incorporating dialogue, formatting, discussions on elements such as story structure in film, character tags and how they help define characters in film, what it takes to attract producers, we went over the great movies that were produced during that time and discussed what made them work, stuff like that. While pursuing that course I discovered I had no story that I felt was worthy to be told as a film at that time, just an intense interest in all mediums of writing in its purest form. The instructor helped me to become knowledgeable about screenwriting.
That was in 1999; ancient, I know. My former screenwriting mentor is now an award winning screenwriter and director from what I know. That was the first and last time I pursued screenwriting as a career option, until I finished the first draft of my thriller, Nuka. I made the decision to adapt my novel for the big screen. This is a story I don’t want people to just see in their mind’s eye; I want to work with elders like Madeline Piujuq Ivalu and I would be happy to work alongside someone like writer, producer and director of Uvanga, Marie-Hélène Cousineau. I want my story to breathe air, to see life, and to be told by those whom should be telling it.
That left me wondering after all these years, where do I begin? The simplest answer; tell the story. Get involved with people in the industry who made it happen for themselves and ask them how they got where they did today. So I’m doing that, and I have made some great connections in the industry.
Read. I taste my own medicine, if anyone’s wondering. Never underestimate the power of a book. The Screenwriter’s Bible, by David Trottier is a favourite among some of my screenwriting peers. I’m sure there are plenty of others out there but this one is my personal favourite.
Write a short and shoot it yourself. I hear this is great for people starting out with no experience who are on a limited budget or just want to get their work out there. Unfortunately, I have never been inclined to work in the production aspects of film so I have edited scripts, and I am too tied up in other ventures right now to try this but it is definitely on my bucket list.
Check out The Writers Room on Facebook or Women in Film Based Media on Facebook if you are in Ottawa, otherwise Women In Film and Television online has several chapters that may also suit your needs.
Get involved in scriptwriting contests like Ottawa International Film Festival 72 hour challenge where filmmakers and writers come together for a contest in film like no other. http://oiff.ca is loaded with related information to this blog.
I’m taking some ‘leisure time’ to pursue my interests in developing my screen adaptation of the book and future movie that has taken over two centuries to birth. I do this in between editing other peoples’ writing and developing my own. Developing great work takes time, no matter the author or screenwriter and I am glad to have had inspiration along the way. I am even happier that the muse is finally cooperating.