It was a great opportunity to meet European writers, share ideas and pass on useful thoughts; and if that wasn't enough, much of the time was spent in and around the rococo beauty of the Splendid Palace Cinema - possibly the oldest purpose-built picture house still operating in Europe.
European Script Meeting
The Script Meeting’s remit is very generous. It’s simply a place where screenwriters, producers, directors and studio representatives can bring their projects, talk about ideas, and begin collaborations on stories in a relaxed atmosphere, with no strings attached.
As we joined a select group of script consultants to meet the writers, we were keen to see what we’d learn of current narrative trends and opinions. After all, the delegates were from all over Europe: Croatia, Macedonia, Georgia, Hungary, Germany, Lithuania and the Czech Republic, as well as from Latvia itself.
The projects’ subject-matter was encouragingly wide: a drama about the impact of hip hop culture on Lithuania; contemporary comedy merging with commedia del arte in an Italian palazzo; a story which investigates the dream-world of coma and finds a universe of meaning within it...
The writers were friendly and engaged; many deep discussions took place, and new exciting connections were made. So far, so fascinating. But what would happen on the Sunday, when we were scheduled to take our place in the spotlight, presenting our own writing workshop?
Genres are mutating and blending as never before, and it’s notable that many of the European films that make international waves are in heightened or fantasy-inflected genres – such as LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (Tomas Alfredson, Sweden, 2008), TROLLHUNTER (André Øvredal, Norway, 2010) and UNDER THE SKIN (Jonathan Glazer, UK, 2014).
With these things in mind, Euroscript took the floor on Sunday morning in a semicircular auditorium beneath the Splendid Palace to present a four-hour workshop. Having somehow resisted the , we were in a position to outline the ways in which genres can mix and how Science (or, better, Speculative) Fiction can creatively address themes which some may associate only with Social Drama.
Some reactions to the talk revealed that even some talented and sophisticated screenwriters from certain cinema cultures are missing out on the potential of ‘genre’ writing to put ideas onscreen in vivid and cinematic ways.
We reminded the audience that significant filmmakers like Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Stanley Kubrick, Andrzej Żuławski, Jean Luc Godard have made important contributions to the Science Fiction genre – and that films like SOLARIS and STALKER are outstanding genre works as well as intellectual and cinematic landmarks. So the answer to the title question is - yes, Tarkovsky definitely did do Science Fiction!
In the afternoon, screenwriter and script doctor Jimmy Karlsson gave a valuable workshop reminding us of the screenwriting ‘basics’ – something which is always welcome to the most experienced writers and script consultants.
All in all, the weekend was a great opportunity to meet new friends and colleagues and to compare film cultures and approaches. And along the way, we got the chance to explore a fascinating city and sample the warm hospitality of the Latvian script contingent, led by Amanda Boka and her team.
You can find more about Euroscript's consultancy services here... and more about Ian Long's genre workshops here.
The Riga International Film Festival website can be found here, and more details about the European Script Meeting here. You can also follow them on Facebook.