Young Screenwriters Training Program Brings together Future-generation Screenwriters

  On April 15th, the 9th Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF)—Young Screenwriters Training Program opened at Beijing Film Academy (BFA). 40 selected trainees will spend one week there. New to the BJIFF, the training section aims to build a professional, efficient and high-quality training platform for young screenwriting talents from across the country. It will end on April 20th when the Closing Ceremony of Outstanding Screenplay Road Show Pitches & Training Program will take place.

  Talent platform building

  The Opening Ceremony of the 9th BJIFF—Young Screenwriters Training Program took place at 9:00 AM April 15th, 2019. The leaders present include Qian Jun, Party Secretary of BFA; Zhang Hong, Secretary of the Party Leadership Group of the China Film Association (CFA); Dou Xiaodong, Vice President of Beijing Media Network; Yu Jianhong, Vice President of BFA and President of Youth Film Studio (YFS); and Huang Dan, Dean of the Department of Literature, BFA, Chairman of the Screenwriting Education Committee, CFA and President of the China Film Script Institute (CFSI). Meng Zhong, Secretary-General of the Screenwriting Education Committee, CFA and Vice President of the CFSI presided over the ceremony.

  At the ceremony, Dou Xiaodong delivered a speech. He noted that the Young Screenwriters Training Program providing welfare-oriented intensified training to young screenwriters has evolved into a  top program for young screenwriters in China. It is created to enable the trainees to learn knowledge from BFA's teachers and experience from first-line industry insiders, promoting the development of China’s film & television industry.

  Yang Mengyuan qualifying for the program with her script of Birds, Rope and Cigarette Ends delivered a speech on behalf of the trainees. "Qualifying for the program does not mean a success to us, the way ahead will be tougher," said she. "We will cherish the platform more to convey my most real emotions in any screen scripts through the most meticulous preparatory work."

  The program is a free-to-attend socially useful activity hosted by the Screenwriting Education Committee, CFA, BFA and YFS, and organized by the Department of Literature, BFA and CFSI. Because of its top faculty in China’s screenwriter training industry and totally free teaching form, it has gradually developed into one of the largest professional screenwriter training activities and drawn great attention in the industry in recent years.

  This year the program works with the BJIFF for the first time and serves as an important section of the event. Supported by the BJIFF, it has earned more attention from the industry. The combination of the Young Screenwriters Training Program with more other activities and screenings at the BJIFF also allows learning atmosphere to be enhanced, teaching forms to be diversified, and exchange content to be enriched.

  Since issuing the recruitment notice, the program has received scripts of feature films from nearly 600 screenwriters. Through repeated selections, 40 screenwriters were shortlisted.

  Early at 9:00 AM April 14th, the trainees waited at the entrance to the Department of Literature, BFA. Meng Zhong, Secretary-General of the Screenwriting Education Committee, CFA and Vice President of the CFSI warmly received these entrants from across the country. "A film starts with screenwriting, so is your film career… Whether you will be a director, producer or actor some day, do not forget that the beginning of your career as a screenwriter is under the control of yourself," said he at the first class meeting.

  The program will give full play to the faculty and professional advantage of the Department of Literature, BFA. The 40 trainees will receive intensive and totally immersive training here in the coming seven days and take three classes a day. Besides, it will arrange the trainees to watch a minimum of one film shortlisted for the Forward Future Section of the 9th BJIFF.

  The program requires that the trainees should continue to improve their screenplays in the seven days, and fast integrate what they have learned into practice, to enrich and refine their screenplays. It will select 10 outstanding screenplays and score them in a road show during the Closing Ceremony on April 20th.

  The program will not only offer totally free training, but also provide all the trainees with uniforms, badges, tea, coffee and refreshments, as well as 7-day meal cards for dinning at BFA.

  With strong logistics support, the program will focus on cultivating and exploring outstanding screenwriters steadily. The trainees will treasure the hard-won opportunity and strive to improve themselves in the short but enriching training.

  Film dream

  Screenplay is a precondition for film production. Screenwriting is an underlined part of film & television play production, as well as the soul of a film. Screenwriting talents constitute the foundation of the film & television industry of a country. Everyone has been increasingly aware that screenwriting is vital to the success of a film.

  However, qualified screenwriters are not cultivated overnight and outstanding screenwriters need years of practice. With the rapid development and expansion of the Chinese film market, core talents for screenwriting and other film & television sectors cannot keep pace with the rapid development of the Chinese film market within a short time, and outstanding screenplays are in urgent need in China.

  On the one hand, the Chinese film & television market longs for new outstanding screenwriting talents; on the other hand, ambitious young screenwriters are eager to visualize their works. Screenwriters with the educational background of screenwriting may have certain channel resources to promote themselves, but there are many outstanding screenwriters switching from other industries or creating screenplays in their spare time in the country. For example, some of the trainees majoring in medicine or engineering have no appropriate and convenient ways to connect with producers to show their creative stories and screenplays.

  Besides, many screenwriters suffer from geographical restrictions. Currently the film & television industry is thriving majorly in Beijing, Shanghai and other tier-1 cities. It is hard for screenwriters in the rest of the country to find channels to film their works. A "veteran screenwriter" from Anhui said that screenwriting is not easy, he has written a lot of screenplays and won some awards, but none of his screenplays have been filmed. He hoped that his works would gain more recognition through the platform.

  Fortunately, various screenwriter training and project pitches platforms have been built in China in recent years. Through these platforms, an increasing number of young screenwriters have been discovered and many outstanding film works have been funded. For example, Wangdrak's Rain Boots released and well received last year is a project standing out from the 7th Outstanding Youth Film Creation Plan presented by BFA.

  The program has exactly created a superb platform for those aspirant and hardworking outstanding young screenwriters to improve their ability, display their talent and promote their works. Screenwriters also need patience and perseverance, and a good screenplay may need a lot of time and energy. During a self introduction, a trainee said emotionally that he has written the shortlisted screenplay for 10 years and modified it almost every day, and it was not easy for him to be here finally.

  Many of the 40 shortlisted screenwriters came from Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Sichuan, Inner Mongolia, Yunnan and other areas across the country. Of the trainees, the youngest is an undergraduate and the oldest is over 40. Travel-stained as they are, they are in high spirits and full of expectation for the program. They believe that through the professional training and strong project pitches platform, their efforts will finally pay off.

  Persistent efforts

  The reason that the program attracts numerous industry insiders lies in the trainers who are all prestigious teachers and scholars, as well as the project pitches linked to the program.

  Just as Meng said at the first class meeting, "This is a training program, an opportunity to fast improve ourselves, and a brainstorm." CCTV Movie Channel and the three online video platforms (Youku, iQiyi, Tencent) were optimistic about these screenplays. The three platforms will be present at the road show on April 20th when the program ends. The biggest wish of all young screenwriters is converting their works into outstanding film & television works.

  Besides, the program also launches a series of project incubation plans. This year it will enter the Young Generation in Film Making in September and the Hainan International Film Festival in December. After several rounds of selection, winning works will appear in project pitches of major international film festivals and be pitched for filming.

  To make continued headway in the screenwriting industry, discover outstanding screenwriting talents and screenplays, and grasp the opportunity from the screenwriting market in 2019, the program also maps out three strategies for young screenwriters: professionalism, Which means to study professional screenwriting courses hard; devotion, which refers to the compliance with the industrial rules all the time; and persistence, which indicates keeping creation.

  The program has kept growing, striven to provide the most professional and efficient story writing training and project pitches platform to young screenwriters, and persistently discovered outstanding screenwriters and screenplays, to promote the development of China's film industry.