Screenwriters will give advice, talk shop when festival begins

Screenwriters will give advice, talk shop when festival begins
Dmitriy Demidov, left,chairman of the Oceanside Independent Film Festival and author and screenwriter Antonio F. Vianna. Vianna, with fellow author and screenwriter Leonie Tremaine will host a screenwriting workshop Aug. 23, kicking off the four-day film festival. Photo by Noah S. Lee

OCEANSIDE — No film can be expected to take shape without a screenplay. That’s why award-winning writers Antonio F. Vianna and Leonie Tremaine will be presenting the Screenwriters’ Workshop during the OIFF (Oceanside International Film Festival), which begins Aug. 23. 

The two writers have extensive experience in understanding the fundamentals of writing for film.

“I reached out to Tony,” said Dmitriy Demidov, the festival organizer. “But he told me, as I reached out to him, that a couple of his friends were specializing in screenwriting. This is how Tony contacted Leonie, and we were very happy to have them present the workshop last year.”

Having already attended OIFF the previous year, Vianna and Tremaine still have fond memories of meeting people who shared their love of film.

“Last year was the first time,” Tremaine said. “I thought it was very interesting and enjoyable, and I really enjoyed meeting so many young, passionate people. I was inspired by them, and I did actually come to have relationships with a couple of the filmmakers there.”

Vianna concurs; what made being part of OIFF both memorable and important was the passionate vibe he felt from the attendees. “I, too, was impressed by these enthusiastic people who are very passionate,” he said.

As part of their workshop duties, Vianna and Tremaine will address the criteria every production company keeps in mind when looking at new movie scripts.

But what do prospective screenwriters have to pay attention to in order to get their foot in the door?

Vianna believes the real question is: What do you want? “Oftentimes they (production companies) have no idea what they’re looking for,” he replied, “and the phrase I’ve heard many times is, ‘I’ll know it when I see it.’”

Of course, there are times that a producer goes through a lengthy process of finalizing a deal to shoot a script that has been optioned. Such a hindrance can be exasperating for any writer who hopes to see their work come to life in cinematic form, and both Vianna and Tremaine know this feeling.

“We don’t know what’s going on in their minds and how many other people are reviewing that particular script,” he said. “It’s out of our control at this point in the process.”

But not everyone sells his or her work to the studios. Those who are more sensitive about retaining their artistic vision have another option, as pointed out by Tremaine. Choosing to make the film yourself is feasible…once you gather the necessary resources to get your script off the ground.

“If you have this passion, keep on doing independent films, because that’s where you can truly thrive. Yes, you have to get your financing, but you have creative control. And I think that’s wonderful because these film festivals honor independent movies.”

Being writers of both novels and screenplays, Vianna and Tremaine have encountered numerous challenges that come with the process of adapting their own work into movie-suitable material. No creator of a written work is immune to the “shrinking down” procedure that his or her source material must undergo so as to become better prepared for the world of cinema.

“It pains me to have to pull things out of the novel that I want to put in the script,” Vianna asserted. “But if I keep everything in the novel and put it in the script, then the script becomes 300 pages long.”

The key to this problem lies within crafting a story via show, not tell. According to Tremaine, film is different from literature and, as its own medium, has a set of rules to live by. The way she puts it: “It’s a different art form entirely. You don’t have the luxury of all the narrative and the description that you have in a novel.”

Having already published 20 books and six scripts, Vianna continues to conduct workshops on writing and publishing books, while Tremaine and co-writer Amy Albani, after recently selling a script, are busy adapting their novel “Adios, Aries” into a TV series with a slightly darker slant for JOA Productions.

The Screenwriters’ Workshop will take place Aug. 23 from 1 to 2:25 p.m., during the four-day film festival. You can find the workshop at Oceanside Library, downtown Civic Center branch, 330 North Coast Hwy., within walking distance from Star Theatre.

Visit ocaf.info/oceanside-international-film-festival to find out more about the workshops, screenings, and other upcoming events.

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