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Charlotte Ku, LISP Film Festival 2023 Official Selection

LISP Film Festival 2023 Official Selection, The Motorbike Rider by Charlotte Ku

- Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?

I am Charlotte Ku. A 2022 graduate of the London Film School Screenwriting MA, I now work as a development producer and screenwriter in both the UK and Taiwan. My main role is to help a director or producer develop a proposal for a TV or film idea, to give it more opportunity of reaching the next stage.


- When and how did you get into writing? 

I have been involved in the film industry in Taiwan for 10 years, and originally worked as assistant to the director Su Chao Bin, award-winning screenwriter of the films “Double Vision” (2002) and “Silk” (2006). Working with Su was an unforgettable experience and enabled me to learn from his extensive screenwriting knowledge, but I had never written an original script myself until studying at LFS. In 2013 I was involved in the story development of the Taiwanese YA film “Campus Confidential”, followed by gaining some credits as a development producer on various TV and film projects. In 2021 I decided to study abroad at LFS to focus on and enhance my screenwriting skills. In 2023 my graduate feature script “The Motorbike Rider” was an Official Selection of the London Independent Story Prize Film Festival and was also selected as the award winner of the student script award for the 2023 London Film & Television Festival. I greatly appreciate all the support from the LFS screenwriting MA, which made me realise that the systematic learning of visual screenwriting skills which bring a story to life can enable a film set in Taipei to be understood, accepted and appreciated in the UK.


- How often do you write? Do you have a working routine? And what inspires you to create?

I have a personal tradition of writing a diary, which provides a self-assessment of my life experiences.  And I also have a notebook to write down ideas which come from any inspiration. It becomes more efficient if some ideas I have written down juxtapose with one another during the process of story development. In terms of a working routine, I usually use excel to write each scene one-line before the first draft, organising structure, beats and monitoring the script integrity. What inspires me most is to explore my inner world and find the universal issue of what I discover in my perspective. Personally, I find that traveling is the best way to explore fresh ideas.


- How does it feel to have your work recognised?

It is overwhelming and gratifying to have my work accepted by a foreign country, particularly when I am not a native English speaker, and even more so given that this is my first English script. What encourages me most is that “The Motorbike Rider”, whilst having its premise in Taipei, has universal appeal. The story is about a 55-year-old man who has worked in a big company as a security guard for 20 years, and is then dismissed unexpectedly during the pandemic. To make ends meet, he must strive for survival as a food courier with the help of his vintage motorcycle. Just as everything seems to be going well, his beloved motorcycle is stolen. He refuses to replace the motorcycle to enable him to work, causing both a relationship and fiscal crisis. I believe it was possible for the concept to break cultural borders because I found my unique voice and the universal issue at the heart of the story.


- What's the best and most challenging thing about writing a Screenplay writing? 

In terms of Screenwriting, the most important thing is to distinguish between what is narration and what is visual storytelling. The story must have its cinematic writing aesthetics. It means what happens in the characters’ minds must be seen by the audience visually and not simply related through dialogue. This skill of writing feature film screenplay dialogue is what I am still trying to improve, because dialogue is not narrative, and it doesn’t resemble ordinary conversation, but should be the character in action. I often find myself turmoil with regard to dialogue when writing screenplay.


-  How did you develop the idea for your LISP-selected script? Is there a story behind your story? And, how long have you been working on it?

Firstly, the premise of the story is based in Taipei, the metropolitan city of Taiwan. Motorcycles are a big part of Taiwanese life and they usually have a certain sentimental value to us. A motorcycle can be a person’s constant companion for more than a decade. It was not until my motorcycle was stolen 4 years ago, that I realised there was such an emotional attachment to it. It felt like a part of me was taken away with the motorbike, so I wrote this story as a way of letting go.


Secondly, the idea for my screenplay “The Motorbike Rider” came from my observations during the pandemic, which represented a drastic time of change for the entire world. However, with these changes come new opportunities when the decentralised gig economy became a phenomenon. I wanted to share a warm, bittersweet story about hope and letting go, and show that everyone deserves to strive for a second chance in life.


Overall, what I really want to say with this story is that “the hardest thing is to say good bye to something important. But maybe it is not the end, it is a new beginning.”


- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a Screenplay?

I believe every screenwriter has their own unique tips and writing system to pursue the artform. Personally, I find it best to write a feature film portfolio before embarking on a first draft, making sure the specific story world, genre, structure and characters is are explored in depth to be the most beneficial to progressing the draft which follows.


- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions and festivals? 

The best thing is keeping positive to enable you to push the story to the next stage. The most challenging thing is accepting all the failures and making sure that you keep writing.


- Lastly, do you recommend the writers submit to LISP?

I would recommend writers to submit to LISP, especially as it brings talented writers of the selected projects together to learn from each other. Personally, I also believe it is a good experience for me to explore English screenplay writing with the selected group.



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