Script Writer Convention in Örebro
About 60-70 scriptwriters attended Sweden’s first Script Writer Convention, which was held in Örebro 30th Sept through 1st Oct. The initiative of hosting the convention came by Filmpol Mitt through support from Örebro municipality, and by the newly formed Filmpool Stockholm-Mälardalen. Script writers Pontus Bylund and Diana Walve listened to the Oscar-awarded writer Simon Beaufoy and gives you this inside look at what was going on at Örebro Castle during the convention.
The main attraction and foremost guest at the convention was scriptwriter and Oscar-winner Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire, All or Nothing). Simon delved into the process of writing the non-linear Slumdog Millionaire and his collaboration with director Danny Boyle. The protagonist’s flashbacks raised by the questions on the game show Who wants to be a millionaire? in Slumdog Millionaire proved a mind-boggling task for Simon but through tenacity and endurance he overcame the obstacles.
The cinema distribution of Slumdog Millionaire almost came to a halt when it seemed like it would only be released on DVD. Fortunately these problems could also be solved and since then Slumdog Millionaire has been celebrated around the globe, winning eight Oscars during the Awards in 2009.
As they moved on to talk about the process of working from an idea towards a finished film their passion for film making surfaced. They stressed the necessity of distilling the story to its purest form as well as finding the right producer and company to actually make the best film possible.
The rest of the convention program reached both high and low. Perhaps the most surprising fact was that Dramatikerförbundet (Writers Guild of Sweden) had no one present to represent. If there were another convention they would need to send someone and possibly be a part of every discussion panel.
The least surprising fact was the lack of women on the panels. Filmpol Mitt stressed that they had done their utmost to make the panels 50/50 but that the invited guests had turned them down. Hopefully the next convention will feature more women from the Swedish film business.
Film Commissioners Johan Bogaeus (SFI), Jesper Bergom Larsson (Filmpool Stockholm-Mälardalen) Per Erik Svensson (Filmpool Nord), Lena Hansson Varhegyi (former SFI and DFI) discussed the strenghts and weaknesses of the Swedish script writing of today. While trends come and go the business doesn’t in general run with them. Per-Erik Svensson mentioned being heaped with vampire-scripts following the success of Låt den rätte komma in and then zombie-scripts as the Norwegian feature Död snö created a buzz at Film Festivals and receiving American distribution.
Lucy Scher talked about The Script Factory – a service that provides reading, response and evaluation of scripts for a small fee. Apparently the Factory’s been very successful in Britain. The need for it in Sweden is obvious but can the market support such a business? Doubtful at best due to the Swedish population being significantly smaller than the English-speaking people of the world.
The least inspiring and probably the low point of the convention was the board of representatives from Script Writing schools across Sweden. They were supposed to talk about the demands upon tomorrow’s aspiring Script Writers but ended up talking about anything but. It became apparent that they do not foster script-writing students to become entrepreneurs in their own right. Rather, it would seem that those that succeed are the example that upholds the credibility of schools. The circle argument seemed convoluted at best and students are best left fending on their own in a business where no one wants to spend money on developing. Essentially making scriptwriters financial risk takers in the producer or company rather than the other way around.
Scriptwriters Pontus Bylund and Diana Walve are greatful for the opportunity to attend the convention and sincerely thanks Filmarc for their financial support in doing so.