Sadly Screen Lab has come to an end. It’s hard to believe that only three days have passed since I first wandered into the Scottish Book Trust clutching my application script and hoping nobody would laugh at my efforts. Since that first morning I have met so many interesting and inspiring people, people who are generous with their encouragement and advice and who I hope to keep in contact with in the future. I have learned loads about screenwriting and had the opportunity to listen to industry professionals and get their advice.
The last day of the course gave us a completely new perspective on screenwriting. Scott Ward and Minttu Mäntynen showed us extracts of documentary, feature and short films and talked to us about the visual aspect of film making. Scott, a director of photography, said that he is attracted to scripts with strong visual ideas. He tries to work backwards from the script to get at the original, visual image that inspired the writer, then he works to bring that out in the film. Minttu, an award winning documentary maker, said that the first thing she asks when someone pitches a script to her is “why do you want to make this?” She wants to make sure that the writer has a story they want to tell and is not just making the film to get a course credit, for example. Scott and Minttu pointed out that a film is more than just dialogue. The visuals have to add to the story otherwise why not develop the script into a radio play?
After attending Screen Lab, it is much clearer to me what the role of the scriptwriter is. The director, actors, director of photography and camera operators all have their own areas of expertise in the film making process and it is not the writer’s job to impose on that by being too prescriptive in the scene descriptions. Film making is a collaborative process and everyone involved wants to use their particular talents to find the most effective way of communicating the story.