The latest issue of Film India Worldwide highlights the 16th International Film festival of India held in Thiruvananthapuram over December 9 to 16. What follows below is one of the articles in this special year-end issue of Film India Worldwide.
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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Venice screenwriters lab
by Sharat Kataria
Six days in Venice. All paid for. All for writing a script. Things looked swell when Leena Khobragade (Manager, NFDC) called to say that my script, 'Dum Laga Ke' (working title, The Weighting Game) was selected for the Screenwriters Lab organized by NFDC in co-operation with Binger’s Script Lab, Amsterdam. Plans were made to catch George Clooney, Monica Belluci, Matt Damon and many more with their films that were to screen at the Venice film festival. But Martin Roberts (Artistic Director, Binger Filmlab) and Olivia Stewart (Script Advisor, Binger Filmlab) had other plans for us.
It turned out to be a high-intensity close-knit workshop regulated by various mentors. The packed schedule started with an interesting ice-breaker where each of the six participants introduced themselves vis-à-vis their scripts. It was wonderful how we got to know one another instantly through our work. From psychological thrillers to romantic comedies to semi-autobiographical narratives, we were a mixed bag, indeed. It was refreshing to share completely different styles and stories.
One-on-one sessions with individual mentors followed next.
My first session was with Urmi Juvekar
(Writer of Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! and I Am). I had earlier met her at the airport, travelling Mumbai to Venice. We had time to kill before boarding. When I asked her what she thought of my script, hoping that with that, I could put my hours in Venice to better use, she refused to comment. Nor was she amused. Later, it was her no-nonsense attitude that I started truly appreciating. The footnotes she meticulously scribbled on every page took its toll on me initially. She questioned every emotion till it was as clear on paper as it was in my head. Over the next two days, over coffee, we agreed to disagree on many screenplay issues. Before I moved to my next mentor, Urmi left me with interesting pointers on how to choose my words carefully and follow the emotional graph of characters with consistency.
My next session was both an eye opener and a confidence booster. Bianca Taal (Industry advisor, Binger Filmlab), first briefed us on how to pitch scripts to prospective studios and producers. Then a game followed, when we got ten minutes each to hard-sell ourselves and our scripts. It felt like a speed dating exercise.
After our first mock pitch, we met again to discuss the project in detail. Unlike pitches back in Mumbai, Bianca was warm and attentive. No instant messages on her ipad, no signs of boredom on the horizon. This of course was only a precurser to the real pitch during the Film Bazaar in Goa during IFFI.
The last session, slightly rushed, was the one we looked forward to the most. It was with Massimo Gaudioso, co-writer of the highly acclaimed Gomorra, Primo Amore and Benvenuti al sud, among others. We exchanged notes on just about everything - from the art of writing classic comedies to the craft in penning their remakes. We connected most on our love for comedies and creating simple moments of joy in a screenplay. I was happy that he appreciated the finer nuances of my script in spite of my half-baked narration.
All in all, it was a very hectic workshop, morning to evening without a break. We had less time and a lot to discuss. The good part of the workshop was that I know more about my story and characters now. The sad part is that the script still needs working on …
Kataria works as a screenwriter/filmmaker in Mumbai. He has written the scripts for films like Bheja Fry 1 and 2, Fruit and Nut, Hum Tum Shabana and Phillum City. His directorial venture 10ml Love, an adaptation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream will release in 2012.