"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't," said the famous filmmaker Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
The Scriptwriting Workshop is like a writing laboratory for people who have stories to tell, and is designed for aspiring screenwriters to interact in group and individual sessions with screenwriters of international repute, with the aim of developing their own writing skills.
The workshop focussed on the written work of the writers, examining their immediate story concerns and overall screenwriting craft. Besides lectures, Q-and-A sessions and screenings, each participant got individual feedback discussions with the mentors.
The brainchild of Nila Madhab Panda of Eleeanora Images, the workshop saw 10 chosen new talents (from a shortlist of 25 selected from over 700 applicants!) being mentored for six days by two principal mentors and at least one guest mentor per writer.
What they have to say about the workshop
COO, Saregama Films
Scriptwriters do not realize their own value in India. If he is not getting his due, a writer must fight for it, then he can end up as a Shekhar Kapur! The truth is that we do not think global. We are not making films for the world market - that is, movies with universal themes and appeal. We are complacent, we are lazy, we borrow plots from Hollywood movies, and that may be because a large and very loyal Indian diaspora gives us great returns that satisfy us! We need to change mindsets and look at spending money on scripts and writers."Believe me, for the first time after hearing all these ten writers, I feel that there is hope!" he said after the workshop.
Remember, the director cannot direct a blank page. Scriptwriting is like carpentry, a skill whose craft can be taught. In USA, scriptwriting is a 3-year course. Seven days may not be much, but it's a start, isn't it? I have seen huge improvement in these writers within a week.
Admitting, I often had to be honest rather than polite to the young writers still felt "quite jealous of some of the stories, because I wished I had thought of them! The stories were fresh, had a resonance with Indian culture and while reflecting issues in contemporary India, still had universally appealing subjects." Paromita Vohra concluded that Indian filmmakers must understand the difference between an NRI-successful film and a world-successful film. "No one wanted my script of Khamosh Pani. It took a Pakistani producer to make a film of it! And I know one guy in Iran who runs a film school in his house. Scripts need to be given their due!"
Mentors & Dignitaries
And so when the largest film industry in the world does bumper business overseas with loyal NRIs but connects only once in the proverbial blue moon with a global audience, it's time to focus the zoom lens on the most vital part of cinema -the story, and by corollary, the script.
The British Council of India along with Saregama India Ltd., India's premiere music label, and Eleeanora Images co-hosted India Scriptwriting Workshop 2008 at the International Centre, Goa between March 17 and 23 as a significant first step in the direction of training youngsters with a flair for fresh stories in the craft of writing.