The first batch of 28 candidates, selected from 79 submissions to a Shenzhen government-sponsored scriptwriting program, enrolled in a free 10-day training camp headed by scriptwriter Yang Zhengguang in Xili, Nanshan District, on Monday morning.
Another 20, whose works did not pass muster, have been given access to the public lectures, while the fortunate 28 will also attend brainstorming sessions with fellow trainees guided by their designated tutors, during which the trainees’ scripts will be discussed and revised.
Rao Shuguang, one of the tutors and secretary general of China Film Association, said the program aims to address the biggest problem plaguing the Chinese film industry — a lack of good scriptwriters and quality scripts.
“Young graduates from film institutes who majored in scriptwriting often lack rich life experiences and a unique perspective on the world, while many people who have a good story to tell do not have the professional skills needed to write a script, especially in certain genres,” he said.
In the first lecture, Rao talked about the short history of Chinese films and discussed the possibilities for Chinese films in the future. Deng Yiguang, an established scriptwriter, taught trainees how to avoid easily committed mistakes and stereotypes.
Zheng Kainan, a veteran producer and director, will lecture the trainees on how scriptwriters can think from the perspective of producers in order to communicate better with them.
“Lured and chased by capital, it’s often not easy for filmmakers to stick to their artistic standards. They need to compromise and consider the box office,” Zheng told the Shenzhen Daily. “Although it won two Silver Bears at the Berlin Film Festival, Wang Xiaoshuai’s ‘So Long, My Son’ can hardly break even at the domestic box office alone. Things are more difficult for scriptwriters, who are inadequately compensated for their hard work.”
All that said, Zheng thinks it is important for the trainees to keep in mind that the producers need to make money and make their scripts more investable.
Zhang Wei, associate professor with Beijing Film Academy, Wang Yang with Shanghai Theater Academy, director Li Yawei and local film critic Wang Zun will also give lectures.
Many of the trainees, mostly in their 30s and 40s, have published novels or short stories in Chinese literature journals.
Bi Liang, who has published two collections of short stories, is a first-time scriptwriter. “I adapted one of my novellas into a thriller movie script to submit to this program,” he said. “I’m a movie fan. It’s quite exciting to think of the possibility of my work being made into a movie and reaching a much bigger audience.”
Chen Mo, who has published novels and short stories in literature journals, such as “Writer,” submitted a script based on her novel about a child growing up in northwestern China. “Writing a script is totally different from novel writing,” she said. “I have to add a few side characters and streamline the story. Still, I feel I’m not professional enough. This program is offering me timely help.”
The program plans to come up with around five scripts that are ready to be shot into movies or TV shows, or performed on the stage.