the need for Scriptwriters

Just this morning, my colleague and the chairperson for the department, Joey Reyes, called me to talk about some important department activities we are setting up but also to tell me that he is judging another festival and he remarked that “there is a need for scriptwriters because people don’t know how to write scripts.”

This is not the first time this sentiment has been shared to me.

I remember talking to some directors, who have told me this same thing on separate occasions and why they want to collaborate with me. I’ve also been told that by producers. T-Rex Entertainment, who is producing my script Open, is asking me to send more ideas for next year’s film slate. In an older blog post, I talked about getting a call from Viva asking for story ideas.

When I was at the pitch meeting with Star Cinema for Open, I was also asked to send more pitches to them as they were interested to work with me too.

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photo by Tuchi Imperial

I never knew that there was this need for scriptwriters. I tried to break into the industry as far back as 2004. I was young and inexperienced but I was churning out sequence treatments after sequence treatments and sending them all over the place and never got a reply.

I probably didn’t inspire confidence back then with my inexperience and there weren’t that many productions happening. But as time passed and the indie film scene was growing by 2008 and 2009, I could’ve broken in then but didn’t.

And I’ve been watching Filipino movies religiously since 2011, catching up on lost time, and getting to know the industry and there seems to be a lot of movies coming out. Somebody must be writing them, right?

But it’s still not enough.

Or maybe it’s also the craftsmanship? There are writers who come from other disciplines and have not yet fully grasped the entirety of writing specifically for film? Is that what they meant? I’m getting so much better at it now, but I am still learning. Again, my background is literature — poetry, fiction, and essay — and every new project is a new opportunity to learn.

But as I teach and read more about it in preparations for my classes, I think it’s becoming more imperative for me to teach SCRIPT1 and SCRIPT2 to really make sure our students come out with a level of mastery of the 3-Act model and the 5-Act model; to ensure that they know how to present a theme without making it literal or letting it out in the dialogue; to curb the over use of dialogue completely, to stop it from becoming a crutch in storytelling; to use cinematic symbolism; economy of space and time; and to take what is personal and turn it accessible and universal.

This is my goal now. To usher in a new batch of filmmakers who has all this running through their veins, swimming in their blood.

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