DHAHRAN: Jordanian film producer and script consultant Deema Azar recently mentored four promising writers at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, or Ithra, which she says demonstrates the rich pool of talent available in the country.
The creatives were chosen from eight scriptwriters, who were selected out of 401 applicants, for the Screenplay-in-Progress Competition of the Saudi Film Festival.
Azar’s project, Feature Script Development Lab, was a six-day program that ended on Thursday, which focused on the process of developing a picture-perfect script.
“A film’s journey, be it short or feature-length, starts with the script. The script should undergo a development process, one that could take various forms, which allows it to grow by working towards ensuring that the story it tells is coming across as flawlessly as possible in terms of story elements, structure, tone and pace,” said Azar, who is also the co-founder and managing partner at TaleBox, a women-led production company based in Amman, Jordan.
Azar traveled to the Kingdom to attend the film festival and offer her services to aspiring and talented Saudi scriptwriters.
“These past few days at the Screenplay Development Lab have been quite intense as we delved deeply into story origins and elements, characters’ journeys and overall structure and form of each screenplay.
“The process has been quite profound and concentrated and I believe the participants will leave the lab seeing their scripts in a complete new light given the amount of useful feedback that came out of the workshop, and which I hope will be integrated (and) reflected in their next screenplay drafts,” she said.
Azar expressed her excitement to work alongside Saudi talent who she says have a world of stories to tell. “It is such an exciting and stimulating process to discover original Saudi stories and the talented voices behind them and to work closely with the participants towards a polished version of their scripts,” she said.
“The diverse nature of stories in this year’s lab, which also happen to be very different from last year’s lab, confirms to me that the pool of storytelling diversity in Saudi Arabia is deeper and richer than originally anticipated and that is so exciting,” Azar added.
Azar hopes that the trainees have gained knowledge and will apply it to their future projects. “Like their screenplay characters, I hope that the participants have taken a similar journey that enriched them through their participation in the Screenplay Development Lab here at the 9th Saudi Film Festival.”
Azar believes that the Saudi cinema industry is on the right track and hopes to see a greater focus on scriptwriting.
“I believe that Saudi cinema is taking steady steps towards establishing a complete and sustainable cinema industry and ecosystem in the Kingdom, which would support local and Arab talents.
“I look forward to seeing the next Saudi creations on the big screen and hope the necessary focus on developing scripts before turning them into films receives the attention it deserves, to ensure that local stories coming out of Saudi Arabia are conveyed to wider audiences as powerfully as possible.”