LISP 4th Quarter 2020 Official Selection, Short Screenplay, Anna Czarska by Mildly Different
Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?
I am the Managing Director and Creative Head of Development of Sticky Tape Productions, a film and media production company based in Ireland where I produce, direct, write, edit, and generally manage the company, it’s employees, contractors, and projects. I spend most of my time working on a variety of projects for STP or with my 8-year-old son, Jacob. Learning is something I find incredibly rewarding throughout my life and therefore I dedicate time to learn about the various facets of filmmaking. I am also a professional actor, represented by Stephanie Broocks of the Broock’s Agency here in Dublin.
When did you start writing? How often do you write?
I have been writing since the moment I first could. I was given a journal when I was 7 years old and haven’t stopped since. Writing to me is like breathing and I don’t think I can go a day without doing some form of writing. I find it is the best way for me to express myself, and I believe I am a writer first and foremost. It is my art and always has been. I have written professionally for about 5 years now in various forms, including articles, web content, publishing materials, story editing, screenplay writing, script editing, as well as poetry. I wrote continuously for an anti-abuse organization for about 2 years at one point and really enjoyed that as I was able to do what I love while also helping others understand and overcome mental and emotional abuse. Currently, I am working on a sci-fi feature that I hope to direct once I finish.
Regarding my screenplay “Mildly Different”, it won Best Screenplay from Changing Face International Monthly Film Festival, was a finalist for the same with Waterford Film Festival, and recently with yourselves. The script and pitch for the film were also in the top 30 of 1300 applicants for the Bumble Female Film Force 22k competition, and a finalist for the FM 104/Talent Nation 10k competition. At present, we are semi-finalist out of 1300 entries for the ScreenCraft Film Fund – we find out in the next few weeks if we make the finals. Crossing fingers!
How does it feel to have your work recognised?
It feels amazing to be recognized as a screenwriter, especially for this particular script as this story is incredibly important to me and very personal.
What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Screenplay?
The best part of writing a screenplay would be when you find yourself lost in the writing and in the story. I get into a groove and it sort of just writes itself, I find. If I can get properly focused and in the right mindset for the tone, the words seem to spill out on their own. The hardest part of writing a screenplay for me would be not having enough time to write it in one go, which I feel would bring out the best story. Having to stop and start again, I feel the essence has to be discovered anew each time and that is tough for me. I do best when given a large amount of focused time to truly be in the story.
How did you come up with the idea for your LISP selected screenplay? Is there a story behind your story? And, how long have you been working on it?
The story of Mildly Different is about a young woman on the autism spectrum that struggles with the world around her until the kindness of one person changes her life. I am autistic myself and have found that there are a lot of misconceptions about autism and how it can manifest, particularly in females. The traditional research is primarily male-focused and their expression of autism is often quite different. Because of the differences in how females present themselves versus males with the same condition, females are often either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed and many go their entire lives not knowing why they feel so different. I felt it was important to tell this story so that I can promote awareness and acceptance for autistic woman and those with an atypical presentation. Hopefully, with this story I can give autistic woman a way to express to others what it is they are going through and also to bring more support to those woman who have yet to be assessed but might have always known they weren’t like most. We need accurate media representation of autism and what it is like for those that manifest their autism in a different way.
I suppose I have been working on this story for years as I know many who are on the spectrum, but the story really started taking form a couple of years ago. It took me about a year to properly pen it as it went through a few drafts. I might need to redraft it once more before we shoot it properly as I would like to emphasize a few areas before the shoot.
What’s next for Mildly Different?
We have raised 22k so far for production and are working on gathering the next 11k needed before we start shooting this summer. We are currently casting for the lead role of Christina and are looking for an autistic actress to portray her character. If you would like to know more about our film, please check out www.facebook.com/MildlyDifferentFilm or if you would like to contribute to getting this made, please see www.patreon.com/mildlydifferent
Can you please give us a few tips about writing a short screenplay?
I have read many screenplays and I think the issue I find most when reading them is that there is too much focus on dialogue and not enough on the visual aspects of the film. A screenplay is very different than a story that you would read in a book. You have to think of a screenplay as composing a film. Film is a visual medium and we will see each movement of the eye closeup, we will feel the tone of the situation by the shading in the room or the movement of the camera, the music etc. It is up to the screenwriter to give the director a solid base to work off of. Relying heavily on dialogue can work in some instances, like Before Sunset/Sunrise for instance, but often would come across boring if the entire film focused on closeups and midshots of two people talking. My best tip is to write the story as a filmmaker more so than a storyteller. It must encompass an amazing story while keeping in mind that each detail will be available for us to see and that the visuals will tell a lot of the story for us. Set the tone, create the story … but think as a filmmaker first and the script will write itself.
What's the best thing and the hardest thing about festivals/competitions?
The best part of festivals and competitions are the feeling of belonging to a community of people who understand and value your work and what you are trying to say with it. The most difficult part would be the enormous amount of competition and therefore the slew of rejections you encounter. It can dent your self-esteem but you have to keep going – it’s the only way to make it through. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and recognize that you aren’t doing what you are doing for the competitions, you are doing it because this is your passion and what you most want to do be doing. When you start doing it more for yourself than for anyone else, these rejections and competitions don’t discourage you as much.
Lastly, do you recommend writers to give it a go LISP?
Absolutely. Great communication and I truly feel valued as a writer as most competitions would not go out of their way to promote their writers in the way that LISP has done. I am genuinely grateful and honoured to be a part of the LISP community and among the finalists for the Short Screenplay Competition. Thank you for having me and I hope to be with you again sometime in the future!