An Open Class to New Filmmakers by Zhang Songwen: Try to Make Good Scripts with Five Necessary Elements
On the afternoon of April 27, Zhang Songwen, member of the Jury of Tiantan Award under the 13th Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) gave a highly valuable open class to nearly 100 new filmmakers on the theme of "The Birth of Film Roles".
Open Class: The Birth of Film Roles by Zhang Songwen
In the open class, Zhang Songwen didn't talk much about acting or his acting experience, but how to work with actors from the perspective of director and producer. Most of the attendees to the class that day were freshmen to the film industry, some of whom were looking for investment and actors for their first works, some working on script writing, and some applying for admission to professional film schools.
Newcomers to the film industry are short of capital and also away from the interpersonal network of the industry. How could they get their favorite actors to act in their works? Zhang Songwen told us that only a good script might work. In his opinion, a good script should have five main attributes - social, artistic, philosophical, technical and storytelling. The newcomers should strive to improve the screenwriting skills. As for the invitation skills, he also gave us a practical tip, that is to make a post on WeChat Moments. "Just say that you have a work on hand and need someone to play a role. Could anyone help me send the script to the performer you need. Just post it several times, and you're sure to get in touch. Of course, if you receive no answer, just let it go."
Some actors/actresses may need to take the audition. Zhang Songwen said that the audition is actually a process of selection between the director and the performer. While the director tests if the actor/actress is suitable, the actor/actress is also examining whether the director is talented. He suggested that the director should ask the performer to try twice. In the first audition, only a scene should be given, from which the performer could play at his or her own will. In the second audition, the director needs to tell the performer about the work and ask him or her to act as directed. The director of The Invisible Murderer, which was shortlisted for this year's BJIFF, Da Dei was a "student" of the class. Zhang Songwen invited him and some other new actors to try out a scene from the script on the spot.
Following the invitation and audition, once the production starts, the director should turn to work with the actors/actresses to shape characters. Zhang Songwen suggested that directors may ask actors to experience the life as needed for the film to help them understand roles. In filming, directors should accurately express their requirements so that the actors/actresses can understand and make adjustments to their performances in time.
"I've come a long way as an actor, during which I also made mistakes. So, I hope you can successfully create the works as you wish soon." At the end of the open class, Zhang Songwen sent his best wishes to the new directors.