It was quite a pitching session we had today at the International Green Screen Lab 2012. The session lasted for over two and a half hours. After nine days of intensive work on the scripts, all the nineteen writers came together and pitched their scripts again. The atmosphere was electric. John Newbigin headed the session, along with the other mentors, and provided no-bullshit criticism of the pitches followed by very constructive inputs. The pitches were as varied as the backgrounds and styles of the writers themselves. From witch-hunting, floating houses, imaginary snakes to three-eyed birds and zombie dogs, we had it all! These were, as John put it, our ‘elevator pitches’, so a bunch of us decided to go all out and prepare for it while travelling between the five floors in an actual elevator. That’s Green Screen Lab 2012 for you- passionate, committed and eccentric; the last adjective being our favourite.
There was another pitching session we had done, on the first day of the lab. That day, everyone pitched their stories for the very first time to strange faces and names, only acquainted with through printed letters in a brochure. As the end is nearing, we feel like a family dreading the moment when we would have to part. These ten days have for me, been a process of discovering myself and understanding the writer within me. The most important lesson I learned is that one must stay true to their own vision, and let the story write itself. Writing is organic, and must be allowed to grow at its own pace. The young and the restless tend to immediately want to ‘rectify’ the script with respect to any negative feedback they receive. But one must take the feedback into account and let it simmer. At the end of the day, you are the only person who knows whats best for your story. For these important life lessons, I have all the mentors as well as my fellow writers to thank.
The other night I dreamt that protagonists of our varied films meet each other – my persistently inquisitive Kiki, Bassi, Mina, Hameed, Chaoren, Abung, Tashi, Chamki & Cheeku, Ishu, and the rest of the bandwagon! What a delightful meeting that would be! Each character shares the innocence and purity of being a child, and yet is so beautifully different from one another! One day, when all our films are made, it’ll be so much fun to make a short film about this interaction, as a little tribute to this exhilarating experience we have shared.
After I was told that I had been selected for the lab, I was asked to write a couple of lines about what I was expecting from it. I wrote:
“I hope to gain valuable guidance on the art of writing a feature film, and constructive criticism on Kaayko. I’m very excited about meeting so many wonderful and talented creative professionals and hopefully establishing working relationships that will last well beyond the Lab.”
I’ve gotten all that and so much more. The positive energy in the lab was liberating. It reassured me that India stands on the brink of a new wave in Cinema, one that will bring content driven films made by filmmakers who have a voice worth listening to. As far as the working relationships I hoped to establish are concerned, I am already in talks of collaborating with two of the writers at the lab to co-write a feature film that I will direct.
But beyond all the creative synergy, the lab gave me so much love and so many blessings. It touched my heart when one of my fellow writers, National Award winning writer-director Oinam Doren came up to me and said, “Reema, if I could I would’ve loved to produce your film”. Indo-German writer Bassanti Pathak, humour writer Adhiraj Singh, and myself were lovingly referred to as the Three Musketeers because, well, we were inseparable. We were the trollers always laughing hysterically at the highly inappropriate jokes we would make and only we would understand. The actors and their mentor were an absolute delight to have around too! Having embarked on the technique of developing scripts with improvisations by actors at the very onset of my career, I can now continue to explore my characters and their dynamics with the help of my new-found actor friends who understand the technique as well as me. In these ten days, we have all laughed together, cried together, sung so loud people covered their ears, danced to the shadiest of songs, and have become family to each other.
At 21 years, I am the youngest writer in the lab. In my script about a little girl who keeps asking ‘Kaayko?’ (Why?) I created the character of Kiki. At the end of the lab, I feel overwhelmed to see how real Kiki has become for everyone here, and how adored she is too! Now every time anyone wants to ask why, they ask ‘Kaayko?’ instead, and everyone bursts into laughter!