On the afternoon of April 18th, 2019, during the Beijing International Film festival, The 5th China Film Screenwriting Seminar, undertaken by bianjubang, was held successfully in Beijing International Hotel. The activity this time, themed “The Course of Growth from a Screenwriter to a Director”, was moderated by Du Hongjun who is the founder of bianjubang and initiator of the Screenwriters’ Carnival which is a big annual industrial event of screenwriters. Several directors transformed from screenwriters, including Zhang Xiaobei, Wu Nan, Yu Miao, Tian Yusheng, and Yuan Yuan were invited to attend and share their experiences and ideas on this workshop, and provide suggestions and thoughts on the occupational development and creative ideas to the film creators.
Looking back at the film market in the first quarter this year, we’ve seen abundant of outstanding works emerged in more diversified categories and forms. Besides these astonishing achievements, there’s also one thing that is worthy of our attention during these years, that is the rising of the new directors, who have been keeping a continuous uprising trend in recent years. Among these new forces, lots of them are actually directors from screenwriting field. Only for one month ahead, films directed by three screenwriters-turned-directors are on or coming soon, including My Dear Elephant of Shao Xiaoli, Savage of Cui Siwei, and Push and Shove of Wu Nan.
In fact, during the period of the film market development since the 1970s, there have always been old creators out and new creators into the market, which actually drives the alternation of creators in the market. And over these years, lots of screenwriters with mature works are trying to turn to directing. Besides those turned from photographers, actors and actresses, and the newcomer support plan, the screenwriters have become another key sources of directors. Before the big success of Seeking Mr. Right directed by Xue Xiaolu, Breakup Guru directed by Tian Yusheng together with Deng Chao, and Kill Mobile directed by Yu Miao, all these three directors had been active in the film field as screenwriters. And for the time even earlier than the above three, a lots of famous directors, like Cao Baoping, Lu Chuan, Wang Jing, and Wang Jiawei had all once been screenwriters.
Most of these former screenwriters actually have accumulated certain experience and then to become the directors in a proper occasion with suitable market environment or just for purpose of seeking for self-development. Jiang Wen, the famous director, once said that: one who wants to shoot a film shall firstly work hard and polish their talents in screenwriting because nothing could be even more horrible than letting a man knowing little about screenplay to direct a film, in this case, compared to the transboundary directors transformed from other fields, screenwriters-turned-directors are no doubt the most reliable ones. However, it indeed takes time to accumulate relative practical experience in film shooting for good screenwriters. Therefore, transforming, doesn’t only mean the change of identity or functionality, but also the possibility of facing both opportunities and challenges at the same time. For example, besides the professional control on the story plot, screenwriter-turned-directors shall also have the idea of overall project control. In order to control the artistic creation of the film, they must have all-round knowledge, like the dispatching of actors and actresses, photographing, montage, and even the special effects. Only in this way, the control of the artistic creation for the entire film could be possible.
On this China Film Screenwriting Seminar themed “The Course of Growth from a Screenwriter to a Director”, the moderator Du Hongjun clearly defined the “transit from screenwriter to director" in this speech delivered on the opening ceremony, that is, "before being a director, the screenwriter must have accomplished at least one screenplay", and pointed out that there are about over forty directors matching this requirement. Following that, the guests made self-introduction respectively. Zhang Xiaobei, once well-known as a movie critic and the writer of Lee's Adventures and An Inaccurate Memoir, is now immersed in the post-production of a sci-fi movie Pathfinder; Wu Nan, the writer of Curse of the Golden Flower, Lady of The Dynasty and Crazy Alien , is now waiting for her director film Push and Shove to be screened recently; Yu Miao, the writer of The Magnificent Scoundrels , has directed Kill Mobile; Tian Yusheng, the writer of Lost on Journey, has directed the Ex-Files series; and Yuan Yuan, the writer of Go Away Mr.Tumour and Us and Them, has directed Facing West. Some of the guests were originally interested in being a director, and some others became directors under the coincidence. No matter for what reason, they do their job aiming at telling a good story and making best works.
All guests on this workshop shared their advantages and difficulties in transiting from a screenwriter to a director, and their experience and ideas about being a transboundary director. Moreover, they also talked about their opinions on issues like practical experience and screenwriting, and the relation between the two. Director Zhang Xiaobei believed that, every step he makes after becoming a director is tough, “being a director in China is taking charge of the management of the whole film cast and crew”. Director Yu Miao believed that: “with the knowledge of screenwriting, I can do almost everything, because screenwriter is an all-rounder”. And director Tian Yusheng proposed suggestion to the new directors on aspect of fund and expenses management: “regardless of your budget, require 5 million yuan more!” For the screenwriters who want to be a director, both the occupational development suggestions and the creation thoughts proposed by these guests are enlightened.
At the end of the workshop, the famous screenwriter and writer Song Fangjin and the founder of bianjubang delivered their speeches respectively, discussing the similarities and differences between screenwriter and director, and the industrial development trend. They both encouraged the screenwriters to keep on, no matter on their screenwriter career or their film director dream, they must be well-prepared for making a “long-distance race”.