FINAS/Sydney Film School script workshop exposes participants to international writing standards

Participants at a recent script writing workshop organised by Finas-Sydney Film School.

By Mohamad Letfee Ahmad

Simon Hunter

HULU KELANG, June 4 – Anyone who wants to be a good film scriptwriter must read a lot of scripts, says scriptwriter Simon Hunter who is also executive chair at the Sydney Film School, Australia.

Screenwriters must be able to produce unique ideas to attract producers, he said.

Simon, who has extensive experience in directing feature films and commercials said that scriptwriters cannot ignore the importance of plot and character in scriptwriting.

“A new writer needs to prove that he can deliver a story, especially at a time when film-making technology is becoming more accessible,” he said at the end of the One Step Closer: Script Writing Workshop organised jointly by the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) and Sydney Film School at Sound Stage Studio, FINAS.

Simon said, once the story concept is finalised, the writer also needs to think about budgeting when writing the script.

“Try to avoid scripts with long dialogues and too many locations to reduce production costs. In addition, writers must also be wary of the film’s duration.  Don’t exceed 100 minutes,” he said.

The 54-year old United Kingdom-born also advised young filmmakers not to upload their films on YouTube channels if they want to enter international film festivals.

“Festival organisers usually hire special officers to monitor YouTube postings of short films. Their entries will be disqualified if the organisers find out that the film has already been screened on YouTube,” he said.

Thorpe Ali

Meanwhile, a participant, film director Thorpe Ali said the workshop had exposed local writers to international screenwriting standards.

“This workshop has exposed participants to international writing styles especially the structure of storytelling. Even though the language differs, the stories are easy to understand because they are written with visual aspects in mind,” said Thorpe whose first film Tujuh Dua Belas is scheduled for screening on OTT channel, Amazon Prime Video next September.

Dr. Mohammad Ariff

Another participant, Dr. Mohammad Ariff Kamarudin, 42, a medical lecturer at a local university said, although he came from a different academic background, he has a deep interest in creative writing because the field allows him to convey stories to the audience.  

“During these two days, I had the opportunity to learn screenwriting techniques from an experienced and internationally-known instructor, Simon Hunter. From him I learned that a story must not only be interesting but the storytelling technique must also be able to captivate the audience,” he said.

The two-day workshop which ended Friday was attended by more than 70 film enthusiasts and university students.