Films are generally praised by critics for their direction, actor performances, cinematography or special effects. Because of this, it is easy to forget about the words that actually make a film. The dialogue portrayed by the actors of a film as well as stage directions are all found in the script. Scripts are the foundation of films and would not be possible without the screenwriters who write them. Screenwriting has always been a key aspect of any film performance and has produced the memorable lines that are quoted from popular films of the past and present.
In an effort to showcase the talent of UC Irvine’s very own undergraduate screenwriters, the 20th Annual UC Irvine Screenwriting Festival will be held this week from Thursday May 24 through Saturday May 26. This year’s Festival Coordinators are Mike Normandia and Anabelle Vo, third and fourth year film and media studies majors. Luckily for the two coordinators, film has been a passion that they shared for many years. Writing scripts has always been easy for Mike Normandia and film has been an interest of his since high school. “I have been through the ins and outs of the film industry: acting, set building, producing, directing… but I have realized that I prefer writing over directing,” Mike says. Anabelle’s fascination with film began initially with just watching as many films as she could. “At first when I watched movies the actors stuck out, then the setting and the music. I later noticed that it was the screenwriting that tied it all together and made the film one worth watching,” she says. Mike and Anabelle each participated in the event last year and have been chosen by UCI lecturer and the founder of the festival, Marie Cartier to assist in the production of the festival this year.
The festival will include three features of about 90 pages and five feature selections from between 30 to 60 pages. The festival gives student screenwriters in the Film and Media Studies 117 screenwriting series an opportunity to hear actors say the words from their scripts while also preparing them to pitch their scripts. “The ability to see and hear your work aloud is probably the best way for a writer to grow and develop themselves,” says Mike. A question and answer session will follow each reading, and the audience will be asked to vote each night for their favorite screenplay. Besides the readings of various scripts, different events and activities designed to help those interested in film and writing will also be held throughout the festival.
“Screen writing is the unglamorous side of a film, but is what makes a film good,” says Anabele.
Saturday will be filled with contests and competition such as the Pitch Fest and Poster Creativity Challenge. The Pitch Fest is meant to provide an opportunity for screenwriting students to practice pitching their screenplays by giving students 60 to 90 seconds to pitch their ideas to industry professionals. The screenplays will be judged by the audience on five criteria: character, dialogue, story, structure and entertainment. The Poster Creativity Challenge is an art competition to create the best movie poster. Posters will be judged on creativity, technique, marketability, and aesthetic ability.
The festival is sponsored by the UCI Film and Media Studies Department and the Creative Writers Guild at UC Irvine and is completely free and open to the public.