At the 10th Durban FilmMart (DFM), running concurrently with the 40th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) at the Tsogo Sun Elangeni Hotel in Durban, writer and producer Sean Drummond helmed a masterclass titled ‘The Working Writer’.
Drummond, who wrote and produced the award-winning feature film Five Fingers for Marseilles – which premiered at Toronto International Film Festival – is the co-founder of production company Be Phat Motel and the founding manager of the Cape Town leg of the well-respected shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival. An early lover of the written word, Drummond graduated from the University of Cape Town with Honours in Screenwriting. Additionally, he is a 2011 Talents Durban alumnus – a 5-day intensive development programme for emerging African filmmakers that runs during DIFF in collaboration with Berlinale Talents – making him a fitting host for this masterclass.
During the masterclass, Drummond discussed his 15-year journey as a screenwriter, encompassing many challenges, failures, wins and most importantly what he’s learned through it all. Drummond says that for him, in order to succeed in the industry, relationships are key as “filmmaking is the most collaborative art form – no film is made by just one person”. He continues: “It’s all relationships…because it’s about who you want to work with, who you want to go on a journey with, who do you know that’s going to open that first door, who do you know that’s going to keep opening those doors but most importantly, who do you want to work with for potentially 10 years on a project… If you don’t like each other, you have to at least respect each other.”
Drummond also shared some key insights on screenwriting through his personal process:
- Research: Think and learn about the world of your story as much as you can. Travel if you can, talk to people who know more than you do.
- Fill your story bank with all that you’ve learned during your research phase.
- Outline your script as much as possible: Outline the perspectives of all your characters. Outline character arcs – including each character’s hopes, dreams, desires and wants.
- Think on a logline. This will help you to talk about/pitch your film to people. It also acts as a beacon to come back to when you lose your way while writing.
- At this point, send what you have written to people you trust.
- Think seriously on their feedback and how to incorporate it if you agree.
- Write your first draft.
- Rewrite until you are happy: Be prepared to cut. Ask yourself “how can I make this better”.
DFM 2019 is currently running until 22 July, while DIFF will run until 28 July.