‘Precious’ screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher is behind a new competition calling aspiring filmmakers to ponder a short script he wrote, and submit their interpretation of it.
"I think that aspiring writers, directors and actors should do at least two things: keep working on their craft and try every ‘door' because you never know where opportunity may emerge," screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher tells us.
If one's in a position to dish out words of advice to aspiring creatives, it would be Fletcher, who scored an Oscar for his feature screenwriting debut, Precious; and recently completed his directorial debut, the action comedy, Violet & Daisy. After graduating from Harvard and New York film school, Fletcher spent years fruitlessly writing while working temp jobs. His opportunity came knocking though when director Lee Daniels brought him on to pen the screenplay for Precious (based on US author Sapphire's novel Push) after seeing a short film Fletcher had made in the nineties. The rest is history.
And now the screenwriter has helped launch a new competition, in conjunction with the Tribeca Film Festival, which aims to give other aspiring writers and filmmakers a break. Titled ‘The Bombay Sapphire Imagination Series,' Fletcher was recruited to pen a short film script, which budding writers and filmmakers from all over the world are called to interpret in any way they see fit.
In reading the script, which can now be downloaded online, one quickly senses its rich potential, with entrants really only limited by their own imagination. What was Fletcher's approach to writing the script? "I was looking to create a short story with a degree of structure that provided a lot of freedom at the same time," he explains. "It's stripped of details like character description and locations. It leaves room for filmmakers to interpret parts of the story as they wish. The characters can be human or otherwise. The locations can be of this earth or elsewhere. The types of filmmaking can be live action, animation, drawings or whatever form best expresses their concept."
A global judging panel, including Fletcher and other industry leaders, will select five winners from the shortlist of entries, who will then have the opportunity to produce and direct their films. "We will be looking for imagination, passion and a point of view," Fletcher sums up. "We feel that a big budget never guaranteed those things so it won't be about who spends the most money."
Though his Oscar-winning screenplay saw Fletcher adapting a novel authored by someone else, he also had to use imagination, passion and his own voice in the process. It was a tough task evident by the fact that other writers had tried and failed to make the controversial novel into a screenplay numerous times before him. "My approach to Precious was to try to make the story as cinematic, as daring and as sincere as I could," Fletcher reflects. "That included involving personal experience and taking leaps that would be consistent with the original universe."
The result was a gutsy, devastating screenplay which resonated far beyond what Fletcher had predicted. "I hadn't imagined Precious would have the reach that it did," Fletcher says. "I just believed it was a great story. Since Precious, I've had the chance to work with some people I greatly admire and the breadth of stories I've been offered has been larger than I imagined it would be. I love that because I want to explore most genres."
To find out more about the competition and how to apply, head here.
Picture caption: Fletcher at the competition's launch at the Tribeca Film Festival.