Ten hours to write a short film…
‘We are there to help and guide you either with a tip or technique.’ Sydélia Guirao is one of the mentors at this first scriptwriting marathon. She is not the only one, three people have accepted to take on this role. Director Jacques Navarro, and the scriptwriter Claire Schwob are also present. ‘You will select your mentor at random. They will accompany you throughout the day,’ explains FIFO organiser Marie Kops, who was keen to be present for this new event. On the Maison de la Culture pae pae, the nine participants carefully listen to the instructions. Each is called in turn to come and pick out their mentor before setting to work in the Mato room. The marathon began at 9am and ends at 7pm. The participants therefore have ten hours to conjure up and write a script in dialogue for a 5min short film on a set theme: departure. A jury of six people will then choose the overall winner who will be awarded an Air Tahiti Nui ticket for the destination of their choice. The winner’s name will be announced on Friday evening at the prizegiving.
‘A false start is no start… ». Outside the Mato room, Jacques Navarro, whose film Aux Armes Tahitiens is in the competition category at FIFO, identifies approaches for his ‘protégés.’ The director has three pupils. His two female colleagues have the same. ‘There should be no explanatory dialogue. Any phrase explaining something is annoying,’ warns Claire Schwob, scriptwriter and director of casting for the series Al Dorsey. ‘A short film is a little gem, we expect to be immersed in a universe,’ explains in turn Sydélia Guirao, a scriptwriter mainly of series, ‘Write me a ten line summary. I’ll be back.’ The marathon participants obediently settle in front of their computers and delve into their imaginations. Some set straight to it while others are paralysed by the blank page. ‘It’s not easy to have ideas and to be confident. I need to be reassured and the mentors are there for that! confides Sarah, an actress and drama teacher. The young woman signed up for the marathon to get over her complexes and learn.
Her friend Suzanne is here to gain confidence regarding format. She is retired and not new to writing, she has written scenarios online and in English about subjects that she likes for two years. ‘This marathon is a real challenge,’ Suzanne emphasises, delighted about her day. ‘The time is flying by!’ Throughout the day, the mentors have been coming and going in the Mato room to see how their protégés are getting on and if they need any help. ‘So you have to choose between this ending or this one. And you cannot use the future as this is visual and in the present,’ explains Sydélia Guirao to Henri, the only man in this class of budding scriptwriters. ‘You can indicate music if you wish,’ Jacques Navarro points out to Caroline. This pretty thirty year old is attending through sheer curiosity. ‘I really like to write, as simple as that. It’s an opportunity to have some guidelines.’ 47-year old Sophie, also mentored by Jacques Navarro, is participating as she needs ‘a kick up the backside.’ ‘I have a project but I’m not getting anywhere. I feel better and I enjoyed it. And I also learnt about removing anything superfluous!’ A lesson that nearly all the pupils will remember from this day.
To be repeated
Even if the levels of the marathon participants were different, the same difficulty more or less resonated: the superfluous. ‘You don’t need to go overboard, it’s hard at the beginning but indispensable,’ explains Jacques Navarro who was surprised by certain productions. ‘I saw some very different things: humour, romanticism and personal therapy.’ Sydélia Guirao also had her share of surprises. ‘There is real potential. Ultimately it’s frustrating to only have one day,’ laments the screenwriter who hopes that next year the marathon will take place over two days. The young woman would also like to have less mentees to have more time to elaborate with each of them. Claire Schwob, feels that there should be different levels. The professional loved the marathon format. She enjoyed it as much as the participants. ‘Thanks. It was great!’ one of the participants interjects. ‘Thank you,’ replies Claire humbly. Both sides seem to have enjoyed this competition. And they were all in agreement about one thing: there must be another scriptwriting marathon at FIFO next year.