How did I get here? I don’t even write film scripts. Well, I haven’t written my Wilson book review, and I haven’t done my Smart research, so I was searching Canadian writers outside of Canada. Getting a little desperate to find someone, anyone who knows how to use a pen, I pursued a link about Canadian and UK script writers working together: “The Canadian Film Centre’s Canada-UK Script Incubation Program is designed to create a new level of collaboration between Canada’s best writers and their UK based peers…” Sounds great, but the link is two years old. Or maybe that’s why there’s a CBC credit at the end of every Dr Who episode?

While on the CFC site, I found this script competition, the deadline for which is Wednesday, May 23, 2012. “The CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival, North America’s largest short film festival, is proud to announce that the annual Screenplay Giveaway is back!” One short film screenplay will win a prize package of film-making resources valued at over $50,000, which clearly means I’ve pursued the wrong kind of writing. Ah, but there’s a catch: To be eligible, screenplays must have a director and/or producer attached. Go to entry details. See also the Canadian Film Centre’s Worldwide Short Film Festival. This year it takes place June 5-10, 2012, and will present over 275 films from over 30 countries.

Norman Jewison, CBC Still Photo Collection

While some fiction writers write screenplays (Mordecai Richler, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, for example), everyone knows that it is not the same kind of writing. Right? Soon after I arrived here, looking for a little writing information, I found this on the BBC Writersroom website:

“The other thing to remember about form, is that all scripts are blueprints rather than a piece of ‘literature’. They are written to be made – the first stage in a process of production. The more your scripts looks like something coherently formed and formatted, the more impressive and effective it will be. But it’s also potentially just the beginning of something bigger – so don’t be too precious about the words on the page.”

You can’t get any more different from a writer alone with a manuscript sweating over every word than that. But you can drag Norman Jewison into it (the connection is that he is the founder of the CFC above), talking not about scripts but about film as literature, as quoted on the CBC website: “Film is the literature of this generation,” says Toronto-born Norman Jewison. “Film is much less of a strain [than television], but of course it’s much more precise. It’s more of an art form.”

Although Norman Jewison is known for his support of Canadian film and for directing films and television, what is important here is that he moved to London in 1949, where he wrote some scripts for a children’s show for the BBC, among other things. Here is an excerpt from the Biographical Sketch prepared by Emmanuel College Library/University of Toronto:

“Continuing the string of successes was one of the films that have become closely identified with its director: “In The Heat Of the Night” (1967), a crime drama set in a racially divided Southern town and starring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, while Jewison was nominated for Directing. … After the completion of the period comedy “Gaily, Gaily” (1969), Jewison, having become disenchanted with the political climate in the United States, moved the family to England. At Pinewood Studios northwest of London, and on location in Yugoslavia, he worked on what would become one of the top grossing films of all time, the musical “Fiddler On the Roof” (1971, re-issued 1979), which would win two Oscars and be nominated for five others, including Best Picture and Directing. … In 1999 Jewison’s work was recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences when he was bestowed with the prestigious Irving G. Thalberg Award for lifetime achievement. In recognition of his contributions to the arts, as well as his sustained support, he was installed as Chancellor of Victoria University in 2004. That same year his autobiography This Terrible Business Has Been Good to Me was published.”

David Lean directing A Passage to India

David Lean wrote the screenplay and directed A Passage to India, based on the novel by E. M. Forster

Posted by Debra Martens

author, editor

One Comment

  1. finstrum nairobi May 10, 2012 at 19:48

    Christopher Isherwood, Graham Greene for example.


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